Grab a piece of paper, or open up a word processing screen. I have an assignment for you. It’s a quick schedule exercise. Write down all of the activities in which you participate or transport someone to and from in a typical week.
I want you to include everything. Include essential, necessary things like work meetings and school. Think about the mundane tasks like grocery shopping, cleaning the house or mowing the lawn. If you have kids, don’t forget to include all of the sports practices, music lessons, playdates and orthodontist appointments.
Next, look over this list, jot down a quick number next to each item…number of minutes, that is, (or hours) that this activities consumes. Add them all up, and record the grand total. How do you feel about this number? Is it manageable, realistic, comfortable, sustainable? If so, go ahead and stop reading, jump in your car and go knock some items off of your list at the grocery store (and don’t forget your shopping bags!)
If seeing the number on your schedule is a little surprising or even overwhelming, then read on!
5 Steps to Simplify Your Schedule and Gain Control of Your Day
This one is always easier than it sounds. We are human, and we despise the idea of relinquishing control. But, I’ll argue that feeling out of control is a much worse place to be. Have trust in your colleagues, employees and family members. They might not get it right the first time, but neither did you. Give it time, and you’ll be grateful for the extra time you receive in exchange.
If you can afford to outsource a task that you don’t love to do, by all means, hire the gardener! Maybe you don’t want to spend the money on a weekly cleaning service, but how would it feel to have your home professionally cleaned once a month? Not interested in organizing the garage this spring? Enlist a Professional Organizer to do it for you. Believe me. There is a company or individual entrepreneur out there right now specializing in that thing that you hate to do. Grocery delivery services, lawn care, cleaning anything and everything, personal stylists, painters and other handy services; the list goes on! If it sounds too good to be true, you might be surprised. Many of these services are highly competitive and offer excellent introductory offers and package deals to save you money and time.
Carpooling for kids activities is a huge time-saver. If you can get on a regular schedule with a few other parents, you can save hours every week. Also, try chore sharing around the house. A 12-year-old CAN do a load of laundry, might actually enjoy the grown-up responsibility and will learn a life skill in the process. Nobody loves to do dishes and scrub toilets, but getting on a household rotation, where chores change weekly, can make those dreaded tasks a little more tolerable.
This one, in my opinion, is the most important one of all. Of all of those items on your schedule, how many of them are activities that serve one simple purpose: to bring you joy? Two? One? Maybe none at all? Take the time to really think about each item on your list and its value. There’s no doubt we tend to cram as many activities into our lives and the lives of our children as we possibly can. Maybe it’s a matter of keeping up with the Jones’s. Perhaps it’s with the best of intentions; team sports and karate and guitar lessons and play practice and swimming lessons are all for the greater good, right? The hard part, then, is really evaluating which items truly do enrich your life (or your family), and which are just time suckers, taking you away from quality time together and activities that truly bring you joy. Learn to accept that more doesn’t mean better, and having a free evening once a week can be more enriching and valuable for you and your family than any extracurricular activity.
I guess you could say that the above steps all lead into this one. Delegating doesn’t have to be about giving up control. In fact, it can be quite empowering. Outsourcing isn’t just for the Kardashians, and never underestimate the ability of a third grader to make a bed or walk a dog. If you get one thing out of this, however, let it be this: always leave room in your schedule for the activities, events and people that bring you joy, happiness and fulfillment.