24 April 2013

Reduce Your Stress: Evaluate How You Use Your Time

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On Monday I listened as I described to a friend what I wanted to get accomplished this week and in the end as I added and added to my list, I saw a red flashing light going off. The "Danger" sign. I quickly realized that I sounded like a lunatic with way more on my plate that was in any way reasonable or possible.

I hear other women doing this too, saying things like, "I'm going to school full time, work a full-time job, have three kids under the age of five, and we are renovating a house." Does that sound like a recipe for sanity? For success? For health and well-being?

I find more and more I am impressed with women who cut back and cut back again their activities and focus on their top one or two priorities, rather than trying to be all things to all people, or all things to themselves. This has been something I have been thinking about a lot lately, cutting back, simplifying and protecting my health and well-being. I've been watching others around me and how gracefully they handle this.

It's amazing how when you start looking for it, you can find many inspiring examples of women who are learning to be more by doing less. They are happier, more calm, more thoughtful about their life and their choices, better rested and have healthier relationships with others. I find as women it is very easy to tell ourselves that we will be happier if we do everything that we think we want to, when really that drives us in the exact opposite direction. We convince ourselves that we are being cheated by not having everything at one time.

A great way to evaluate whether you might be doing too much is to plan out your week hour by hour. Start by adding in the amount of sleep you want to get each day. Now schedule in ME time: time for meditation, reading, exercise, prayer, breathing exercises, showers, whatever you need to stay healthy and well of body and mind. Then Schedule in "together time" for you and your loved one, your family, your kids -- the important people you want to keep in your life. Then schedule in time for three meals: preparation, sitting for each meal and clean up. Then schedule in must-haves like work hours, weekly tasks, dropping off and picking up kids, grocery shopping, and things that absolutely must happen to keep you afloat. 

Now look at what you have left. This is the time you have available to do anything else. I dare say there really isn't much left. Choose wisely what you add to those spaces. The use of this time can make you or break you depending on what you choose to do with it. If you overburden yourself, it will break you down. If you choose the best activities to invigorate and inspire you it will be a building time.

Another thing you can do is write down how you spend your day in 15 minute increments for a week. This will give you a great view of how well you are using your time, who is getting it, when and why. Compare the two and be prepared, if necessary to make serious changes to improve your well-being, your life and your family. You hold the key to your happiness, health and well-being. Take charge, know where you are, where you want to be and do all you can to move closer to that ideal every day. You'll thank yourself as the years pass.

1 comment:

Kelly said...

I was just thinking about you this morning. Love these reminders to be sane in our expectations of ourselves. I was peeking ahead at the next few weeks and had to ask myself "do I want to try to pack in a whole bunch of extra stuff -- or should I be scaling back so I can do a few things really well?" And yes, I agree that "me-time" should be scheduled first. I always balk at that idea, but when I do it, everything else flows so much better!

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