06 March 2017

Are We Busy Or Are We Focused?

This morning I read this Instagram post by The Minimalists about multitasking and how we're doing more than we've ever done, how we're working more hours than we've ever worked and how busy-ness has taken over our world.

It got me thinking about how I use my time and what I'm giving time and attention to that I don't want to be. It's a constant battle not to let things creep into our lives that just pile up, muddy it up, make us tired and cause us grief. I find it's a constant battle just to keep it all at bay and try to find some sense of simplicity in life.

Moving into a house has definitely added to that and I find myself frequently missing living in a small apartment. Definitely the old grass is always greener because all a person wants when they are living in a small apartment is a house with a yard. Ha. In a house, there is more to clean, more upkeep, a yard to care for and more stuff in the house itself. It gets a little overwhelming and I think it takes some careful consideration to figure out what you can manage without losing your mind, when you'll need help and how plus what that will cost in time and resources.

One of the things I read in the post that struck me was the question "Are we busy or are we focused?" Busy for busy's sake still amazingly something humans tend to brag about. How often do we say or hear "Oh I'm so busy!" or "You know how busy life gets." I like the contrast between busy and focused. I would rather be focused and make the best use of my time and not feel dizzy with busy.

I recently talked with a good friend who is working on a new business. She said she is focusing two hours every day while her kids are at school to her business, 10 a.m. - noon. I like that realistic acknowledgement that this is the time she can give it and that she's just going to be diligent in giving it that time. I was inspired. If you're giving any effort energy and every day, then every day you are moving things forward and you are gaining momentum and the benefits of consistency.

Consistency is really a tough one when you have so many, too many things pulling at you every day. Solid commitment to priorities is critical and as easy as it sounds so often as a mom and wife one gets derailed when you've been up all night with someone who is sick, school or doctors appointments, stayed up extra late to help with homework, or had outside commitments you have to attend to - and even occasionally are sick or worn out too -- I don't think women often give themselves much rest time.

I am trying to figure out how to better manage that but it is not easy. So often it feels like my priorities have to take a back seat to everyone else's priorities and I don't think that's right. But there are days when you just have to focus on keeping the family alive and afloat.

I think this week I am going to write my priorities in big letters and post it on my desk. Then make sure my time is fitting into one of those priorities with focus from the top down. I want to be focused rather than busy. Then I want to cut back on how I'm spending my time and create more open space in my days. It's time to do some spring cleaning of my life and cut out the things that aren't critical. I did that with my socks, underwear and makeup drawers earlier this year. I've been doing the same with our family room. I'm feeling like it's time to Spring Clean my life and cut away some of the unnecessary items and build in lots more time for things I really want to be doing.

Some things I'd like to be doing more of are meeting up with friends, business networking, reading the few but beautiful magazines that come in the mail that seem to pile up a bit. I'd like to spend more time studying things I'm interested in and doing more meditation and yoga. I want to put more time towards meal planning and healthy eating, time outside and exercise.

I'd like to take more outings to new neighborhoods and things I haven't seen here in the city. I would like to spend time working on the creative projects I have waiting for me like stripping down two old benches and making my planter I was supposed to make last summer. I'm sneaking all these kinds of things in but not to the extend that they are completely regular habits and must haves for me.

Here's where it gets tricky. What would I like to be doing less of...well it doesn't feel like any of those things are things I can actually do less of. I'd like to be doing fewer dishes but we still have to eat and I do get help with that, but it seems like I'm always the last one in the kitchen washing down the counters. I'd like to spend less time cleaning house but it feels never ending and never feels finished - and that is with help. I'd like to spend less time feeling like we have so much to do on the house and less time trying to do it. I don't know what else I can let go of right now. There have to be things I'm not thinking of. I'm going to ponder that.

Maybe what I could do better is think about how I use the free time that I do have. So often I feel like I fritter it away instead of doing something I really wanted to do. For instance I might sit down and watch a movie with that family that I'm not really interested in. I could still do that but maybe do something I want to do while I'm watching. Part of the challenge for women as well I think is that we're just too doggone tired by the time we do have any free time. Who has the energy? It's a big of a losing battle when one realizes that the older we get the less energy we seem to have or the more quickly we get tired. What I would give to be able to put some of the energy of my youth to good use now!

I think more routine and organization would help to. I'm big on these things but the rest of my clan is somewhat resistant. It's a battle for me to figure out how much it's worth fighting it and how much is absolutely necessary to teach skills and enforce order in the home. I think there is a little too much flexibility and movement in this area of our life right now. It would be better to have more structure. More focus.

What things would you like to get rid of in your life or could you realistically cut back on? How do you manage your time so that you feel fulfilled and happy with your own priorities while meeting the rest of the needs in your life whether it's work, family, etc? I'd love to hear your thoughts!

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