Updated: Apr 17, 2020
How did you start the day?
Hit snooze 10 times and finally roll out of bed 20 minutes past the time you needed to be up.
Grab a cup of coffee and try to make up the lost minutes as you rush to get ready.
Start hustling your kids around to get ready for school.
Realize your forgotten cup of coffee is now cold, as you scoop up your bag, lunches, and kids to get loaded into the car.
You will now be dropping off the kids 15 minutes late for school and be 10 minutes late for work.
Probably not the start that you dreamed you would have the night before....
Many people would say one of their main goals would be to reduce the stress that they have in their lives.
That can feel like wishful thinking. But really it's not. If we truly sit down and take an inventory of the time that we each have in our day and how we spend it, we would realize that with some simple strategies and intentional planning we could very easily gain a significant amount of time back, that we can then do with what we please. How would that feel? To realize that you had an extra 30 minutes in your day that you could do something that brought you life and eased your mind, that could be a game changer.
How do I do that? How do I take inventory of my time?
All it takes is sitting down and making a "have to's" list for each day. Many times things slip themselves into our day and it's what begins to trigger our stress. This may be a hard thing to hear, but saying "no" to some things will be your life-stress saver! As you make your have to's list, add a section that lists the things that bring you, your spouse or your kids life. Do you enjoy volunteering, having your kids in sports, shopping? These are all extra things, that all can be good and bring joy to our lives. But the key is ensuring that we only choose a few for each season, so that we do not allow any of these things to be stress triggers in our life. After your list of have to's is done, go through your list of for fun things and plug them in where there looks to be room. And when you have a day filled with things you have to do and have something fun to do, then you will be set up for success.
This method is a good practice for each of us, especially as we transition into a new season , something important is added to our regular routine, or if things just seem to be out of whack. Taking the time to sit down and you make the decisions about your time, will essentially put you back in charge. Most importantly with this exercise, we are able to see on paper what things may be the repeated culprits of triggering our daily stress.
Back to our morning of chaos.
What could we say would have helped avoid that scenario? Possibly, ensuring that we made it to bed 30 minutes earlier, so that we felt rested and ready for our day when the alarm went off. Packing the kids lunches the night before. Assign tasks for each of your kids to help you get our the door with ease. Create a routine that every one understands. Communicate. Communicate. Once you get the checklist that is in your head, out, your family will better be able to help get things done, rather than add to the stress.
What other parts of your day trigger stress? Dinner time, staff meetings at work? Take a look at these scenarios also, and put strategy into your planning. It may be as simple as you need to create a meal plan and go to the grocery store with your list in hand on Sundays, so you are ready for the week. It may be that staff meeting would go significantly smoother if you asked for some help from a colleague at work. Can they help prepare the documents you need, or help build morale with the team as you work to encourage productivity? Most times there are people around you that are willing to help if we just take the time to ask.
Slowly but surely, find each trigger that you can, and build a strategy to make it disappear! Our world has conditioned us for stress. Making it seem like it is okay to live in a constant state of chaos. But I am here to tell you that it does not have to be that way. It may be difficult breaking the mental habit of feeling busy every second of the day. But when you break the vicious cycle, I promise, you will wonder why you didn't do it sooner. As Emily Ley, an author and entrepreneur of the Simplified Planner says "don't think of saying no as a missed opportunity, think of it as saying "Yes!" to margin". Emily has written books and designed a planner all around the concept of creating margin in our lives. And that starts on our calendar. She encourages her readers to fight for and enjoy leaving the white space on your calendar.
Because at the end of the day, "the battle for our hearts is fought on the pages of our calendar"-Bob Goff. What will you make room for today?