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I don’t know about you, but last year I spent too much time doing things that weren’t worthwhile. I said yes to things I should have declined. I spent hours worrying about things that were trivial. And I wasted way too many hours scrolling on Instagram.
This year I want to be more intentional with how I spend my time. I want to spend more time doing things that matter like spending time with my children, working on passion projects, and developing a community.
Of course, changing how we spend our time is a bit easier said than done. We do so many things automatically without thinking and we schedule out most of our days weeks in advance.
Before we fill in our planners or give our time away, we have a little bit of work to do. Here are the four strategies we should use in order to make sure we spend our time doing things that are worthwhile.
Understand that being busy isn’t a badge of honor.
It can be easy to think that if you are busy that you are successful. Or if you are busy you are important. Or if you are busy you are being productive. Busy is not a badge of honor. Busy is just busy.
Learn to say no.
For most people, saying no can be really difficult. I know for myself I can think no, but I often say yes anyway. Most of the time I end up saying yes as a way to avoid conflict. Maybe you say yes because you don’t want to disappoint a friend or family member. Either way, when we say yes to someone else’s desires and priorities, we are taking time away from what is important to us.
If saying no is something you struggle with here are some things to think about:
- Recognize that every time you say “yes” to one thing you are also saying “no” to something else. Unfortunately, you can’t do everything for everyone. We just don’t have the time or capacity.
- You can say no without sounding mean or uncaring. That means you don’t have to worry about ruining a relationship by saying no if you do it right.
But be willing to say yes to the right opportunities.
Once you start saying no, it gets easier and easier to say. But you shouldn’t say no to everything. You need to make sure you are saying yes to the right opportunities.
First, you need to get very clear on what it is you want. This is where life mapping, reflection, and goal setting come in handy. If you know what you want and where you want to go, it will be easier to decide if you should do something.
Then you need to take a moment to pause. Before you say yes, you need to understand what it is you are committing to and let that sink in. You might be thrilled to be a maid of honor, but the position comes with a big-time commitment. Take moment to think about how saying yes will impact your time and your life. If you are excited and can take on the time-commitment, then great. But if not, you might need to say no.
Put what’s important and worthwhile in your planner.
When you have a doctor’s appointment or a meeting with your boss, you put it in your planner. You do this so you don’t forget or double book yourself.
You need to take the same approach with things that are important to you. If taking weekend trips is important to you, block the time off in your planner. If date nights are important to you, block the time off. If going to church on Sunday is important to you, put it in your planner.
Guess what? You can use your planner to limit what you do too. If you want to set boundaries with work hours, put it in your planner. For example, you could say between 6-8 pm you won’t work. Or that you don’t do any work-related tasks on Saturday. You can even mark off chunks of time where you don’t want to schedule anything at all.
Our final thoughts on doing what’s worthwhile…
There is going to be an adjustment period. Saying no to people will be hard. Changing how you schedule your life will feel strange. But like all things, it will get easier with time. Plus the end results will be well worth it in the end.