“My schedule is far less about what I get done and more about who I become.”
Think about all of the things that are happening right now in your schedule. How are you spending your time? If you actually start to sit down and compare it to the person that you want to be, is the way that you’re spending your time leading you to become who you want to be? Or is it just distracting you from living the life that you truly want?
Here are four simple steps that you can take to start this process. It’s not something that’s one and done – it is a daily decision to simplify, to declutter and edit your calendar.
Step #1: Edit your Calendar
Take out your calendar and look at the reoccurring commitments you already have scheduled. Think about anything that you can eliminate from your schedule. Are there any obligations that you’ve currently said ‘yes’ to that you just are dreading or second guessing?
I love to honor my commitments, and sometimes that really gets me in trouble. To that, I would give you this advice someone told me: sometimes we make really quick decisions, and we say yes to something, when really there’s actually someone else who’s been dying for that opportunity. If you were to relinquish that obligation and let them know in a kind and loving way that you are unable to honor that commitment, you could be freeing up an opportunity for someone else to take that position and take that responsibility.
So, if this is not going to affect someone else in a really deep way, it’s very important that you first check your heart and check your motives behind this before you make this decision.
Take a deep look at your calendar and edit out those things that are not bringing you joy. Also take a look at your kids’ calendars and all of the extracurricular activities that they are involved in. Is there anything that you can edit out or maybe cut back on?
Step # 2: Leave Margin in Your Schedule
“Now margin is the boundary, the rest that is built into your everyday life. It’s the space between your load and your limits. Margin is that gap between rest and exhaustion. It’s the space between breathing freely and suffocating and it’s the opposite of overload. Specifically, margin is the space to regroup and to get your mind in the right spot. It’s deliberate time creating more balance and deeper engagement in everyday life.” – Alexa Schrim.
Think about this idea of margin of space in your calendar. I want you to think about having nothing days in your schedule, where you have no plans, no work and you’re just hanging out at home with no expectations.
As business owners, things always take so much longer than we think they will, so try to make an effort to not schedule tasks back-to-back. Leave little bits of breathing room inside of your schedule.
As most of you know, I am a wedding photographer and I’m trying to gradually transition out of this role. One of the things that I do is create wedding timelines for my couples. Here I always have little random pockets of breathing room throughout the day, or as I like to call them, ‘built in cushions’ lasting for 10 minutes. I do this because I know things always take longer, people are always running late, and there are always delays and it is the same for your schedule.
So, keep that in mind next time you’re planning out your day, make room for margin.
And then my last thought here is to always plan to be 15 minutes early, wherever you go. For me, this allows me to breathe a little easier, gives me more pep in my step, because I am not feeling so flustered and angry and rushed wherever I go.
Step # 3: Put Boundaries in Place
Take time to sit down with your spouse and chat about your expectations for your schedule. Chat about the things that are ongoing, those commitments that you have every single week, every other week or every month. Ensure to lay out your schedule and put some boundaries in place.
For me personally, I don’t like to schedule things outside of my home for multiple nights in a row, or to photograph two weddings back to back. These things have taken a toll on my body and have kept me away from quality time with my family.
So, start to notice patterns in your schedule and also pay attention when you’re getting really anxious and overwhelmed, if you are scheduling things back to back to back. Then of course you have to honor those boundaries and honor that commitment to not over-schedule.
Step 4 #: Consider the Cost of the ‘Yes’
This is the step that you need to think about when you’re adding new things to your calendar. You can start to build in a margin and put boundaries into place moving forward, but when you are considering adding things to your calendar, I want you to think about what you are saying yes to. Because what you are saying yes to, always means there’s something you’re saying no to.
Are you saying yes to a friend, but no to your family? Are you saying yes to your kids, but no to yourself? You really have to start to think through what is this costing you, if you say yes. I also want you to embrace this idea that just because you are available on a certain day, doesn’t mean that you should say yes to an obligation.
So, as you map out your calendar, implement these simple strategies for better control of your calendar. Edit out the things that you can, and try to leave pockets of space and time, so that you can feel productive and peaceful.
Remember, our calendar is the most important and crucial tool that we have when it comes to becoming the person that we want to be.