Sometimes the process of decluttering and decrappification is not about messy rooms or an overabundance of possessions. Sometimes it is about time and commitments. There are a finite number of hours in each day, week, month, and year. How we apportion our time has an impact upon us.
For example, for the past three years I’ve been on the Board of Directors of the Funeral Consumers Alliance of Maine. It’s been an interesting experience, and I enjoyed being with the people on the Board. However, when my term recently expired, I chose to not continue. The thing is, I found myself stretch thinly more often than not this past year. As much as I valued being on the Board, it wasn’t an essential use of my time.
I once read a suggestion that one should make a list of one’s top five time commitments, in terms of personal importance. Anything that didn’t make the list would then be considered optional. For me the top five commitments (in no particular order) are work, church, friends and family, home maintenance, and exercising. Among other things with which I was involved in varying degrees, the Board didn’t make the cut, so I cut it. Cutting commitments which aren’t essential, useful, or pleasurable frees up time for those which are, and decreases my stress. Give it a try!
Time can’t be made or found, but it can be prioritized.
Bilbo Baggins in J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Rings said “I feel thin, sort of stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread.” There are times when I certainly can identify with that sentiment. It is all too easy to become overextended in terms of time and commitments. Between my job, working on my house, church committees, and other demands upon my time it often feels like I am squeezing 10 days into a 7 day week. But, all is not lost!
Manage your expectations and those of others by learning how to say “no”. If your plate is already full, it’s OK to say no to new requests or to delegate if appropriate. Reasonable people will understand when you explain why you decline such a request.
The thing is, some people have a hard time saying “no” and confuse honesty with politeness. The thing to remember is that if you say “yes” when you really don’t want to, you are not doing yourself anybody else any favors. It is not considerate to agree and then back out or proceed with resentment, especially when you knew you really didn’t want to do something in the first place.
Saying “no” is sometimes the nicest thing you can do, for others and for yourself.
At our present velocity through the universe time passes at a constant rate, or so closely as makes no practical difference. Each of us is given 24 hours each day in which to live. So why is it that some days it feels like we’re trying to cram 30 hours of activity into 24 hours? Since time is constant the variable in the equation must be us.
I see two ways of dealing with far-too-busy days. The first way is to simplify our schedules. We don’t have to say “yes” to every demand upon our time. Take the time to create a list of the six or so most important things that you have to do. Set that list aside. Now write down everything else that sucks up your time. Once done, draw a line through those things that you can stop doing or that you only do out of habit. Lose them. Basically, it is okay to say “no” to things. If you weed out the things that you can say “no” to you can free up amazing amounts of time. You’d be surprised how well the world can continue on its way without our direct involvement.
The second way is to sleep for no more than 30 minutes per day, preferably but not necessarily consecutively.
People have many excuses for maintaining an unhealthy lifestyle, but few have a compelling reason. The excuse that gets under my skin is “I don’t have the time to exercise and eat right.” Really? That’s like saying “I don’t have the time to take an active interest in my health and take steps to avoid dying early.” Here’s a fun fact: we all have 24 hours given to us each day, each and every one of us! How we spend them is largely a choice, not a sentence, in my opinion.
I work at a full time job during the week, so I have gotten into the habit of doing my daily workouts in the evening. My workouts last from 60 to 90 minutes, depending up which program I’m using at any given time. So, what have I given up to free up that time each evening? Simple: reruns on TV that generally weren’t all that good the first (second, third, etc.) time around. This is not exactly a sacrifice in my mind. If you find an hour is too much, there are plenty of half hour workouts, and Beachbody even offers 10 Minute Trainer. My underlying point is, you have to make a commitment if you want to succeed.
When it comes to eating healthy, the best time saver I have found is to make several different main dishes on Sunday afternoon, like stir fry or pasta, and freeze individual servings. It takes only a few minutes to pop something into the microwave oven when I get home from work. I also buy individual serving size fish and meat portions at the supermarket, which work nicely in my Foreman grille. Add a simple salad (made ahead of time of course) or microwave some frozen vegetables and you have a decent meal in very little time.
There is little hard evidence that exercising and eating right add to the length of one’s life, because it’s impossible to measure this metric without having a death date to compare it to. That said, there is little doubt that regular exercise and proper nutrition improve your overall health and make the days you have better. It seems reasonable to me that if you are healthy, you generally feel better too. So I don’t mind investing a bit of time to get myself a seat on the happy train! How are you going to invest your next 24 hours?