Pushing the boundaries in my accounting career, teaching, marking assignments, blog writing, developing a business, exercising, yoga, meditation, self-development courses, spending time with my hubby and friends, etc. The list is endless and it’s a likely path to burnout.
People always ask me – “how do you do it all?” It’s what we high achievers do best – tell us to do something and we give it 100%. Always in sixth gear, even if it means we are burning the candle at both ends. Being young (sort of!), healthy and active has allowed me to hustle without consequences. Until recently that is. My body demanded that I slow down (I will share more on this when the time is right). I half-listened. Things didn’t go to plan and I paid a visit to hospital. Then I got sick. My ability to hustle was taken away from me. It has taken me over two months to feel normal again, which feels like forever when you are not used to slowing down for anything.
Experiencing issues with my health made me realise that I was spending all my time “doing”. Even when I gave myself a break at home, I found more work to do of the domestic kind – cleaning, washing, chucking, tidying, organising, cooking, gardening, pottering.
The only thing missing was…living. Enjoyment. Relaxation. Just being…
2016 has been an epic year and it is not even over yet. It was time to make some changes, and the universe was giving me a kick up the butt. A wonderful friend (thank you Nicola!) recommended a book by Katie Lee called “The Effortless Everyday”. While I was sick I read it from cover to cover and took copious notes (as you do when you are a perfectionist like me).
So what did I learn? There is so much I can share, but it is all very simple and based on one key concept – the way we spend our DAYS is the way we spend our LIFE. Today isn’t a practice run, so if we just keep going through the motions every day “in hope” of a better future, it will come to a point where we look back over our life and realise that we never took that step to make the change we needed to unleash our true potential. Put simply, our focus on the future is getting in the way of enjoying each day to its fullest.
With that in mind I have been making changes to what I do each day. The key thing I have learned is that those changes don’t need to be big and overwhelming. Instead, it’s about exploring the cause of inefficiencies and energy draining tasks and “tweaking” what I do to help reduce overwhelm, protect my energy and create space to enjoy life. Those changes are based around the following simple concepts from Katie’s book:
Delete. Delegate. Dominate.
Here is what I am doing under each area:
Every day I am on the lookout for time-wasters and tasks that are slowing me down, such as:
- Unsubscribing from newsletters I no longer read or that distract me (new ones keep popping up every day!).
- Un-following hundreds of pages on Instagram so in the limited time I do check my feed, I only see activity from my friends and brands that inspire me.
- Signing up for email bills and direct debits every time I receive a bill in the mail so I don’t accumulate paper in the house and have to remind myself to pay things when they are due.
Deleting is about clearing tasks from your day that can be done automatically or have no use. This allows you to focus your limited energy on tasks that matter.
For me, this is about acknowledging where my valuable energy is best utilised, identifying tasks that I know others can do better than me, or simply asking for help rather than doing EVERYTHING myself. For example:
- I have asked my hubby to help me with more chores around the house.
- Organising a cleaner to come fortnightly so that I don’t waste my valuable weekends mopping the floors and scrubbing the toilets.
- Looking into meal services (e.g. Nutrition Station) to help me stock the fridge with some dinner options when we don’t have the energy to cook after a long day at work.
Being a perfectionist, delegation is a tough one for me, as I have to LET GO! So it’s actually a great way for me to practice acceptance of my limitations and put my trust in others. And where things don’t get done the way I want, I am learning to reduce my expectations.
Whatever way you wish to see this one, it’s all about presence. In order to create more time in the day, tasks need to be completed with purpose and efficiency. The only way to do this is to be fully present and avoid distractions. For me, this can be difficult as I can fall into the trap of switching between tasks instead of finishing one at a time. These are the things I am currently focusing on:
- Becoming aware of what triggers my inefficiencies, such as email and phone notifications. I then take action to stop those distractions.
- Being less hard on myself when it comes to getting tasks done within strict timeframes.
- Practicing conscious communication with my hubby and being mindful of the words I use. Deepak says to ask ourselves the following questions before speaking to others – Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary?
We tend to underestimate how much time it takes to get things done, which ultimately leads to more stress when those self-imposed deadlines are not met. So instead of setting a goal to achieve five tasks over the weekend, I am now reducing the list to one or two items. I am still getting everything done when it needs to be done, but I certainly feel less overwhelmed.
There are so many other actions that I can take to reduce overwhelm in my days, but these little changes are enough for the time being as I want to turn them into permanent habits. And guess what? I can already see the benefits. I have spent the past couple of weeks using the extra time and energy to do things I love, such as reading inspiring books, writing for Gorgeous Presence, experimenting with home made beauty products, booking a trip to Bali and researching veggies I can grow on the balcony. These are the little things that transform my days into a “life” that I can experience right now instead of a distant dream.
I can’t wait to share more insights into how I am creating more space and energy in my day. I would love to hear from you in the comments below if this has inspired you, or you have some of your own tips to share!