Responsibilities, chances are you have too many of them, and sometimes finding time for yourself can seem like the last thing you have time for! Today we’re going to look at how we can learn to prioritize and balance our responsibilities so that we don’t forget to include ourselves in the equation.
The first thing we want to do is make 2 lists:
List 1: Every commitment should be included, whether it’s part of your daily schedule, a weekly activity, or yearly commitment. Everything you spend time doing should be on your list.
List 2: Everything you want to do but never find the time for.
Take your time with these lists, they don’t need to be completed in an hour, carry them around with you for a week and add things as you see yourself doing them, or as you think of them.
Keep an eye out for patterns:
In list 1: Is there one area of your life you spend way more time on than any other? Are all your responsibilities leaving no time for yourself? Do you spend all your ‘you time’ on social media?
In list 2: Are there a lot of items relating to one topic? Is there an overwhelming amount of things you want to do for yourself?
Keep these patterns in your mind over the next steps. They will help guide you in the changes you will make.
Get list 1 out and for each commitment, ask yourself 2 questions about each point, you’re going to have to be very honest with yourself:
- Is it necessary? (this includes things like ‘is it really your responsibility or are you doing things for other people that they could be doing for themselves?’)
- Does it add value to your life?
If you answered no to either of these questions, mark the item. If you answered yes to both of these questions, ask one more:
3. Can it be done in a more efficient way
If the answer is yes, mark the item.
At the end of this process, you will probably be surprised at the number of items on your list that you’ve marked.
There’s probably things on your list that you have to do – like work or school, cooking, and cleaning. But are you seeing anything that you’re doing that isn’t actually your responsibility? Any daily habits that could be completed on a weekly basis? Is there anything that might be wasting your time?
You’ll likely also find a lot of optional activities that aren’t actually adding value to your life that sneak their way into your day – you’d be surprised how many hours accumulate by watching TV, scrolling through Facebook, that candy crush squeezed in on the tube. Mindless distractions tend to find places to be fit in because you really need some down time – and if you don’t pay attention to that mindfully, your brain will find a mindless way to accomplish it.
The goal is to have more of a balance between responsibility and self care during your day, which means you need to make room for it. Remember those list items you marked in the last step? It’s time to take a closer look at them.
Ask yourself: If it’s not necessary why are you doing it? If it doesn’t make you happy or a better person and you aren’t required to do it, why keep it in your life? If it can be done more efficiently, why isn’t it being done that way?
With all that in mind, we are now ready to make some changes.
Remove: If it’s not necessary and it doesn’t add value to your life. Stop doing it.
- Cross out everything (with a single line so it’s still readable) from list 1 that is both unnecessary and doesn’t add value to your life. If it is both of these things, there simply is no reason to continue. This one is very simple but you may find it hard to put into practice. if so try a little at a time.
- If they aren’t necessary, stop them, cross it out.
- If they aren’t your responsibility, hand back the responsibility to the rightful owner; cross it out.
- If they aren’t beneficial, are they necessary, if not, cross it out.
- If they aren’t being done efficiently, they need replacing: cross them out.
Replace: Replace mindless activities with mindful ones.
Remember list 2, get it out. For everything that you’ve crossed out in list 1, find a replacement from list 2! This doesn’t strictly mean replace 1 for 1, you can consolidate a few crossed out things into one replacement if that’s what is needed.
Your goal is to have more balance between responsibility and self care. So keep the patterns in mind that you discovered earlier. If you noticed you are always on the go, replace some high energy activities for low energy ones. If you noticed you fill every second of your day with doing things for others, replace some of them with things just for you. And so on..
Here are some examples:
- Instead of an extra episode of Game of Thrones (sorry), maybe spend some time meditating.
- Instead of phone games on the train, try reading a personal development book.
- Instead of that extra snooze because you don’t want to face the day, try taking 5 minutes to write a quick gratitude list.
- Instead of going on Instagram and stalking other people’s lives, maybe you can find a theme from list 2 that shows you a craft you’re interested in, and do that.
- Instead of a daily shop (that’s based on mood), consolidate all those shops into one (that’s based on nutrition).
- Or if your day is too packed, replace some unnecessary things with nothing, so you can have time to just “be” and sit in silence. Not every second of the day has to be filled with an activity or other people. In fact, having quiet, alone time (electronic-free) can be a great way to de-stress.
It’s amazing how much difference spending some time self caring, being quiet, and doing things mindfully can make to your life. Once you’ve put the above in practice for a while. Repeat the process, take notice of what is working for you or not in the new things you’ve brought into your life. Observe the difference in the lengths of your two lists. Appreciate the good things. Love your self and your life. Good luck.