It has been a busy month since Catherine and I painted and moved into our new home. Since then we have been busy finishing off the decorating and getting the place organised. Work has been constant for both of us, so any free time has been quickly eaten up with jobs about the house. I’ve found it a challenge to get everything done and finally felt overwhelmed by the amount of things I had to do. The solution was a very simple thing, but has had a pronounced effect on my mood, energy and satisfaction.
The things I neglect as demands on my time increase are often the things that help to keep me sane, balanced and fulfilled. As days get busier it is all too easy for me to skip training to have a little more time to get jobs done or sleep longer. When I am pushed for time eating falls by the wayside and coffee becomes my compadre. The idea of taking the time to enjoy the outdoors or see friends seems laughable when I have a to-do list as long as my giraffe legs combined. Then there are the essential activities that restore me such as writing and reading, quiet time to myself which seems an extravagant luxury.
Why do I do this?
Well part of the problem is certainly my organisation and planning when I get busy. Juggling work, a large to-do list and normal life is infinitely easier when you sit and plan out your weeks ahead. But the other part for me is that this is a learned behaviour, I have done this for years without thinking about it. Only in the last few years have I realised how detrimental it has been to my mental health. It is not even worth thinking what mental anguish I could have avoided with some healthier habits. This learned behaviour is formed out of guilt. Guilt that I “should” be doing something more productive, that I “should” be busy and that if I am not tired at the end of the day then I have done something wrong. As Tony Robbins says “I should all over myself” and that leads to poor mental and physical health. There is more to unpack as to they why here, but to be honest you and I don’t have the time here to get into that!
On Thursday last week I had a long overdue session with my coach which helped set my brain straight on a couple of things. Kristi reminded me of the importance of taking time for myself, structuring my week in advance and the simple act of going for a walk. It’s funny how I know these things yet forget them when I get busy. That is why planning my week ahead has been so helpful in the last week, as I’ve been able to see what I can say yes and no to and defend my personal time. The simple act of going for a walk in order to “let go” has been a well need crutch to lean on. It is amazing when you get outside how many thoughts fill your mind, but by diverting your attention to the sights, smells and sounds you can quell the busyness. I’ve read numerous books and articles over the last year that speak of the power of walking to clear the mind of inventors, writers and genius mathematicians. I can confirm as a mere mortal when compared to them that it works better than anything I’ve tried.
The result of coaching and feeling overwhelmed is that I have begun to sit down at the weekend and take the time to plan. Nothing is left untouched, social time, training, work and home tasks all get booked in. Why do this you may ask? By plotting it out I can see what (if any) time I have free once it’s added. This is helpful in defining my priorities and not killing myself through trying to do everything. For me it has been helpful for putting time aside regularly to write and work on my passion, rather than letting it fall by the wayside for jobs that seem more important. If all you ever do is work and chores what really is the point of life? Where’s the enjoyment, the time for gratitude and the time to dream? That’s the stuff I have to make time for in order to feel like I am living a fulfilling life. It certainly isn’t rocket science, but it does take practice for a mind masochist like myself.
Now I’ve just got to get better at saying no to things…