Today’s post is a guest post from Ana of Goatdog Simple. I am so excited that Ana is the first guest blogger for a Life on a Dime! She was one of the first bloggers I connected with. She has been very supportive and I am very honored she wrote a post for my blog. Here are Ana’s thoughts on minimalism and scheduling our time.
MINIMALISM AND SCHEDULING OUR TIME
About five years ago, I straightened up our finances and we paid off our mortgage. Life suddenly felt better. I had tidied up our money clutter and this gradually eased us into minimalism. Somehow, simplifying one area of our lives had a far-reaching effect in our home. It was that same year around Halloween that I tackled our physical clutter and eliminated many items my kids had outgrown. Letting go of stuff made me think about how my family’s lifestyle was changing—how we were finding minimalism and scheduling our time.
Back then, I would assemble the annual Halloween parade in our neighborhood. Picture a banner, a gathering of jittery costumed kids, a fun group photo and the official start of candy gathering as the bunch trots down our main street.
This role was passed down to me and, after four years, I was no longer excited about it. My kids were heading into middle school and not interested in participating. I realized that it was time to let this task go. This made me revisit my calendar and reevaluate how I was spending my time.
WHAT IS IMPORTANT TO YOU?
I’m a stay-at-home mom. My husband and I made financial sacrifices to make this arrangement work. I’ve been active in my kids’ schools volunteering in everything from field trips to fundraisers. I did this because it was important to me and to my kids. What I discovered while making some changes was that I wasn’t considering the value of my time. I needed to define my priorities and schedule my time in a mindful way.
I decisively handed off my Halloween duties to another mom and it felt great. She was excited to take over and it made me realize we should do what inspires us and let go of what no longer does.
take an honest look at your schedule
For starters, scrutinize your calendar. Look at your routines and ongoing responsibilities. Are you spending your time productively to reach your goals? Do you still want to give your time to certain commitments? Are you doing things you enjoy?
There’s a good chance you’re doing an abundance of busywork that leaves you exhausted and not feeling like you’re making strides when it comes to the quality of life you envision. I know because I was keeping a little too busy. Take some steps to redistribute your efforts.
prioritize your goals
Our time is limited and invaluable. If we start from this perspective, it’s difficult to squander it on meaningless tasks or wasted efforts. Think about your priorities. Your time should be filled with your life’s plans, relationships you care about and those moments that have meaning for you. Of course, we all have work obligations and other factors that we can’t eliminate. But, there is a lot we do control and can shape to fit the life we’d like to be living.
Once I started to prioritize my scheduling, I made changes that allowed more time for things that mattered most to me. Then, I would check if I had room for smaller things that came up. I’ve also kept in mind that free space in my schedule is a must. I have the option to add something or relax and enjoy the unstructured time.
decide what you are willing to give up
You can’t do everything and you shouldn’t have to. Clutter interferes with our physical space and it does the same to our schedule. We tend to do too many meaningless tasks that don’t help us move forward with our goals. You need to revisit your commitments and place value on those that are truly important to you. Minimalism is about choosing what’s essential to your life’s path.
One thing I no longer do is attend every school meeting. I went to one under a torrential downpour, struggled to find parking. Once in my seat, the teacher introduced herself, mentioned the online course she would be teaching and asked us to email her our children’s information. She was available to answer questions for anyone who wanted to stay. It was a quick five-minute talk. I picked up a class syllabus on my way out which she later sent to us by email.
What was the point of attending such a meeting?
LEARN TO SAY “NO.”
Prioritizing your time means having to say “no” to things that don’t serve you. This may not be easy but it’s a way of maintaining control of your time. And not making everything a must. You need to decide what deserves your time and what things you can pass up. There are things that you may need to do but pay attention to how often your schedule has commitments that you had the option to opt-out of.
My schedule included many volunteer commitments that I realized filled up my day and had me scrambling to get my other tasks done. I don’t have to volunteer all my free time. I’ve decided on a few hours a month and I choose what projects merit my time or I feel will be rewarding.
WHAT YOUR SCHEDULE COULD LOOK LIKE
Think about how you’d like to run your schedule. You’re in control. What will your week include? How will you spend your time and what do you want to accomplish? A few areas to consider–
- Work/productive hours
- Family time
Mindful choices and scheduling our time carefully can help us find balance in our lives. My schedule is weighted equally with a mix of productivity and purpose that I have welcomed into my life. Weekdays include housework, errands, writing, exercise and time with my family. Weekends are for family and friends, hobbies, venturing out to new places and quiet downtime.
You are in charge of your time. Choose wisely how you spend your days. Minimalism is about removing what doesn’t serve you and making room for those things that do. Don’t allow overscheduling and tedious, time-consuming tasks to rob you of the life you could be living.
Take some time now to revisit your schedule. Just as we clean out our closets and make room for what’s necessary, it’s important to work into our calendar productivity, social connections and good times.
Your time is yours to live. Use it well.