My goal for all of my readers is to help you hack your life and experience more balance through mindfulness as well as practical adjustments, including more flexible work. In this post, I want to give you a few hacks that worked for me and have given me more hours in my day to achieve more without expending more energy.
Yes, you read that title correctly. You can't get more time our of your day but you can get more day out of your time. Time is a finite resource. Every person in the world gets the same 24 hours per day, so how do some people turn those 24 hours into a life they love while others spend them plowing through drudgery only to find themselves at the start of a new day feeling as though they have just barely kept their heads above water? The five tips below have been life changing for me when it comes to enjoying my daily 24 hours as much as I possibly can while maximizing productivity.
1. Let Go of Guilt
The way we feel in each moment is really what makes our life experience. If we're feeling depressed or angry in any given moment, the seconds minutes and sometimes hours are passing us by in the meantime. If we are focused on gratitude and joy, that is how those seconds, minutes and hours are being experienced. Half of the stress we encounter on a daily basis that leaves us feeling less than accomplished comes from guilty feelings of not doing enough or being enough. Letting go of guilt means accepting that what we are doing each day is our best...considering our current mental, emotional and physical states.
Why It Works
Thanking ourselves for what we achieve even if when its measured against our ultimate standards it looks like failure, allows us to relax. Appreciating our current situation is not some trick that forces us to lower our standards, it's really a way to give us some relief mentally so that we can better think through how to make improvements going forward. Gratitude has a way of clearing the mind of ruminating thoughts allowing efficiency in action and decision making to rise to the surface. We naturally feel as though we have more time when we are happy. It's really as simple as that.
2. Let Go of Perfection
This one was the hardest for me. For as long as I can remember, I have been a person who pays attention to detail and can't NOT notice when something seems off. This habit has robbed me of more opportunities than I can share in this blog post, but accepting imperfection has been life-changing for me. It allows me to take actual steps toward execution instead of getting stuck in procrastination and perfectionism cleverly disguised as action. Nature is the perfect example of how beautiful imperfection can be. Bask in its beauty and increase your rate of perfection in all areas. Embracing imperfection means that you can go ahead and start a diet and rely on how you feel during the process rather than spending hours and hours reading a book ABOUT dieting. It means that you can go ahead and create that new product and push it out and allow the feedback you receive to keep you evolving rather than getting stuck in your thoughts about how it can be improved. Embracing imperfection means that you can engage with people without fear and express yourself without fear.
Why It Works
Simply put, embrace perfection and create more in less time. A bonus is that you get to perfection faster because when you are creating and receiving external feedback, you get on a fast track to innovation and improvement.
3. Let Go of Your Kids
Helicopter parenting has never been something I've struggled with. I come from a huge family with tons of kids and the idea that parents could be so heavily involved in the details of their kids emotional lives has never been practical to me. I believe that we lead by example. Kids are literally born as little sponges that absorb everything in their environment for a reason. They don't need to be instructed and guided as a separate activity as much as they need to participate with us in the amazing lives we SHOULD be constructing. With that being said...find some other people constructing amazing lives and SEND YOUR KIDS TO SPEND TIME WITH THEM. I understand that in this day and age, everyone is super suspicious of everyone else and we tend to keep the worst case scenario in mind. I am offering the idea that you could trust yourself to find people to positively impact your children and raise them in a village. Not a literal village of course, but your tribe of positive, responsible, and loving people you should be connecting with if you are to be a good example to your kids.
Why It Works
As a single mom, I was kind of forced into this, but I would never have anticipated all the benefits I've seen from letting my kids spend time away from my influence with the RIGHT people. I get a break, obviously, and they get new perspectives and experiences that I many not be able to provide with my limited time and resources.
4. Let Go of Activities you Don't Enjoy
As mentioned before, our life is made up of what we are feeling in each moment. Check out my post about how Happiness is the most important thing to get more in depth on this subject. So all the time we spend doing things we hate is a complete waste. Now you may be saying, like I said, that there are things we just MUST do as responsible adults like pay bills, clean up, eat right, potty train kids, do car maintenance, etc...but what if I told you that you could transmute these things into enjoyable experiences. Everything we're doing in life should feel as good as possible so we should either be doing things that we love to do OR putting in the work to make ourselves feel good about the things we have to do. Find out how to do that here.
The first step here is to immediately stop doing things that we hate that are not absolutely necessary. For me, those things included (past tense, thank goodness), answering calls from people I don't enjoy speaking with, and going to night clubs and hanging out with flaky people. I could let those things go with no real consequences. As a matter of fact, letting them go, even just in my mind, brought on an immediate sense of peace. I realized that I had all of these long-held notions subconsciously that were keeping me engaged in these activities and I had just never re-examined them to see if they were still serving me.
The next step is to look at all the things we hate, but if we stopped doing them we would hate the consequences more...like eating fruit and cleaning up. Then we use mindfulness to get into a clear headed state and figure out creative ways to do those things enjoyably. For me, it was eating fruit in smoothies with lots of yummy things added and budgeting for and hiring a cleaning service (BEST DECISION EVER). The most difficult area to tackle here is parenthood. I could not figure out a way to enjoy potty training...I just couldn't. So what I had to do was change the thoughts I was having while waiting for my son to get off the potty or cleaning up a mess he had made in the bathroom. Instead of thinking "I would rather be doing anything else in the world right now" I consciously made the decision to repeat the thought "It is a privileged to teach this little soul and hear his voice and see his smile" I remembered the days when I longed for a little boy and now I had him. That one thought alone moves me from frustration to peace in just a few seconds.
For a long time I believed that my thoughts were objective and that if I denied what I was thinking or tried to change it, I was being delusional or dishonest. Now I realize that in any moment, there are thousands of thoughts that can be selected and all of them could be true. Our choices...the thoughts we pick and repeat...literally create our experience in every moment. Everything in our lives, including the way we feel responds to our thought choices. So if you can't engage in easily enjoyable experiences every day, use selective thinking to get to a state that's more enjoyable.
Why It Works
This technique doesn't give you more time, but it certainly makes your time more precious and slows it down a but in each moment since you're not bearing down and waiting for it to pass, but savoring it.
5. Let Go of Your Stuff
I don't like throwing things away. I just thinks its absurd...I can always use a thing later, right? So when I moved out of my home of 8 years at the time and had to get rid of most of my things, I had no idea how much it would impact me mentally and how much time it would free up in a thousand little ways. Marie Kondo is really onto something. First, having a clear space outside of me, helps me to feel clear inside and having less stuff makes that SOOOOO much easier. Before I moved, I tried just organizing my stuff better...buying stuff from the container store and finding clever places to hide things. The truth is, even though my house looked better on the surface, I still knew about all that clutter deep down inside and it was always in the back of my mind. Getting it ALL the way out of the house, and yes that includes the garage, allowed me to completely clear my mind. I think this is because I was no longer mentally responsible for things once they were completely gone.
Two years after getting rid of all my stuff, after I had slowly begun accumulating more stuff, I was hit by Hurricane Harvey and all my stuff was literally washed away. Although the logistics of that were completely stressful at the time, I appreciated being able to start fresh when I was settled again. Because I had experienced a purge a few years prior, I was more careful about what chose to bring back into my home that time around.
Why It Works
Having less stuff means not having the think about that stuff, decide what to do about that stuff, constantly clean up that stuff. This one is pretty self-explanatory and if you are having a hard time grasping this concept of need help with implementation, check this out.
Try these tips and let me know if the Work-Life Balance Facebook Group if you have a positive experience.