I used to track everything.
I was a slave to productivity.
Every. second. of. the. day. needed. to. be. filled. with. doing. something. productive.
I prided myself on my ability to multi-task.
I could SHOWER & build my To Do List in my head.
I could make dinner AND listen to a podcast about growing my instagram feed.
I could sit in the school pickup line AND write back to the 30+ women in my monthly accountability group.
I could ask my husband about his day AND respond to facebook messenger conversations at the same time.
I could drive to the grocery store, to the office, to run errands, back and forth from school activities and listen to NPR and audio conversations with my friends on whatsapp messenger or FB messenger.
SEE? I was productive!
And I tracked ALL of this productivity, too.
You know, to get invisible “credit” for it.
I tracked my nutrition with little portion-control containers, I tracked calories on apps.
I tracked my workouts.
I tracked books that I was reading.
I wore my fitbit, and then my apple watch, religiously. (Before bed, if I hadn’t closed my apple watch circles or reached my fitbit step goal, I’d do the stairs… at 11:30 pm.)
I used an app called momentum that allowed me to track even more details in my life: everything from water consumption to health symptoms to time I spent with my girls, to tithing and if I took my vitamins.
And if I wasn’t manually tracking my life, thank goodness some of my apps were picking up my slack. (Whew!)
My meditation app told me told how many total minutes I’d meditated. (Because I’m in some sort of meditation race?)
My Bible app tells me how many days in a row I’ve opened it. (Because Jesus would love me more?)
My Invisalign app reminds me to change to my next set of teeth-straightening aligners. (Well, this one is helpful…)
I even have an app that tells me if my period is potentially late (it’s not) and another one that REMINDS ME TO take a moment to BREATHE. (To BREATHE.)
(Are you shaking your head yet?)
And then I stopped it all.
I eliminated everything.
I took the watches off.
I turned the notifications off.
I stopped recording my life.
I decided to just go ahead and live.
And, it was just what I needed.
Don’t get me wrong, I am a huge proponent of personal development. Let’s grow! Let’s move forward. Let’s examine our lives, let’s keep reaching for goals and attaining them. I firmly believe that goals require planning, accountability and showing up every single day. However, sometimes the little “life helpers” have the opposite effect.
At least they do on me.
Instead of feeling liberated and like I had accomplished something, I began to feel weighed down… and annoyed. Like checking the boxes was just another thing I had to do.
It’s awesome that I was accomplishing my “water goal” every day, and that I got my workout in, and that I meditated for 10 minutes… but the truth is, the time I spent monitoring all of that just sort of started overwhelming me. And if I didn’t make a goal… I started to feel badly about myself.
And I don’t need that crap.
Maybe instead of logging onto my phone to check the boxes I could… read a book to my girls, color with them, talk to my husband, or cook dinner while listening to music and not a podcast about how to become more productive. I could live a bit more intuitively.
As it turns out, uninviting the noise and slowly welcoming the things that matter RIGHT NOW has been a gamechanger for me.
I welcome the quiet. The silence. The unplanned moments.
|Translation: I welcome peacefullness with the same zeal that I would welcome daily donuts into my world.|
Before the casting off of the apple watch and the recording everything, I was always trying to force a few more things into my waking hours.
It got old.
And I exhausted myself.
So, I re-evaluated and determined what was most important right now and instead of adding more stuff, I reshuffled and even eliminated what wasn’t working.
And that, my friends, was scary to do.
Sometimes changing directions feels like a failure, but it’s not.
It’s ok to change it up.
It’s ok to stop doing the same things and try something new.
It’s ok to say no.
It’s ok to, stop, reflect and course correct.
It’s ok to go after that thing that sets your soul on fire.
Here are Five Simple things you can do TODAY to eliminate the chaos.
1. Be Honest with yourself.
If you had a full day to do WHATEVER you wanted, what would it be? Would it be painting, or planting a garden, or reading, or writing? Would it involve working on a life goal that’s been lying dormant since you had kids? Be real.
What is missing?
Write it down. Think about it. What do you need to be spending time on for you?
2. Evaluate where you are.
How often are you doing that thing you just identified? How often are you working on that project? Is that thing that makes you happy *part* of your regular life? Or is it one of those things you “hope to do”? (A hope is a dream without a plan. No one needs any of those.)
How often are you doing that thing that sets your soul on fire?
If the answer is, “All the time!” Then please tell share what life changes or what path you took to feel good about where you are and where you’re going. I know it’s the small changes that add up, what changes did you make that have helped you be where you are?
If your answer is, “Um… I’m not doing ANYTHING I really want to do…” Then, you’re like many of us who just get caught up in the everyday-ness of life, stop, look around and think, “Um… this isn’t working.”
It’s time to reshuffle. It’s time to reorganize and FIND the time.
If it matters to you, you WILL FIND THE TIME.
3. Find the time by evaluating how you actually spend your time.
This is the time-consuming part.
Record how you spend your time. Record at least one day during the week and a Saturday or a Sunday. Be truthful. Be detail-oriented, like a kid writing a list for Santa. Include that time you spend gossiping with your co-worker at lunch, or the time that you spend online shopping. (GUILTY.) Is your kid in 13 sports because you weren’t in any? (Enough with the overcompensation.) Include all of your carpool time and the time you spend in the shower. Do you spend 20 minutes every morning scrolling instagram before you get out of bed, but really wish you had time to journal each morning? (I was guilty of this.)
4. Do some life math.
When you’re unloading groceries from the car to carry into the kitchen, you don’t put all 12 bags on your arms. You take a few bags in, discard them, then go back for more.
We can’t just keep adding bags to our arm, or we’ll be overwhelmed and angry that no one is helping us carry the groceries in.
Same with life. We can’t carry more and more and more… or, we’ll be left with bloody stumps, (You’re welcome for the visual.) And anger and frustration and anxiety and more.
Something must be eliminated before you add something else.
Here’s the hard part: find the pockets of time that are not serving you, and give yourself permission to eliminate them. If you keep saying yes to everyone else, you will lose your mind. If you keep saying yes to everyone else, you are not being your AUTHENTIC you. Friend, it’s ok to say no.
And, delete the apps that derail you. Turn off your notifications. Plug your phone into the wall in a DIFFERENT room than you’re in.
I promise you, when you evaluate just how you’re spending your day, you’ll find the time that you could fill with something that brings you joy. Get rid of the responsibilities (which are sometimes self-inflicted) and the To Do’s that really don’t need to be done by you…
I love to write. I cannot tell you how much I love it. But instead of sitting my peach down to write here and there, I’ll put away dishes, fold laundry and organize the girls’ headbands. Whaaaat? HELLO. I’m organizing headbands?! Not important. Delegate. Teach them to do it themselves. And in all of this remember:
YOU DO NOT need to be the most productive person on the planet. No one is rewarded for having a neat pantry or for having matched all the socks.
If I want to write, the dirty dishes can WAIT because Lord, God on High, I need to do something that is for me.
If all you want to do is sit and watch a movie, once a week, and you have laundry in the dryer — turn off the buzzer and WATCH THE MOVIE. If all you want to do is read a book, sit, and read the book. If you want to journal or feel rushed in the morning, get up earlier so that you can ease into your day.
Evaluate what you can let go of and where you can add time for you.
5. GIVE YOURSELF GRACE and move forward with a plan.
We’re all a work in process.
We’re all doing the best we can.
Life really is a journey.
But if you want this change to stick, you need to make it a habit.
In order to eliminate chaos, we need to be hard on ourselves. We need to make the tough decisions. We need to take a break from certain groups or friendships that aren’t adding to our lives. (Do you really need to be in 13 Facebook groups?) We need to take care of ourselves.
We get one shot at this, friends.
And it’s ok, to practice self-care.
Take care of you, and in taking care of you, you’ll find that you’re better prepared to take care of the 101 other things you need to handle. And, you’ll handle them with JOY because YOU are feeling fulfilled.
And, when you’re ready, reintroduce the apps (and the tasks) that really matter.
But always remember that your life is like your closet: when you add to it, you must remove from it. Otherwise, you’re living in chaos. And nobody needs to keep those flared leopard-print Express pants from 1997. Keep the important, timeless pieces and discard the rest.
|(When I was writing this blog post, Lila said, “Use the unicorn. Unicorns are joy.”)|
Be your own unicorn and clear the chaos.
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