Routines can become very comfortable, like your favorite pair of jeans. At first, they are majestic; they make your butt look fantastic and accentuate everything that is magical about your body. Over time, they loosen, sag, rip, tear and otherwise begin to look dated. Fashion trends change, and so do you. The jeans that were once so comfortable just aren’t doing it for you anymore. It’s time to move on, but it can be hard because they are just so comfortable.
Routines are a lot like jeans. They start off as something really good. Then gradually, over time, priorities shift, circumstances change, and before you know it, your calendar doesn’t reflect you as a person anymore. It’s stale, like a bag of unattended potato chips. At that point, it’s time to take stock of where you are investing your time and energies on a regular basis. When evaluating a routine that has become comfortable and familiar, it can be really hard to stay objective. Taking an outsider’s perspective can be a useful exercise. Through someone else’s eyes, you can learn how to manage your time effectively instead of just being a slave to the dinging reminders on your phone.
Be a Triage Nurse
Prioritize your appointments in four categories – urgent important, urgent not important, not urgent important, not urgent not important. Structure your appointments recognizing what must be done first, what must be done most, and what can be left undone. Triaging your scheduled activities can resuscitate you when you are out of breath. Infuse yourself with the information you need to make decisions to manage your time and vaccinate yourself against busy work. Sometimes you have to be aware of when it’s time to just pull the plug.
Be a Method Actor
Ask yourself, “What’s my motivation? Why am I here?” To do something that’s important for you, you need to link it to why it’s important to consider sleep, for example. It’s important for you to get enough quality sleep. It is important to you to sleep so you have enough energy to have fun and get through all the things on your to do list without needing a nap. Finding your “why” helps pull your goal into focus. If you don’t figure out what you really want and why, you end up reciting from someone else’s tired script. Don’t be anyone’s puppet when you were always meant to be the star.
Be a Property Manager
Is the activity you participate in paying rent on your schedule? The boxes on your calendar are valuable real estate. When you are trying to streamline, it is important to consider if there is adequate return on investment. If the answer is no, it might be time to rezone and build a strip mall over a vacant lot. Your hours are a hot commodity, so don’t let mindless activities that don’t ‘show you the money’ have a monopoly. Your waking time is ocean front property and it’s in demand. It’s time to raise the rent and kick out freeloaders. Don’t let something that doesn’t do anything for you sleep on your couch forever.
Be a Fitness Trainer
Get yourself off the treadmill! You aren’t going anywhere just putting one foot in front of the other and staying one place. You need to work smarter, not just harder. Make sure the activities on your schedule are doing heavy lifting so you can flex your muscles. It might take some repetitions, but if you press away the things that aren’t working, you can pull towards you the things that will work for you. Just remember to breathe and don’t be afraid to work up a sweat fighting for the things that matter to you.
Be a Protester
Wave your picket sign high up in the air. Stop the glorification of busy! Stand up to the oppression of the needless impositions on your time. Just say ‘no!’, it’s a complete sentence all on its own. Establish boundaries about what you are willing to do to help others. Vigorously defend your right to personal time to recharge, reframe and find your center. Engage in some civil disobedience in support of your own mental health. Assemble and find strength in a supportive community that shares your goals. It’s time to stop lending your image to causes you don’t fully believe in and do what is important to you.
It is crucial to be objective about how you spend your time so you can maximize the outputs of your invested energy. Sometimes an outsider’s perspective can be helpful to find that objectivity. It’s like taking a long look in a full length mirror and realizing your once favored pair of jeans just isn’t pulling its weight anymore and you can do so much better. It’s hard to let go of something that is comfortable, even if it has become dysfunctional. There are other routines, just like there are other jeans, and the last thing you need is a way of life that is as unsatisfying as a bag of stale potato chips.
Re-evaluating commitments can help freshen things up when they become dated. After all, new years bring new resolutions. You need time to achieve those goals and make exciting things happen. Taking a good hard look at your schedule and what you want to achieve, helps you manage your time, instead of letting it managing you.
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