Its been six months since I started working full time. The newness is wearing off. I’m no longer feeling the daily stress of learning new processes, people, and protocols. Those first couple of weeks I was super strict about our family not taking on anything new. But now that work feels more like the norm, and we’re out of that initial survival stage, I’m feeling the strain of not having enough time.
Forty hours a week is no small chunk of my time solely devoted to one thing. Before, as a stay-at-home mom, then later as a work-from-home wife and mom, I had the ability to double task. I’m not talking about trying to do several things at once. I know the myth of multi-tasking has been busted, but I did have have the luxury of throwing in laundry or some meal prep and then going back to writing or whatever other task I was on.
Now, meals, laundry and extracurriculars all take place in the span of evening and weekend hours. The flexibility I used to have is now gone and it has changed things immensely. There are also fewer opportunities for spontaneity.
So how do I find the time? I don’t. I find what I can let go of and say good-bye.
The importance of priorities and intentionality is a lesson I’ve been learning over the past couple of years and one that has now been thrown into a standing of absolute necessity. With all the demands on my time and attention, I cannot imagine the pull of our lives into a thousand directions if I didn’t have those things narrowed down. Since I’ve had this slow work up of being a minimalist and essentialist, I now can more easily say no right. I no longer mull over requests and opportunities and feel guilty when in the end I’ve either squandered away time on the decision or overcommit.
So, when feeling pressed for time with more invitations and commitments than you know you can do, here’s a few of my favorite reminders and questions:
1) What are my priorities and values and does this fit?
2) What is the trade-off? There’s always a tradeoff. You can’t say yes to something without saying no to something else.
3) Is this something I want to go big on or go all in for?
4) Is this something for another time (or season) in my life?
5) If I’m not faced with a new opportunity but feeling pressed for time I ask, what must I eliminate?
In his book, Essentialism, Greg McKeown, again and again hammers in the point of “Less but better.” We all are only given 24 hours in a day. I’m finished trying to see how much I can possibly cram into those hours. Instead I’m focusing on what matters most, giving it my all, and resting in those choices. And when it feels like I don’t have a choice, I try to dig down and see where the “lack of choice” comes from. Expectations I place on my self, trying to please others rather than staying true to my values and goals, etc.