There are things we love to do and things we have to do. And even though I’m all about that Confucius quote that tells us “If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life” – even the stuff we love can get overwhelming at times. I used to feel like I just didn’t have enough hours in the day to devote time to all the things I love doing and all the goals I want to accomplish. Between university, waiting tables, blogging 3x a week, filming VIP videos, volunteering, friends, and a workout here and there – you could say my schedule is pretty jam packed. I’m betting yours is too. Luckily, there’s a way to continue doing all those things you love without becoming an anxious, unorganized mess. Time for the juggling act to get real, folks.
I would be remiss not to mention that my inspiration for this guide on de-cluttering your schedule comes from Timothy Ferris’s Tools of Titans. I could write pages on how much Ferris’s books have improved my quality of life, but for now, let’s focus on your exploding to-do list, and how to fit it all in without stressing yourself out. In Tools of Titans, Ferris recommends that the best way to hit maximum productivity with minimal anxiety and wasted efforts is so much simpler than we make it for ourselves. Start by taking what feels like a million things you have to do today and downsizing it to one. You are only allowed to pick one activity, obligation, or project to focus on for the day so pick carefully. By centering your focus on just one thing, you remove the stress of shifting between multiple distractions throughout the day.
Two is Company, Three’s a Crowd
If you were having trouble with the idea of picking just one of all the things crowding your schedule to focus on, you can rejoice because while Ferris recommends focusing solely on one (still love ya Tim) I’m giving you two. But only two!! Picking three separate projects or goals to focus on for just one day is spreading yourself too thin. Maybe you can get it done, but that doesn’t mean you should. Trying to squeeze so much into 24 short hours is what is causing you to feel anxious and maybe even hopeless about all you need to finish. Do yourself a favor, and choose to focus on just two things per day. With seven days in the week, there will be more than enough slots to accommodate even the busiest power hound’s schedule.
In order to determine which two goals or activities you’re going to focus on for the day, you’re going to have to flex that prioritization muscle. Something I personally have struggled with from exam-cramming to socializing. You really can have it all / do it all / get it all if you know how to prioritize. Every Sunday night, get out a piece of paper and a pen old school style and make a list of all the things you need to get done next week. Next comes the pairing, begin to group two activities together. And now the fun part – scatter those pairs between Monday-Sunday based on your time frame. For me, my master list and my pair of priorities for Monday and Tuesday looks something like this:
This week’s priorities:
- VIP Videos
- Blog posts
- Social activities
PriorityA: Film VIP video
PriorityB: lunch with dad (0r a friend on alternating Mondays)
PriorityA: School from 12-6 PM
Follow Your Own Advice
Or in this case, Tim Ferris’s advice, my advice, and your own advice. Meaning that once you’ve done the hard part of identifying your top priorities and grouping them into no more than two to focus on per day, follow your plan! It will be tempting to try to perform a true juggling act and shift between priorities, so when in doubt refer to your checklist. Circle PriorityA and PriorityB or highlight it or do whatever you need to do to make sure that’s where your focus is. After those two are complete, you’re free to move onto something new but begin with your priorities and in no time, watch how more manageable your schedule becomes. Maybe the key to getting out of something jam-packed is just learning how to pack it properly. In any case, plan a bit, follow through, and you will get those gains without that drowning feeling. Remember, you’ve got this 🙂
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