Invest in Meaningful Activities
January 2012 – the start of a whole new year. Resolutions and goals and projects…how do we fit all these new activities into our already busy lives? With only 24 hours in a day, no one can do “it all”. We each have to determine what we will spend our time doing and what we will simply choose not to do. Here are a few guidelines I follow to help me invest my time in activities that are meaningful and important.
1. Decide what activities you enjoy, what activities are meaningful to you. I, for example, love to read. Reading the latest young adult fiction book may seem petty to some, but it’s an activity that I thoroughly enjoy. It helps me relax and regain a bit of sanity. You may have more important or noble activities in which you invest time such as volunteering or exercising or making a phone call to a friend. Whatever hobbies or diversions or interests are important to you make sure you schedule time for them.
2. Determine what activities you must do, even if you don’t necessarily enjoy them. This could be cleaning the toilet or doing laundry or mowing the yard. See if there is a way to delegate these things (add them to your teens chore list or hire a cleaning service). If delegation isn’t possible, simplify these activities as much as you can. Make food preparation easier by planning simpler meals or precooking some foods. See if there are some household chores that you can do less often – can you dust every other week instead of every week, for example. Set up a neighborhood carpool so you don’t have to drive to school twice every day. Once you determine which activities you must do, make sure you schedule time for them.
3. Delete items from your to-do list that someone else can do. Did you delegate some items in step two? Mark them off your to-do list, you’re no longer responsible for them. Are there other activities you can remove from your list? Maybe your “volunteer plate” is too full and you need to resign a few responsibilities. Perhaps you have some unrealistic expectations for yourself and you need to rethink how many goals you are working on at one time.
4. Develop a “Don’t Do” list. Your Don’t Do list will keep you from losing focus on more important and meaningful activities. It will also free you from feelings of guilt or stress when someone asks you to do something that you are really not suited for. For instance, if you hate baking and your child’s teacher asks you to bring cupcakes for a party, say that you’d love to pick some up from the store but you wouldn’t be able to make them yourself. Or, perhaps it is very important for your family to set aside time on Saturday’s to spend together – put “anything on Saturday” on your Don’t Do list. Then when you are asked to volunteer at that luncheon you can easily say, “I’m sorry, I’m not available on Saturday’s.” I’m not saying you can’t be flexible, but your Don’t Do list should be made up of activities that you shouldn’t do – either because you aren’t qualified or because you really don’t enjoy them or because you are spending your time on more important activities.
The great thing about a new year is that it gives us a fresh start – a chance to make changes or break bad habits or finish goals. This year, spend your time and energy on opportunities and obligations that are meaningful and important. Invest in the best 2012 has to offer.
Question: What’s one item on your Don’t Do list? I’ll give my answer in the comments.