Your schedule just might be the most important area of your life for you to declutter. When you declutter your schedule, you make time for what you want to be a priority in your life. For me, I want my top priority to be relationships…my relationships with myself, God, family, friends, and others. If I want to have time for all of these relationships, I need to use my time well. That process begins with filling my schedule only with things that fit my priorities.
Here’s an excerpt from my post “Decluttering Your Home“:
I’m guessing you and I have something in common…that we want to get the most out of life. I want to have a fulfilling, God-honoring life. One BIG thing that seems to get in the way of living the life we want are all of our obligations. Obligations to care for our home and our family, obligations at work, obligations in other relationships, and even obligations at church. Life can be overwhelmingly busy at times, and it can steal our energy and our joy.
I would like to argue that if we would take the time to declutter our life (house, mind, and schedule), and maintain it, that we will be able to live a more meaningful life. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to look back on my life and see that it was full of cleaning and shopping and working instead of rich relationships and purposeful living. Unfortunately, we can’t remove all of our obligations, but we can choose which ones are not necessary and remove them for good. This will leave us with a more organized, simple lifestyle that will cause us less stress and more purpose.
If you are wanting to pursue a meaningful, rich life, then taking a good hard look at your schedule is a necessary step in that pursuit. You aren’t very likely to feel like you’re living a life of purpose if your time is largely being spent on things that aren’t meaningful to you!
Now, the way you go about this may be different than I do. I use a planner and a Google calendar to organize my time. Some people are really good at keeping everything straight in their head, but that is just not me. I need to write things down so that I remember my responsibilities, and a planner/calendar helps me visualize the time I have and how I am spending it.
Here is what my planner looked like when I first started taking back my time and trying to make the most of it:
My planner has a spot for goals, to-do lists, and my schedule. I love being able to see all of that at once. Anything I had to do (my obligations) is written in ink, whereas anything I wanted to do (my priorities that were more flexible) are written in pencil. This helped me see how much I could accomplish in a day, so I would adjust my to-do lists accordingly. All of the items that are circled on my to-do lists are ones that I didn’t accomplish, at least on that day. I don’t always get this perfect, and that is okay! My circles signaled me to carry over those tasks to the next week.
The best part about this way of scheduling my time was that I accomplished so much more when I had clear goals and tasks for each week and/or day. Now I don’t need to write all of those penciled-in things down, because I have made them a part of my routine and I no longer forget to prioritize them!
No matter what you usually do, I would encourage you to write your schedule down, at least for a little while. Writing it down (or putting it into a calendar app) will help you get a good handle on how you are spending your time now, and how you are wanting to spend your time going forward.
Maybe surprisingly, decluttering your time is done in much the same way as decluttering your house. First, you look at everything currently on your schedule. Second, you remove anything that shouldn’t be on your schedule. Third, you put things on your schedule that are meaningful to you.
Decluttering your schedule can seem strange, but there are some practical steps you can take to get started:
- Name your priorities. Make a list of what you want to be your priorities in life (ie. God, family, friends, work, exercise, home) and try to put them in order.
- List your responsibilities. Write down everything on your current schedule, including any family obligations like driving your kids to activities. Don’t forget your responsibilities at home like cleaning, cooking, and laundry. Basically, you are writing down anything you spend significant time doing.
- Look for necessary changes. Make note of anything you don’t enjoy doing and isn’t required of you. Make note of anything you just put on your priority list that isn’t represented in your schedule. If you decide something on your schedule needs to go, take steps immediately to remove it. Make that call, send that email.
- Make a plan. If you are spending too much time on something, set up accountability for yourself. For example, you might be spending too much time working and want to begin limiting it to 50 hours per week. Let your boss know, and track your time so you don’t keep going over. Or you might be spending too much time on your smartphone. You could try setting an alarm for the time you want to put your phone away and schedule in a reasonable amount of time for browsing social media.
- Re-write your schedule. For everything you are keeping on your schedule, decide when those things are going to get done. Make sure you are including time to take care of yourself! Ensure that all of your priorities are being given adequate amounts of time in your schedule.
If you follow those steps, you will be well on your way to taking charge of your time. I know you will find it freeing when you aren’t wasting time on things that aren’t important to you, and you are able to make time for the things that are!
Enjoy taking back your time!