Monday, 24 February 2014

Learning To Do Less

Image provided by Flicker - Rory Finneran (Cropped by me to fit)

At the beginning of January I wrote a post called Unbusy Your Life  Its been VERY difficult, learning to let go, and do less, if you're a life squeezer who crams the maximum into every day it doesn't come easy to change to a slower pace. January and February are supposed to be quiet, January wasn't, and February isn't, but I've challenged myself to slow down.

We all need to stop our to-do lists from building up and overwhelming us, it's taking me a lot longer than I expected to clear my schedule, and my mind. I've made an appointment with myself each day to do nothing! I call it taking a slow hour, when I switch off the phone, the laptop, and the TV, and I kill all thoughts of what 'needs' to be done. I do whatever I want to do instead, write, read or listening to music have topped the bill so far. It doesn't come easy, if you're driven, and used to rushing around at 100 mph every day, but I'd encourage everyone to try it, and while you're at it, do a life edit, the sooner the better, because its definitely worth doing.

Look at what you do in a typical week, I was moving through days on autopilot, working, cooking, cleaning, ferrying teenagers around, shopping, internet surfing, snatching writing time here and there. It was exhausting, both physically and mentally. I wrote everything down for a week, it was a long list, a shockingly long list, no wonder I'm jaded and worn out, frankly I'm not surprised my writing has suffered.

At last I saw where my time was going. Was what I was doing really important? Did it make me happy? What tasks could I remove, or renegotiate?

Getting more sleep is a priority, I've been going to bed an hour earlier five nights a week, and set my alarm to wake me thirty minutes later on a work day. There are consequences, I don't have as much time, I'm sleeping for an extra seven and a half hours a week. Not to mention the 'slow hour' I'm taking daily. Some tasks I have simply removed, but others have had to remain as fixtures,  Some things I dropped - I got wrong, they have rose to the surface, they're back on the list, I've had to delegate them, and ask other members of the household to pitch in and do their share, and its making things easier.

I do more prioritising, assessing each task, and I delegate whenever I can, everyone has to pitch in now. I've made it clear I can't keep all the balls in the air any more. I want to enjoy my free space, and get back to my writing properly. Its working slowly, I now have two dedicated writing sessions, and I'm planning  to add at least another this week.

I'm still clearing clutter around the home, and have adopted a new life rule. If something new comes into the home, something has to go, it doesn't feel like I'm making a dent in it yet, its a slow process, I do fifteen minutes every other day. Just clearing the backlog of old writing magazine is time consuming enough, not to mention the mountain of books! I'm aiming for a clear writing room. Its a way off, but I've started the journey.

Slowly I'm bringing a little balance to my life again, and cranking up the happiness by learning to do less.
What about you? Do you need to do a life edit? Perhaps you have tips and ideas you can share?

Have a good week.


  1. I'm sure you'll feel more inspired, relaxed and energised for the changes! I agree on life editing. This is what I've changed or done over the years and they've all helped tremendously:

    - Stop purchase of certain things or activities entirely to do more of what you love and try new things
    - Keep a box and during weekly cleaning, drop anything outgrown, unused or unwanted into it
    - 1 in 2 out of the same thing (clothing, kitchenware) to reduce then maintain with a 1 in 1 out rule
    - Display fewer though larger items of art/pretties; looks tidy even when lived in and cleaning is faster
    - Keep as much off the floor in tubs or on furniture and encourage everyone to put things back
    - Only replace items that are broken or have run out
    - Bulk buy food you eat a lot that is healthy to save money, stop buying what people won't eat
    - Use ecloths and natural cleaners, saves on disposable items/toxic substance use
    - Have 1 area to rotate recent photos, artwork, phone messages
    - Limit events, appointments, clubs, lessons etc so everyone has only 2 or 3 per week
    - Keep a whole day or afternoon clear on the weekend for everyone to relax
    - All pitch in for a brief clean and delegate a few easy, daily tasks to everyone
    - Store like with like to see how much there is; allowing space for what is necessary and well loved

    I love that you're "cranking up the happiness"! Enjoy editing - around the home and on the page :)

  2. Hi Lou, Thanks for stopping by and sharing your tips and tricks, I like your idea of keeping a box handy to pop things into as you go...and also rotating current images, lists etc is something I used to do when the family were young. I've got out of the habit, and need to bring it back I think...

    I do have a list of what's for tea though. ;-)

  3. We all need a good work/ life balance, Maria - I'm quite good at it.

  4. Great post, Maria, and I completely agree. One positive of losing the Internet for a few days was the amount of time I had to review my writing etc, although I'm glad to have it back. Love Lou's list too. We're trying to get rid of things around the house before downsizing at some point. The books are proving the most difficult to let go and I've only managed to part with a few so far!

    1. I sympathise, I'm clearing as much as I can while we are decorating a bedroom. I have stuff everywhere!

  5. This really seems to be a recurring theme at the moment and, I have to say, I couldn't agree more. Knowing first hand just how terrible things can get when you overload yourself, I can hold my hand up and say, quite honestly, that learning to do less is a wok in progress but I'm getting there.
    The past couple of weeks has been a real eye opener for me, but I'm truly terrible at taking my own advice! So... maybe I'll take yours instead. :p

    Speak soon. x

    1. I've done less all week and it feels good! Except I do have a big pile of writing related stuff to do now. ;-)

  6. I like to be quite busy but I try to make sure I'm busy with good stuff, not uneccesary time wasting tasks that are just habit.

  7. Hi Maria
    Thought I'd pop by and see how you're doing!
    Every now and again I'll clear out drawers and cupboards, but I usually become so engrossed in the old photos, letters, writing magazines etc that it takes me quite a long time. I'm actually at the beginning of a major clear out as I'm to become a nana to twin girls in April. I'm repainting, re-carpeting, creating a nursery for when I'm baby-sitting and generally making everywhere, new-baby-proof. Quite a lovely reason for having becoming more organised!
    Ange x

  8. Really interesting post; it certainly rang true for me and reminded me of good rules I tend to let slip! Thanks for sharing :-)


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