Learning to weed my time commitments has been one of the more difficult, but beneficial things I have done. It is difficult because deciding what is really important and necessary is easier said than done.
For me, commitments break down into: things I want to do, things I have to do, and things I don’t want to and don’t have to do. I try to fit the first two into my schedule and the last group should get weeded out. But like I said, this is easier said than done. The difficulty is identifying which category something belongs to.
There are definitely things that I don’t want to do. Cleaning the house. I certainly don’t want to do that. But to what extent do I need to? I can spend 3 hours cleaning top to bottom – or just 1 hour getting things “good enough” to make me happy. Or I can even hire someone else to take care of it. It’s a decision to prioritize my time and spend it on what is really important to me – family, friends, self.
Then there are the things that I actually want to do. But does that mean that I should? For example, I spent a period of time volunteering at Children’s Hospital, greeting families and visitors, which was something that I really wanted to do. But the time slot did not really fit my schedule and the travel back and forth was actually causing me anxiety. I eventually stopped, but left it open to the possibility to come back if a better time slot became available. Giving that up, as much as I wanted to do it, was a huge sigh of relief. Volunteering is important to me, but weeding this one out of my schedule actually made me happy. Weeding is not only about removing things that you don’t want or need, it is about removing things that don’t fit your life now.
So is your volunteer position at your child’s school, or your church, or the community center really working for you? Maybe out of all your commitments, one or two fit your schedule, but there’s one you are only doing out of a sense of obligation. Even with best intentions, commitments need to fit your life and your time. Learning to weed your schedule is about knowing what activities to give up, because in the end, everyone benefits.
Saying “no” to one thing means being able to say “yes” to something else. Sometimes you have to give yourself permission not to do something. It will give you a sense of freedom and of control, knowing you are capable of making a decision that is right for your life.