Whole Living Daily

Overcommitted? Purge Your Schedule Like a Dirty Fridge

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Got too much going on? Pushing the bandwidths of your capabilities (and your patience)? I hear you.

It's one thing to be tired or worn out from time to time, which happens to all of us, but it's another to feel strung out ALL THE TIME. This not only keeps you from being the loving parent, wife, aunt, friend, whomever you want to be or are, but also presents a major threat to your health.

And with Mother's Day coming up, I wanted to share this little tip with you now. Though I'm not a mommy myself, I find that this piece of advice is particularly appealing to moms who have little time and sometimes even less energy:

Scrutinize Your Schedule Like Your Fridge

That's right. For moms (or anyone, really) who are uber-focused on feeding their families better, healthier food, it's natural that you start with your refrigerator: What am I subsisting on? What's going bad in there? Why don't I have room for things I want to put here?

So why wouldn't we look at our schedules in the same way. Why? Because our schedules, like our fridges, are often jam-packed with things that have long since turned.

That book club you joined because it sounded like fun isn't at all; you're having play dates or dinners with people who don't contribute much to your life (and your kids aren't crazy about them either); lunch with your old colleague is starting to grate on you, and you find you don't even look forward to it anymore.

Of course, it's easy to keep on keeping on as you always have, but when you're brave enough to look our obligations in the face, you can be brave enough to toss some of them out. And it can make the difference between owning your schedule...and feeling owned.

Who are the old pickle jars and moldy bits of onion and crusted jars of tomato sauce that do nothing but take up space in your life and your calendar? Why do you keep them? Time to purge. Now of course we can't get rid of ALL of the stuff we don't want (your mother-in-law is your mother-in-law and there's no changing that), but you can manage the time you spend with them.

How to Start

Look at your schedule for next week, and the next month if you want and for each and every thing/meeting/activity, ask yourself:

  • What am I doing--and why?
  • Do I love this activity? Do I love the people there?
  • What is the larger motivation for why I feel committed to it?
  • Is it necessary? Vital? To or for whom?
  • Who will be most disappointed if I cancel/quit/put on permanent hold?
  • Do I care?
  • When can I end this obligation? Is it a force-quit situation or can I just wait out the season, so to speak?
  • What next action can I take to change my obligation (it may be quitting, or just scaling back)

Identify that action, write it down...and DO IT. Do it now.

Oh--and by the way? Don't waste time with excuses. You don't owe them any to anyone (I did a short video on just this topic), and most of the time, people don't care. What you might say is that you are changing your schedule to give you more time with the family or to work on other projects, and you're very sorry, but you will no longer be able to do _____.

Next time you wonder where all your time has gone, take a look at where you're spending it. And on whom. It may be time to freshen up the crisper drawer of your life.

Want more tips like this? Check out my youtube channel.

Terri Trespicio is senior features editor at Whole Living magazine and the host of "Whole Living" on Martha Stewart Living Radio, which airs every day at 10a East / 7a West on Sirius 112 / XM 157. Follow her on twitter @TerriT or subscribe to her videos on youtube at TerriT73.

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