In this How To Minimalism series, we’re exploring ways to live a simpler and more meaningful life. What can we do to live a life of less distractions and more openness? To create more room for joy and opportunity?
If you’re just joining in, you may have missed the first two posts. We’re on to part 3.
- 1. How to Have Less and Be Happier.
- 2. Four Ways to Create Intentional Relationships.
- 3. Mindful Time Management: Spend Your Time How You Want To (That’s this one!)
- 4. How to Direct Your Energy Towards Your Passions.
We’re learning how we can create space in our lives by eliminating the extra and focusing on the things we value most. So far, we’ve looked at creating space by decluttering our homes and our relationships. This next tip is all about managing our time with intention.
Psst! I created a guidebook to go along with this series and to help you turn everything we’re talking about into ACTION. Get your free copy of Live Simply, Live Fully: A Minimalism Guidebook here.
What is Mindful Time Management?
Mindful time management is about paying attention to where we’re directing our attention. With all of the distractions surrounding us, from work life to emails and social media, it’s so easy to get caught up in things that aren’t important to us. Mindfulness is a way of slowing down and paying attention to how we’re spending our time. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the demands on our time. The key, then, is to prioritize.
Find out how you’re spending your time.
The first step to mindful time management is to figure out how we’re spending our time. Take a look at a typical week in your life and write down every activity you did. Include time spent at work, with friends, watching tv, sleeping, running errands, enjoying hobbies etc. This exercise alone can be very revealing.
Ready to take this plan to action? I created a Weekly Log worksheet to help you track your week. You can print it out and fill in your activities as you go through each day – how easy is that? It’s included in my Minimalism Guidebook – get it free here!
When you look at how you spend your time in a typical week, how do you feel? Does your week look how you want it to? Are you surprised by the amount of time you spend at work? Watching tv? Socializing with people you don’t like?
Remember that your time is yours and no one else’s. It is your most precious resource. Treasure it, treat it well and don’t give it away recklessly! (P.S. Check out my post on 5 Time-Wasting Habits To Cut Out Of Your Life).
What are your priorities?
As The Minimalists say, a peek into your everyday will show you what your true priorities are. You may say your priorities are eating healthy, being with family or spending time outdoors. But are they really? Are you actually prioritizing these things? As Ryan Nicodemus says, “My priorities aren’t what I say they are—they’re what I actually do.”
Maybe what you’re actually doing with your time is not so rewarding to you. But turning things around is more than possible.
Try mapping out some of your goals by putting them down on paper. Grab a pencil and jot down some things you’d like to accomplish. Ask yourself, what things are you doing to get yourself closer to these goals? What things are getting in the way? What can you do to prioritize these goals? Keep this list of goals somewhere you’ll see it often, like the Notes app on your cell phone or maybe on your refrigerator.
How can Minimalism help?
An Australian nurse who spent time caring for the sick and dying recorded the top 5 regrets of the dying on her blog. Right at the top was “I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.” This sentiment is reflective of a society that constantly encourages us to work more so that we can have more. A bigger house, a better car, another TV. But minimalism sees things differently.
Minimalism supports a more modest lifestyle by encouraging us to spend mindfully and reflect on our purchases. Once you realize that you don’t need the biggest house or the newest phone, you realize that you can work less to support yourself. You don’t need to keep climbing the ladder for a bigger paycheck.
Minimalism helps us manage our time mindfully, by encouraging us to focus on fewer activities rather than more. Just as we declutter our homes, we can cut down the clutter in our daily routines. Maybe we can spend less time on social media or watching TV or working. As we do this, we witness the activities we love taking up more space and spreading more joy in our lives.
Decluttering our homes leaves us with less material possessions demanding our attention. We avoid wasting time cleaning and tending to stuff that doesn’t bring us value. Imagine the time spent dusting shelves full of knick knacks, searching for an outfit through piles of unworn clothes or vacuuming furniture that isn’t being used. Less stuff means less time spent maintaining the stuff!
It’s okay to slow down.
Western society tends to equate busyness with success. We admire those with packed schedules and frown upon those who seem to do less. We envy those people who juggle busy careers with family life while still managing to workout at the gym and conjure up green smoothies everyday.
But getting caught in the flow of doing too much can ironically turn us motionless. We stop noticing what’s happening around us and we become idle. In order to progress, move or change we need space in our lives. So where can you create this space? Can you work less? Watch TV less? Clean less?
There is something to be said about slowing down. In all the chaos of daily life on this planet of ours, it is important to stop and take time to be. To check in on our values, morals and aspirations and allow room for change and growth. Meditation can be a great tool to help centre ourselves and train our minds to slow down (read more on that here).
Your work life doesn’t have to be your life.
We can’t always control our work circumstances. While a job should line up with your values, it may not exactly spark your passions. But remember, your job doesn’t have to be your life.
Take a look at your monthly activity. What else are you doing? Chances are you have hobbies that are more enjoyable and feel more important to you than the job you do for money. That’s okay. To make the most out of your time, be sure to check in on what you do outside of work. Don’t let your work hours dictate how you spend your entire day. If you are too exhausted from work to do anything else you enjoy, try to find a way to work less.
If you cannot work less, reframe the way you think about your hobbies instead of putting them on the back burner. Rather than defining yourself by your job title, remember all the other things you do that make you who you are. By incorporating your hobbies into your self-concept, you begin to see them as vital to your well being. Embrace this mindset and resolve to allocate time for your passions.
So far we’ve seen how being intentional with our homes, our relationships and our time can lead us to more joy and fulfillment. Next, we’re looking at how we can intentionally direct our energy towards our passions. Head here for that post!