If your calendar is so full you get a case of the jitters just looking at it, a reduction plan might be the answer.
The questions helped us identify what we’re doing now, what our top priorities are, and how much time we’re allocating to them. For those of us who realized we need to devote more time to our most important tasks, the next step is identifying what we need to cut.
How to Choose What to Lose
One technique for identifying what stays and what goes is to grab some cards. Not playing cards, but 3×5 cards. On each card write one major activity, such as writing, blogging, or attending a regular meeting. Add an estimate of how many hours you need for each activity per week (or month if you schedule that way).
Lay the cards out in a row, and move them around until you have them arranged from the most important task to the least. Once you do, ask yourself if there are too many tasks for the time you have available. If so, decide which could go.
Some tasks will be vital, such as caring for your children, preparing meals, or going to your day job. Others will be optional, such as social networking, blogging, or pleasure reading. Could some be streamlined to take less time?
Remove cards one by one until those that are left represent the most important tasks, which can be accomplished in the time you have available.
Easing the Pain of Loss
Eliminating some tasks will be easy. They might be things we once enjoyed but no longer do. However, cutting activities we find pleasurable can be painful. What helps me is to remember three truths.
Less is more. Having fewer activities on my calendar gives me more breathing room. I’m more relaxed and more fun to be around when I have less on my schedule.
Saying “no” to one thing means saying “yes” to another. I might be losing one thing, but I’m gaining time to devote to something I’ve determined is more important.
Quality trumps quantity. By eliminating the excess, I’m not as scattered and can do a better job on the activities I undertake.
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When I sat in McDonald’s with my analyst sister last week, she helped me determine two things to remove from my plate. The first is Toastmasters. While I thoroughly enjoy the meetings and the members of my local club, I haven’t the time needed to be an active member who gives speeches on a regular basis. I’ve asked to be put on inactive status.
The second decision is to focus my blogging efforts on this blog. I’m excited about what I have planned, but ending my blogging efforts at Romance Writers on the Journey is extremely difficult for me. I’ve spent three years interviewing not-yet-published and debut romance writers, and my guests have become treasured friends. My last interview will take place August 30th, after which the site will remain with the archived posts. Being the emotional person I am, I will no doubt shed tears when that final post goes up.
I’ve spent the past week reminding myself of the truths above. I’ll be getting much-needed breathing room, will be saying yes to more writing time and more time to devote to this blog, and will be able to do a better job on the tasks that are most important.
One thing that will remain constant is my connection with you. I value you and will do my best to interact with those who comment on my posts and to answer questions. I’ve been blessed by the generosity of so many, and my goal is to pay it forward, producing posts that are interesting and informative.
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Have you had to cut something you thoroughly enjoyed from your schedule? If so, how did you deal with the resulting pain?