I’ve recently started reading the Money Wi$e Women blog, part of the BlogHer network. On December 3, 2011, Sherri Edwards wrote about Making Time for What You Want in the New Year. It got me thinking about my life, and the things I need to do differently to make my future more satisfying than my present.
Edwards’ process started with making a list of all the activities and people in her life, and examining each one. Which activities and relationships leave her energized, feeling positive and productive? Which leave her feeling drained or cost her time with no personal or professional payback? What changes can she make in her activities and relationships to improve her quality of life?
I’ve got a head start on the Activities part of all this. For years, I’ve used a handy little application called LifeBalance that helps me keep track of what I need to do when. I use it to track my progress toward five top-level goals, phrased as though I’ve already accomplished them. These goals cover the major parts of my life:
- My family and friends
- My home
- My community
- My business
Within each top-level goal are contributing goals and projects, drilling down to specific tasks that I need to do for each. I’ve got this part of the process nailed. I can track each set of activities, review progress, check off items I’ve finished (nice feeling!) and add new stuff.
Add new stuff? Oh, yeah. I do lots of that. Too much. More and more and more until I boil over and slash everything to the bare minimum of required tasks, and start over, adding more stuff again. And I’ve never really looked at the satisfaction I get from each activity or relationship.
2012 will be a little different. By Jan 1, I plan to have looked at every project and every relationship. What relationships lift both of us up? Where am I making a positive impact? What things would be better done by someone else, or not done at all? What changes can I make in what I feel I need to do, or in the way that I do those things, to make more time and energy available for things I want to do, the things that will take me in the direction I want to go for the rest of my life.
And, just as important, what are those things I will do with the time and energy I ‘save’ by going through the first part of this process? That’s where the Life Lists come in. Everything goes on the list. Everything gets a rough priority assigned to it (though I expect this will change over time). And, when I’ve simplified my life and freed up a little of that time and energy that I’m now wasting, I’ll pick one or two of those list items and start working on them.
Item #1 is already set: Learn to say “No.”