PERSONAL PLANNING SLOW DOWN & SIMPLIFY

The Ultimate Way To Manage Your Time Wisely

I hated working hard but never getting done what I needed to.  The anxiety felt like a grip at night when I remembered what I didn’t get to.  I can show you how to quit the overwhelm for good. 

In life, our tasks, commitments and responsibilities can feel overwhelming at times. They relentlessly come at us day after day and threaten to take us out physically and mentally. It’s a perfectly natural response to feel overwhelmed when the volume of tasks are bigger than our time and energy.

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Overwhelm is a word used when a wave falls down over you, pushing you underneath the water into a tumultuous tumble turn that’s so fast and forceful you can’t stand up. 

Being swallowed, drowned or inundated by too much of something. Being swept off your feet, and not in a good way.  You get the picture. Good. But it’s not pretty or pleasant when your right in the middle of feeling this way.

There are many reasons this can be happening and many different scenarios that will make your situation unique.

But there is often one primary reason that we feel like this and it’s that we are simply overestimating the amount of resource we have to do the tasks we need to do.

  • too many things to do and not enough time
  • too little time given to tasks that need to be done
  • too little energy to complete the tasks we want to

Things can move pretty fast nowadays, we want things to happen quickly, we want results, answers, food and other needs to be met, all as soon as possible, please.

We do the same with things that simply can’t be rushed, we expect they will happen a lot sooner than is realistic and wonder why we don’t see results. We set unrealistic expectations for what needs be accomplished and wonder why we’re feeling overwhelmed. (there’s that word again!)

  • Your on a roller coaster that won’t stop
  • Exhausted at the end of each day
  • Dread the next day coming
  • Depressed your not making progress
  • Frustrated you’re not enjoying life
  • You don’t know how to change any of it

In order to not have this horrible feeling of being buried under things, we have to get a clear and correct view of what is really going on and what we can and truly need to accomplish.

Easier said than done, but it can be done. It takes a little bit of strategy and practice.

It means knowing what you have in the way of time, energy and decide for yourself what you want to do rather than life as it happens, making those choices for you. You don’t mind working hard but you do want all your effort to be for things that will make a difference long term for you & your family. 

You can learn how to determine your most important priorities and responsibilities to make your life more manageable and pleasant.  

THE JAR OF TIME

Our time is inflexible, just like a glass jar. A fixed quantity of volume that won’t expand or shrink. We can choose to put in it use whatever we please. Similar to time, each of us has the same 24 hours in a day, 7 days in a week, 52 weeks a year. 

We cannot store it, save it for later, or buy more.  Whether you are rich or poor you have been given the same amount as everybody else on earth.

To decide what goes in this jar you have to:

  • Prioritise tasks & commitments
  • Know what you can and shouldn’t do
  • Make sure important things get done 

LETS GET STARTED

#1 List ALL of the current tasks, jobs, activities, and commitments that you do. Whatever you can think of, write them down.

  • Work / School / University
  • Travel/transport
  • Personal care 
  • Sleeping
  • Cooking & Meal Preparation
  • Cleaning/Washing
  • Volunteering
  • Clubs/Sports
  • Exercise
  • Shopping/Errands

#2 Allocate time to each of these tasks 

You might not know when you will do each task, but at least have a guess how long it will take. For example: Sleep –  11pm – 6.30am (7.5 hours)

Try and be specific about how long you spend on a task, you may not know when you will do it but at least find a general idea of how long it might take you each day/week.  

This is an exercise that starts to give you a really clear idea about how much time things take and how much time you are busy in a day or week.

THE ROCKS

There are still a few more steps to go to gain clear information about where your time is going and where you would like it to go. Each of your activities will have to be looked at and decided upon.

But first, we are to decide the ROCKS.

These are non-negotiable and not optional things we do in life. Totally unavoidable.

Think of rocks along the coastline, they are never, ever, going to move out of your way, and if you don’t adjust, you will smash into them if you ignore their existence. No matter how busy you are these tasks have to happen.

ADD THEM TO YOUR WEEKLY SCHEDULE

On your weekly schedule, a blank weekly layout or calendar app, or handwritten table, however, you have chosen to work on this. Mark out and include all the time you spend doing the following tasks that are essential to your week. 

These things must happen regardless of whether you want them to or not.  They are unavoidable long term.

EXAMPLES OF THE ROCKS IN YOUR WEEK

Sleep. How many of hours do you need each night? 

Food and meal preparation. Food is what your body uses as fuel to survive. First, it has to be purchased, then it needs to be prepared and finally include time to sit and eat your meals for morning, midday and evening. 

Time at work plus the commute time to and from each day you work. Mark out and include all the time you spend transporting yourself and others to work/school etc. and the time you spend at work throughout the week. 

Home and personal hygiene. I am not saying if there was an earthquake and we lost the ability to shower we would die. I’m talking about general life and living and what’s important for general health. I have chosen to put it all together as a ROCK for self-care. Include time to take a bath or shower and brush your teeth.

House and home. Washing up after meals, keeping bathrooms hygienic, laundry, it has to be done at some point! 

Daily/weekly exercise. This could be more optional for some people. I think for overall longevity it is good to assume you need time to move your body. If not for exercising the body but to help clear the mind. A leisurely walk time, to go for a run, bike ride, go to the gym, walk the dog.

THE PEBBLES

Pebbles are not essential tasks but still significant. 

Think of them like a stone in your shoe, when you get one stuck in there, it will eventually demand your attention. 

They are also the things that make out life fun and fulfilling. Think of colourful & shiny stones in all different shapes and sizes. 

Pebbles are added to the jar around the essential rocks. 

Pebbles can be very smooth and fit into small spaces.  There is room for them, but not as much as you think, this is where the tension begins. 

Whether these tasks are important or not is up to you. Like I said, they can be important, but they are not urgent or essential to life and living.  

Pebbles are types of tasks that include; 

  • Sports
  • Church
  • Volunteering
  • Lessons
  • Hobbies
  • Clubs
  • Groups

These tasks are generally for a set amount of time when a specific activity is done.

ACTION STEP

  1. What are your extra activities?
  2. Allocate them time in your weekly schedule

If you find there is too much happening we will adjust things until your schedule works. The next module will help you do just that. 

THE SAND

Sand is the ‘filler’, the unspecified, unallocated activities, that fill in the gaps of time for ‘other’ tasks that have to fit around the edge of important things. 

Sand is the area of margin that we create in our lives for very non-specific things that we wouldn’t recognise as tasks. 

I have decided that the sand is the GOLD in life, the Treasure! Think of small grains of golden sand that run through your fingers when you pick it up. 

Just like the margin in a textbook, which is used for notes, extra info, or last-minute changes. This is also what we need in our lives. Some call it white space, breathing room, wriggle room, and even elbowroom. Margin, the space you need to catch your breath between things. Time to rest. 

The pebbles, those pretty, shiny objects that we listed in Module #2, the not-as-important-as-we-think tasks that take up A LOT of space,  they crowd out the valuable time we need for the treasures in our lives. 

THE SAND IN YOUR LFE

Here you add the extra things that you know you need and/or want to do. Extra time to have a casual conversation or small talk at dinner You want to have time to stop and chat, right?

Maybe you’re a busy mum, you want time to stop with your little while they look at a bug or pick a flower as you walk, you WANT to be that kind of mother.

  • Browse a magazine or reading a book 
  • Evening chats about issues or telling a story
  • Playing board games or having a family night
  • Reading OR talking to your kids in bed at night
  • Going for walks, bike rides at the weekend
  • Watch a movie or go on a date night
  • Time for an afternoon nap
  • Getting exercise in / going to the gym

ACTION STEP

All these activities help you feel balanced, even though you may never be truly balanced. What would make the biggest difference to your family relationships that you haven’t had time for lately? 

What would you find fun or relaxing? What appeals to you most of all? What are the things that you want to start doing again, or would like to make room for? 

You don’t need to make any changes to your schedule layout just yet, just know what time you need. 

PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER

So now you’ve decided what the extras are that you want to include and how much extra margin you would like in your life each week, and you have already allocated time for the essentials that have to happen regardless, so you have to look again at the ‘pebbles’. 

This is the area you adjust to make things work, and honestly, you can only reduce or eliminate. Either you reduce the amount of time you are spending on an activity or remove it altogether. 

Find ways to reduce the time you normally spend on an activity for example from 4 hours of cleaning and just do 1. 

Decide to volunteer once a week instead of 3x 

Take a season off from a particular commitment or role and see reduces stress 

Decide you will spend fewer hours in the clubrooms while you have a family at home  

Reduce sports to once a week instead of 2

The ways that you can eliminate things from your schedule is limitless, but it is not always easy to do in reality.  

If you have decided what you would LOVE to fit into your day/week that would significantly change your life, now you have to make room for it.

CHANGE WHAT IS NOT WORKING

You may try something and it doesn’t work and have to adjust things again, that’s normal. 

Keep changing, correcting, trying different things until you find a balance that works for you and yours. 

Everyone’s family is different and what works for one will never work for another, you have to find what works for yours. 

When you know what you HAVE to do, The Rocks, and you have decided what you NEED in the way of margin, the rest must adjust or things will go bust! 

Remember that we all have the same 24 hours in a day.  You cannot save it or buy more.  You get to choose what you do with it.  But when it’s going, it’s gone.  

The jar size NEVER EVER changes! 

TROUBLESHOOTING

WANT TO START SOMETHING NEW

When it comes time to start something new or add to your existing schedule it is a simple case of mathematics, and this rule applies to anybody. 

I know that it can be especially hard to enforce this rule, especially for parents when their child wants to do something new. 

What you have to say to them is that if they really want to do this new thing then something will have to be removed (from the ‘jar’).  It’s really that simple. 

They want to start Football, sure thing, but they will have to give up swimming.  Horse riding, go for it, but they will have to give up music lessons. 

It’s perfectly normal for kids to want to try different things and see what they like, don’t like and what they might be good at, but they don’t have to put stress on the whole family because of it.

HOW DOES A PARENT CHOOSE

It’s also very common that parents don’t want to see their kids quit or give up on things, especially when they are good at it.  It could be because we don’t want them to develop a habit of not finishing things. Yet, we also don’t want to keep stacking up the different activities just for the heck of it.

It’s an exercise in and of itself to determine what a child should stick with or not. 

In my reserved opinion, a child will naturally gravitate in time to the thing they most enjoy and achieve well in. They may drift away for a season but they will always come back to what they love.  

Primarily its most important  that your child is active and learning and that is ultimately the main goal. 

It will be your decision as a family which activity is best, but the time they have available for these ‘unessential’ activities doesn’t change, and you will have to decide what the pay off will be. 

LEARNING HOW TO SAY NO

This is not an easy one, it is a skill that can be learnt, and you do get better at it with time.  

We always have to try and balance the tension between the things we NEED to do vs what we WANT to do. 

When you are presented with something you could do, you really need to check if you really have any time and energy spare and if the gain is worth the pain. Sometimes there is a big need that will require our attention only for a minimal time, the temporary pain might be worth it.  We can say yes for a smaller chunk of time to fill the important need. 

Other times, it’s not practical long term and there is nothing you can do but say NO.  Your not being a chicken or lazy, you’re simply saying no because you have to.  To say yes means we are accepting the strain it will cause us, and the resentment that can build if we put their needs ahead of our own.  

PRACTICAL WAYS TO SAY NO

 I really don’t have any spare time to do that, sorry! 

I would love to but won’t be able to, sorry! 

I’ve already committed myself to other things that I can’t get out of, sorry! 

When (other commitment) shuts down for the season/year I may have some spare time then. 

I am not interested in that sort of thing, but I have a friend who is! 

Remember the pain you have felt in the past when you have bee completely overwhelmed with tasks and drained of all your energy?

With all the courage you can muster, just say your really sorry, but no.  You won’t regret it!

DOES IT BRING PAIN OR PEACE

Another issue that can come up is when something needs to be removed and not being able to decide what.  One way I have learnt to differentiate is thinking ‘what gives me the most peace’?.  

Not what is going to be easiest or least amount of work, but what makes me feel the most restful. 

Sometimes choosing to help someone on an afternoon for a few weeks instead of going to the gym is what will make me feel the most ‘peace’.  You decide that that will be what is best for you and your peace of mind, and your conscience.  

YOU choose one or the other though, don’t do it out of guilt and then get annoyed that they made you. You shouldn’t still try to go to the gym as well as help out and then get resentful at them for needing your help and making you stressed because you’re trying to do both. 

Own your decision, run with it.

TO QUIT OR NOT TO QUIT

On the flip side of this, some things can be a very large drain on us and yet we continue to push through with them. 

Notice the word push, it means forced, shove, drive. 

This can be too hard for anyone and there are only two options, 

1. Either change your attitude about the whole thing and keep going or 2. Get out of there completely and don’t look back. 

You shouldn’t remain involved if you really hate it and can’t get yourself to feel positive about it.  It might not be what you expected, you might be really struggling with a situation and you need to remove yourself.   

But if quitting isn’t what you want to do, you can’t continue to grumble and hate the task either. You may have to do some serious soul-searching and decide in your own heart and mind why you are remaining committed to this and why you are staying involved so that when the feelings come you can concentrate on those reasons.  

Ruminating and feeling negative constantly is no fun at all, for you, or for those who have to work with you.  

DIFFERENT SEASONS IN LIFE

Different seasons will mean you can have very different demands on you. Young fa On the flip side of this, some things can be a very large drain on us and yet we continue to push through with them. 

Notice the word push, it means forced, shove, drive. 

This can be too hard for anyone and there are only two options, 

1. Either change your attitude about the whole thing and keep going or 2. Get out of there completely and don’t look back. 

You shouldn’t remain involved if you really hate it and can’t get yourself to feel positive about it.  It might not be what you expected, you might be really struggling with a situation and you need to remove yourself.   

But if quitting isn’t what you want to do, you can’t continue to grumble and hate the task either. You may have to do some serious soul-searching and decide in your own heart and mind why you are remaining committed to this and why you are staying involved so that when the feelings come you can concentrate on those reasons.  

Ruminating and feeling negative constantly is no fun at all, for you, or for those who have to work with you.  milies have early starts, delays, routines, and nap times, icky messes. 

While parents of teenagers have to factor in longer and larger meal times, slower mornings, later evenings, debates & discussion, about life & love and the constant and ongoing transportation issues. 

Making room for these interactions, hiccups, negotiations and all the other random things out of your control creates space for you to be able to relax within these seasons. 

If you have a baby or young toddlers in your care then you need more breathing space for all the things that can go awry, someone tripping over as you leave the house and needing help or a poopy nappy needing to be changed. 

Also, it’s not just yourself you are getting out the door each time, you have 2-3x more people to think of and gear to pack. Give yourself a wide berth for getting to activities so that you aren’t feeling harassed or stressed. Create space to enjoy your kiddies and their activities that you spend all this energy getting them to. Enjoy being with them and to do this you have to make sure you’re looking after yourself while you do it, which includes making room to get things done.   

EXAMPLES OF DIFFERENT SEASONS

– YOUNG CHILDREN 

If you need to be somewhere at 9am, if it takes 15 minutes to get there, and you have a baby and 2 year old in tow, then you should be heading for the door at 9.30am at least.  It’s giving yourself the wriggle room (mostly in your head) to take your time, chat to your wee-ones (you know how they jabber about things as you go), enjoy the drive when you arrive you will be nicely on time. My suggestion would be to allocate an extra hour to each activity e.g. if it’s 1 hour, give yourself 2, if it’s 3 hours give yourself 4.   

– PRE-TEENS AND TEENAGERS

If you have teens, then you don’t do a lot for them personally anymore, but you do a lot for them indirectly that they possibly have no idea about.  They don’t need your help to find their shoes (well, most of them) but they do need help in navigating friendships and extra-curricular activities, transport and school work etc.  Give yourself the space YOU KNOW you need to be there for them as their parent.  They aren’t grown and out of the house yet, they are still in your charge and need help at times.  Make room for this, it shouldn’t be a surprise when your teen needs to chat after dinner for half hour or more, often times it’s later in the evening that they decide to talk over a few things. Make a little space in your evening for just hanging about with them.   

GET HELP AT HOME

As a mother you could do most things yourself, you are a strong and capable woman. You are good at knowing ahead of time the things that need to get done and what you need to do so things don’t get forgotten.  But that is a job in of itself, managing the family, you can’t do all the physical work as well. 

If I can encourage you as a parent with this, we expect our children to clean their bodies, eat good food, brush their teeth, and sleep each night in order to stay healthy and well.  It is their job to look after the body they have been given.  Your home has also been given as a resource for living, and it needs care and attention to be maintained and looked after. 

Your children sleep in those beds, eat the meals, sit in the chairs and walk on the floor.  Without it they would be homeless. It’s part of caring for yourself to look after the home you live in.  We can teach them how to do these things and care for things they own.  You don’t have to be totally responsible for cleaning a house that you alone have not messed up.  Everyone should play his or her part in keeping it functioning well.  

– HELP AT HOME FOR YOUNG FAMILIES

Now I know that young families have a big task in front of them juggling the ever-changing, ever-demanding needs of little ones, they are growing fast and its a big job keeping up with their changing abilities, and routines.  

Your challenge is going to be not attempting too much each day, or expecting a lot of yourself and accepting that ‘good enough is good enough’ 

This could be your mantra for a clean home until your little ones are able to help out. 

That being said, 3 is a great age to get your kids starting to help.  They can be terribly hopeless I know, but it’s a great age to get them started because they are too young to disagree and they love helping alongside you.  By the time they are 5 or 6, they are in good habits. 

They can start by emptying paper rubbish or wiping a bathroom hand basin.  There are lots of age-appropriate jobs lists available, but really I think it will depend entirely on what you know they are capable of on their own.  Every child is different and you know them best. 

– HELP AT HOME WITH OLDER KIDS

A teenager can do bucket loads more than a toddler, and in all honesty, they absolutely should be helping you. 

Yes, even after their long day at school! 

It’s really good for them to participate and learn. They can cook for the family once a week at the weekend, fold laundry, clean a bathroom or vacuum.  I have early teens and I divvy the weekly household jobs up between us all on a weekend and we take 1 hour to do what would have taken me 4 hours on my own.  

In my experience, the parent’s expectations of the child will determine whether a child will be capable to do something or not.  Raise the bar, have the expectation that everyone helps out.

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