January 02, 2017

5 Ways to Do Less but Get More Done

Guest Blogged by Paula Blundell

With the cool air of winter slowing me down and the celebrations of solstice bringing me inside to warm up and gather with family and friends, I find that there’s no better time to reflect on what is important in my life and to prepare my mind for a new year ahead.

When I consider all the things out in the world pulling my attention away from what I really want to do, I see my long list errands to run, emails to return, and house chores to do. My focus on what is important in life can all too easily be plucked up and thrown aside by inner distractions as well - an upcoming event or vacation, a stressful situation that I can’t control or fix, or a decision weighing heavy on my mind. I can spend my limited day full of hours in thought gallivanting from worry to daydream, spinning around past conversations and trying to figure something out, all the while being too hard on myself. Multi-tasking and being busy have become second nature - and even a bullet point on my resume. I wonder if I’ve forgotten how to focus on one thing at a time and how to really be present in the moment. I realize that my thoughts are absorbed in either regrets of the past or the what-ifs of the future. They are either craving what I want or resisting what I fear.

In an effort to react less to outside stimuli, and instead be more intentional with my thoughts and actions, I’ve incorporated a more conscious way of participating in my life. Living more mindfully results in deeper awareness, a new capability to take on what comes, and a still place to go to when I need answers and direction on what next good thing to say or do. Without initially realizing it, I’ve found these new skills have helped me do less but get more done!

Here are the 5 things I’ve discovered I can do to live more simply and get more accomplished:

1. Claim what is important
What if you prioritized just sitting and evaluating what was really important in your life? Then, what if you had the confidence, strength and courage to cut out anything that is not in alignment with your true self and contentment, while still meeting daily obligations and responsibilities that you felt good about? Finally, what if that practice helped you stop over-planning and over-promising to spend your energy on things that don’t benefit your wellbeing, and therefore opened you up to giving more to yourself and those around you? You won’t know unless you try. Try scheduling 30 minutes for this, and sit down with a pen and paper.

2. Recognize stalling tactics
Read this cartoon, have a laugh, and next time you catch yourself procrastinating in this way or that, or a combination of ways as it may be, gently pull yourself back to centre with the recognition that you are procrastinating - and more importantly, ask yourself why. Shout out to lifehack.org as the source for this image:
3. Say no if you want to
What will happen if you say no? What if you turned down an invitation to put yourself first? Have you ever found yourself accommodating someone else’s needs, only to later learn that what they asked of you wasn’t that important to them in the first place? Or even worse, to later learn that you assumed incorrectly that they even needed or wanted your help at all? When you are clear about what’s important to you it becomes much easier to decide whether to say yes or no. For example, if quality time spent with family and close friends are priority, then saying no to a client when your work schedule is already full is an easy choice. 
4. Build in time to decompress
Racing directly from an important work meeting to dinner with your husband or wife is not really solid ground for a romantic evening. Crossing off fifteen errands and then running back home to play with children doesn’t lead to focused quality time. Build in a few minutes to take a breath, integrate what you’ve just experience, then let it go. Then take another minute to think about what you are about to do so you can be fully present in the next event. Decompressing and setting an intention is a momentary practice that helps you find more joy in what you’re doing. Take it one step further with meditation. Meditating brings you into your body and being in your body brings you into present time.

5. Minimize stuff and create room to breathe
The sure way to freedom is to lighten your load. Stuff not only takes up physical space but takes up your energy and attention and therefore mental space. Taking on one desk, one closet, or one room at a time in your home or office will give you a sense of accomplishment and lightness. Transform your desk covered in papers, mail and gadgets to a desk with nothing but a computer and notepad. Remember that technological clutter is a thing too – try turning off notifications of incoming texts and emails to reduce distracting you from being fully present in the moment. One area of your home that makes the biggest impact for the least input is your bedroom - especially if lack of sleep is an issue. Creating a serene space, promoting relaxation and even romance, is a room free of laundry, television/laptop, paperwork, exercise machines and children’s toys. If you find yourself needing a hand to hold or simply an objective outside perspective on how to streamline your home, be sure to contact Room to Breathe for a complimentary in-home consultation. During an informal tour of space, a professional organizer will ask you all the right questions and together you will create a plan that fits your specific needs and lifestyle.

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