The A-Z of Simple Living is a weekly series to inspire and motivate – regardless of how far into the simple living journey you are. You can find all posts in the series right here.
When we talk about creating a simpler life, the conversation often revolves around reducing our stuff. Sorting, purging, decluttering, de-owning.
And undoubtedly that is a huge part of the simple living journey. We will struggle to live simply if we are weighed down by our belongings.
But let’s talk about you for a minute.
You are a person of depth and complexity. You have strengths and needs and heart and soul. You are lovely and mysterious and ever-growing. You are not just your stuff. In fact, your stuff doesn’t define you at all.
So it makes sense that the simple living journey extends well beyond your stuff too.
What about your time? What about simplifying your time?
Tell me if this sounds familiar:
You feel overwhelmed by commitment, no time to stop, no time to suck in the scent of those roses. You wish you could slow down and appreciate what you have – you know it’s a lot – but you simply do not have time.
Today I want to tell you that there is time. You may not agree. You may not like to hear it. You may click away in disgust.
“Ugh. What would she know? She doesn’t know how busy my life is. How many commitments I have. How much responsibility weighs on my shoulders.”
And you’re right – I don’t. But here’s the heart of the matter…
You Can Find More Time By Limiting Your Commitments
Commitment and responsibility are part of adult life. And while some people resent that they are tied to these commitments, the fact is they are good for us. To a point.
Family, partner, school, work, sport, church, health and friendships.
Commitment and responsibility help us think outside ourselves and our own immediate needs. They help us expand our worldview and keep us from becoming entirely selfish.
But they can also rob us of precious limited time and energy.
Daily extracurricular activities for your kids, an overly-full social calendar, volunteering for multiple committees, saying yes when you should be saying no.
Too many of these commitments leave us depleted, exhausted and unable to give time and energy to the commitments that mean the most.
By choosing to limit your commitments, you will find more time to:
- have lazy, slow weekends – the kind where pyjamas are worn, movies are watched and coffees are lingered over
- say yes to opportunuties and last-minute plans – like when friends call on Friday afternoon and invite you to dinner that night
- take spontaneous trips and adventures - an unexpected day at the beach when the weather is just too good to miss
- experience downtime every day – a ten-minute siesta or a swing in the hammock – these things shouldn’t only happens on holidays.
Your Time is Not Unlimited – So Choose Wisely
Establishing your priorities in life will make it easy to say yes and easier to say no. (Because none of us love saying no.) In addition to the inevitable commitments of going to work, feeding your family, paying your bills and managing a household, which of the following commitments is important to you?
Write them down. Make a list. Stick it to your fridge. You need to understand what is most important in your life.
- time with your spouse or partner: offering your support, your time, your love
- time with your kids: their daily care, taking them to school, play, reading, laughing, teaching, loving
- church/spirituality: attending organised church, prayer, meditation, study
- commitment to yourself: self-care, exercise, alone time
- time with your extended family: time to catch up, phonecalls, get-togethers, birthdays, holidays
- time with your friends: feeding your soul and theirs with meaningful connections and relationships
- health: committing to exercise, healthy eating and daily activity for both you and your family
- volunteering: helping others less fortunate or using our personal skills to improve an organisation
Add to that list any other commitment you value and use it as a roadmap when it comes to simplifying your time.
It’s OK to Say No.
When faced with a new social event, committee invitation or extracurricular activity for your kids, ask yourself if it aligns with these priorities. If it doesn’t, you will find it much easier saying no.
Ask yourself, will this new commitment:
- overload your kids’ schedules?
- take you away from your family regularly?
- interfere with your relationships?
- foster resentment in yourself and/or others?
When you’ve got your roadmap right there, telling you where your priorities lay, it will be easier to make your choices.
Remember: your time is finite. So choose wisely.
Now over to you. If you could remove one commitment from your life, what would it be? And what is holding you back?