There are many ways that we can get stuck in a rut with our lives, and find it difficult to progress. At times, unfortunately, we seem to put more pressure on ourselves by clinging to obsolete ways of doing things, and it pays to look at each of our operations with fresh eyes.
If your day is crammed full of things to do and you find yourself in a constant, frantic effort to work towards your goals, you will most likely find that you come to a point of burnout and intolerable frustration. This is a crisis point which will require changes to the way you do things if you are to have any hope of recovery. It is much better if you avoid coming to a crisis point in the first place. You can achieve this with an honest appraisal of your approach to your work.
If you’re completely honest in your evaluation of how you work, you will likely find you need to let go of some things and change the way you do others. In some cases you may have habits and deeply ingrained methods that you’ve used for a long time, and you may be duly hesitant.
The freeing truth is that letting go of things that no longer serve you is highly empowering and clarifying. It is very similar to decluttering items from your home that you no longer need. Both of these activities can be a bit daunting at first, but both have great benefits for you if you will are willing to push yourself outside of your comfort zone.
Removing activities from your daily work can be difficult at first, like getting rid of items in your home that you are attached to but don’t actually need. Once you do start paring these things down and letting go of what isn’t working well, you will be reinvigorated with a new sense of clarity and freedom.
Very often we set ourselves into a routine, and we cling to it like a lifesaver. Routines are fabulous tools, as are good habits. Building effective routines is highly recommended for people who are having trouble getting their lives running smoothly. When you have a plan in place, it is easier to move through your day in a directed and intentional way, and meet all of your obligations. You go to bed at night knowing that everything got done that needed to get done, and you can rest easily.
However, sometimes we can get held up by our routines. This happens when we put the routine above its purpose. A routine elevated from tool to its own sovereign entity becomes inflexible and heavy; it becomes an obstacle on your path. If having a routine becomes a matter of inflexibility to you, it is likely no longer serving you in the way you originally intended it to.
Circumstances and needs change, and it’s important to approach our routines with an adaptable and changeable mindset. If you keep your daily routines dynamic and responsive, able to be changed and shifted according to your needs at the time, you will find that they serve you infinitely better than a routine that is set in stone and changes for no one and nothing.
What does it mean for a routine to be dynamic and responsive? First, you need to keep in touch with your routine and be actively mindful about it. Observe how it’s working for you every day as you do your work. Spend some time planning every week and carefully considering any changes to your schedule or order of operations that you might need to make. Efficiency, when you’re trying to get a lot done, always trumps tradition.
It can be enlightening to prioritise your activities on paper or on your computer. Simply write a list and put things into the order of their importance to you. If you find this difficult, there are even apps available that can help you. Perhaps something that was once a top priority for you has now become less important. What does that mean for the placement of this item in your routine? Some of the things on the bottom of your list of priorities might need to be shifted in your routine. Some may even need to be taken off your list altogether.
If you’re trying to optimise the productivity of your day, you will have to be prepared to let go of some things to allow space for others. You need to appeal to your deeper values and standards to help you figure out what needs to go and what can stay. Again, it’s like decluttering. It’s important to scrutinise your activities, be honest with yourself about where you’re at in life and how things fit into it, and be willing to let go of or adapt things of lesser importance.
Here’s an example. If your current situation does not allow for you to spend 2 hours cleaning every day because you have an important obligation to make things to sell at a weekend market, you may need to pare your cleaning routine down to 30 minutes a day. It’s possible you may feel somewhat uncomfortable doing so, but if having a super squeaky-clean house is of less importance to you than meeting your obligation to make things, then you really have to acknowledge that and adjust your plans accordingly.
As another example, if you’re used to preparing elaborate meals for your family, but you find that you really do not have time to get other very important things done in your day, the extra time spent in the kitchen is not serving you. Understandably, you are making these meals for your family because you love them, and you might be hesitant to change the way you cook for them. However you are still showing love even if you prepare much simpler meals.
Check your true standards: meeting nutritional requirements is probably a big one for you, but being fancy may not be a high priority. Creating simpler meals will undoubtedly save you time. Allowing yourself to pare down the complexity of your meal preparation balances your desire to create healthy, nourishing meals for your family with your need to spend time on other things that matter to you.
It is vitally important that you have a very clear idea of your true priorities in life and work. It’s time for some honest introspection as you consider your responsibilities and which things really, deeply matter to you. As long as you have a clear idea of what is most important, you can more easily work your top priorities into an appropriate place in your day.
While some priorities may drop off the radar for a time, you can rest in the knowledge that you are still being true to yourself and your goals in life. Generally as our lives change, our priorities tend to shift as well. Things that are not high priorities for you now do not necessarily disappear from your life altogether.
Letting go of outdated ways of doing things is, in fact, very often about simplifying. As we go through our lives we should always be refining our ways of doing things so that we can achieve more with our limited time.
Efficiency is a learned behaviour, in fact it’s a honed, practiced, observed and ongoing skill building exercise.
Seldom do we find the most efficient way of doing something the first time. Pare things down and you will find that your focus becomes much clearer. Train yourself to have a dynamic, adaptable mindset the things you do, and learn to let go of things that are distracting you from your highest priorities.