Doing less

It’s a new year, and with that comes heightened reflections on what I want to get done. It could be 8pm, and I’ll still have laundry to do, meals to prep, rugs to vacuum, hair to wash, personal emails to write, that craft project to start on,  and books to read for edification or leisure. There’s no way that fits with a bedtime before 11pm, or the even wiser 9 or 10.

So, how does one get things done? Being a night owl stopped working for me once I had an office that opened early; it works less now that I try for pre-work yoga. With waking up early unlikely (I had striven for this unsuccessfully for some time), my attempt will instead be to just do less. Yes, less.

‘Less’ is the only way that priorities emerge. So how do we prioritize with practicality? I use obvious time frames. For example: my current priorities are work, school, family, health and wellness, and a couple of personal projects and engagements (like the blog). I wrote them in the “January” box of the year-view section in my planner. How many interactions with those priorities, per week, would allow me to feel self-supporting? I noted those numbers on the ‘month view’ spread for January, and made boxes to check once I hit my weekly or monthly goals. On the weekly spreads with lots of space for each day, I can make tallies when I do a ‘priority’ task, and note daily expenditures. I can get specific with how I support health and wellness, i.e., making boxes to check for significant time spent outside or going to the gym. Being social isn’t a stated priority, but I do track social events, mostly to remind myself how frequently I indulge myself in attending them.

My hope is that managing my priorities monthly and weekly will help shape daily behaviors. For instance, when the late night urge to organize hits me (and it hits me hard pretty regularly) I can remind myself that health and wellness are on my list, but filing is not. So I read, help my brain decompress, and go to sleep. In addition to interfering with rest, staying up late to organize won’t help me work out the next day. Going to sleep is basically a two-fer.

All the things I want to do are theoretically good things, but you really can have too much of them. Pushing yourself too hard erodes your ability to be realistic, to stay on track, or to recharge. It’s a little sneaky, I suppose. My real reason for doing less is hoping that prioritizing will help me get more done in the end; I’m tired of having half-finished projects and not being consistently sure what I want to work on first. If nothing else, I imagine I’ll get a lot of sleep. Doing less: great already.

 

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