I’m obsessed with planners. Every time I go to Target or HomeGoods, I always gravitate toward the stationary department and find myself flipping through all the pretty date books and journals. They’re so full of potential, filled with empty pages of life that has yet to be scripted and planned.
Every week I do a brain dump and get everything I need to get done out on paper. Braindumps are ideal for taking a cluttered, half-remembered to-do list and getting it out on paper, and nobody knows more than I, the feeling of having your shit together when you check off those endless to-dos.
But here’s the thing…
While organization is great and to-do lists are fantastic, it’s not really the act of ink touching paper that reduces stress and makes your life feel more manageable. I personally don’t think you can plan or organize your way out of a hectic, chaotic life. If you’re feeling overwhelmed and stressed out, it’s because you’re stretched too thin. If that sounds like you, trust me when I say, the work to regain control and balance starts before you pick up your erasable colored markers (which I love, btw).
[bctt tweet=” Believing a day planner will make your life more manageable and less stressful is like jamming the contents of your messy living room into a closet and calling the house “clean”. The mess is still there, you’ve just moved it.” username=”fundinghappy”]
The Truth About Your Stressy Life
I once read a Liz Gilbert quote that I can’t find, so I’ll paraphrase and hope for the best. To get what you truly want out of life, you not only have to say no to the things you don’t want, you also have to say no to a few you do want, too. There’s a whole book based on this idea. It’s called Essentialism. It’s basically the art of boiling down your life to only the very few things that mean the most to you and letting go of the rest.
I know the concept sounds harsh… like cutting off a limb, but it makes sense. More and more we’re all suffering from anxiety, overwhelm and depression and it’s not because we’re sitting around wondering what to do with all our free time.
Life has become too much.
I think a big part of busyness today is the blurred line between work and life. The perceived need to be connected 24/7 makes downtime feel less tangible. Add to that the many distractions we have now, from Facebook to Netflix where the average American spends about 3.8 hours a day, and it’s easy to see how someone can feel busier than ever before. Personally, a lot of my time has been sucked up by technology – from scrolling Instagram to writing and reading endless blog posts.
Is that productive time? Some of it is, but the concerning thing is how much time it actually consumes. When I add my “elective” screentime to my “work/necessary” screentime, it takes up most of my waking moments. That’s something I’m now very aware of and constantly working to reduce.
Intentions for a Less Stressful Year
This is something I started a few years ago, and while I don’t have a simple 1-2-3 step process for you to follow, I do recommend making a conscious intention to make the year ahead less chaotic and more simple. Saying no to things you don’t want to do is low hanging fruit (although still very important). Try also saying no to things you do want, but that stands in the way of what you truly crave. I bet some of those things might include online shopping, late nights with Netflix and scrolling Instagram (or is that just me?).
Where to start?
- Try tracking your time to see where you’re spending it. Do you want to be spending 2 hours a day on Instagram, Caren? (<- so guilty)
- What can you say no too? Probably Instagram!
- What would happen if you stopped doing things that took up time, but gave little or nothing in return? Hello, Instagram again.
Just some food for thought (and a snapshot of my own weakness) as we close out the year and crack into our fresh new day planners. I hope there are fewer things on your to-do list this year!