Today, I’m happy to share a guest post from Alyssa from Unbusy all about how to declutter your calendar.
Clutter is not just the stuff filling your home. It can also be the stuff (obligations, commitments, ways you spend your time, etc.) that fill your schedule as well.
Just like physical clutter, clutter in your calendar is anything that steals time, energy and attention from you, without adding enough value back into your life in return. Leaving you with less time, energy and attention to focus on your values, goals, priorities and what matters most to you.
If you’re ready to simplify your life, learning how to declutter your calendar is just as important as learning how to declutter your home.
And in today’s post, Alyssa is sharing 4 great tips to help you clear the clutter from your calendar and simplify your life.
It’s always fun to hear tips and ideas from another perspective to help you simplify your life. So I hope you enjoy Alyssa’s post and the tips she’s sharing today!
How to Declutter Your Calendar: 4 tips to clear the clutter & focus on what matters
Does decluttering your calendar count, or is it just a cop-out digital declutter?
Here’s why it actually matters to minimize your electronic (or on paper) obligations, not just your physical belongings.
If you’re running hither and yon, living life on the hamster wheel, it’s definitely going to help not having mounds of toys to pick up or overstuffed closets leading to overflowing laundry baskets.
But if you have zero time between the park and library outing to switch even one load of laundry, and can’t even take 10 minutes to prep the Instapot for supper, then you’ve got bigger problems than too many clothes.
You need a declutter session for your life, not just your things.
If you’re convinced, but unsure of how to declutter your calendar and start the non-tangible decluttering process, here’s how to get started.
First things first: Start from the ground up, not the other way around.
You know, choose your favourites instead of picking what to get rid of. (It’s the same purging advice you used when you were editing closets!)
Here’s how to do this: Imagine what your favourite day – week – month would be like.
- What have you got going on?
- What about errands? (They do have to get done, after all.)
- Do you need an afternoon downtime session built into each day?
- How often do you want to grab coffee with friends? See family?
- Do you even want to volunteer this year?
This allows you to create a life you’d actually want to live. Not merely delete a few to-do’s from your calendar and convince yourself that you’ve pared down.
(Just like when you were dealing with your kid’s bedroom – a little trash pickup and broken toy removal doesn’t cut it! He needs a full-on, no-holds-barred declutter session to fix what’s going on.)
The beauty of the tabula rasa (or blank slate) approach is that you discover your ideal a lot faster. When everything is swept away, it’s easier to populate an imaginary calendar with looked-forward-to appointments plus the bare necessities.
Rather than reluctantly chipping away at your recurring reminders, cautiously deleting one here and there. All the while worried that you shouldn’t be removing anything from your list.
Second, get in the habit of looking for the least stressful way to cross things off your list.
- Are you a once-a-week laundry day girl?
- Would you like to shop for groceries only once a month?
- Is it easier to spread everything out, a little a day, for the cleaning routine?
In other words, if you were starting from scratch, what housework schedule would you be drawn to?
Yes, you have a family now. Kids. Babies. Get-into-everything toddlers. Middle schoolers. But what would you, the mom, pick for yourself? (Because you are the final cleaning authority, you know – not last year’s routine, or your best friend’s or mother-in-law’s advice.)
You’re also allowed to change things up. Do you normally work well with a batch food prep schedule, but this semester things just seem crazy? Give yourself permission to delete “bulk food prep day” from your calendar and replace it with a daily “prep 1 thing” appointment.
It’s okay. You’re still getting the work done, and that’s all that matters.
Get rid of the notion that you have to stick with the same schedule you’ve been trying to make work since you had your third baby (with little to no success). If something’s not working, that’s your cue to change things up – not beat yourself up for failing!
Choose a weekly routine that makes sense to you, whether that’s a little a day or “do it once and don’t think about it.”
Choosing between better and best
Finally, I know you’ve got a lot going on – and some of those calendar write-ins are even good things.
But when you’re over-committed, over-busy, and over-scheduled, something’s got to go. (And yes, that might mean some of the good things too.)
- What’s good – but not ideal – at this season of life?
- What’s stressing you out, but you’d like to get to some time (or year)?
- Is there something you’d love to step into, but haven’t allowed yourself?
It’s perfectly allowable to tell yourself that this year, you’ll take a year off from outside commitments (so you can prioritize your sleep with a newborn), but next year you’ll consider volunteering at your child’s school (but only one day a month for starters).
You can ease into it – banish the “all or nothing” volunteer mentality. You are helping when you only have space for an occasional fill-in!
This is just a taster to see if the activity is something that should become part of your family’s regular routine. And to do that, it has to prove itself.
You already overscheduled your kids (or yourself) once – you don’t want to do that again.
So give yourself room to breathe when something taxing is going on, dip your toe in (metaphorically speaking) no matter how enticing the outside opportunity is, and let year three be your “all in” goal. It’s okay – the school board, church group, or meal train coordinator role can wait.
And when you’re ready, you’ll do a far better job filling that position (without resentment!) than you would have if you’d started too early.
Picture the future
Imagine starting your day in a cleared-out kitchen. It’s easy to grab your favourite mug from the cabinet for your morning cup of coffee. The counters are bare except for a favourite photo or maybe a bunch of flowers that make you smile.
You’re not rushing to get the kids up, stuff cereal down everyone’s throats (and a granola bar down yours since you don’t have time). Instead, you can savour that coffee, look out the window, and go over in your mind what needs to happen this day.
You’ve got the mental space to anticipate problems with your kids’ attitudes or build in an extra 15 minutes at the park if the weather’s nice. Or come up with an alternate supper meal if you accidentally forgot to thaw that hunk of hamburger.
And none of that would have happened if you’d been gulping down coffee, yelling at your kids to get up, and hoping you didn’t forget anything important on your way out the door.
Isn’t that what a minimalist life is supposed to be like? Not just a right-sized amount of things, but a right-sized experience of life? A flow that suits you (and your family) to the T?
That’s what minimalism means to me – and it takes a calendar clear-out to get it.
When do you have time to start yours today?
Is your calendar about to explode? Is your schedule stressing you out every time you look at it? Discover exactly what you need to do to banish the over-committed woes. Get instant access to Your Calendar Sanity Checklist so you can quit the busy. It’s time to de-stress your schedule right now!