The most important things you can do to improve your life are reduce your stress and appropriately manage your time. Here are a few simple ways that I have done these things and why they were beneficial.
- I stopped looking at social media – I’ve never been the person posting everything I do to Instagram or Facebook, but I did use Facebook. Like many, I viewed it as a harmless distraction and a good way to stay in touch with 600 plus people. Then I realized something: I only talk to 20 of those people! Not only that, but I was constantly checking Facebook. Any time I sat down between tasks I was scrolling the feed and getting stressed by other people’s opinions, rants, current events, and a million other things that I COULD NOT CONTROL. Worse yet, I was comparing my life and opinions to those of others. It was pure stress. Even the positive things added stress. “Oh look, so and so had a baby. I had better say congratulations”. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with caring about other people, and you should care about other people, however I should not and cannot care about every event in the lives of 600 people! It’s way too much information and all it served to do was stress me out. So I deactivated my Facebook, and stress I didn’t even know I was carrying was gone overnight. I was able to focus better at work, better manage my time, and put my energy into things that I can control that will benefit my life and the lives of those I care about. If you don’t believe me, give it a try. I realize that I am shooting myself in the foot with this, but log out of social media for a week and see how you feel. It will change your life.
- I got organized – My brother gave me a book for Christmas called Getting Things Done by David Allen, and it has changed my life. The premise is simple. We have too much information being thrown at us every day. Every bit of information is stored somewhere in our head, whether we want it to be or not. We develop mental checklists over time that overflow with unfinished business, and this stresses us out to no end. Allen’s book gives the reader multiple systems to record and organize all of this information so that it can be removed from the mental slate. The mind works like a computer hard drive. If you overload it, it moves slow and has trouble retrieving information. If you free up space, it moves lightning fast and finds what you are looking for almost instantaneously. I will be writing more about Allen’s systems, but one great piece of advice I took from his book is to establish a central place for ideas and tasks and get into a routine of checking that place at a specific time interval. One example of how I have employed this practice is how I applied it to maintenance on my cars. I have a whiteboard in my garage that I use to record anything to do with my cars. Anytime I notice or think of something that has to do with my cars, it goes on the white board. I review the white board every Sunday and it helps me plan my week. For example, I noticed my front tires were getting low on tread and I wrote it on the board. I didn’t worry about it anymore until Sunday when I reviewed my board. I sat down, ordered the tires, and made an appointment to have them installed later that week. Throughout the entire process I barely even thought about the task. My system did the thinking for me and the tires have now been replaced in time for safer winter driving. That is the power of having a system.
- I learned to manage my time – One of the principal drawbacks of being disorganized is that things sneak up on you. When things sneak up on you, you feel stressed. Suddenly a day that was wide open is jam packed with things that you haven’t planned or prepared for, and that makes for an awful day. Your time in the car is terrible because you’re angry at everyone on the road that is impeding your mission to get to where you need to go. The clerk at the post office is an idiot because he is moving too slow and you still need to pick up Johnny from Space Camp. The cop is a jerk for giving you a ticket when you were driving fast to pick up Johnny because the clerk was too slow…you get the idea. When we don’t plan, we plan to fail. That is why time management and organization go hand in hand. You know what helps free up some time and mental energy to get organized for the events in YOUR life? Not worrying about what is going on in the lives of everyone else. I can’t speak for everyone else, but my life is getting better each day that I put time and energy into myself, my projects, and my close relationships.
That’s it for post #2. Hope this helps someone and sorry if I got a bit preachy. These strategies seem simple, but it is very exciting to practice them and watch them work wonders in your own life. Comments and feedback are welcome and encouraged.
Thanks for your time!