In the past I have wrestled with the strategies of discipline and routine versus flexibility and a go-with-the-flow attitude – all with the aim of finding more time and feeling great.
Being a mother of a young family as well as being a self-confessed, gratefully recovering perfectionist, I have always tended towards a style of discipline and routine.
Neither approach is right or wrong, better or worse however, for me, I have found that giving my days a little more structure allows so much more space to be creative, to make things happen and to keep a lid on the stress in my day.
In fact, when I take a look around at my beautiful friends I have noticed that the ones who have followed a highly creative path are in fact the most structured and disciplined when it comes to running their lives and their family. It seems counter-intuitive that highly creative people would be so well organised but I have reconciled this by believing that the more patterns and rituals one has, the more space they create in their life to practice their creativity. That’s just my take… I’m sure there are also plenty of highly creative people who employ a less structured, go-with-the-flow approach just as successfully.
One important facet of making changes to your life is to make choices – what will you accept for yourself and what will you no longer accept. It is when you are clear on this that you are able to find a way to fit changes in to your life.
I begun 2015 with some fairly hefty ideas (which I alluded to in my diary entry) and I spent quite a lot of time preparing myself for how my days would look to support this. These are the changes I have made this year that support my lifestyle as well as my ambitions:
1. I get up earlier
Until this January I generally loathed getting up early. I would do my best to keep the kids and the day at bay until 7am. However, when I realised that meditating regularly is critically important to me I decided that my best chance of making this happen was to be in my room, ready to start meditating by 6am. I’ve explained to the family how important this time is to me so I have the space I need. I meditate most mornings but I don’t let myself feel guilty if I miss a day every now and again. I’ve set myself guidelines, not given myself shackles!
2. I plan our week’s meals
Until January, I was in the habit of shopping at ad hoc and regula) intervals based on the grocery needs of the day. I knew this wasn’t particularly efficient but I wasn’t in the rhythm of weekly meal planning. Now I take time on a Thursday night to consider about 3 – 4 meals to shop for the following week and I aim to get the bulk of the shopping done in one trip. On top of this, I have a few tricks:
- I cook once, eat two – three times (eg. we often have a roast chicken on a Sunday night which then becomes chicken & vegetable soup on a Monday night).
- we spend time preparing food on a Sunday to set us up for the week ahead. On top of the roast chicken we cook on a Sunday, my husband often makes a slow cooked meal (lamb shanks are his favourite) and bakes a loaf of bread, whilst I prepare a few lunch box and afternoon tea snacks as well as a salad.
- I make sure I know what I’m cooking the next day before I go to bed… that allows me to soak grains or defrost in plenty of time.
- These are my 5 resources that cured my kitchen phobia & created cooking joy.
- We get the kids involved. Amen.
3. I inspect what I expect
This year I put a lot of thought in to the kid’s “chore charts”. I considered what tasks they could do that would really help (and give me more time). I have a chart that I record their progress each day and at the end of the week we have a conversation about what worked well and what could be improved. My hope is that by getting them involved and giving them timely feedback on our expectations (and linking pocket money to their efforts) that they will eventually get their helpful chores done without too much torment!
4. I got buddies involved
I generally respond well to accountability (a throw back from the old Type A personality trait) and – working for myself – this has been something sorely missing in the past. This year I have two Mastermind meetings per month that each have a different focus and provide an incredible amount of support for both my personal and professional ambitions. Having these Mastermind sessions gives me accountability and focus, so I don’t waste time on less important tasks.
5. I’m getting better at saying “no”
I started the year with a vision focusing on how I wanted to feel. I translated my vision in to a plan full of what I knew would enable me to feel the way I wanted. The plan was then translated to an annual wall planner. And the wall planner becomes the basis of the monthly to do list. I can clearly see what needs to be done… and there’s not a lot of room left! When you know how you want to feel, it makes the choices in life a little easier.
6. I built-in space and flexibility
I know I can have a tendency to be overwhelmed. What helps is to break my projects down in to achievable “chunks”. It also helps that I have space – generally on a Friday – to catch up with a friend or network with like-minded people for inspiration (which I soak up like a sponge). I like that I can move things around a bit – there’s nothing more stressful than living so rigidly that there’s no space to breathe. I make it a habit to build-in breathing space to my weekly calendar which gives me a sense of reward for keeping on my path.
Does this give you any ideas? Have you purposefully changed the way you run your life in order to achieve your plans? What’s your favourite improvement? What’s your number one challenge in achieving your goals?
I’d love to see you in the comments below!