Sometimes when we’re in the middle of “the crazy,” it feels like our options are limited. But THAT is what causes us to feel stressed out and frustrated.
Here are a few questions I’ve personally found to be helpful when I am smack dab in the middle of a chaotic moment, week, or season, and perhaps these will inspire you to come up with additional ones, as well! 🙂
(1) Could I do this another time?
The goal of this question isn’t to turn us all into procrastinators, but if we have a tendency to pack way too much into our days and weeks, it’s essential that we have a focused, doable load of projects, routines, and calendared events.
Moving something to a later date is not the same as procrastinating. For example, Eric and I used electrical tape to keep the starter on our car in place when we were newly married. It gave us time to save up money for the needed repairs, so whenever we got stuck somewhere, we’d just pop the hood, add some new tape, and voila!
As a more recent example, we moved into our current home five years ago, and we had great ideas for updating the backyard. Every summer, we’d revisit the plans and take a step or two to get started, but each time, we decided for one reason or another that our energy needed to go elsewhere.
That’s okay. It is way less overwhelming to deliberately decide to reschedule or renegotiate an obligation than to keep it on the stack of mental spinning plates in our brains.
(2) Could I do without this?
If you’ve studied minimalism or essentialism, you’ve probably noticed how much lighter your mind feels when you remove as many items, routines, etc. as possible from your life and focus on only what is absolutely necessary.
When my brain feels full, I start eliminating as much of the “extra” as possible. That extra supplement I’ve been taking that I don’t think I actually need, the extra papers I hung on the front of the fridge that don’t “spark joy” anymore, the extra grocery run that wasn’t really needed…
There’s a huge difference when you wake up and work within a life that is filled with beautiful essentials–and void of anything that is just mentally weighing you down.
(3) Could I satisfy the goal of this task/project/routine with something else?
I think this is my favorite question, and I’ll just share a few quick examples.
- I like sending birthday, wedding, and thank you cards to my loved ones, but sometimes things pile up, and it feels like a bit too much. I’ve started using the voice memo app on my phone, recording a heartfelt message, and texting it to my loved one. “Here you go! An audio birthday card from April!” Getting the whole family to sing Happy Birthday or sharing a special memory from an experience with that person is just as personal and special, in my opinion. And with VenMo, it’s never been easier to include a monetary gift, if desired. I think it’s a win-win!
- Our son recently wanted to join a mountain biking club, and it sounded like a great idea, but we were going to be double-booked two nights a week, and I didn’t want to face the constant “choosing” that would inevitably happen each week as we weighed the value of one activity over the other. Instead, we decided to schedule a few mountain biking activities as a family (and give him the chance to schedule his own with friends, if desired). It wasn’t formal, there wasn’t a lot of “coaching” involved, and I know we missed out on the team spirit it would have provided, but it’s been happy and calm around our home, for the most part, and our son can still bike, when he’d like to do so.
- On a professional note, I’ve been looking into building our YouTube channel (and I still want to do so!), but with the launch of a new program and some other big projects going on behind the scenes, my regular video creation had to go on pause for a bit. That’s why I’m writing/recording this for you. 🙂 Yes, it might get a better “reach” and be more searchable online if I were sharing this in a video format, but if my main goal right now is to serve you with some helpful ideas, this post can satisfy that goal.
(4) Could I calm my ego?
Ahhh, this one isn’t my favorite, but it’s probably the most important. I don’t think anyone wants to admit it, but I’ve found that whenever my schedule or task list is “going crazy,” there’s a hefty dose of ego at the foundation of it.
Mostly subconsciously, I think I want other people (or myself) to see me as “awesome,” so I do WAY more than is necessary or rational in order to achieve that elevated perception.
Try asking yourself, “What would it mean if I moved at a doable pace today and reduced all these unreasonable expectations I have?”
In 99% of the cases, I’m confident that the REAL answer is something like, “I probably won’t accomplish as many things, but I think I would feel happier and healthier, and I think I would be nicer to my family, and I think everything would work out just fine eventually.”
(5) Could I do this with a friend or family member?
We have a dishwasher full of clean dishes right now. And there are a few household tasks that need to get done before the end of the day. Sometimes in my effort to “start the day with a clean house,” I’ll empty the dishwasher, complete any tasks from the day before, and do a little tidying before I start my work.
Today, however, there are several tasks that require my best brain power, and so I’m going to wait and do more of the housework once Spencer gets home from school–or while Eric and I are finishing up our lunch break. Obviously, how and when you do tasks, errands, etc. will vary with your work schedule and family life, but I’ve found that when Spencer gets home from school, we usually have 20-30 minutes where we’re hanging out in the kitchen, getting a snack, talking about his day, etc., and we can chat while we do housework together.
Combining the more mundane tasks with relationships creates more time for shared experiences and gives us the ability to use quiet time for tasks that truly need “quiet.”
Okay! I hope those were somewhat helpful and perhaps got you thinking about some additional questions you can ask yourself when life gets a little crazy.
The beautiful part is that we are each the “boss” of our own life. We get to choose if life is calm or chaotic, and though it often feels like other people are making it so, the responsibility ultimately lies with us.
And I truly hope you’re planning to join the whole LearnDoBecome community as we make massive progress (in simple, doable ways!) towards a calm, organized, happy environment.
We’re starting our Four Weeks to Finished program again, with our first class on Thursday, June 2nd!
Registration is open now through May 31st, and whether you’re joining the formal Four Weeks to Finished program, following the STEP program’s one-month schedule to build your Command Central, or participating in all the free resources we have for you here on the site and in our Community Facebook group, we are cheering you on toward a clean, uplifting, beautiful environment–both physically and mentally!