How To Spend Your Time Wisely

Date posted: December 19, 2016

YESTERDAY was my sister’s annual Christmas cookie party — something she started at least 15 years ago. It’s a time for little kids and big kids (i.e. adults) to come together to make and decorate holiday cookies.

I hemmed and hawed about whether I would go this year, mainly because I’ve been doing a lot of driving lately and wasn’t sure I’d be up to the three-hour roundtrip ride. But with my Dad’s recent passing, I feel drawn to spend a lot of time with family. Besides, it’s a fun day where I can express some creativity and watch my sisters, nieces, nephews, and Mom make their masterpieces, too.

My Dad loved cookie day. The seemingly gruff, old Irishman would pay close attention and be very particular in how he decorated his little pieces of art. So being there felt like spending the day with him as well. (How cute is my Dad in the picture below? There with my sister, Lisa, who started the tradition, selecting his toppings carefully.)

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Whether you’re busy or not during the holiday season, the energy is so hectic that it can still wreak havoc on you despite a quiet calendar. And if you do have a lot of holiday commitments, then you’re likely feeling it extra. On any given day, the amount of energy you have to give is finite, but when you have outside forces working overtime, you can get depleted fast.

I enjoy the holiday season more than I stress it because I pick and choose where and how I spend my time carefully. While I knew it would take energy to make the trip to cookie day, I also knew the payout would be worth it. And it was.

If you were to take a look at your upcoming commitments over the next week or two, how many are ones you wish you didn’t have to attend? Now take it a step further — which ones could you consider canceling?

Notice I said “consider” canceling. Give yourself permission to just explore the idea. Doing so does a few things:

  1. You get clear on how much you want to attend. If you find yourself disappointed at the idea of not going, then maybe you want to go more than you realized. Unless, of course, you struggle with FOMO (fear of missing out). Check in and be sure you’re not going just out of fear of feeling left out.
  2. You let yourself know it’s ok to change your mind. Sometimes just making it an option to cancel can help you feel empowered and not at the mercy of the commitment or others.
  3. You introduce the idea of saying no more often. Instead of accepting all invitations or agreeing to all requests, evaluating your commitments will hopefully help you to pause in the future before answering.
  4. If, after considering, you do end up canceling one or two, you’ve just reclaimed some precious time for yourself!

A commitment evaluation is something I encourage my clients to do throughout the year to be sure the way they spend their time is aligned with their goals, but it’s particularly relevant during a notoriously busy season like the holidays.

Now it’s your turn. Go cancel some commitments! Or at least consider it…

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