Think about it. If you’re running constantly from activity to activity and always saying yes to new activities, life is going to be too busy, stressful, and complicated. Maybe that’s how you feel right now.
I don’t think the end goal of living a simpler life means sitting home every night (unless that’s what you want). The end goal is to have a fulfilling life where you have time for what you love and what matters most to you.
If you feel like you have so much you’d like to do but never have the time, then you might benefit from simplifying your schedule.
How to Simplify Your Schedule in 4 Steps
1. Know Your Limits
I’ve noticed that we all have different “busyness tolerances”. It’s important to know your own limits. I think “busyness” tends to be glorified these days. Some people thrive on being busyness but others don’t. You don’t have to be as busy as the people around you.
I require a lot of down time and prefer to be home. I know this about myself and try to keep my schedule much more open than most of the people I know.
Think about your limits. How many nights per week do you want to be home? How many weekly activities do you want to be a part of?
2. Set Your Priorities
It’s easy to fill up your schedule with the wrong activities if you don’t set priorities for your time. Between friends, family, work, kids, and hobbies, there is no shortage of possibilities on how to spend your time.
Almost every possible activity to put on your calendar is probably “good” but does it line up with your priorities?
We’ve had a bunch of huge life changes over the past nine months, and our current priorities are our physical and mental health. We make sure to have a lot of down time throughout each week because it allows us to “decompress” mentally, make healthier meals, and get more exercise.
Think about the stage of life you’re in and what your priorities are.
- If it’s really important to you to sit down to a family dinner each night, then signing your kids up for multiple sports, clubs, and evening lessons is not a good choice at this stage in your life.
- If you really want to spend more time volunteering at your church, then taking on extra responsibilities at work is not a great choice right now.
- If you want to go on multiple weekend camping trips over the summer, then you probably shouldn’t agree to play on a Saturday morning softball team.
- If your priority is working overtime to save up for a house down payment, then you might have to say no to shopping with friends or a big vacation.
None of these activities are bad but no one can do it all. When you decide what your priorities are in your current stage of life, it will help you simplify your schedule.
3. Think Before You Respond
If you’re a people pleaser, it may be your automatic response to say yes when someone asks you to do something. If you want to have a simpler schedule filled with activities that align with your current priorities, it’s important to think before you respond to request for your time.
A great way to buy yourself some time to decide if you want to spend your time on a certain activity is to say that you need to check your schedule or check with your spouse.
4. Learn to Say No
Unless you learn to say no, your time will get eaten up with other people’s priorities instead of your own. Like everything, it gets easier the more you do it.
Remember, saying ‘no’ means that you can say ‘yes’ to your priorities and what matters most to you.
My version of a simpler life may look very different from yours. The goal is to schedule your time in a way that lines up with your current priorities. To do that, you have to analyze how you’re spending your time and think twice before you say yes to adding an activity to your schedule.
You’ll probably have to say no quite often as well. When you have time to spend with your loved ones and time to spend on activities that matter to you, the effort of simplifying your schedule will be worth it.
If you really struggle with how to spend your time and prioritize your schedule, I highly recommend the book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less