As the calendar flips to August, the carefree feelings of summer are quickly dwindling and I already have a pang of panic about just how busy our lives are going to become once the back to school routine returns for our family.
There is something so relaxing about summer — longer days, county fairs and carnivals, swimming and beach days all certainly make this a season built for relaxation and decompressing.
As much as I love fall and all that will be coming around the corner with my beloved string of favorite holidays, I always feel a bit anxious this time of year as I prepare for the heightened pace of activities that will be coming soon.
August is a great time to make some important tweaks to your lifestyle — all while you are still fully immersed in your more laidback summer attitude.
A few small tweaks to your routine can make all of the difference in the world — and help you sustain the slower, more serene pace of summer throughout the year.
You need about a half hour or so to do all of these things — but I assure you, it is a small investment of time that will yield lots of worthwhile zen in the long run!
Make a High Value List: Do you get overwhelmed with all of the obligations you have?
I tend to compare myself to a hamster on a wheel — constantly running but getting nowhere.
Grab a small index card or sheet of paper and write down four or five of the most valuable or important things in your life.
It can be your family, your career, your health — whatever makes you happy and motivated.
Those four or five things should be the driving force behind everything you plan and schedule — simplifying your life happens when you make room for those things that are most important to you.
Everything that you plan should, in general, revolve around those four or five items that you prioritize and value the most
Write down your routine: Whether you are a perfectly planned professional or prefer a more free range kind of day, I have no doubt that you and your family follow some semblance of a routine, yes?
I want you to write it down and then take a look at it.
Keep in mind those four or five priorities that I asked you to identify earlier. Is there a way to batch certain tasks together to streamline them a bit?
Pre-planning your routine sounds like the opposite of simplifying but simple tweaks such as prepping all your meals on Sunday night or even planning your children’s outfits or lunches for the week can really simplify things for you — and add extra minutes to your overall day!
Our family has done this with meal preparation and cleaning — and it has made these essential household responsibilities so much easier.
Saturdays are laundry and floors, Mondays are counters, Tuesdays are trash days, Wednesdays are bathrooms, Thursdays are floors and vacuuming and Fridays are a general clean up the clutter day.
Doing a couple small tasks each day as a family keeps me from spending my entire Saturday cleaning the house — and frees me up for a lot more fun down time on the weekend.
Simplify that To Do List: I have a to do list on my nightstand — and every time I think I have crossed off most of the items on it, I inevitably add even more.
While you are writing down that routine of yours, take a few more minutes to write down your to do list.
Overwhelmed? Try shifting your mindset and create a “done” list.
There is a real snowball effect that happens when you start feeling accomplished.
It is more exciting to see a list of accomplishments get bigger than it is to check off one item on a seemingly endless list of chores!
Studies show that while to do lists can actually hinder our enthusiasm and motivation, having a “done” list to track our accomplishments, ideas and productivity can provide even more productivity! Give it a try for a day.
Take just a few minutes to write down everything you accomplished that day and carry that piece of paper with you.
Add to it daily and see how you feel at the end of the week.
Set Limits and Simplify: So, we’ve determined what we find valuable, we’ve (hopefully) streamlined our routine and found a way to make our to list a more motivating force in our life.
Now what? Now, it is time to see what daily tasks we can reduce or eliminate completely.
Do you spend a ton of time on your Smartphone or social media?
If you cut back on that time, will that give you more time to spend on those items on your value list?
Drop a commitment, set a time limit or drop something from that to do list.
Aim to gain back 30 minutes each day with this exercise and see how it makes you feel.
You may find that there are other things you can limit that give you back hours to spend doing more of what you value most!
(Editor’s Note: Kristine George is a freelance journalist who resides in Easton.)