Blog Short #81: 5 Rituals to Simplify Your Life and Get Things Done
Life eats up time. You can’t stop that, but you can use it more effectively to enjoy your life and create time for things that are important to you.
Today I’m outlining five weekly rituals that help. They’re not overly time-consuming, and they keep things simple by giving you a way to maintain an overview of what’s happening so that you don’t get swept away by daily details or mind ruts.
Let’s dive right in.
1. Goal Setting
Set no more than three goals for the week ahead.
One goal is fine if that’s all you think you can do. The idea is to set yourself up for success and finish something.
Create a goal that’s small enough to complete and is doable in a week, even if there are interruptions.
The value of doing this is that it focuses you and helps you lay out your week so that you don’t waste a lot of time going from one thing to another with no real plan.
Your mind will be most efficient when it’s:
- Focused in narrowly on a single goal or task
- The task in question is doable, spelled out, and planned ahead
- You know how to do it or have acquired what’s needed to do it
It’s hard to accomplish these things on the fly. Planning ahead is necessary.
It’s best to write your goals down, and I’ll tell you when and how to do that in a minute.
2. Weekly Review
Simplifying and productivity require tracking. The Weekly Review is a great way to track. It keeps things from getting away from you, and it helps you make necessary adjustments to increase your efficiency.
Set aside 30 minutes each week to conduct a weekly review. You don’t need more time than that unless you want it. I do mine Saturday mornings.
Pick any time you want. Just make sure it’s a time that likely won’t get eaten up by other activities or interruptions.
Create a written format for your review.
My layout has four sections and was inspired by a handout I got from a course called Time Genius by Marie Forleo. The four sections are:
- Insights: What insights did I gain to help me stay on the path? These are reflections on how things worked. What helped and what didn’t? For example, I found that I accomplished more on the days I got 8 hours of sleep instead of 7. You might discover that a method you used needs some tweaking or your goal was too big for one week. Maybe you need some more information before proceeding further.
- Successes: Use this section to document your accomplishments for the week. These can include goals met, processes or strategies that worked, and time saved. Write whatever feels like a success to you. Even partial successes count.
- Revisions: What do you need to do differently in the week ahead to make things work more efficiently? This is your chance to learn from your experiences each week and get better and better at forecasting, planning, and scheduling. You’ll use some of your insights from the first section to help you decide what you need to change to get better results in the coming week.
- New Goals and Schedule: This is where you create next week’s goal list. Write them out, break them down into tasks, and schedule them on your calendar or to-do list.
I keep my current weekly review on my computer desktop, where I see it every day and can read it every evening to keep it fresh in my mind for the next day.
3. Weekly Declutter
Clutter’s a menace. And unfortunately, there are all kinds of clutter. Usually, you think of house clutter, but other types include emotional and mental, digital, and physical clutter.
In addition to your weekly review, set aside a time for a weekly declutter session. Again, this doesn’t have to be long. Some people do this once a day, but for others, once a week is sufficient. Aim for an hour.
Get rid of any of the following:
- Phone calls or appointments that need to be made and are hanging over you
- Emails that are cluttering up your inbox
- Worries. Write them down and set them aside. If there’s something you need to do, schedule when you can do it and put it on your calendar. If it’s doable in ten minutes or less, do it now.
- Watch your diet. Bad food creates bad clutter in your body, which affects your mood, energy level, and thinking capacity.
- Remove any junk from your home, or if you have a lot, remove a small amount each week until you have less. Home clutter is debilitating over time.
All done? You’ll feel better after doing this one.
4. Do one thing at a time.
I read a great blog by Leo Babauta (Zen Habits) in which he said we should live in “full-screen mode.” What a superb metaphor!
When you’re in full-screen mode on your computer, you can’t see anything except what’s right in front of you.
This is the way to approach most tasks. There are some things you can multi-task, like listening to music while you clean, but something that requires focus and mental capacity needs a full-screen approach for best results.
“Full-screen “means silencing phones, turning off social media, turning off the TV, finding a quiet space, and creating a time block for working.
As much as you can, do one thing at a time and dive into it.
5. Create time for self-care.
This is the one that usually takes a back seat, especially if you’re super busy. If you have young kids and work and take care of the house, self-care often doesn’t exist. Try to carve out something no matter how small it is.
Create specific morning and evening routines, and include something that will feed you emotionally. Ten minutes of Yoga, a one-mile walk, a short meditation, reading an inspirational passage or book– whatever you like that both soothes and sustains you.
It’s essential to have daily routinized rituals built in to make sure you attend to yourself.
Sleep is crucial, and sometimes it’s either sleep or exercise. Sleep should win out, and then you can try to add exercise somewhere else in the routine – maybe for just ten minutes. Don’t short yourself on sleep. Everything else will get worse if you do.
When you don’t deliberately set up routines, other things crowd in and use up your time. It’s like the tide coming in and filling up every crevice in the sand. You can control the tide with regular rituals that help you keep a big picture view of what’s happening and grab your authority to guide that process. Rituals deepen over time, and the results multiply if you make them regular habits. Without them, you fall prey to the tide.
That’s all for today.
Have a great week!!
All my best,