I came across this quote and love it.  In all our hustling to get things done, maybe we forget the art of knowing what to leave alone.  That feels like wisdom to me – knowing how to prioritize limited resources (time and others) to produce the most good.  And maybe, in streamlining and simplifying, we may be able to find that getting rid of the unnecessary leaves more time for the necessary.

It’s really common that I hear lack of time reported for why an individual may not shop for and prepare nutritious food and balanced meals or be physically active.  I get that everyone’s situation is different and we all decide what takes priority.  However, I also know that carving out time to take care of you allows you to have more energy for other responsibilities and to feel more effective in your life.  As you read what follows, please keep in mind that I do recommend avoiding preoccupation with food plans, menus, nutrition and health.  I’m a big proponent of not just being busy for the sake of being busy and am very opposed to “fitspiration”, diets, food rules or weight, body shape and body size obsession.

I hate to unload the dishwasher; it’s my least favorite household chore.  I’ve delegated that responsibility to my oldest child in the past, but then I couldn’t find anything and some things got broken so I gave him a new chore and took that one back.  Anyway, one day I found myself putting it off so out of curiosity I set a kitchen timer to see how long it actually took me.  From start to finish, including loading dirty dishes that were in the sink, it only took me 5 minutes.  5 minutes!  I probably wasted 3-4 times that amount in precious mental energy by trying to avoid it.  It made me think about how often we make a chore, a responsibility or a task into a bigger deal than it needs to be.

I’ve come to find that the more mindful I am about how I spend my time, the more time I find. It gets hidden behind the Fear Of Missing Out or the Fear Of Keeping Up (social media or DVR being where that comes up for me).  While many may believe that setting boundaries around those things is limiting, I think you will find that it’s actually freeing.  Only you can decided what is restful, rejuvenating and productive vs what is distracting, numbing or time-wasting.

It also seems to me that we all seem to be waiting for that time where life slows down and we get to relax.  If that’s so, I encourage you to set appropriate boundaries, say “no” where necessary and find time to relax.  That’s super important. But I also wholeheartedly believe that hard work can be just as rewarding, invigorating and relaxing.  In fact, as I shared last week, I feel hard work is part of what leads to true confidence.  I believe, and it’s been my experience, that working hard on something you find meaningful can be relaxing and peaceful.  I actually think that wasting time on unnecessary distractions or numbing activities is really what leaves us exhausted.  Essentially, it’s not working hard that exhausts us, it’s constant mental and emotional distractions from what is actually necessary, good and meaningful.

So if you’re one that feels like you don’t have enough time to take care of your responsibilities, meet your needs and support your health, I encourage you to cultivate the wisdom for what can be left undone to find time for what you would like to accomplish.  Become aware of what is actually draining your energy, and you may find it’s NOT hard work.  Complaining, comparing, criticizing, avoiding, numbing, doubt, fear, making assumptions, passing judgment….those are more likely to be the true culprits for exhaustion, overwhelm and lack of time.

“Once she stopped rushing through life, she was amazed how much more life she had time for.”

— Amy Rubin Flett

Here’s to living intentionally!

Emily Fonnesbeck RD, CD