Are you tired of being tired? You’re not alone. Here are nine actionable ways to declutter your schedule, slow down, and make time for things that truly matter.
For most people, life is busy. Our calendars are full and our to-do lists are overwhelming. It’s not pleasant, but that’s just life as a responsible adult.
Or is it?
Like many others, I used to wear my busyness like a badge of honour, boasting about my late hours at the office and my lack of sleep.
From the outside, I looked confident and in control—but on the inside, I was struggling to keep my head above water. The exhaustion and overwhelm was soul-crushing.
Looking back, I wish I could reach through time and offer my younger self a few words of advice. I’ve since learned that busy isn’t the only or best way.
Instead, it’s possible to declutter your schedule, in much the same way as you declutter your home. Here are nine actionable things that you can do to get started.
How to Simplify your Daily Schedule
ACKNOWLEDGE + RESPECT YOUR LIMITS
If you want to be less busy then you must begin by acknowledging your limits.
How much free time do you have available each day?
In my experience, this is a deceptively simple question that most people can’t answer with confidence.
We tend to overestimate our capacity and this is where the trouble begins. We end up taking on more than we’re physically capable of doing.
If you want to stop overcommitting yourself then you need to get real about your time. Get out a pen and paper and write down your non-negotiables—things like work and childcare … but also essentials like SLEEP.
When you’re done, look at what’s left. This is all the free time you have—you can’t make more time—so you need to respect this boundary.
Bonus Tip: Be mindful of the Planning Fallacy.
Most people “underestimate the time it will take to complete a future task, despite knowledge that previous tasks have generally taken longer than planned.” (source)
In other words—plan for things to take longer than you think they will!
DETERMINE YOUR PRIORITIES
You’ve acknowledged that your time is limited—now you need to make decisions about how to spend it. It’s helpful if you have criteria to guide you.
It’s time to get your priorities out of your head and on to paper. Stop assuming that you’ll know what matters most and instead, write it down.
While you’re doing this, be sure to step away from your schedule and to-do list. Don’t let the things you think you *should* be doing influence your priorities. (It’s supposed to be the other way around!) Remember this is about clarifying what matters to YOU and not anyone else.
When you’re finished, put your list somewhere handy and refer to it often. Use it to guide your decision making. (This part is essential—there’s no point in knowing your priorities if you’re not going to adhere to them.)
If you’re struggling with this, Values + Vision is for you. This course is a journey of self-discovery that will help clarify what matters and align your life with what matters most.
AUDIT YOUR TIME
With your priorities sorted, you now have a roadmap that you can use to audit your time. This will give you a starting point for decluttering your schedule.
Go through your calendar and your to-do list. How do your commitments reflect your priorities? Take note of anything that’s out of alignment.
At this stage, you:
- Know your limits
- Know your priorities
- Know what you need to stop doing
Now let’s look at some actionable strategies that will help you bring it all together.
EXPERIMENT WITH LETTING GO OF ONE THING
I know that right now, it probably feels like everything on your calendar is essential, but I encourage you to challenge this belief.
Choose one small thing from your to-do list … and then don’t do it.
Pay attention to what happens. What are the consequences? Was it really as important as you thought?
I know this might feel scary but guess what? If you’re busy and overscheduled, then you’re probably not getting everything done anyway.
Remember, we all have limits. Something has to give—so why not take control and make an intentional choice? YOU decide what’s least important instead of rolling the dice.
This ensures that the things that matter (like self-care and our relationships) don’t get put on the backburner.
It’s also an empowering mindset switch. Stop beating yourself up for not getting everything done. Instead, you can feel good knowing that you decided to prioritise what matters.
Related Post: Doing Less + A Lesson in Self-Worth
DO THINGS LESS OFTEN
If you can’t eliminate something from your schedule, adjust the frequency.
Choose something from your calendar or to-do list that you do regularly, like housework or checking emails.
Then do it slightly less often.
For example, if you usually vacuum once every three days, can you reduce this to once every four days? Or if you check email three times a day, can you reduce it to twice a day?
The slower pace will create space in your schedule and, as an added bonus, you might find there are some tasks you can eventually stop doing altogether.
LOOK FOR OPPORTUNITIES TO OUTSOURCE
You can’t create more time … but you can ask for help. Declutter your schedule by handing off responsibilities to someone else.
Brainstorm tasks you could delegate to someone else. Think about:
- Your household—can someone in your family share the load?
- Hire help—could you pay someone to do this job?
- Systems—can you use technology to make life easier?
If you feel resistance to paying for help, you might find this post about mindful spending useful.
BATCH SIMILAR TASKS
Batching similar tasks is a great way to declutter the “waste” from your schedule.
For example, think of all the time you spend driving around town running errands. The actual tasks might be valuable … but all the time spent sitting in your car is not.
Review your schedule and to-do list, looking for similar tasks. Can you rearrange your schedule to do more “like with like”?
For example, run errands once a week and spend less time driving or batch cook meals and spend less time cleaning.
CREATE BOUNDARIES WITH A “NO” LIST
Do you know what’s better than taking something off your to-do list?
Saying “no” in the first place.
Get out your journal and brainstorm the following questions:
- I say “yes” when …
- I say “no” when …
Use your answers to set meaningful boundaries—and then enforce them. Don’t say “yes” when your heart wants to say “no”.
BE KIND TO YOUR FUTURE SELF
“I’m not sure how but I’ll get it done.”
Ah … the tales I used to tell myself! Even at my busiest, I would confidently take on more work and responsibilities because I was sure that my future self would be able to handle it.
But why not act with more compassion? Why was I setting myself up for failure by taking on more than I could reasonably handle?
Take stock of your schedule and commitments. Ask yourself what advice you’d give a friend or loved one. Would you expect them to do so much? Or would you advise them to slow down, cut back and say “no”?
Related Post: 5 Ways to Be Kinder to Yourself
Less Stuff = More Time
If your life is too busy, then I’ve got a final bonus tip for you.
Declutter your home.
The less you own, the less time you’ll spend cleaning, caring and worrying about your stuff —and these are just a few of the many benefits of decluttering.
If you’re not sure where to start, I invite you to download Mindful Decluttering, my free decluttering guide and workbook. Simply subscribe using the form below.
More Resources That Will Help You Slow Down
If you enjoyed this blog post, you might also like:
- How to Create a Culture of Slow Living
- 10 Ways To Slow Down a Busy Day
- My Minimalist Daily Routine: Embracing Slow + Simple Every Day
- Why Your Life is Busy + Cluttered (Plus What to Do About It)
Have you ever attempted to declutter your schedule? If so, what are your tips for being less busy? Let us know in the comments!