Recently, I’ve had a lot of plates spinning. It felt like my life had so many “elements” to it and that none of those elements were getting the energy they deserved.
I was spreading myself too thin. I realised that because I had so many things on the go and thoughts buzzing around my head like annoying wasps suddenly turning up in your house when you swear down you basically never open your windows, that nothing in my life really felt like it was ~going places~.
I spoke to my therapist about it. I told her that I felt a bit scatterbrained (OK, very scatterbrained) and that I wanted to be able to dedicate my time and energy to all these important aspects of my life, but in a way that felt like I was moving forward.
She told me to grab a pen and paper and break down my life into five important aspects of my choosing. What was most important for me? I chose: relationships, fun and hobbies, health and fitness, work life and financial (income and expenditure).
Next up, I ranked them. Not necessarily in the order of what is most important in the grand scheme of things, but in the order that I wanted to, or felt like I needed to, prioritise them. I called them “pillars”.
#1 – Financial
Being a freelancer and juggling part-time jobs has meant I’ve lost track of my finances. OK, I’ve never really had a ~proper~ grip on my finances, mostly because I’m generally quite tight with my money. I don’t buy expensive things, but the little things do add up and not having a handle on that is a bit (a lot) scary to me. The money I earn and how I spend it is so tied into all of the other aspects of my life that I feel like it really does need to be priority number one.
#2 – Work life
Work life sits so high on the list because I am at a bit of a crossroads about my working life. My business isn’t quite at the level I hoped it would be by now, and many of the choices and priorities in my life have changed recently (e.g. wanting to save up for a mortgage), and so I’ve had to do a bit of thinking around my next steps.
#3 – Health and fitness
Recently, I’ve really enjoyed getting more active, and the associated healthy weight loss that has come with that. I don’t want to lose track of that, and so health and fitness take the third spot in the hierarchy of my life priorities right now. Habits are hard to form and much easier to lose and so I’m keeping tabs on both my physical and mental health in a manageable, meaningful way.
#4 – Fun/Hobbies
As my therapist says, we all need fun in our lives. It can’t always be work, work, work – even if you do so happen to find working enjoyable. Even those of us who have our “dream jobs” still need to have fun and partake in hobbies outside of that to prevent burnout and looking back in the future, wondering where it all went wrong.
#5 – Relationships
Putting relationships at the end of the list might sound like a shitty thing to do, but in all honesty, it’s because of the fact that this aspect/pillar of my life is actually doing OK. Liam and I are doing really well, I’ve met some awesome people since our move to Basingstoke and even caught up with old friends who just so happen to be local now. Family life is great too.
But the truth is, maintaining good relationships with friends and loved ones is SO important, that even when it all seems to be going really well, you don’t want it to slip. I want to keep up social engagements, nice evenings out with Liam and catch ups with my family.
So there are my five pillars, laid bare to you. What next?
After my counselling session when we discussed these priorities/pillars/whatever you want to call them, I decided to get my trusty whiteboard and pens out and created 5 columns. Each column was headed with one of the pillars. In each column, I have written a mini to-do list of what I want to achieve in the week to make sure that each area gets the attention it deserves.
For example, in the financial column, I have added two to-dos:
Build a budget spreadsheet so I can have greater control over my funds
Reach out to independent mortgage advisors so that we can start the process of saving a deposit
Not only do I add the task, but I also add the benefit of completing it. I find that makes it more “appealing” to complete it. It reminds me of the why behind the what (something I usually neglect to think about when writing to-do lists!).
So that whiteboard sits on my desk and I can tick off each task as I start or finish it – after all, my budget spreadsheet is more of an ongoing task and it’s unlikely I can finish that all in one go. Any tasks that trickle over into the new week just get re-added when I write up my next weekly tasks.
To keep me more accountable, I also slot these tasks into my bullet journal, breaking down the bigger to-do into subtasks when I need to and reminding myself to JUST. GET. STARTED. There’s no pressure to do it all at once, I just have to make a start and see where it gets me.
I feel like this method can be applied to anything in life – whether you’re spinning multiple plates, have a big project to manage or even just want some clarity on what matters the most to you and how to drive that forward. So go forth, find focus and own it!
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