Time Clutter

By Sara Skillen

I was picking our son up from an after school activity recently, when I noticed that every TimeClutterother parent waiting in the lobby with me looked absolutely exhausted. Eyes staring down at the floor (or at their smart phone), shoulders slumped, slightly startled whenever someone spoke to them. Most managed a small smile when their child exited the hallway, but as they walked out the door I overheard them rushing their kids along (“we've got to pick up your sister…,” “gymnastics starts in an hour – where do you want to eat?,” “we need to get started on your social studies project, so come on!”). I confess I was right there with them. We were headed to another rehearsal, with just enough time to grab a bite in between activities.

It all just made me sad. Do we make really make strides in life by accepting everything that comes our way?

Our weekends recently have been covered up with commitments, with little time to cook an actual meal, play a game, or just breathe. Intellectually I know this is not a good thing, that being busy and loaded with activities all of the time doesn't really lead to any big difference in achievement or productivity (and really, who cares if it DID?). But still, when one of my kids asks to try something new, or when someone needs another committee member, or an opportunity for speaking to a group comes along, I find I'm a bit of a wimp.

If we think of time as a storage container, such as a plastic bin, we should realize that there's only a finite amount of cr#* we can fit in it. What's really worth fitting in there? To further compare, what if we all asked ourselves those three questions we're supposed to ask about physical clutter:

  • Do I love it? (Yes, I enjoy new speaking opportunities. Volunteering for a book fair? Not so much.)
  • Do I need it? (Yes, I need to plan and buy groceries. No, I do NOT need to goof around on Facebook for an hour.)
  • Will it make me more successful? (Marketing to new clients – ultimately, yes. Donating services – maybe/maybe not.)

These questions might be a good way to start making some more informed decisions.

A friend of mine recently asked me if she could call me anytime someone asked her to volunteer for yet another activity – just so I could encourage her to say NO. Maybe we all could use a “No Partner.” Maybe we should all find someone to talk us off the ledge, and hold us accountable to what's really important about our time.

Sara Skillen is the founder and owner of SkillSet Organizing, a professional organizing business. Her mission is to help busy people to develop right relationships with their “stuff” and their technology. A former educator, musician and paralegal, she is also a wife, mother of two, and serial list-maker.  Sara transitioned to being a home and business organizer in 2012, and became an Evernote Business Certified Consultant in 2014. Find Sara at www.skillsetorganizing.com, www.twitter.com/SaraOrganizes, http://instagram.com/saraorganizes, andwww.facebook.com/skillsetorganizing.

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