Save Time, Energy, and Sanity by Dropping Tasks

posted by Andrea | 01/30/2019

Many years ago, I  wrote a post about 5 choices when you’re short on time.

The 5 choices I mentioned were:

  1. Get stressed out, worry, and lose sleep.
  2. Streamline the activities so they take less time.
  3. Steal time from another activity.
  4. Find someone else to do the tasks for you.
  5. Drop the tasks completely.

Obviously, #1 is a pretty poor choice! But out of the other 4 options, the least popular (and often the most difficult to do) is #5.

However, in my experience, dropping a task that I don’t have the time or energy for can be SO freeing — and exactly what I need to simplify.

It might be something as small as deciding not to vacuum, clean the bathrooms, or pull weeds on a particular day because it’s not 100% necessary and I know there are plenty of other more important things I could be doing with my time.

It might mean dropping my dinner plans and opting for frozen pizza because a child got sick and I know my current dinner plans would require extra time in the kitchen… which just isn’t feasible with a sick child.

Or it might be as big as dropping a long-term business or life goal or project because our circumstances changed and we no longer have the time, energy, desire, finances, etc. to devote to that particular goal or project.

Over the years, Dave and I have dropped several activities in order to make time for things that are more important to us at that point in our lives — work, family, home renovations, etc.

As an example, here are a few things I’ve purposely dropped and don’t make time for at this point in my life.

I’m not implying that no one should make time for those specific activities, or that they’re not important; I’m just saying that right now, it doesn’t make sense for ME to spend MY time on those activities when there are so many other things that need more of my time and attention — things that are more important for ME.

Obviously, there are some things we can’t just drop — like our jobs and our families 🙂 — but if we really stop and think about it, there are most likely MANY things we do on a daily and weekly basis mainly because we feel pressured or guilted into doing them… or maybe it’s just me!

We feel like we HAVE to finish cleaning the bathrooms because they need to be cleaned at some point.

We feel like we HAVE to make all foods from scratch because that’s what everyone says is best.

We feel like we HAVE to join the ________ committee because we technically could make the time.

We feel like we HAVE to take on more hours or another project at work because we don’t want to look like a slacker.

We feel like we HAVE to send out holiday cards every year because we’ve always done it.

We feel like we HAVE to bake fancy treats for our kids’ school because the other parents seem to do this.

We feel like we HAVE to exercise every day and / or eat a certain way because it’s supposedly healthy.

We feel like we HAVE to use coupons and save money in every aspect of life because we want to be good stewards of our resources.

I could go on and on.

The point is that if we just stop and think about all the things we do each day, I’m guessing there are at least a few things we can drop to open up a little more breathing room in our schedules.

Certainly, some of the busyness in our lives is caused by activities we really DO need to do (we can’t just skip work every day or put off laundry for eternity). However, there are plenty of other things we don’t need to do (yes, I know it’s hard to acknowledge this… but it’s true!)

I know from experience that the Spring months are some of the busiest months — sports practices and games, band, music, choir, dance recitals, ramping up for summer traveling, yard work, spring cleaning… it will all be here before we know it!

Don’t wait until it’s too late; start thinking through your daily schedule now and plan ahead for a less-busy, less-full, less-stressful spring schedule! 

Seriously… I can’t wait for spring!

 

Whenever I finally “give in” and drop a task, I feel an instant sense of relief — which is almost as nice as the extra time in my schedule!

NOTE: Dave is really great at pointing out when I could (and probably should) drop something in favor of less busyness and more time. If you have someone like this in your life, LISTEN TO THEM!

Just because you drop a task FOR NOW, does not mean you’ll drop it FOREVER! 

You might just be in a season of life when that particular task or to-do doesn’t fit, for whatever reason. You might very-well pick it up again in the future.

When it comes to good time management, there is almost always a give-and-take aspect.

While we technically cannot “make more time”, we CAN pick and choose many of the activities, tasks, events, and to-dos we spend our hours on each day (and the activities we DON’T spend our hours on).

My question for you…

What activities could you DROP to give your schedule a little breathing room?

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13 comments

  1. Fleur

    01/30/2019

    Such a simple message, but so powerful. This super helpful advice, that isn’t often the focus of productivity experts x

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks so much!! Simple advice — that’s my goal!

    [Reply]

  2. Barbara

    01/30/2019

    It’s a small household here. I have decided to drop meal planning. Instead, I posted a Food Inventory page on the refrigerator, with notes on what to do (example: raw beets : roast in foil) or the “use by” date. It helps that refrigerated food is in clear containers, easily seen.

    I used to spend at least 1 hour per week planning meals, only to change them as circumstances changed.

    This will work for a home with 1 or 2 people; but probably not for a larger group.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    sounds like a good system — and good for you for going “against the grain” and doing what works best for YOU!

    [Reply]

  3. Ashley Orfe

    01/30/2019

    I think not being so stringent about cleaning the house is an activity I can relax in. I’ve done that a bit this past month and while I love cleanliness, it’s not always the best way to spend my time if I have other more important things to do!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yup, this is exactly how I feel right now too. I love a clean house (and I actually enjoy cleaning) but it’s not always the best use of my time right now!

    [Reply]

  4. Lydia Senn

    01/30/2019

    Yes! Sometimes you just have to cross stuff off your list.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    exactly!! I love crossing off my to-do’s (even if it’s just because I’ve decided NOT to do them!)

    [Reply]

  5. Mary in Mayland

    01/30/2019

    This year we skipped Christmas cards and all the decorations except the little candles in the windows. We had neighbors over for breakfast on Christmas morning and another set for lunch on New Year’s Day. My backup plan for meals is a diced potato microwaved with some broccoli and dressed with garlic, mustard, and oil. Takes two minutes prep time and six minutes in the oven

    [Reply]

  6. Eileen

    01/30/2019

    Having a “nice” frozen pizza in the freezer at all times is VERY important, lol. It’s a very good “bail out” dinner to have around when you might need it. It’s actually comforting to know it’s there when you are looking at the week ahead…just in case.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yes definitely! We always have at least 2 frozen pizzas in the freezer. I actually blogged about this concept a few years ago — just knowing they are in the freezer “just in case” and having a “kitchen free meal” ready to go is very assuring for me!

    [Reply]

  7. Mandi

    01/30/2019

    So good, Andrea! I did a lot of task dropping over the holiday season—both things like Christmas cards, which we do almost every year but decided not to do this year, AND dropping entire activities to simplify our schedule for the spring semester. It’s made a huge difference in my sanity level, and I’m so glad I did!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yes yes, the holidays are a fantastic time to drop a few tasks!

    [Reply]