Nine years ago, I was a to-do list maniac. Every day, I'd make a to-do list with a zillion tasks on it. I’d have every intention of getting everything done, but when I didn't, I felt bad. In fact, I felt like a failure.
That was then. This is now.
One of the many reasons why I moved to California was to slow down. Living on the East Coast became increasingly unhealthy for me. As an empath, I am very sensitive to my environment. If the environment was edgy, intense, or fast-paced, I'd feel that way on the inside, too. I needed to learn how to slow my roll, be easier on myself, and live in the moment.
After almost nine years here, I can honestly say that I have improved. These days, I am on “aloha time.” I do my best, but I don't rush through my work. I also don't force anything. I go with the flow. And, if I don't get everything done, I simply leave it for tomorrow without feeling guilty.
Adopting an attitude of leaving something for tomorrow does not mean it’s not important. It also does not mean it’s not a priority. It is simply a mindset of self-compassion, self-love, and self-care. It’s aloha.
While I still focus on the quality of my work, I favor quality over quantity and conserve my energy. In other words, I choose to see the value of what I've accomplished and to celebrate them instead of scolding myself for the work I have yet to complete. This is how I can feel good about my day, even if I don’t finish all my tasks.
Here are some tips to help you live on "aloha time:"
1. Put fewer tasks on your to-do list. There is no medal for doing more than everyone else. The only competition is with yourself. The key to achieving work-life balance is making time for the things that matter most. When you create your list, prioritize what really matters. Also, consider the time it will take to accomplish each task. Which tasks will impact your finances, health, and family the most? What are the short-term and long-term benefits? Ask yourself, today, tomorrow, or five years from now, will this matter?
2. Do one thing at a time. There is a time and a place for multi-tasking. There must also be a limit. Being an octopus is over-rated. You can experience burnout and lose passion for what you’re doing faster if you don’t reduce your workload. You also increase the rate for making mistakes. Focusing on one thing at a time creates mindfulness, improves the quality of your work, reduces stress, and makes your day more enjoyable.
3. Work intensely, but take more breaks. You will think more clearly and create less mistakes if you allow yourself time to rest, recover, and recharge. Walking away from your tasks from time to time can help you gain a better perspective on the work at hand. Problems that once seemed impossible to solve may suddenly be easy to fix once you’ve given yourself a moment to clear your mind. Go for a 10-minute walk, do 20 jumping jacks, listen to songs that motivate you, take some deep breaths outside, or take a coffee break. Get ready, reset, and go!
4. Be detail-oriented, but forgive yourself for making mistakes. Accuracy is important, but not at the expense of your health. Be mindful of your work, as mistakes can sometimes cost time and money. But, put things in perspective. If you are not performing heart surgery or no one’s life is at risk, then it’s not the end of the world if you make an error. So, go easy on yourself. All you can do is do your best. If you make a mistake, learn from it and commit to doing better next time.
5. To hit your deadlines, be willing to sacrifice other tasks. If a certain task is so important to you, be willing to drop whatever is not. Direct your energy to the priority at hand and manage your time accordingly. You’ll get to the other tasks when the time is appropriate.
6. Do tasks only you can do and be willing to delegate the others. To get things done the way we like, sometimes we feel better if we just did them ourselves. However, there are always some tasks others can do for you to make the best use of your time. Depending on the ages of your children, delegating appropriate tasks to them is an opportunity to empower them. It helps them get out of their comfort zone, acquire life skills, and feel like a productive member of your family. Their contributions will boost their self-worth, self-esteem, and confidence! Just be sure to express gratitude and celebrate their successes, too.
7. Focus less on being perfect and more on making progress. Give less criticism and give more credit. From time to time, you might be disappointed for not getting everything finished. But, don't beat yourself up over it. Not completing your work does not make you any less of a person. Some things just take more time. Some things are more complicated than we realize. Sometimes life just happens. You may get interrupted with other pressing matters that require your attention. And, sometimes you just need to honor your mental and physical health more on certain days.
8. Celebrate your successes along the way. Your day is a lot more pleasant when you can give yourself credit for all you do right or do well. Take a moment to give yourself a high-five. Share your achievements with others. These little pick-me-ups can do wonders for keeping your spirits lifted and keeping your momentum going.
If you focus on doing your best every day, then everything will take care of itself. Focus on what's important. Live each day to the fullest. And, remember, there's always tomorrow. Aloha.