It never seems like there’s enough time in the day to get everything done. Do you feel overwhelmed? Do you have enough time in your day for self-care, hobbies, or leisure activities? So many people have a never-ending list of things to do floating around in their head. Every day feels like rushing around and endless chores, but not you’re feeling accomplished or fulfilled. It is possible to make time for yourself and feel successful.
What’s Stopping You From Getting Things Done?
The first step in making time for yourself and to achieve your goals is to identify the barriers that are keeping you from doing the task at hand. There are many reasons people don’t get things done:
- Fear of success: What if you do succeed and it’s not what you expected?
- Perfectionism: Rather than enjoying the process of what you’re doing, you are more concerned with the outcome or perfecting the details.
- Distractions: Do you catch yourself scrolling through your phone instead of accomplishing a task? Are your kids always competing for your attention?
- Other chores or work: Adulting is hard. The list of chores to do is ever-growing and it may be difficult to keep up.
- Lack of motivation or desire: You may feel bored or not challenged enough, or maybe it’s the process of reaching your goal that you’re not interested in.
- Low energy: Do you feel tired all the time? It could be a sign of a health problem. If depression is involved, that will contribute to anhedonia (a symptom of depression that causes a loss of interest in things you used to like to do). Do you put off doing enjoyable activities? Have you wanted to try hobbies, but can’t get around to them? Do you want to spend time with your friends, but haven’t reached out?
- Too much to do: One of the biggest barriers I see is trying to create a whole list of goals all at once. It can feel overwhelming and create too much pressure. People have a tendency to feel overwhelmed, freeze, and then not do anything.
Therapy can help you figure out what’s going on so you can overcome your barriers, achieve your goals, and feel successful.
Next Step: Write it Down!
If you don’t have your “To Do” list written down, it’s easy to forget what you have to do. You might remember something you have to do at an inopportune time and feel overwhelmed. You can’t manage it all in your head, and it often feels more overwhelming in your head than written down. You don’t have to write everything down – just write a few things down that you want to get done today, no matter how small it is. It feels good to cross off items, even if they are small tasks. It motivates you to keep going and helps you feel accomplished. You don’t have to include everything you have to do for the rest of your life on this list. You don’t even have to include everything you need to get done today. It’s just a way to build a habit and start a routine that promotes positive reinforcement and helps you feel more successful.
Break Goals Down Into Manageable Steps
It’s important to write down goals that are small and manageable. Manageable goals are ones that don’t make you feel overwhelmed or cause you to freeze simply by looking at them. If the goal is really big – “clean the entire house” – break it down into smaller steps (e.g., “clean the living room”). If that feels big and overwhelming, break that down into even smaller steps. “Put books on the shelf,” “organize magazines,” “fold up the blankets,” etc. The more you accomplish, no matter how small, the more successful you’ll feel and the more likely you will follow through.
Create a Morning and Night Routine
The night before (well before bedtime so you’re not thinking about what you have to do while you’re trying to sleep) write down everything you have to/want to do the next day. If you have a dry erase board, write them all there. Then pull out 2 or 3 small, manageable goals you know you can accomplish and write them down somewhere else. If you are trying to establish something as a new routine, write it down on the list. If you already do this habitually, don’t include it. For example if you are depressed, brushing your teeth can be a goal. But once those are established, then it’s not a goal, it’s part of your routine. If your barrier interferes with your goals, then you have to change the focus. That’s why it’s important to discover barriers first. If you don’t, your goals will feel unattainable.
The next morning you’ll have a plan for the day. If you accomplish those 2 or 3 goals and that’s all you want to do, GREAT! Feel good about it. If you accomplish those 2 or 3 and still have energy, pull another task off the larger list, and feel good about it. Those are just a bonus. You don’t have to do everything on your big list. Life will keep adding things to that list. The point is to stay focused and feel good about yourself – taking it day by day, goal by goal.
This routine helps you keep an even pace, rather than trying to bite off more than you can chew. It’s a sustainable way to make your way through your list and through life.
Organize Your List
Take a look at the big list of goals and rearrange them into categories that work for you. This can be:
- Things with deadlines (or repercussions if they’re not done on time)
- Not so urgent
Another option can be to organize them by how easy or difficult they are. You might want to get the easy stuff done first, cross it off, and feel good. Positive reinforcement! You want to positively reinforce the feeling of achievement. So that’s why it’s important to break things down into very small, attainable goals rather than mastery. Mastery doesn’t give you instant gratification, and doesn’t motivate you to keep going. It’s like a marathon – if no one is cheering you on along the way, it doesn’t feel gratifying. People cheering you on is the positive reinforcement along the way. You aren’t at the mastery level yet, so it’s to keep going, persevere, and feel good about it.
Making Time for Fun and Rest
Many people tend to call themselves lazy when they’ve rested or taken a break. That negative self-talk can lead to low self-esteem and can actually make you feel less successful. Give yourself a break! Part of feeling good and accomplished is being kind and compassionate towards yourself. Making time for yourself, whether it’s to take a nap or enjoy a hobby, can lead to feeling more content, fulfilled, and successful.
“I don’t have time for fun or self-care.” Saying you don’t have time for pleasurable things is an excuse. We all need a balance between fun, relaxation, and work. When you are constantly doing things you don’t like to do, it can lead to burnout, fatigue, stress, or depression. It ends up slowing you down and taking time away from accomplishing your goals, leading to low self-esteem.
We all have an overarching, never-ending “To Do” list because life is always evolving. There are always chores to be done and unexpected things popping up. That’s life. But there’s always time for rest and pleasurable activities. Since we can’t control time, we can choose how we spend it. You have to make the time for things you like. The time doesn’t show up out of nowhere. So how do you make time for yourself? Put leisure activities on the list! This is how you make time for yourself and the fun/relaxing things you want to do. The more you incorporate self-care and fun into your daily chores, the better you will feel. It will lead to higher levels of happiness, satisfaction, and fulfillment. There are also ways to add some sense of joy or pleasure in what you are doing, such as putting on music or finding fun approaches to tackling otherwise uninteresting chores/ tasks.
You Deserve to Feel Happy and Successful
As adults, we will always have work and chores to do. But that doesn’t mean we can’t fit in time for fun and relaxation. When we make time for ourselves (truly for ourselves), it makes us feel better. If you feel overwhelmed, stressed, anxious, or even like a failure, you’re not alone! It’s common to compare yourselves to others and never feel good enough. Therapy can help you shift your mindset so you can achieve your goals, feel successful, and feel good about yourself. Dr. Heather Violante offers teletherapy (online video therapy) to those living in New York and Florida. Contact her today to schedule your free 10-minute consultation.