Using the concept of Marie Kondo’s “Does it bring you joy?” I’ve decided to evaluate the projects I currently have in my life, and understand where I am getting energy and where I am expending energy unnecessarily. As a person who often bites off more than I can chew - it’s a great exercise to remind myself where I actually need to dedicate my time, and where I can let go of the reins a bit.
Starting with work, with friends, with hobbies, activities, lifestyle, etc - I can start to take a look at all elements of my life and understand what truly brings me joy and fulfillment, and what are things in my life that just fill space or time. Of course, there is always the in-between - things you need that don’t necessarily bring joy, but bring peace of mind or other benefits to your life, and things that you must take care of.
Applying this method doesn’t necessarily mean you are cutting everything out of your life, but it gives you a chance to appreciate everything that you’ve currently got in your life, and make sure that it truly helps you lead the life you want to live.
My first step was to collect everything in my life into one big pile.
How I managed this - I wrote out one post-it note for every “project” i’ve got going on in my life right now - these can be business projects (I’m an entrepreneur so the line between private and professional blends easily these days!) or personal projects. I wrote each one out on a post it and stuck them all up on the wall together in one big pile.
The benefit of this, is being able to take full stock of where you’re currently dividing your attention. Do you want to get started on a home improvement project, but never seem to feel like you have the time to do it? Where else are you dedicating attention that you might not have realized before. Perhaps you’re spending a lot of time writing articles for your blog, or you could be putting time and energy into watching a TV series you love, while neglecting another passion of yours - which is cooking.
Really take stock of all the different areas of your life, (reading projects, kids, fitness, well-being activities, home improvement projects, etc)
The next step was to categorize these projects. The first category I created was, what can I do without? I was able to immediately reduce my list of 26 projects to about 14 in just a matter of minutes. I had been dedicating a lot of time to projects or activities that weren’t really helping me reach my goals, nor were they bringing me any particular satisfaction. Some of these projects were actually just things on my list but that I couldn’t pro-actively do anything about at the moment, so they were taking up space in my mind, but not creating energy or movement. In fact, they were actively blocking movement.
The next category was what projects matter to me, but don’t require active full attention at the moment. In this pile came things like reading or certain client projects. I could easily see that these are things I enjoy, and want to have in my life, but don’t necessarily have to dedicate a lot of time to, and don’t need to spend time planning. When they enter my life and I have space, I feel good about it. If I don’t get to it every day, that’s also okay.
The last category, naturally, was what projects are really important to me and require active time and attention. Here I had the chance to actively take note of which projects I wanted to dedicate time to, and could take notice of how much time I had been spending on them, or how much I had been neglecting them. Projects in this category include passion and professional projects, such as continually learning and growing as a coach, and projects where I volunteer, such as for The Coaching Fellowship. I really enjoy this work, it’s important to me, and I want to consciously dedicate my energy there.
After creating these three categories, I could easily eliminate projects which I didn't need in my life. It doesn't mean I can't consider them in the future, but it means that I can take them out of my mind, and off my list, right now. The projects which fell in the middle category are also relevant, but don't need my time right now - I kept them tucked away on a list of things to look at again in a few month's time and either take them off the project list altogether, or upgrade them to really important.
Then, at last, I could sit with list of projects that really bring me joy and fulfillment (either because they are exciting and fun, or because they bring in $$, or they help me learn and grow,). With this list in mind, I could start to brainstorm how to create more space for them in my life.
If you want to find more joy in your own life, use the following steps as a guideline to see where you are putting your precious time and energy, and how you can get more fulfillment from your day-to-day life.
Steps to focus more clearly on joy and fulfillment in your life.
Collect all of your life / work projects into one big pile so you can really see everything you have hidden in all corners of your life. I recommend to write one project per post-it so you can really see the volume of things in your life.
Categorize your projects into 3 Categories: 1) What can I do without? 2) What matters to me but doesn’t require active attention at the moment? 3) What projects are really important to me and require active time and attention?
Sit down with your post-it pile (or list) and write out one or two ways you can create more space for them in your life. Make sure your post-it pile is really focused and clear on what brings you joy and fulfillment. Then commit to yourself to give them more time in your life.
Amanda is Leadership & Courage Coach. She founded www.couragefactory.com to empower leaders to live and lead courageously. She helps leaders who are looking to make a transformation in their professional or personal lives to unlock their potential. She also loves cats.