Through the lock down most individuals lived substantially simpler lives than they were once accustomed to. Not only were extra curricular activities canceled but many people were not working and social lives took a pause for the better part of a year. However now as restrictions have started to lift across all of Ontario and Canadians are not only starting to work back towards the lives that they once lived but they are adding more to their plate each and every day. While this is exciting to many it is also causing concern for some as they no longer understand the complexity to balancing their lives.
Oftentimes people will tell you that their brain is going “a mile a minute” or they have “101 things on their mind.” At the University of Oregon researchers concluded that the average human brain has a capacity of four thoughts that it can entertain at any given time. However, although the average person can think about four things at once for maximum effect it is more beneficial to only be thinking about a maximum of two things at once.
As you reflect on your own life right now, are you focused on only 1-2 things or have you, like many others, taken on a plethora of other “priorities” since the restrictions have been lifted?
If you are like the majority of Ontario residents right now you have not only taken on new responsibilities but added in other extra curricular activities whether they be old hobbies or new passions as you seek to make up for lost time. Although it is not bad by any means to have a full plate it also has the potential to be detrimental to the true priorities in your life that are now taking a back seat.
With the understanding that the average person maxes out at four, as you create new goals and make new plans it is important to keep the concept of priority in mind. While prioritizing life may seem like a daunting task it has the potential to make a world of difference as the world around us continues to change.
Prioritizing your life does not need to mean you only go to and from work each day, it means that you need to understand your needs and wants then make a plan of action on how you are going to accomplish what you both need and want each day.
Each person will prioritize differently. For some this looks like going to and from work every day with not much else, for others it may mean getting into the gym on a regular basis or even having that Sunday family dinner that they grew to love through the lock downs. The point is, every person is different and every person will have special priorities that are specific to their wants and needs. But this stills begs the question, “how do I prioritize my life?” There are a few simple things that you can keep in mind as life begins to feel overwhelming.
First, focus on one thing at a time. When you are at work, be at work. When you are at home, be at home. When you are with your loved ones, be with your loved ones! Learning to separate these things will not only make it easier to live in the moment but it will make it easier to be effective in this activity while you are doing it.
No is Not Bad
Whether you are hearing the word no or saying the word no, we are all taught from a young age that no is a dirty word, but it is not. Learning to say no allows you to have so much more freedom behind prioritizing the things you want and need to focus on. Saying no does not necessarily mean that you are letting other people down, it means you are valuing your time enough to understand when something is too much.
The world has 7.674 billion people on it, no one is ever alone. Sometimes you just need help and coming to that humble conclusion sooner than later will be better in the end. Whether you are asking for help from a boss, co-worker, family member, friend or neighbour the odds are in your favour that someone will help you. This may look like asking your boss for a mental health day and if that is what you need to do to set yourself up for success, do it. This may look like asking your neighbour to get your recycling out to the curb because you won’t be around to do it in time. It does not matter what you need, it matters that you reach out to the people around you to get support.
Create a Buffer
While some people are built to not need personal time most individuals require rest to rejuvenate. It is important that when you live a busy life you not only prioritise but that you also sketch out specific times to catch your breath. Whether this looks like 20 minutes alone in the car or an evening in watching a movie it is important making sure that you create this buffer for yourself.
Prioritizing your life may seem daunting but when you take some time to break it down and truly understand what you need and want the most, cutting out the fluff on either end truly can enrich your life rather than create a void.