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Five ways to make time for the things that matter the most

Throw your hands in the air if you feel like it is a constant struggle to manage your often-overflowing plate of work-life commitments. From professional deadlines to social gatherings, to the intermittent sprinkling of self-care… folks, the struggle is REAL.
We live in a world that praises “busyness” and constant forward momentum. And to add insult to injury, there are a TON of messages out there about what we SHOULD be doing in all of these domains.
So, how do we arrive at the seemingly-mystical place of balance, and truly make time for the things and people that matter the most? Here are five ways to crack down on your commitments, and protect the things that fill you up:

1. Become an Essentialist

We cannot be everything to everyone, both professionally and personally. When we attempt to dedicate our energy to ALL things, it gets dispersed in ALL directions. But, if we can determine the things that matter most to us, then we can direct our efforts in a clear direction AND have an impact.
This is the concept that Greg Mckeown has defined as Essentialism, “living by design, not by default.” Mckeown further explains that “instead of making choices reactively, the Essentialist deliberately distinguishes the vital few from the trivial many, eliminates the nonessentials, and then removes obstacles so the essential things have clear, smooth passage.”
So, take a values inventory. Determine your highest point of contribution (hint: this is often the intersection between your strengths and your passion). And, dedicate your energy to the things that matter most.

2. The pre-commitment check-in

Before you commit to something, check in with your gut and your calendar. It is totally reasonable to tell a family member, a friend, or a colleague that you will get back to them once you can confirm whether or not you are able to commit to something.
And, while this might feel uncomfortable at first – ultimately, it will allow you to make realistic commitments, and show up wholeheartedly in the process.

3. Listen to your body

Sometimes, we just need to spend the night getting cozy on the couch. Check in with your sweet self throughout the day. When you are experiencing a challenging emotion, notice it, acknowledge it, and send some love inwards.
Suffering is a normal part of the human experience, so give yourself permission to be kind to YOU in those moments. And, it can be helpful to try to schedule in extra self-care at times of transition or stress.

4. Say no

It can feel hard to say no. Whether you are fearful that you would be letting down your boss, or even a family member, that sense of obligation (or guilt) can get the best of us. Often times when we agree to something that we really don’t want to do, we are left feeling resentful towards the other person, and frustrated with ourselves.
Remember that saying no to one thing, means that you are saying yes to something else. It is totally okay (and healthy!) to make yourself a priority. Don’t abandon you!

5. Self-care shakedown

This might sound like an ironic question, but… have you ever felt burned out from self-care? By the time you’ve done your food prep, cleaned the house, gone for a run, and squeezed in a bath, it’s not uncommon to feel exhausted. So, what is a self-care must, and what is more of a self-care should?
If you need eight hours of sleep to function your best, how can you make sleep a priority? If you don’t enjoy food prep or getting groceries, can you buy pre-made, healthy meals elsewhere? Self-care is meant to help us recharge and stay well… so give yourself permission to scrap the things that are bringing you down!
If these tips resonated, and you want to dive deeper, check out these resources: Essentialism: The disciplined pursuit of less by Greg Mckeown & Mindful Self-Compassion.
Courtenay Crucil is a psychotherapist, nature-based therapist and herbalist in private practice on the unceded territory of the Wet'suwet'en (Houston, BC). She offers psychotherapy online, in-person, and in the wild spaces of the Northwest. To learn more about her practice, or to work with Courtenay please visit her website at
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