Summer is a time of reflecting, a time of anchoring in the new, a time of relaxing, a time to travel, a time to take up a new hobby, and a time for changes. And, if you have children, summer is a time to create good, quality memories!
I recently made a “summer to-do” collage with my daughter: we gathered pictures from magazines depicting our plans for the summer and placed them on a large poster board we created together. As both of us came up with various ideas, I couldn’t help but ponder the differences in our personalities, and I couldn’t help but think about what we could or would learn from each other as we experienced these summer activities together. We have spent many summers together, but this is the first time we made a collage and not just a simple “to do” list. We had fun finding the magazines, cutting out the pictures, and gluing them on the poster board, which is now hanging on a wall in our home. We made sure we chose activities that we BOTH would love to do and also a few new things to try. Our collage is a visual reminder of what makes both of us smile and makes our hearts come alive.
Some of the activities on this collage are swimming, bird watching, walking the dog, painting a desk, gardening, hiking, reading, manicures, picnics, and concerts.
Many of us have our daily “to-do” lists, but on those lists, we do not add activities that we love or brighten our lives. Why? We live each day so programmed and inundated with our “tasks” that we miss out on life. When is the last time you actually did something you enjoyed, something that gave you joy and peace? When is the last time you couldn’t stop laughing or smiling? I have noticed in my life that if I don’t schedule in “fun,” – whatever that is for me – I can be prone to become “task-oriented” only and miss out on what truly nourishes me. I have discovered that living life to the fullest includes making the fun or new things part of my schedule, or they don’t happen.
Below are five tips on how to schedule the “fun” or the “new” in your life.
1. Make a list, journal about, draw, or make a collage of anything you would like to do, have always wanted to do, or would give you peace. DO NOT analyze it, start researching it, tell yourself you can’t because … (fill in the blank), or talk yourself out of it. Just get it on paper in whatever form is comfortable for you, personally.
2. Discover where your time is spent. Grab seven pieces of notebook paper and label each one each day of the week. Make two columns on each piece of paper. Label the left column, “Activity.” Label the right column, “Time.” For one week, write down everything you do and the time it takes to do each activity. Include sleeping, working, grooming, cooking, driving, exercising, Facebooking, talking on the phone, watching TV, cleaning up, etc. An example would be: showered and dressed – 7:30 a.m. – 8:00 a.m. Do not analyze what you are doing – just write it down. This can seem a bit cumbersome at first, but if you do this for a week, you will see clearly where your time is spent (willingly or not).
3. Scrutinize where your time goes. What are the activities that are an absolute necessity? Some of these might be working, feeding the kids, driving to work, paying bills. What are some things you are doing that could be done differently, faster, at a better time? What are some activities that could be eliminated? Are you spending too much time watching TV when you could be using that time for something that feeds your soul? Are you spending too much time washing dishes when you can ask one of the children to help?
4. Make the necessary changes, one at a time, to achieve what is on your list, drawing, journal, or collage. Spend less time on Facebook. Put things where they belong the first time, so you don’t have to pick up. Ask one of the children to feed the animals, so you have that extra time for yourself. Take a shorter route to work. There are endless ways to change how your time is allotted. Making changes is personal, and it is reflective of who you are, what you want, and what makes you tick. And, not everything on your list has to be completed right away. My daughter and I will be visiting the science museum, once, but that will not happen until Aug, for example.
5. Live abundantly! Be proud of yourself for making changes one step at a time and savor the new activity, hobby, or event. Start by being thankful that you took the time to review how you spend your time. Always add to your list, drawing, journal, or collage. Living abundantly is learning to create a life that you, personally, enjoy!