Welcome to summer, the season of construction, graduation parties, vacations, and too many barbecues to possibly fit into just three months!
Okay, so I might be joking just a little, but isn't that pretty close to reality? Just think for a second about all the things you have going on between now and September.
- graduation open houses
- bridal and baby showers
- bachelorette parties for said weddings
- road trips
- picnics and barbecues
- family reunions
- family vacations
- summer sports
- work deadlines
- work functions
- new projects
- summer hobbies (gardening, boating, etc.)
- normal demands like paying bills, grocery shopping, making dinner, and the like
Are you feeling overwhelmed yet? I am, and I don't even have all of those things on my personal list! Just the act of brainstorming so many things and writing them down was enough to make me need a nap.
As much as I LOVE summer, it can be stressful when we try to cram too many things into such a short time of the year. If our expectations for our summers are too high, we're going to drive ourselves (and our people) crazy by scheduling everything out the wazoo and planning more things than we can possibly do.
So what's a girl to do instead? How do we make the most of our summers (or any season, really) without going insane?
1. REEVALUATE YOUR EXPECTATIONS
As you enter into this season, what are you expecting from it?
Are you expecting to get all your projects done, to reach new heights with your work, to grow your business, or to accomplish a laundry list of work-related tasks?
Do you expect to engage in all the activities you want to do, like gardening, reading, going for walks, swimming, water skiing, boating, tubing, grilling, biking, and running?
Are you expecting to have all your weekends serve as restful bookends for your crazy weeks? To have lazy Saturdays and slow Sundays at home?
Do you expect to get away often for cabin weekends, road trips, or family vacations?
Are you expecting to have people over and participate in all the social engagements this season brings-- barbecues, bonfires, grill outs, birthday parties, graduation parties, bridal and baby showers, and everything along those lines?
Do you really think you can do all of that without going crazy? Do you think you can do it all and still manage to take care of yourself, your family, and the things that just never seem to be done and will never go away, like cooking dinner and doing the laundry?
There's a way to have a meaningful summer you can enjoy without losing your sanity in the process.
2. DECIDE WHAT YOUR PRIORITIES ARE
As with any goal setting, you're going to have to consider what your priorities are. Hopefully I'm not the first to tell you this, but you can't do everything. You're going to have to choose what you want to prioritize and what you're willing to put on the back burner for now or let go of completely.
Do you want to prioritize traditions or family trips? Then you need to minimize your work commitments or see if you can reschedule them to allow time for your trips. And it means you're going to have to miss some of those graduation open houses and bonfires with friends, too.
Do you want to reserve space on your calendar for a new project you're working on? Then you're likely going to have to say "no" to keeping your garden alive or spend time working on the project instead of learning to water ski.
What are your priorities in this season? What means the most to you? What are you not willing to compromise on? Identify those things and write them down.
For me, this means choosing community and relationships over more time spent on marketing and strategizing. That looks like scheduling my work time around my social calendar so I can make room for that day at the lake or that bonfire. It also means not mindlessly scrolling through social media, but using it intentionally to grow community or taking a little break until I can approach it through that lens.
3. PUT YOUR PRIORITIES ON YOUR CALENDAR FIRST
Before you get too far with the color-coded chart you need to write down every single thing you have planned for the summer, put your priorities on your calendar first. By writing them down, you make sure you have time carved out for them.
If we're not careful, things will keep popping up and taking away time from what's really important. It's the difference between urgent and important, or even seemingly urgent and important. If we have already declared what's really valuable and worthwhile, what we truly want to be investing our time, energy, and money into, then it's much easier to focus on the important and put the distractions in their place.
Once you have your priorities in place, you can fill in the extra things around them like garnish on a dinner plate-- they add color, variety, and fun without being entirely necessary.
I like to plan in 90-day increments, so I'm creating my plans for the whole summer at once. I began by putting my non-negotiables on my calendar: Sundays and Thursdays with my people, Mondays with my family, and some of my favorite aspects of my work (twice weekly blog posts, twice weekly Facebook Lives). These are things I don't want to miss, so I made sure to put them on my calendar.
After I had the really important things on my calendar, I added in more of the fun extra stuff: the weddings, the birthdays, the day trips and coffee dates. I love these things, but they have to support my bigger-picture priorities by fitting in where I can make room. They aren't the main dish; they're the wonderful extras.
4. TAKE ONE THING OFF YOUR LIST
I know you just carefully planned your priorities and activities, and now I'm asking you to take one away. You might think that sounds crazy or that there's nothing you could take away. But I want you to think about it for a moment.
Is there something you're doing just because you think you should? Quit it. Is there something on your calendar just because you've always done it? You can stop. Is there something you're planning to do because you were invited, but you don't really want to? Don't.
Give yourself a break by taking just one thing off your calendar.
I was trying to figure out if I could make it to the dance portion of a wedding reception in a couple weeks while still juggling various plans for Father's Day (which is the same weekend). Our plans haven't been set in stone, but as it's important for me to spend time with my family, especially on holidays that honor family, I'm prioritizing that time and declining the invite to the dance at the wedding because trying to do both was stressing me out a little.
And do you know what happened? People understood. Nobody got upset. The world moved on. And the best part? I could finally relax about the whole thing!
5. STAND YOUR GROUND
Okay, so this may not seem like it will simplify your schedule, but I promise it will help you stick to your guns!
How likely are you to follow your more simplified schedule if your mom, sister, neighbor, coworker, or best friend starts poking holes in your plan?
It's challenging to pursue living intentionally and carefully guarding your calendar when the people around you don't understand.
Our people have enormous sway over us and how we spend our time. Their opinions matter to us and even shape our own.
So how do we handle it when they don't understand why we aren't going to be attending our second cousin's neighbor's graduation open house?
- We find polite ways to decline ("I'm sorry, but I won't be able to make it," "I have to decline, unfortunately," "I won't be able to make it this time.") Sometimes declining is all that's required; we can rest knowing we don't always have to give a lengthy reason why.
- We kindly explain (when necessary) that we are focusing on creating space for time with our close family and friends, or improving our health, or building our business, or whatever our key priorities are, and say we hope they understand it's not personal, that it's just a matter of not being able to make both work at the same time.
- We seek out community with those who do understand. There's no true replacement for in-person community with your tribe, but you can absolutely supplement it with like-minded people who can support you and even give you tips for how to navigate tough situations! If you're looking for a good group to start with, might I suggest mine, The Joy + Full Living Community? We encourage one another and discuss topics of joy, simplicity, intention, time management, and peace.
This is your summer, your life, not anyone else's. I encourage you to not let anyone else dictate how you spend your time by demanding what you do and don't engage in. You have the freedom to create the kind of life you want, and the easiest way I've found is to simplify my schedule so the most important things get the most of my time, and in return I get the most joy out of how I'm spending my time!
If you want to talk more about simplifying your clutter, finances, time, home, or business, I would absolutely LOVE that! It's my passion to help women create lives, homes, and businesses they love by designing them with joy, simplicity, and intention, and I'd be so, so happy to talk to you! Let's schedule a chat, shall we?