Work out. Write up reports. Finish the projects. Send the proposal. Hug the friend. Pack for the business trip. Kiss the baby and put her to bed. Breathe. With so many things that you could be doing, it’s easy to feel like you can never get to the important ones. The to-do list keeps growing longer, no matter how fast we cross things off.
You’re not afraid to buckle down and get things done. You don't mind hard work. Yet it seems like you’re always busy, and somehow there isn’t ever time for the really important things. Some of them are personal, like spending hours fully immersed with your kids, doing something romantic with your beloved, or working on that passion project you’ve been kicking around for years. Others are professional, like revamping that antiquated and inefficient system, turning your good idea into a solid proposal, taking that public speaking class, or digging into the hard mental work of creative problem-solving.
We need fierce boundaries and systems in place if we’re going to spend our time doing the things that really matter the most to us, because those things can be easiest to let slide. When was the last time you were with your family, just playing? How long has it been since you’ve taken a couple hours for yourself to spend painting, meditating, reading, or hiking? Have you passed up fun volunteering opportunities because you’re too busy? None of those things have any outside deadlines attached to them, and it’s all too easy to let them slip through the cracks — again.
On the other hand, some of the silliest things in life have a strange urgency to them. You have to return that blouse that didn’t fit within seven days. The softball fundraisers call you, panicked because they need another volunteer. The bleary hours you spent folding laundry because you couldn’t handle looking at it any more.
Imagine if you freed up four hours a week to work on your new business idea or spearhead something new at work or draft a proposal to your boss about why you deserve a raise. Pretty valuable, right?
Then imagine if you spent four guilt-free hours fully present with your beloved family members instead of being distracted by errands, chores, and little nagging tasks. That time is priceless.
In fact, your time and energy is your most valuable resource, which is why I advise all my clients to hire a personal assistant and a cleaning service. These are two of the best investments you can make in your own career, business, and personal happiness. In order to make the big leaps that you want to make in your life and business, you have to commit to rising up to the next level and doing your biggest, most important work. You have to stop doing the low-return activities so you can really pour yourself into the high-return ones — which means you have to take something off your plate.
Laundry, grocery shopping, cleaning, and errands are usually the first tasks to hand over to someone else. It isn’t that some things are intrinsically better than others — washing dishes and scrubbing toilets can be a weirdly Zen, meditative activity for some people — it’s just that there isn’t time to do it all. If we’re going to get the important stuff done, we have to start delegating some tasks.
Most people assume that there’s no way that they can afford to hire an assistant. It seems like a scandalous luxury! But if you hire someone for just four hours a week at $20 an hour, that’s $320 a month. It’s actually a very reasonable investment with a fantastically high return, and there is someone who is probably very happy to earn that money doing those jobs. It’s a win-win!
I now gratefully pay people to do my laundry, buy groceries, and run the errands that are just part of life. I know that some people are afraid that if they delegate things, somehow they will feel disconnected from things, that their life won’t feel as real. However, I know that I personally feel much more connected to the truly important parts of my life — my daughter, my partner, my work, and my friends, when I am not distracted by doing 8,000 other tasks. Instead of running errands in the evening, I can sit and do homework with my kiddo. Instead of folding laundry and cleaning the house all weekend, we can go the park or color or read books or dig in the dirt or do any of the things that make life gorgeous.
It's a funny thing, but sometimes to have the most beautiful life, you have to be fierce about it. And that means fiercely investing in your own support system so that you can go out and do your most important work.
Anna Kunnecke is a member of the DailyWorth Connect program. Read more about the program here.