As the sunshine rolls in and the flowers bloom, many people feel the itch to clean out the old and bring in the new. While this applies to our closets and homes, it’s also important to give a second look at our schedule. As author, interior designer and happiness expert Rebecca West put it, since time is our most precious resource, it’s essential to look at our routines and make sure that we’re spending our time in ways aligned with our goals values.
“Just like it’s easy to eat too many chips while watching TV mindlessly, it’s easy to let low-value activities eat up all the time we might more mindfully spend with our family and friends, in nature, or pursuing our dreams,” she explains.
So how can you figure out what you need to remove from your day-to-day to make room for better tasks that bring you joy and provide energy? By going through this step-by-step process, guided by experts:
Step 1: Take inventory of how you spend your time.
One of the most effective ways to detox your routine is to follow the same body detoxing routine. As West explains, when we attempt to lose weight, we usually track everything that we eat to see where we’re going overboard or where we could cut back. Without knowing what you’re consuming, you can’t analyze food sensitivities or triggers. The same is true for your daily schedule. For one week, West suggests keeping a journal and/or a time-tracking app to record every single minute of your day. And she means everything: getting showered and dressed, cleaning the house, work responsibilities, running errands, helping the kids with the homework, strolling through social media, watching TV, and so on. As you do this, West says, try not to change your routine, just record it.
Step 2: Pinpoint when you feel the most energized.
Since you’re tracking anyway, consider adding a column where you jot down how you’re feeling at that point in time. Everyone feels motivated at varying points, but our circadian rhythms play a factor, explaining John Moore, a shamanic teacher and coach. Since this rhythm regulates our body during the day based on sunlight and days grow longer in the spring, your energy could shift. “You may be waking up earlier and going to sleep later,” he says. “It makes sense to look at the timing of your routine to do the things that require the greatest physical energy when you’re feeling the most awake and energized.”
Step 3: Prioritize what leaves you feeling your best.
Once we have an inventory of our time, West says we can take a note from spring cleaning our closets. How so? Much like pulling out all of your warm-weather clothes and trying them on to see what you’ll keep, donate or toss, you can apply the same philosophy to your time journal. As you look back at your week-long inventory, West says to ask yourself:
- Am I okay with the amount of time I tracked for self-care?
- Am I okay with how much time I tracked at work? With my family?
- How about the amount of time I watched TV or scrolled Instagram?
Just like our closets, our lives have a limited amount of space for activities. “If you’ve been saying you want to write a book, maybe you can reallocate an hour or two of each day’s TV time to writing,” she adds as an example.
Step 4: Figure out what steps in your routine are no longer serving you.
Now, you know what parts of your day pushed you to work harder or feel inspired — and which ones drained your energy. You may also notice extra steps you’re taking that aren’t necessary or serving you. Say, for instance, you spend 30 minutes in the morning cleaning the kitchen and another 30 minutes in the evening. In the A.M., this process annoys you, since you are anxious to begin work. Could you move that cleaning session to another time? Maybe you put pressure on yourself to have a bath for ‘self-care,’ when in reality, what makes you the happiest is gardening. So why keep that in your schedule if you don’t like it? “Some things may no longer be serving you as they once were, and eliminating or adjusting them may be in order,” Moore says. “Look at what you might do with the time you’ll save from cutting out the less useful ways you spend your time.”
Step 5: Challenge yourself to grow.
Spring is when we indulge in change, adopt a new mindset and breathe in the fresh air of possibility. With your newly cleaned routine, you can now challenge yourself to add something new that benefits your body, mind and/or spirit, Moore recommends. This could be meditation, dance, tai chi, painting, gardening, you name it. The goal is to seek joy. “Something new that is stimulating and causes you to stretch your comfort zone can be a welcome addition to your life and help you see things from a new perspective,” he adds.