We all have a million things on our to-do-list, especially during the holidays. Without boundaries, and being clear on your priorities this long list can leave you stressed out and overwhelmed. Here are three reasons why you should learn to pick your battles.
Reason #1: Picking Your Battles Helps You Manage Your Energy Levels
There are limits on how much energy we can expend in a 24 hour period and when everything feels urgent, demanding all your time and attention, it gets used up quickly. All too soon you are running on fumes as your reserves become depleted just to get one more item crossed off your to-do-list.
Dishes, housecleaning, laundry, decorating for Christmas, gift buying, holiday parties, and gift wrapping, need I say more? We feel the need to stay up until way too late trying to get it all done. What’s more important at this point? All the laundry folded, every speck of dust gone, or getting a good nights sleep?
When the cleaning, organizing, or decluttering bug strikes, and I feel ambitious enough to get more than the basics done, I usually will go for it. However, more times than not, I take on more than I can handle in a day or stay up too late, and I suffer for it later.
I’m slowly learning:
- That losing sleep over getting one more thing done is rarely worth the hit my energy levels take the following day.
- To pick items from that list that are achievable and doable in the time I have available.
Reason #2: Learning To Pick your Battles Helps You Become a Better Stress Manager
There is all this great advice of, “you need to reduce your stress.” Yeah, well I know, but how? It’s rare that you get actionable advice on how to go about doing that.
I’m learning that through the simple act of thoughtfully picking my battles, I can become a better manager of my stress, which has the potential to pay big dividends on my overall health.
I’m not much of a baker, I would love to be but I don’t have the time and rarely the patience. At Christmas however, that changes. It’s during this time of year that I dream of grandiose plans to make all sorts of treats. But, in the end, I would find myself stressed out as I ran out of time to make it all.
Thankfully over time I have figured out a few things:
- Buying all the ingredients needed, did not fit into my budget.
- Even with sharing the goodies, there was a lot left, and I would end up throwing away quite a bit.
- What always ended up always disappearing first was just a few favorite recipes.
- I began to kick myself for creating all that unnecessary work.
One year, to help reduce my to-do-list during the holidays, I stopped making so many things. In fact, I only made two, Fancy Fudge Balls and Chocolate Oatmeal Bars. These two were the easiest to throw together and the ones that my family and I enjoyed the most. The experiment was a success, and I learned a lot from it.
First, I wasn’t up until the wee hours of the morning trying to finish all my baking.
Second, that simple decision made such a difference in how I enjoyed Christmas that year; it changed my baking plans from then on. It reduced the strain on my Christmas and grocery budget, reduced the amount of work I felt I needed to put in the week before Christmas, and most importantly it helped my waistline!! 🙂
Reason #3: Picking Your Battles Helps You Get clearer on What is Truly Important
I’ve written about the book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, and what I’ve learned from it here. It’s a book that I have decided I need to read or listen to a couple of times a year.
The book teaches how to create filters to run decisions through to help you get clear on what you will say yes to and maybe even more importantly, what you will say no too. The author reminds us that when say yes to one thing, you automatically are saying no to something else.
These filters create limits on your available time and energy and force you to pay attention to the opportunities that come your way. It gives you the tools needed to weigh the costs, both good and bad, on your time, energy, and mental health.
What has become essential for me over the last few years is to take most Monday’s off from work as I am often traveling. It became an issue for me both mentally and physically to get home and somehow try and squeeze in a few hours of work before and after my road trip. Trying to fit it all in on those long days caused anxiety and high levels of stress that would wipe me out.
Monday’s are now for getting caught up on household chores, working on my business, and take intentional time to rest. This change in my schedule has had quite the dramatic effect on me. Getting home feels a lot less frantic and stressful, and as a bonus, it has allowed me to create dedicated blocks of time to work on the goals and projects that are important to me. As a result, preserving my Monday’s is a battle I pick weekly.
These are just a few of the benefits of learning to pick your battles.
When you exercise your choice of which battle to pick, there is often a feeling of freedom and relief. You soon realize that there are decisions you can just let go of so you can focus on what is essential and lines up with your priorities and values.
Next Step: Set Aside Time To Reflect and Review
Once you have picked your battles, it’s important to take the time to review your decisions on a regular basis. Personally, I like to conduct quarterly reviews. It’s a block of time you can use to look at what is working, what isn’t and what needs to change. It’s a chance to adjust or change your goals if needed. It’s also a time to recognize how far you’ve come and celebrate your successes. You can read more about that process here.
Picking your battles is part of living an intentional, purposeful life. It teaches you to be proactive instead of reactive. I know these are all overused words in our modern vocabulary, but that is not an excuse to dismiss them.
Picking your battles takes a different way of thinking, of being more deliberate in what you say yes to, what you spend your time focusing on, and what you are willing to spend your energy on.
Taking the extra time needed to decide if this is the right priority, project, or battle to take on right now is well worth it.
Are there any areas of your life you where need to learn how to pick your battles?
Marta Goertzen is an entrepreneur, writer, WordPress Website developer, and nature photographer. She daily explores the trails and beaches of the South Central Oregon Coast with her dogs Oliver & Mochi. You can follow along on their adventures on Instagram. Marta also fully believes that change starts with gratitude and that gratitude can change everything. Find out how with the “Grateful Friday 7-Days of Gratitude Starter Kit”