Essentials v. Nonessentials - Identify Priorities and Eliminate Nonessentials

During divorce, you are barraged by numerous tasks to get your life in order.  I found that during my own divorce, I was forced to go against my perfectionist, ADD nature in order to move forward.  There is great wisdom in learning that “good enough” is enough. 

Wise Women Know

“The sculptor produces the beautiful statue by chipping away such parts of the marble block as are not needed - it is a process of elimination.” Elbert Hubbard

If you are committed to not just surviving, but thriving, then learning to identify what is a true priority and eliminating nonessentials is critical.  I remember during the darkest days of my divorce telling my mother that “this isn’t working.”  And what I meant by that was that my prior approach and philosophy of just working hard was no longer cutting it.  I was in court with my ex about every six weeks, trying to get my business off the ground, and attempting to take care of three children and my mother, who was housebound after my father’s unexpected and untimely death.  Overwhelmed does not begin to describe what I was experiencing.

            I was working as fast and as hard as humanly possible to keep everything going, but it wasn’t working.  I was falling apart—physically and emotionally. Through my mindful practice, I recognized this, and came to understand that I had to completely restructure my approach to my day-to-day tasks.  I was forced to pare down my existence to what really mattered.  Here is what I learned.

✓  Get an early start.  Let’s face it, while going through divorce, you’ve got so much on your mind that you are probably not sleeping well.  Combine that with likely hormonal fluctuations, and chances are you are waking up very early and then lying in bed in a cold sweat.  Use this time!  There is so much that can be accomplished in the early dawn hours while your children (and most other humans) are sleeping.  If you are smart, you can accomplish half a day’s work before the rest of the world has rolled out of bed.

✓ Make a list of the things that must get done each day.  After your morning mindfulness practice, write down all the things that you must do that day. In no particular order, just write them all down.

Pare the list down to four to six to-dos.  This will be challenging, but it works.  Force yourself to eliminate until you reduce your list to four (best) to six to-dos (max).

Wise Women Know

A very wise and successful man once told me, “Do anything that matters before noon.”  I took this advice to heart and shifted my morning workout to 4 pm, after my work was done.  This single adjustment resulted in doubling my productivity and profits.

☐ Start with the hardest task.  This is a game-changer.  Start with the brain twister or the least desirable task and get it done while your energy is high.  When you check it off your list, it will incentivize you to keep plugging away.

☐ Eliminate the rest.  If you want to accomplish the essential, you must eliminate the rest.  This is a hard one to wrap your brain around because most of us spend a great deal of time on things that don’t matter. But letting go of what doesn’t serve you is critical to your future happiness and success.  When I took a hard look at this during my divorce, I found that I was spending an inordinate amount of time and money on things that really didn’t matter – such as getting my eyebrows waxed and shopping for things we didn’t really need.  I restructured my life so that I could focus on becoming financially independent and on my children, and cut out everything else. Consciously changing habits to eliminate the trivial and nonessential literally saved me from myself.

Ask yourself throughout the day whether whatever you are doing at the moment is contributing to your freedom, independence and happiness.  If the answer to that question is no, then stop doing it.  You will be astonished at how many of the things we routinely do are non-essential and can be eliminated.

Ann GrantComment