Have you noticed the number of blog posts, vlogs, podcasts, and books popping up around the internet lately about waking up early? They really hit a nerve with me.
These articles usually promise to have the secret to maximizing your day and packing everything in by offering a proposed schedule like so:
Go to bed around 10:30PM, wake up at 5AM, exercise, eat breakfast, do laundry, work on your side hustle, get the kids ready for school (if applicable), and then head out the door for a full 8-hour day of work at your desk job. If you do the math, you’re supposed to do it all on only 6.5 hours of sleep, too.
But that’s just not sustainable, is it? Seriously, I’m exhausted just thinking about it.
(These articles bother me because I’ve bought in to them. And I experienced extreme burnout every. single. time. The kind where you quit your job, move in with family, and triple your time in therapy. I’ve done this repeatedly.)
Introverts, Consider a Minimalist Approach Instead
The truth is, there’s not enough time in the day to juggle work, self care, grocery shopping, cooking, eating, family time, friend time, exercise, hobbies, and down time. If you ask me, we’re asked to do too much on a daily basis, and we need to realize that it’s just not possible to do it all.
So do less!
I think anyone would benefit from giving themselves permission to do less, but introverts—especially highly sensitive ones—process their surroundings very deeply and can become overstimulated easily as a result. In fact, too much of it can lead to mental and physical symptoms.
We require plenty of time to recover from this heightened state and reflect on our experiences. If we get into the habit of doing, doing, doing, we’re depriving ourselves of that vital recharge time.
Instead, I propose that the secret to “success” isn’t sleeping less and doing more. The secret is simplifying.
How to Simplify Your Schedule
Instead of trying to do everything, only do what’s absolutely necessary and/or important to you. Here’s what’s working for me:
- Discover What Makes You Happy
Whatever it is that brings you joy, flow, and balance, invest more of your time in that and build the rest of your schedule around it. Is it your family? Your art? Your self-discovery? Put that first. Let everything else be secondary and your priorities should naturally fall into place.
- Prioritize and Simplify
Take a pen to your to-do list. Look it over and cut out anything that’s not absolutely necessary or anything that doesn’t bring you joy. You can’t stop taking care of your kids, sleeping, or eating, but maybe you don’t have to spend time volunteering for the parent-teacher’s association or going to the “obligatory” happy hour after work (that you know you hate).
- Say “NO”
Get comfortable saying “NO.” Only agree to do only what you know you can. This includes saying “NO” to yourself when you want to pack your schedule too tightly. Respect your limits.
- Make Adjustments
If you’re feeling like your schedule is overstuffed, adjust it. Maybe you dread your morning run but feel revived by reading a book. In that case, sit down and read a book instead. A morning run isn’t serving you right now.
Similarly, if the only time you can get work done without interruptions is in the morning before everyone else wakes up, then, by all means, do it then, just don’t overdo it and be sure to schedule in down time later on.
- SLEEP! For Crying Out Loud, Sleep!
Sleep is important and absolutely necessary, and you may need more of it than you think. If you require 10 hours of sleep to feel recharged, then make it a priority to get close to 10 hours of sleep per night. Do not cut back your sleep time under the false assumption that it’ll be sustainable and lead to anything other than massive burnout.
Introverts: Thrive with a Minimalist Mindset
When it comes to succeeding in this crazy hectic world that’s built around the extraverted temperament, the key isn’t trying to keep up. It’s getting rid of what doesn’t matter so that you can conserve your energy for what does.
I wholeheartedly believe that this is the key to a more balanced, fulfilling way of life. I know that’s the ideal I’m striving for, anyway.
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