I just lost an hour and a half.
I was trying to help. I really was.
I was traveling with my son to an event that he needed to attend. We had agreed to leave the hotel at 6:30 to get him where he needed to be by 7:30. I was ready but he was distracted, I think he thought I was being too uptight leaving an hour to get to the event (It could be a thing). Anyway, I was ready and I grabbed his suit-jacket off the hanger and hung it on his suitcase rolling handle.
So, I get him out the door and between needing to get him food, getting lost twice, I got him to the event at 7:35. As he is getting out of the car he realized that he does not have his tie on so he looks in his bag. Then he realizes it is probably hanging on the hanger where his suit was (which Mom had failed to grab).
So… he went into his event and I drove back to get the tie and hanger from the hotel room. In trying to save a few minutes, by over mom-ing him, I got to spend an hour and a half driving back to the hotel. Getting the tie. Driving back to his event so he could be properly dressed.
If I had only let him manage himself, which he is very capable of doing, I would have saved myself an hour and a half and quarter tank of gas.
This made me think of where else in our lives do we create chaos or extra work because we are interfering or helping unnecessarily.?? If we are to find the time in our busy lives to live our dreams and passions this might be an area to look at.
So here are some things to think about to help create extra time and energy for you:
Ask yourself should this be my responsibility?
Is this a task that someone could or should be doing?
In an ideal world, should you be responsible for this?
If the answer is no, the next step is to communicate with the person who should be responsible for the task. Kindly and gently let them know that you are no longer going to be doing this task. The hard part is to actually quit doing it. Don’t be co-dependent!!
For example, if your child is on a sports team and you have always taken responsibility for washing her uniform. Perhaps you could make the child responsible. Of course, this change is going to depend on the age and ability of the child. The child could be responsible for getting the uniform into the wash so you could wash it. Or if they are older, perhaps they could wash the uniform themselves.
This will accomplish several things. First, it will be teaching your child to be responsible for their own things and activities. If your child has to wear a dirty uniform once or twice it won’t be the end of the world. If a snotty mom makes a comment just smile sweetly and say “we are working on responsibility and self-reliance this week.” They will secretly admire you!
A second benefit of doing this is that it will reduce the number of things that you are responsible for. It will also put the responsibility on the person who is closest to the activity and information. While this one example will at first create work (and possibly crisis. Take a few minutes to review all the tasks that you do for your family (or co-workers). You can slowly but surely off-load tasks that have been your responsibility but shouldn’t be. This frees up a significant amount of time and more importantly brain space.
The third benefit (and my favorite) is that when this is no longer your responsibility, then you are no longer the bad guy when it doesn’t get done. If your child doesn’t have a clean uniform and you ask them if they put it in the laundry after the last game (knowing full well they didn’t). It is their fault and not yours. If your co-worker drops a ball it is the co-worker explaining to the boss the problem. They cannot throw you under the bus because you were ‘supposed’ to do that.
Please keep in mind, that you might have to gently remind the responsible parties. Over time you want to lengthen the time between reminders or only remind when you see a crisis coming. At some point, you will most likely have to let them fail and live with the consequences. This will allow them to fully understand the importance of the task. Also, you might have to accept that the task is not important to them.
An example of this was my boys took off their socks and they were all bundled up in a ball. This was fine when they were toddlers. However, when they became teenagers it was both gross and time consuming for me to pull open their dirty socks. So I nagged for a period of time. Then, I made the announcement that I was no longer pulling open their socks before washing them. I figured that after getting mostly unwashed socks back in their laundry they would figure it out. I proceeded to wash these balled up socks. What I found out was that they didn’t really care about clean socks as much as I did. So I had to make a decision about whether to go back and pull open the dirty socks or continue. I decided that if they didn’t care then I wouldn’t either. A little harsh maybe and definitely a gross but I really didn’t want to touch those socks more than I had to!
Am I being too helpful?
Have you ever been around someone who was trying to help you but was really just slowing down the process? I have noticed that sometimes I am that person. Sometimes things work better when I don’t jump in to help or rescue. Let the person involved and responsible handle it. They may have a different vision than you and things will work out fine. Now they may fail and you might have to assist with the cleanup. In this case, they will have learned something. You can coach them and help think through the process for next time. This allows them to keep this responsibility on their plate and off your plate. Let them ask you for help. At that point, you can choose to jump in and help or to coach them to other resources.
Does this task need to be done at all?
What would happen if this did not get done? Sometimes to create
the margin we need in our lives we have to eliminate things that are good but not the best. Ok but not excellent. I urge you to really take a look at what you are doing. Consider if these things are essential to a peaceful, happy, and content life.
Tim Ferriss recommends making a ‘Not to do List’ This is a list of things that you decide that you are not doing. Looking for and eliminating tasks that keep us busy but do not bring us happiness or accomplish a worthwhile goal, can bring a feeling of freedom.
Creating time margin or extra in our lives lets us have a sense of peace. A feeling of being on top of our responsibilities We need margin to think and dream. If we are to accomplish our goals, we need to carve out time to work on those important to-do items. What is one thing you will do this week to create time margin for yourself?