At a Glance: Be ruthless when it comes to your schedule to protect your time and sanity. It’s all about prioritizing and being realistic.
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Our closets and junk drawers don’t have a monopoly on clutter. If you’re like a lot of modern Americans, your day-to-day schedule is chockfull of appointments, meetings, deadlines, errands, activities — and lots and lots of time-sucking clutter.

Rachel Jones, an advocate of minimalism and founder of the popular blog has argues that “reducing the amount of possessions you own is vital to embracing minimalism, but equally important is decluttering your schedule and limiting what you allow on your calendar.”

The problem? While we all love a tidy closet, a lot of us feel attached to — and even proud of — our crammed calendars. What we need to realize is that a crazy calendar isn’t proof of our importance or status; it’s just a crazy calendar.

So how can you declutter your calendar and free up your life? These tips can help:

Tip 1: Vet your events

Run through each event on your calendar and ask yourself these questions:

  • Is this activity essential to live the life I want?
  • Is this the very most important thing I should be doing with my time and resources?
  • Does this get me closer to reaching my goals?

If the answer is “no” — toss the event.

Tip 2: Create a “Stop Doing” list

Look at your schedule and make a list of the things that you can (and probably should) stop doing to free up more time. No longer enjoying your neighborhood book club? Stop going. Are your kids old enough to do their own laundry? Stop folding. Is that professional organization not helping you achieve your goals? Stop attending. Just because you’ve been doing something for months or even years does not mean it’s the right thing for you to be doing now. The key to this step is to be honest with yourself!

Tip 3: Guard your time by saying “No”

Warren Buffett once said, “The difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say no to almost everything.” Even though it can be difficult, saying no is an essential ingredient to maintaining a decluttered schedule. Not sure how? Try something like this: “I’m honored you think I have the skills to chair the neighborhood fun run. Unfortunately my schedule doesn’t allow me to take on that commitment at this time, but I know it will be a great event in someone else’s capable hands!”

Once you clean out your calendar and learn to tap the power of “no,” your days and weeks will quickly become far more manageable — and you’ll find it much easier to concentrate on the things you truly value.

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