The Absolute Yes List

Cheryl Richardson in her book Life Makeovers: 52 Practical and Inspiring Ways to Improve Your Life One Week at a Time asks you “when is the last time you stopped to consider where your time is being spent and how you feel about it?” “How long do you really work in a week?” “How much time do you spend caring for others?” “How much time is spent caring for yourself?”

She says that most people work an average of 55 hours per week once you factor in time at work, commuting, preparing for work and worrying about work. Add to that an average of 50 hours a week spent sleeping, your only left with 63 hours for parenting, shopping, cooking, cleaning, exercising, fun, friends, family, volunteering and so on.

One of the ways to take control of where you spend your time is to create what she calls an Absolute Yes List. This is a list of the top 5 priorities that need your attention for the next 3 – 6 months. Unlike goals or dreams the first place to focus your time and energy when building a strong foundation for your life is on those things that need your attention now.

This week create your own Absolute Yes List. Start by choosing a quiet afternoon or evening when you’ll have at least an hour of uninterrupted time to yourself. Have your journal handy and during this time get comfortable and relax. While in a relaxed state ask yourself the following 2 questions, giving yourself ample time for each one:

What needs your attention at this time in your life?

What do you need to let go of?

Don’t censor your answers, just notice what occurs to you as you ponder each of these questions separately and write the answers down in your journal. Consider the different areas of your life – relationships, family, community, work, emotional & physical health, finances and so on, make a note of those things that you know need your attention. When you’re finished choose the top 5 answers and put them in order of priority.  Next copy the list onto 3×5 inch index cards and label them “My Absolute Yes List”. Place these index cards in various places around your home and workplace. Keeping this list nearby will remind you of what really matters and will challenge you to say no to things that are not on the list.  The process of creating an Absolute Yes List should be repeated every 3 months so that you always have an updated list of your priorities Once you know your priorities challenge yourself to say no to at least two requests of your time everyday for the next week. Learning to say no with grace and love is a key way to protect your gift of time. If saying no is differcult for you remember the following 3 tips

  1. Your self-care is always a valid excuse
  2. You don’t need to over explain or defend your actions, just tell the simple truth
  3. Doing things out of guilt & obligation is not doing things out of love.

So that next time someone asks you to do something that you’d rather not do, simply smile and tell them you’re not available.



Christmas Debrief

Trinny & Susannah in their book The Survival Guide: A Woman’s Secret Weapon For Getting Through The Year, suggest that you make sure the tree and all decorations are down on the 6th of January.

Kim Carruthers in her book Less Is More: How To De-clutter Your Life offers a bit more instruction. She suggests the following:

  • Put your gift list in next year’s diary, so that you don’t buy anyone the same gift twice.
  • Have a post Christmas fridge cleanout. Go into the fridge and toss/compost all the Christmas leftovers. They are now officially past their use by date & you don’t want a case of food poisoning.
  • Turn your Christmas lights off and unplug them. Now box them up & put them all away.
  • Sort wrapping paper. Now the wrapping is done it’s a good time to revisit your wrapping station. Her theory is that you should have no more than 3 rolls of wrapping paper on hand at most. She has 1 roll of gold for unisex birthdays/housewarmings/baby sowers etc. 1 roll of blue for boys & 1 roll of pink for girls plus a roll of green ribbon & she feels she is set for the year. She then suggests letting the kids use the rest for craft instead of keeping & using reusable calico bags for presents for those you live with. (Personally I am all about going the extra mile to wrap & present gifts, so will not be following this suggestion.)
  • Clean up Christmas cards & letters. Make a list of who you received Christmas cards from & pop it in your December section of your diary so that you have it for next Christmas. Use Christmas card information to update address book. Decide which cards you would like to save for use with scrapbooking. Put them with your scrapbooking supplies & ditch the rest.
  • Unused Christmas ornaments. Take a hard look at the ornament & tinsel still in the box. If you didn’t like them enough to put them up this year, will you need them for the next. Now as you take the rest of the decorations of the tree, decide if they are still in good enough condition to be kept for next year too.
  • Take down the Christmas Tree. If your Christmas tree is real, cut it up and put it in your garden waste. If your tree is artificial it needs to go back into its box & back into storage.
  • Lessons learnt.  Even though you think you will remember , you don’t & as there’s no point in making the same mistake twice, write yourself a quick note of what worked well this Christmas & what you’d change next time. Now put it in the August section of your diary.
  • Put away stray decorations. Go through the house, collect the stragglers & put them away too.

Home Office

Sarah Ban Breathnach in her book Simple Abundance; A Daybook of Comfort and Joy says that January is the perfect time to go through your personal papers at home and organise your desk to get a fresh start on the new year. Discard as much as you can. Hang your new calendars. Try to make your personal space at home where you do your paperwork as inviting as possible.

Kim Carruthers in her book Less Is More; How To De-clutter Your Life gives step by step instructions on how to stop your paperwork problem getting worse in the future and what to do with the backlog.

  • Get a “No Junk Mail” sign or sticker for your letter box
  • Get a lock for the mailbox so you can stop emptying it every time you go past and switch to getting it when you are ready to deal with it.
  • Switch your bills to automatic payment/direct debit and email statements
  • Buy a shredder (put waste in the compost bin)
  • Go through all bills, spend 15 minutes learning how to pay a bill using your smartphone if you have one. If you don’t, put any remaining bills on automatic them.
  • Collect up all reminders to attend something, such as dentil appointments, wedding invitations etc., Make calls to schedule any appointments, write information in your diary and schedule buying any necessary gifts.
  • Go through all your insurance documents and shred all polices except the newest (in future shred old policies when the new ones arrive)
  • Attach all receipt of warranty to instruction manual if it has one, circle date on warranty and only keep for 1 year per $100 cost up to max of three years then shred.
  • Stay on top of health claims. Get a copy of the forms you need to regularly submit, fill in your standard details like name, account number, bank deposit details and photocopy a dozen copies. pop each copy except the master in a stamped addressed envelop and every time you go to the doctors take one with you, finish form attach receipts and post on your way home.

Dawna Walter in her book New Leaf, New Life; How To Do Everything And Still Have Time For Your Life, says that when you are working from home you still need the office essentials to work successfully. Here is her top 10 list of essential items for every home office to get you through your working day.

  1. Telephone (mobile smartphone)
  2. Laptop
  3. Comfortable Chair & preferably desk
  4. Good lighting
  5. Calculator
  6. Supply of fine tip black pens & sharp pencils
  7. Notebook
  8. Clock
  9. Flowering plant
  10. Stationary