In my push toward mastering my finances I have made numerous changes. Many of these changes relate to a new appreciation (ok – an awareness is more accurate) for the wonders of frugality. In my young adult life, frugality was not even on the radar. It was not practiced by my family, friends or in fact any person I knew. When I decided that I was going to drastically cut the waste in my budget, there was a huge amount of low hanging fruit.
One of my strengths and occasionally one of my weaknesses depending on the situation is that when I decide to do something, it gets done. Usually this is strength. Sometimes, my drive to never fail leads to wasting time on projects that should fail but I refuse to let them slide gracefully to their demise. Also, I have been known to spend an inordinate amount of time in the planning phase of a new project in order to feel comfortable in my chances of success.
When does this become a problem? This is a problem when I take on too many projects at one time. When I decided to cut waste out of my finances, I had no problem identifying areas to place on the chopping block. Our spending was way out of line with our goals in almost every area including entertainment, groceries, dining, personal care (think cutting my own hair), pet expenses, vacations, gifting, repairs and maintenance, wasteful driving etc. etc.
Instead of proceeding in a reasonable manner by choosing one or two to work on at a time, in my typical exuberance and need to “fix” my finances completely in one go, my “to do” list was huge. Many of these items required some prep time in order for me to feel comfortable proceeding. For instance, as I had not been the grocery shopper in our house, I felt the need to closely watch our habits for several weeks, and take notes of our inefficiencies and areas that produced waste in order to maximize our grocery budget and health. Before I was willing to cut my hair for the first time, I was going to make sure I knew what I was doing! This included many online videos and online reading.
The problem is that when I was attempting to prepare for too many changes at one time, it greatly slowed down the rate at which I attended to any one particular change. While I am a HUGE fan of the “to do” list both as a way to reduce stress by organizing my thoughts and as a way to be more productive, a long “to do” list is very stressful. I ended up wasting time just starring at the endless goals trying to plan an attack and what was supposed to be a tool to be more productive became a roadblock to progress in any one area.
This lead me to the realization that I can actually be more productive by planning less. I trimmed down my list to those items that I thought would make the largest immediate differences. The rest I erased with the knowledge that they would likely appear again at a later time. I did the appropriate prep work, made the changes and reaped the rewards.
This had many beneficial effects to my progress. Instead of having numerous half completed projects and realizing no financial gain, I had a few completed projects each already producing tangible benefits. I was also much less stressed by having a shorter and more manageable list. When my list started to shrink, I would simply add back one of the items that I had deleted. I found this to be a much more successful strategy and am utilizing it today as I continually look for ways to maximize my efficiency.
In my previous post Lifestyle Goals, I expressed that one of my main goals for which I am even making all of these changes, is to spend more time with my family. In deciding that I can do more by planning less, I also get the satisfaction of living my life more in alignment with that goal.
A huge note of caution: This is only applicable to those with similar personality types as myself. If you are curious, I am an ENTJ by Myers-Briggs personality typing. If you find yourself on the opposite end of the spectrum and lack productivity due to lack of planning, planning even less will certainly not lead to more productivity! Getting to know oneself is very valuable in deciding on the best ways to induce wanted changes.
Has anyone else found this to be true?
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