Bag It, Barter It, or Brighten It: A Simple Way to Design a Brighter Life
I really hate unloading the dishwasher. (Weirdly, loading it’s no problem). If I had to rate how much I dislike this chore on a scale of -10 to 10, it would be somewhere around an -7. As a point of reference, having to take the dog out in the middle of a busy day is a 2. Letting myself sneak off for a quick nap after the dog walk is an 8.
As you can tell, I’ve given a lot of thought to quantifying how much I enjoy or dread certain aspects of my day. That’s why I’ve come up with a way to do less of what I dread and more of what I love. Inspired by my former coach, Martha Beck, I call this system, “Bag It, Barter It, or Brighten It.” It’s a powerful way to design your life so it’s as bright as possible.
Here’s how it works. When faced with a task, I do a quick body scan to see how it rates. For example, weeding is a -9. I find it tedious, and my back hurts for days afterward. I decided a long time ago to put weeding in the “Bag It” category. It’s a household chore I’m happy to outsource, either to my husband Matt or to a landscape crew. (I’m keenly aware that the second option is a financial luxury, and I’m grateful that I can choose to spend money, rather than time, doing something I really don’t enjoy.)
Taking out the garbage is another job I’d rather skip (it’s a -4 in my books). But it’s a perfect task for bartering. Matt doesn’t mind hauling out the garbage and the recycling, but he loathes cleaning the bathroom. So, we Barter It. He’s got his “boy job,” I’ve got my “girl job,” and we’re both happier for it.
Now let’s say I have to ship something for work. Packaging up an item, tracking down the address, driving to the post office, and standing in line is NOT my idea of fun. But to turn this -2-task into a solid 6, I Brighten It with a latte when I’m done.
My Bag It, Barter It, Brighten It system helps me quickly prioritize where and how I want to spend my time and energy. It’s my version of Marcus Buckingham’s Strength Finder. Buckingham is a best-selling author and leadership expert, and I love his definition of “strengths:”
“A strength is not what you are good at, and a weakness is not what you are bad at. A strength is an activity that strengthens you. It draws you in, it makes time fly by while you’re doing it, and it makes you feel strong.”
This gets me off the hook for vacuuming, which I’m great at but really find no joy in doing!
To further brighten your days, don’t just consider HOW you’re spending your time, but also WHO you’re spending it with. Do the folks you work or play with energize you or drain you? If it’s the latter, it may be time to reconsider who you’re choosing to be with — and why.
Taking time to evaluate how your activities and companions make you feel ensures you’re playing an active, not passive, role in getting the most out of every day. When that happens, you’ll be on your way to designing and customizing a truly bright life.
P.S. I’m welcoming the new year with a bright new website! I hope you’ll hop on over and check it out.
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Candra Canning is the founder of Live Bright Now. She’s been coaching corporate leaders + teams to brighten their performance for 20 years. Candra believes a bright company culture creates bright leaders + bright communities — even a brighter world.