No time to divorce? You need to read this.
We’re at that tricky part of the year when everything is grey. Life is hard – especially this year. Lockdown. Homeschooling. Working from home. No holidays. Aargh. Many of the women who’ve contacted me over the last five years tell me they know they need to divorce. They’re sick of living a half-life in their miserable marriage. But they just can’t see a way to make it happen. They have no time to divorce. Especially not this year.
If that’s you too, you need to read this. We’ll get into what to do when you’re burning the candle at both ends. We’ll look at different strategies for getting you through to that Decree Absolute. And you’ll see how to create a plan that works for you.
Picture your goal
‘Start with the end in mind’ wrote Stephen Covey in his international bestseller ‘The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People’. This advice isn’t just about business planning. It’s for life.
Think about what you want your life to be like this time next year. Do you want to be in the same situation, feeling the same stuckness? Or do you want to be living a life free of this marriage that’s holding you back? Even if you give all your energy 24/7 to divorce, I can’t promise you it will be done and dusted in a year. It may well be. It may well be done a lot sooner. But every divorce is different.
Whether you have the Decree Absolute or not by January 2022, you will feel a whole lot better if you’ve moved towards it. I guarantee it. Even if it’s hard. Even if it eats up some time this year.
So, before we get started on any ways to get divorce done, picture it. Write out what it will mean to you to be divorced. Create a vision board. Or doodle it. Do whatever you like. But spend time really feeling into why this thing is worth it and capture it. Because that’s the inspiration you will need when the going gets tough.
Break it down
Divorce is complex. And, as we talked about on the blog last week, sometimes that complexity makes us run away. It is far easier to put off the difficult things rather than face them. So, the trick with divorce is to break it down. To quote Desmond Tutu, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.”
It’s easy to be daunted by your divorce elephant. It’s huge. It dominates your life. And the only way to deal with it is by making a plan. There are lots of ways to get started with a plan. A quick Google will take you to the government’s webpages on the process.
Or, if you want a more reader-friendly guide that also incorporates the all-important emotional aspects of divorce, get yourself a copy of How To Be A Lady Who Leaves. I break it all down for you – what you need to do, how to get organised, how to maximise the chance of amicable divorce, how to deal with children…
The best way to make the use of your time, especially when it’s scarce, is to break things down into microtasks. Write lists that you can keep on your phone, or somewhere else you won’t lose.
Importantly, when you write the lists, use specific, actionable verbs. Don’t just have ‘sort finances’ on your list. Break it down into smaller tasks.
- Buy concertina folder for all divorce paperwork
- Fetch bank statements from the filing cabinet
- Call bank to arrange online access to joint account
- Photograph jewellery for online valuation
It might take a chunk of time and headspace to create your plan. But my best advice here is that it’s an investment. It will save you so much time in the long run. If you have three minutes while you’re waiting for the kettle to boil you can either spend that time thinking “What should I do next to move my divorce along?” or you could check your list and tick off a quick task.
Never underestimate the power of small steps. All those tiny actions will get you there. And it’s a whole lot more productive than worrying about how big your elephant is. So do whatever you can to carve out a chunk of time to set you up. Tips on how to do that coming next…
How to create time
OK, so no-one can magic up time out of nowhere. And, I know that right now it’s especially hard. Morale is low, pressure is high and life is, quite frankly, crap. But often, when we feel like we don’t have time, it’s not about time so much as attention and energy. So I invite you to keep an open mind and see if you can pick and mix from any of these tactics:
What you can do
- Do a time audit. Spend a day with a piece of paper and every 15 minutes log what you’re doing. Try and make it as ‘typical’ a day as possible (I know such things lose meaning in lockdown!). You may need to do this a couple of times to get a good picture. Then, look over your notes and be honest with yourself. Are there any moments where you are wasting time? It’s fine to be on social media, or zone out in front of Netflix sometimes. It can be part of self-care. But are you doing it more than you need? Can you cut back? Be honest in your assessment.
- Look at your energy. Are you an early bird or a night owl? Which times of the day do you feel most able to crack on and be productive? Add a divorce task or two into those time blocks each day.
- Switch out activities. If you’ve identified any time-wasting activities in your audit, great. Now you can choose to spend the time differently if you wish. Habits are hard to break, but replacing one action with another is a good way to do it. So, for example, every time you reach for your phone to scroll through Instagram, reach for your plan instead. Do a task off the list. Then hit Insta.
- Pause a hobby. Now we’re looking at time-seeking solutions that might sting a bit. But it’s not forever. Do you have a regular time of the week for yoga, a zoom chat with friends, online bingo – whatever it is that floats your boat? Can you temporarily give that time to your divorce instead? I am absolutely not saying give up everything that brings you happiness in service of your divorce. It’s important to look after yourself, and keep a bit of normality going. But if you know you need a regular slice of time, is there something else you can cut back on for a short while?
How others can help
- Draw on your network This is much harder during lockdown, I know. In ‘normal’ times we can organise childcare swaps, share school runs, meal share with friends. We can ask our more organised friends for advice in sorting our crammed filing. But think about what you can do to reach out within current restrictions. Can your sister read her nieces a bedtime story while you spend 15 minutes emailing? Can you form a childcare or support bubble? What about having a zoom link open so a friend can chat and keep you accountable one evening while you open the bank statements?
- Delegate If there are tasks you hate and you are able to pay someone else to do them, do it. Without guilt. This may well be the most stressful time of your life, ever. So if there was ever the time to share the burden – it’s now. Cleaning, book-keeping, cooking. And if you can’t pay, can you skills swap, or IOU, or somehow other get help to get the job done? Can you use the TV to occupy your children for an extra half hour?
Get professional support
One of the best ways to save time is to get someone else to do the thinking for you. And that someone can be me. I always say no two divorces are alike. Nor can I get inside your head to make decisions about your life for you. It’s about your life, your future and your choices. But I do know the divorce process inside out. I know the legalities and I know the emotional roller coasters that go alongside it.
I can save you money by helping you minimise or avoid solicitor’s costs. And, just as importantly, I can save you time. My programme ‘Get Divorce Ready’ takes you through every single step you need to get things in place so your divorce is as smooth as possible. No scuttling around the internet wondering what to do first. No guessing whether something is important or not. It’s all there, laid out for you.
And, even better, Get Divorce Ready comes free when you join my community ‘The Absolute Academy’. It’s for women who want to get on with their divorce. They want it to be as high energy and low cost as possible. The Absolute Academy members bring the energy – we are there for each other when the going gets tough. And we celebrate highs with the collective joy of women who know what it’s like to be taking control of life again. And as for cost – the monthly fee is about the same as a solicitor charges per hour. So, you know… the maths tells its own story.
Want in? I’d love to see you there. Read all about it and join us here.
Emma Heptonstall, the Divorce Alchemist is author of the Amazon best selling book How to be a Lady Who Leaves, the Ultimate Guide to Getting Divorce Ready. A former lawyer, Emma is a family mediator and founder of Get Divorce Ready the online self-study and group programmes. Emma has been featured on BBC Radio, The Telegraph, the iPaper and in Marie Claire Magazine. To find out more visit www.emmaheptonstall.com