All too often, our schedules run us instead of the other way around.
The other week I saw Elf the Musical. In it, there’s a song where the business man/father’s assistant is telling him his schedule. It was ridiculous. Only 15 minutes for meetings. 5 minutes to draw up things that clearly would take weeks or months. No break in between for breath or bathroom.
Yes, I noticed. I can’t turn off the professional organizer.
In this scene, the schedule was CLEARLY running the man instead of the other way around.
This, my Sunshines, is unacceptable.
So how can we prevent this from happening to us?
Time to create our “ideal week.”
Take out a trusty planner, calendar app, or whatever your scheduler of choice it. You can even create a spreadsheet with the days of the week across the top and down the side are the times of day (waking to sleeping) in 30 minute increments.
Next, make a list of all of your priorities, duties, and obligations. Include personal and professional. Many people try to separate their personal and professional lives but I think that just creates more work. You’re but one person working with a limited capsule of time. To make it all work it helps to see it all in one place. I also like to prioritize this in order from most important to least important.
Now to our schedules:
First – Block out time for self-care. Like the flight safety instructions tell you, put your own oxygen mask on before helping others. If you don’t take care of yourself, you’ll have nothing to give to your family, friends, and business. So whatever it is that makes you feel better: mediations, hot baths, yoga, cocktails with friends, indulgent meals. Whatever recharges you: book it.
Second – Block out time all of your musts, highest priority tasks and actions that will move you towards your goals. Getting this on the calendar will help make sure that lesser priority tasks don’t edge out the important things.
Everything else: Is something lower on the priority list and didn’t fit onto the calendar? Think about whether you need it at all. Or can you delegate it? (i.e. – use a laundry service to save time)
Pro tip: Feel uneasy about or think that hiring out household tasks is out of your budget? Put a dollar figure on what your time is worth. Now look at how much time you spend on that activity. What does that activity cost you in time? Is it more or less than what it would cost to have someone else do it? There’s your answer.
For incoming activities, really think about whether you want/need to do it before automatically saying yes. Just as with your things, does this event, meeting or other ask on your time serve your priorities? Does it make you happy? Does it bring you joy? If yes, get it on the calendar. If not, gracefully say “no.”
Feelin it’s a maybe? One of my favorite decision-making techniques that I’ve often heard and was reminded about while reading “Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less” by Greg McKeown is this:
“If it’s not a clear yes, then it’s a no.”
So no maybes allowed.
For the record, those “maybes” end up being the schtuff that crowds your schedule. These are the items that slowly erode at your time, energy, and brain space. Most often, we say “maybe” because we don’t want to let people down with a no. And they may be temporarily disappointed with a no. However, you’re also wasting their time, and eroding at their energy and efforts by making them wait for what will ultimately be a “no.”
Truth time: This is something I’m still working with as well. It takes time and practice to override past behaviors. But in the end we’re all much happier for it when we’re honest with ourselves and the limits to our schedules and energy.
Take control over your schedule. Think about what your ideal week looks like. Then schedule it. It may take some time for the current overworked schedule to unravel and settle into the new one but with some boundaries and coaxing it will. Afterwards, you’ll have a much more fulfilling schedule that helps take care of you while you make it happen!
Melinda is the sassy, redheaded best friend you always wanted. Called everything from slave-driver to life-saver to organizing ninja, her natural organizing skills and vivacious attitude will make getting organized suck less.
Melinda works with mildly cluttered to mildly hoarded people all over the country. She’s also teamed with extreme-cleaning crews to safely clear out massive clutter situations. She was named “Best Personal Organizer” by Fort Worth, TX Magazine and her tips have been featured in Shape, Woman’s Day, and WeTV as well as many other local and national publications.
When not clearing clutter, Melinda enjoys performing as a supernumerary with the Fort Worth Opera, yoga, cooking, and eating indulgent food, and believes that champagne is meant for the everyday.