Last week we talked of cleaning tangible, concrete items from our house to limit our overwhelm and stress. Today we look at the intangible, how we fill our lives with activities versus how we fill our lives with stuff. Both add stress and overwhelm to our beings and create internal stress for our systems.
How we experience time depends on how we think about it. If we think we’re busy, we are. If we think we have more than enough time, we do. This is not some Susie mind trick. You can see this is true when you reflect on a time in your life when an hour went very slowly or a time when an hour seemed to pass very quickly. You are in charge of how your days pass and you can deliberately create and manage your time.
Yes I did just say that. You can create and manage your time. Yes you. I know, I know. It’s hard to believe that you can be more in charge of your time and yet, I beg you to be open to learning. Scheduling or planning my day is my most effective tool for living consciously. It actually slows time down, encourages me to be deliberate about how I want to spend my time, and makes me mindful of how I actually am spending my time. As my life coach taught me, “The more you plan, the freer you will be” And so, it doesn’t matter if it’s summer or winter, Monday or Sunday, you will find me sitting and intentionally write out what I plan for my day. Is this because I’m some crazy, over-the-top woman? Nope, don’t think so. It is because it brings calm to my days. My daily plan is specific. I include daily exercise, when I will sleep, eat, relax. I include time to connect with my mate and I include time to hang with my kids. Yes, life comes up and interrupts my plans. That’s okay. I can reshuffle and look at how I’m spending my future days. Planning keeps me calmer, less reactive, and better able to handle the curve balls that being alive involves.
And yet…we resist planning. We resist scheduling. Why? Usually it’s because we have a hard time with the follow through. If we don’t make a plan for our day, we won’t set ourselves up for disappointment. This is an issue with honoring our word to ourselves, not an issue with time. Years ago, I couldn’t count on myself. If I put something on my calendar, there was about a 50% chance that it would get done. At best. In fact, if you had looked at my list of things to do for my day from 5-10 years ago, you would’ve thought my list was for 4 able-bodied women. Sadly, it was just for me. And that me was a mom of 3 young boys in a tumultuous marriage. Hum….how many days did I get done what I said I was going to get done? Very few, if any. How did I feel at the end of those days? Defeated and dumb. Overwhelmed and over it. Fatigued and resentful. If anyone thinks that scheduling our days doesn’t impact our mental health, you need to hang out with a mom who doesn’t keep a schedule. She has a shit-ton to do but, because she doesn’t deliberately plan, things don’t get done. Best chance for melt-down viewing? Shadow a stay at home mom who doesn’t have a schedule on a weekday. Or a full-time working mom without a schedule on a weekend day. Why? Because they will have grand plans of what “should” get done or what they should do yet, without some framework, very little will get done.
We tend to do the easiest things first, yet the easiest things are usually not our priorities and so, at the end of the day we have a beautifully organized silverware drawer but no food for the weekly meals. Or, we’ve written a thank you note to some long-lost cousin but we didn’t get our kids backpacks ready for camp the next day. Our ability to plan something and then to follow through with that plan is the secret to a calmer, slower, more mindful life. You will feel better about yourself, your choices, and every piece of your life when you’re not running around like a chicken with her head cut off.
Okay Susie, so how do you do this? There are many, many different ideas, structures, and opinions on the best way to plan. I like simple and simple is what it takes. Two steps warriors:
1)Get started: Today. Now. Whether you tear out a piece of notebook paper, write on the back of a receipt, or fill out the page of a fancy planner you already have, just get started. Write the hours of the day and get intentional. This worksheet will give you guidance as you plan your days but get started today.
2) Mindset Shift: You must change what you’re telling yourself. Outlaw the word busy. While you’re at it, outlaw the word hard. Instead, tell yourself you’re starting to take better care of your time. You’re getting better at planning and living more deliberately. Our thoughts literally create our reality. What you choose to think will create your reality. If you tell yourself you’re too busy, you will be too busy. If you tell yourself you are calmer and more in control of your days, you will be calmer and more in control of your days. Again, this is not a Susie Mind Trick. Try it and get back to me. Your thoughts create your reality. It is up to you to change your thoughts.
This is your time and this is your one precious life. Clear out the clutter to live more in line with the life you want to be living. Take the lessons from last week (spending 10 minute chunks of time clearing the tangible clutter from your life) and get deliberate by writing it in to a time slot. This is it warriors. There is no dress rehearsal. Planning your days may seem tedious or hard but it is the exact opposite. Changing how you view time and how you keep your word to yourself is the most liberating, life-changing work you can do. I’m here by your side. Let’s go!