It happens after a vacation or a few days being sick or when several kids leave for college all at once. The solid daily rhythm that was established turns to sand and getting a grip on it is frustrating. Sometimes, all that needs to be done is make a list of goals, but if any of the goals are new or the recent changes affect responsibilities, this might not be enough. That was the case for me last week. So I made an anti-schedule.[hr]
To almost quote Inigo Montoya (of The Princess Bride fame), that word, un-schedule, probably does not mean what you think it means. 😉 This is what I did:
- I made list of basic things that I wanted to accomplish.
- I mentally noted what my time-of-day constraints were for particular activities.
- I put some scratch paper and a pen in a central location.
- I started doing things.
Every half hour or so, I wrote down what I had actually done.
- I tried to be specific, depending on the time of day and the activity.
- I made a conscious effort to try to relax and work at a pace that I thought represented my normal, and sustainable, pace.
- I didn’t balk at interruptions or visitors, figuring they are a common part of my day to account for and enjoy.
- It seemed best to log some activities in shorter time slots
- Sometimes an activity only partially overlapped into the next time slot and I wanted to record how much.
- I didn’t want to spend too much time actually recording activities, because I wanted the results to closely represent a “normal” day, so I made notes quickly, with just enough neatness for legibility!
From the start, I found this exercise helped me:
- notice time that might slip away from me due to loitering
- plan better for transitions between activities
- get a solid sense of how long it really takes to do things
- gain insight into how to order my activities
So, I didn’t make a schedule, I just recorded what I did with my time as I made an effort to attend to my work.
- The next day, I was able to plan a much more realistic and functional schedule.
- I could see what my real limitations were and
- what I might need to change to be able to get to some things I really wanted to, but hadn’t lately.
Timing yourself for a day could be compared to searching for the firm sand by the ocean to walk (or run!) comfortably on. You train yourself to be aware of the ebb and flow, the debris, the beauty surrounding you while you make progress on your way. And at some point you are done and you sit in the waves and relax.