The idea of keeping a tight schedule may seem daunting. Having every minute planned seems stressful and suffocating - that you’re sucking the fun out of life. However, I have found that managing a detailed schedule actually allows me to be MORE spontaneous. Weird, right?
I used to hate the idea of having to schedule every little thing. So much of what makes us human is our fallibility and our flexibility, and it felt unnatural to have to plan my life in such a specific way. But, now I realize that scheduling actually allows me to build in time to do other things that are important to me, and it makes it easier to bend and adjust plans. I can tell what I am going to have to give up in order to add something else in, which ultimately gives me more control of my life.
Having a detailed and organized calendar also eliminates the need to think about things. If they are in a system, all of that energy you would waste by it not being in a system is eliminated! I don’t have to think about what I have to get done that day and what I should do first. I already did that, which is often the hardest part.
And then, when a new opportunity comes up, it doesn’t freak me out or make me feel overwhelmed anymore. I used to think, “I have so much going on right now, I’m not sure how I could possibly add something else, but I really want to make this work!” It would stress me out. Now, I can look at my calendar and know right away what I have going on and if it’s something I can move or not. I also know that I already have time blocked out during the week to finish the work I need to, so I can be more clear on if this new opportunity will interfere with my ability to get done what I need to or not. I have a much better grasp on how I spend my time because I have my days mapped out, which enables me to make more informed and thoughtful decisions about adding on new things.
All of this is to say that my calendar is not completely fixed and written in stone. It just gives me a base to work off of, where all of the hours I need to accomplish certain tasks and responsibilities are accounted for, and where all of the time I want to spend my energy in ways that I care about most (like with my family!) are given space.
One concrete way this calendar system has helped me organize my life recently is with my job as a doula for Birth Coach Milwaukee. I am on call for two weeks before and two weeks after a woman’s due date. I could have to drop everything at any moment when I get that call that my client is going into labor. Nobody knows exactly when the baby is going to come or how long it’s going to take (and the surprise is half of the magic anyway!) Because I have my schedule in place, it’s easier for me to know what I’m missing and much easier for me to ask for help and support from my team of people, like my amazing family and coworkers!
My husband or my assistant can see what I had going on, and if it was super urgent, they can help me make accommodations. Then, after the beautiful baby is brought into the world, I can look back at my calendar and make adjustments to my time going forward to make up for the abrupt change.
This process and having a specifically planned calendar also helps me be more realistic about my expectations. If I miss a couple hours of content creation or financial work, then I’m going to need to adjust my expectations about what I’ll be able to get done in those areas for the week. Rather than feeling bad about myself, I can clearly see what is reasonable based on the time that I’ve allowed for different tasks. This helps me be kinder to and more gentle with myself, something I think we all could work on.
My calendar helps me make quicker, more clear-headed decisions about how I spend my time and new opportunities. I can make a very spontaneous decision because I know what I’m giving up and what I’m spending my time doing instead, which is such a freeing feeling!