Sunday, March 24, 2013

Schedule vs. Free Time

So my self-scheduled week is over.  I learned a few things in the past seven days. 

One:  I can get more accomplished in a day with a plan.

Before this week I would often say that I didn't have time to do things.  And I really felt that I didn't.  If I had a couple things already committed to for a given day, I let that be it.  If I had an hour or two in between committments, I assumed it wasn't enough time to do something else in that gap. 

Take a typical Monday, for example.  My Monday committments typically include going to my grandma's house to get her breakfast, doing her grocery shopping, going back to get her lunch, and lately, working at the florist in the afternoon/evening.  Since the last several Monday afternoons have been taken up by work at the florist, I considered my Mondays "full." 

But this past Monday I somehow managed to find time to take my cat to the clinic for his annual shots, and work out at the gym.  That's what a little planning can do.  Once I wrote out my committments on paper, I saw that I could, in fact, do more if I wanted to.  That Monday was still a little fuller than I typically like, but I knew I had enough time to get everything done.  And I did.


Two:  I really am just fine if I don't check my email multiple times a day, check the online dating site for several days, or get on Facebook. 

One of the biggest areas of my life that I changed this past week was how much time I spent on internet sites that weren't for my writing, for my professional growth in some way, or to look up some necessary information. 

I set myself a limit.  I had until eight a.m. most mornings to do "non-essential" things on the internet.  So, depending on what time I got out of bed and how long it took me to write my blog that day, I might have just five minutes to check my email, Facebook, or the online dating site. 

I quickly prioritized.  Email came first.  There might actually be something I needed to know in email.  But sometimes a couple days went by before I went on Facebook or the online dating site.  And you know what?  I didn't miss it. 


Three:  I don't want to schedule everything. 

While I did "find" more time to write and get more done in a day by scheduling, I didn't always want to do things at the time scheduled.  Sometimes I did, but other times I cut myself some slack. 

I also realized I needed more down time.  I had scheduled in "free time" periodically throughout the week, but it wasn't much.  The past week was more an experiment to see how much more productive I could be.  But when I feel like I "have to" do something, it often leads to me not wanting to do it. 

I didn't write out the schedule for myself so I'd feel stuck and obligated to do what I had planned.  I wrote it out to help me prioritize and "find" extra time in the days.  I accomplished that. 

Moving forward I don't plan to schedule my activities as much as I did this past week.  I know for me, that's not feasible long-term.  It would burn me out very quickly.   

But I do plan to schedule and plan more than I have in the recent months.  In fact, I already wrote more of a "schedule" in my planner.  I wrote it "writing time" where I hadn't before.  Before the only things I "planned" were external committments.  Working at the florist, the work I do for my grandma, my volunteer committment at the shelter, and any appointments.  But the rest of my day and week looked wide open. 

It was easy, then, to look at my calendar and see I had "all this free time" and consequently get "pulled into" doing things people asked me to do - such as working additional hours at the florist. 


I wasn't planning my priorities.  I was planning everyone else's priorities.  

This past week helped remind me of what my priorities are.  And that it's up to ME to make time for them in my daily life.  Working out and writing are two priorities that I often let slide.  I often let those two activities get cut short by other activities.  Now that I'm more aware of this, I'm committed to putting them back at the top of my priority list, where they belong. 

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