It’s been a while…
I can’t believe my last post on here was in April 2013.
I think about how my life was at the time and I know why I couldn’t keep it up. I was in training at the time, I was in on-the-job training. It was tough- both the day to day job, the assessments and the examination preparations. There was constant guilt whenever I took time out to do something not relate to it. But that guilt was also laced with fear, because if I took that time and did not give as much as I could to my studies and ended up with poor outcomes in my assessments and exams, then I could only blame myself.
So, I made the decision to focus on that. I did. I am now qualified and working for myself.
Now, however, I know it’s not just that. I know I could have kept the blog up. How could I have done that? By making it a priority and giving it its own space in my head and in my schedule.
You see, I have only recently discovered the genius of the weekly timetable. I know, it’s late, right? But as they say, It’s better late than never!
When I was gifted the idea of a coming up with a weekly timetable, I only thought that it would help me remember from one day to the next what I had to do. And I must admit that it does this beautifully.
What I did not consider at all, was the space it would free up in my head and the amount of appreciation I would develop for how much time there actually is in the day.
Prior to the timetable, as someone that works in the evenings, I would get up leisurely in the mornings- without an alarm. Then immediately, my mind would start ruminations on what I need to be getting on with. I would decide which to tackle based on either how long I have procrastinated on it; or how likely I was to forget it if I didn’t do it then and there; or how immediate its resolution was (i.e. I had an appointment to attend or a deadline which took the decision out of my hands).
As I did the chosen, task, I would remember another and another. My mind would be endlessly distracted, simple tasks would take hours to complete because I knew I didn’t have to do it just then. There was not structure. Procrastination was easy.
I would often go to work later in the day feeling like I had wasted my time, frittered it away on nothing. I had no way of knowing what I’d accomplished. Even when I’d been running around all day, if I finally sit down for a bit of relaxation I couldn’t enjoy it because there was always the feeling that I hadn’t done what I was supposed to do. I remained plagued with guilt because I felt I hadn’t earned that time, I hadn’t accomplished anything. Basically, in my mind, there was still lots to do so why was I lounging about?
Then came the timetable. And suddenly, my mind is clear and uninterrupted.
I give myself an hour at the end of the weekend to think about what I need to get done during the week, and I write it down giving myself blocks of time in which to do each thing.
The first week, I got so much accomplished that I became unwell at the end of the week. Apart from the fact that I am fragile in that way, what I realised was that I did not schedule time for active R&R. I was run down. My lesson for that week was the importance of rest.
But I felt so accomplished. I could not believe how much I got done. I also learnt that I am very amenable to it. When I am doing thing, and thoughts of “Oh, didn’t you say you needed to do x, y, z…?” I immediately thought, “Yes, but that’s in the timetable for tomorrow afternoon, so no need to think about it now.” And just like that, the thought was gone and I continued the task I currently had at hand. In my previous life, my response would have been, “Oh yes, let me leave this and go and do that before I forget!” Hence, a trail of perpetually unfinished tasks and a harried mind.
Also, by breaking my day into blocks of time, I found that I could focus quite easily on the time I was currently in and if my mind drifted, it would be to the upcoming task block. I hardly thought about the spectre of going to work later, until the time to prepare for work, came around. That improved my time at work, because I came to it fresh instead of having frowned about it all day, instead of ruminating about things that may go wrong or things I’d done wrong (unless an active reflection period had been scheduled into the timetable!). The feeling that I had used my day well also gave me a satisfied attitude and helped my demeanour through my shifts.
I wonder what I could have accomplished if I adopted this practice ten years ago. Not even that, say five years ago. But there’s no good dwelling of “What ifs”.
I am a timetable convert now. And from now on, even if I drift and forget for a week or two to do a timetable, I know I will be soon brought back to it because the benefits are tremendous for me.
What about you? What habits have you implemented in your life that have transformed it? Do you also keep a schedule or timetable? Do you think it’s helped or hindered you? A friend of mine is against it because she feels it kills or constricts creativity. Have you found that? I can’t speak to that as yet. I will let you know as time goes on.
You see, I timetabled this post in to my day and I have got it done, without knowing before opening the word document, what I was going to write about. Would I have been so focused and productive if I hadn’t? Based on previous experience, I would say no.
Have a brilliant week!