& Tips On How To Schedule
Constantly feeling apprehensive, nervous and tense can leave people for days feeling out of character. What I’ve learned is that when you simplify things though, the answers are straight in front of you. Put plainly it’s how you deal with the day to day pressures that can trigger anxiety and leave me – and thousands of others – in a state of distress.
Now granted, each case is different. Some more severe than others, some physically obvious and others circumstantial. It’s ‘flight or fight’ in its true but uneasy form. For me, I’ve recently become self employed, have the stress of looking for a new home and am planning a wedding. So my stress derives from something I can visually pin point. Add on to that the fact my family are miles away and I’ve moved to a relatively new area after six years in South London, it’s naturally going to have an affect. It was essential for me to learn how to think clearly and be productive during the day. To begin to see what’s going on, I love these three mindfulness steps:
Recognition > Understanding > Learning How To Manage
Once you’ve recognised there’s a problem, it’s easier to understand. I’ve known for years that feeling under pressure, falling into the world of unknown and trying your best to multi task can take over – if you let it. But it happens. It’s about separating who you are from the problems you’re experiencing and processing a way to deal with it. The process is a simple one when you break it down. Ask yourself:
- Do you need a wider support group?
- Have you a good work/life balance?
- Do you have the space, energy and peace that you need and deserve?
- Is there an obvious start time and end time for your work versus life?
- Can you differentiate between your priorities and number them 1-10?
- If others rely on you, how are you impacting their lives with your current reactions?
- Should you work with other people? Are you seeing enough people in your life?
- Being heard? Do you have someone to share your problems with?
- Are you being firm with others and telling them to approach you another time when you’re not busy and available?
- How would you benefit from being more efficient at life? Is productivity key for you? Do you need to be able to generate new ideas? Are you looking for clarity? What you want to ultimately achieve when feeling less stressed is important to realise to help you go ahead and reach your goal.
Even the fact that I gave myself this time to focus on myself as an individual was therapeutic. Be honest and truthful with yourself and importantly, don’t judge. This is your life.
SCHEDULING AND PLANNING
As humans, we’re intelligent species who can manage, develop, change, grow, focus, learn direction and have purpose. Don’t be afraid into thinking that you’ll never get past this because the mind was made for training. You’ll come out a better, stronger person and will know how to deal with it again in the future. Learning how to manage stress and structure your day and work load is the fun part. Especially for those who love stationary.
- Be realistic when delegating your time
- Have time in for the ‘unexpected‘
- Give yourself breaks
- Don’t be afraid to say no and don’t apologise (but be polite obviously)
- Identify your personal goals separate to your work goals. Treat both separately
- Incorporate exercise that leaves you thoroughly exerted
- When is appropriate to be ‘on’ and when you should be relaxing
- Delegate the ‘house’ responsibilities and share with your partner/housemate/family
- Contributing to help others can also help you
- Cut out jobs/things to do if not relevant – it’s a cull!
In the beginning I made a list of everything I needed to do. One long list that ranged from what needed buying for dinner, when I needed to pack for the gym, call the estate agent, clear out wardrobe… It was no good. Too long. Way too overwhelming. No organisation. I tried it for a few days and the list just got longer. Tried colour coding. Didn’t work. I needed to segment and separate, have individual plans.
YEAR PLANNER. This shows me at a glance birthdays and important family/friend occasions only. A neat place for one purpose.
WEEKLY PLANNER. A flash look over this shows me what meetings I have that week, any appointments and personal plans for the evenings and weekends. I can see that today is Monday for instance and I’ve an event on Thursday evening. So I know that by Tuesday, I need to have ordered anything I might need in terms of cosmetics, booked any last minute salon appointments and borrowed/bought anything I might need to wear. It also lets me anticipate the quiet days where I can put more work onto that day. Adding in the weather forecasts also helps me consider outfit choices and transport.
Break it down
DAILY TO DO LIST. My lifeline. Here I detail from the start of my work day, hour by hour on what needs to be done. For instance, I have to do four sessions of physiotherapy exercises a day for my neck so I’ll equally distribute them throughout the day. I can see what time I’m breaking for lunch, what time I’m leaving emails to work on some research. It’s easy to see what time I need to get up and drink a glass of water, stretch my legs. Then I’ll work out what time I’m ending my work day and set an alarm on my phone 30 minutes before so I can tie everything up. Once it comes to ‘put oven on’ I know I’m switching off and winding down to conclude my day. Obviously here I don’t outline hour by hour what my evening entails but seeing such a huge amount of things done gives me such a sense of achievement and helps me become more productive. No camping out on Facebook or checking other blogs for me.
DAY AT A GLANCE DIARY. One page per day. This I use for reminders, notes, ideas I’ve come up with during the day. It’s messy and foreign to others but it’s the raw, in-the-moment tool I use.
NOTEBOOK. This I use for blog ideas, hotels I’d like to visit, gift ideas for friends and family or perhaps even a sketch or doodle of something while I’m on my 5 minute work break.
If you try this for a few days, guaranteed you’ll feel more organised and life better managed. When scheduling, it offers a sense of achievement when you’re able to tick things off. It illustrates how productive you’re being. It shows you that you don’t have to worry about not being able to keep on top of things. That way, it allows you to prioritise. You gain direction. It offers a firm ‘relaxation’ period so your brain knows when to switch off. Before scheduling, the stress used to really consume me and as work would be my relaxant, I’d throw myself in and wouldn’t stop until around 9pm. That obviously had to stop (although pretty nice to be able to say you love your job). After a week of scheduling, ask yourself:
- How do you feel after today?
- Did you get your personal time and connect with yourself?
- Now is your life becoming more of an adventure?
- Is your mind free to think of other, more fun things in life?
- Would checking some positive quotes help?
- Have you realised that the things you’re passionate about aren’t ‘random’, they’re your calling?
- Could you incorporate colour into your scheduling for further clarification?
- Do you feel more relaxed?
- Are you now more in control of your life?
It’s important to remember that not one size fits all. You may want to amend your scheduling to make it more unique and bespoke to you. Try adapting your planning to suit you. Always analyse and tweak what you’d prefer. I tried setting an alarm once every 25 minutes so I knew to take a 5 minute break between jobs. For instance, 25 minutes for emails, break, 25 minutes for writing, break… That also works very well but more so when you’re feeling truly anxious. As my late Grandmother used to say, you’re the master of your own destiny.
Did you find this post useful? Do you have any tips for scheduling and planning? Xx