I feel like I’ve suddenly had an aha moment. Growing up and in my early twenties I was good at planning, loved routine and structure and thrived on it. I wasn’t the ambitious sort, and I have never liked busyness, but I was always prepared and on top of what I needed to get done.
But then over the last few years felt that perhaps planning, scheduling and to do lists weren’t for me after all.
I found that I would lose interest after a week or two, start to feel forgetful, become overwhelmed. I would feel boxed in and bored with routine, like I’d lost my freedom.
But I’m starting to have a change of heart. And I believe it’s all in shifting my mindset.
But first let me share my usual cycle of events and feelings when it comes to planning:
- I find myself overwhelmed and anxious with too many things to remember on top of my usual schedule. It could be school notes to action, things to send in to school, payments to be made to gymnastics, appointments, and random things that I need to organise or buy.
- All the important things such as good meals for the girls, organising ndis supports to help prep and cook food, all start to slide and we get into a routine of eating frozen chips and nuggets.
- Freaking out on the inside I decide I need to “get organised” and procrastinate on the best diary/planner and whether to go paper or digital. Do I need a to do list? What about bullet journaling? I need to work out a weekly schedule urgently!
- I decide on what planner to use and proceed to schedule in everything. I obsess and put in everyday or weekly things that simply don’t need to be put in. This happens with exercise planning and meal planning too.
- Once I am done I am exhausted and overwhelmed by seeing my week on paper. Planned out. Rigid. Boxed in.
- But I am motivated too, and follow the plan for a week or 2, particularly until all those “extra” things I needed to remember action.
- Then I stop looking at it and everything goes back to the way it was.
- And slowly it shifts back into step 1, overwhelmed and anxious with too many things to remember.
You see when I am faced with something that overwhelms me I think I need to go to extreme lengths and totally overhaul the situation and obsess about it. But I don’t really have to take such drastic action.
What if I simply made a list on a piece of paper of things I mustn’t forget?
What if I used a simple diary or calendar for appointments?
What if I put a reminder in my phone to action that “thing” I feel I may forget.
No obsessing, no making the diary the focus, no overfilling it with things I know I won’t forget (like taking my kids to school).
But then I also have this other aspect to my schedule now, and that’s wanting to devote my efforts into my blog and creativity, as well as content creation for a podcast and social media.
How do I map that out without feeling overwhelmed?
They say people overestimate what they can achieve in a year but underestimate what they can do in ten.
I overestimate what I can do in a week, so I knew I had to really take an honest look at what I could work on and when. I feel as though perhaps others may do this too, and then they feel they can’t keep up with all the important things they want to devote their time to (family time, exercise etc).
So I took a look at my schedule
Well I had to actually create my weekly schedule, what I must fit in (school runs, appointments, after school activities, and time with family members).
I looked at what was important to me
I want to actually be devoted to my family when they are home. Present with them. I blocked out time I’m with them.
I blocked out my appointments
That left me with 2 four hour blocks a week. These are periods of time to myself with no other commitments. This is time I have now allocated to creative time.
What do I want to create?
When I looked at my list of what I want to create, and how I often I want to publish a blog post or write and post social media content, I realised that I most likely don’t have enough time to do all of it.
I needed to take an honest look at what I could do realistically, and create a plan around that. It would require prioritising and letting go or parking other ideas.
I feel that being realistic about what I can do in a week, or a month, will help minimise guilt and resentment – in all areas of my life.
Rest is Important for Productivity
I heard the other day on a podcast (My Millenial Money podcast), that rest is an important part of a “productivity plan”. I loved this perspective. It really takes out the guilt and the “I should be doing” feeling and thoughts. Just rest when you’re resting and it will help you be more productive when you need to be “on”.
As an introverts we need to take our downtime seriously or else we become drained and burnout. We are less equipped to handle the stress and excitement of the outside world if we step out un-refreshed. Alone time is crucial.
I am only at the very beginning of trialling this productivity plan and see how I go, then check in, tweak and refine as needed.
In the meantime I would love to hear your productivity style, particularly as an introvert. What works and doesn’t work for you. Any tips you might have. I would love for you to share in the comments.
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