I remember the exact day: October 4th, 2014. It was unusually warm for the season, and I was sweating like a fashion-forward mule on my rushed subway hustle from one appointment to the next. It was only 4:00pm, and I already smelled like something between burnt toast, dry shampoo and cortisol.
It was the day I realized my schedule (and my life) were a hot freaking mess.
What did I do? Well that's a three-year story involving a nervous breakdown, 2-month trek to Europe, making my dog (micro-)famous on Instagram, and starting my own business. We don't have time for the whole story, but suffice it to say - I wish I knew then what I know now.
How to Reset Your Schedule in Four Easy Steps
First - a warning: this activity isn't for those who need to throw out the baby with the bathwater and start fresh with their lives. That's a whole different story. Maybe sign up for a session, and we can talk about it. No, this is for those who've simply let their schedules (and lives) get away from them, requiring a "schedule cleanse." So are you ready to stop being a slave to your calendar, and get it to serve you instead?
If so, then I'm going to ask a question every IT guy has uttered at least once: "Have you tried turning it off and then back on again?" If not, follow the simple steps below to wrestle your schedule back into shape. It's like sending your schedule on a retreat. When it gets back, it will be refreshed, energized, and full of great ideas about how to live that balanced, "best self" life.
Ready, Set, Reset!
It doesn't take much more than some intentional planning to get your schedule back on track, but there are a few tricks to really amplify the impact of your reset. Critically, we're going to lead with the things that help you be your best self: those keep-you-sane, omg-if-I-only-had-a-massage, fuck-brunch-I'm-sleeping-in kind of things. Making these "best self" activities your priority will help you feel great, which will give you the energy, drive, and momentum to accomplish the rest of your life.
Secondly, we're going to calendar all of your activities into a template before applying them to your real schedule, to make sure that your ambitious plan to make it to the Moon and the dry cleaners in the same week is actually feasible. (Protip: it's not. It's good to stretch yourself, but beating yourself up for not being able to do the impossible isn't just demoralizing - it's pointless.)
Step 1: Make Three Lists
- List 1: Your Best Self List - This list includes the activities that help you show up authentically and energetically to your life. It will include things like: showering, cooking, moving your body, cuddling warm bodies, playing, friend time, nookie, calling your mom, sleeping in on Sundays, and whatever else you need to do to be ON IT.
- List 2: Your Growth List - This list includes all of the activities you need or do to improve yourself. It will include things like: passion projects, continuing education, networking, being creative, mindfulness, mentoring, and anything else you'd like to do to grow into the person you want to be.
- List 3: Your Required List - This list includes all of the activities that you are either paid to do or simply need to handle to be a functioning adult. It will include things like: day job, side jobs, laundry, cleaning the house, dog walking, paying your bills, etc.
Step 2: Create (or Print) a Schedule Template
Here's one you can download, or you can create your own! It can be pretty and well-ordered, or you can just scratch six lines down a sheet of printer paper. Don't overthink it.
Step 3: Plot Your Ideal Week
Now is your opportunity to create an ideal week for yourself! Instead of organizing it haphazardly, I like to organize it the following way:
- Start by putting your job(s) in the schedule template. This is only time that you are required to be at work.
- Next, add the items from List 1: Your Best Self List. Think about what's going on in your week, and when you might need these activities. For example, maybe Sunday night is a good time to take a long bath and read for pleasure. Maybe it's a good night to prep your meals for the week. Whatever will set you up best for a successful week! The items on this list are the MUST HAVES for the week. If you don't do these, you won't show up to any of the other activities as your best self!
- Next, add the remaining items from List 3: Your Required List. Don't go crazy here - this should be a Minimum Viable List. Only include the things you truly have to do, then see if you have time for the more ambitious stuff.
- Finally, add the items from List 4: Your Growth List. We can only do what we can do. If you need more room for growth, you might need to find a way to carve more time out of your required list.
STEP 4: Implement Your Plan!
If you're anything like I was four years ago, you're already scheduled a few weeks in advance. So you start by flipping through your calendar until you find a reasonable open week. Intentionally design that week using your newly complete template. Actually put each thing in your calendar (at least until you get used to the new routine). Until that week arrives, do what you can to include as many best self activities (from List 1) as possible.
Presto, reset!! Now go forth and get back in control of your calendar. And visit me on Facebook to let me know how it goes. Let's start a conversation!
Here's a little prose by Fitzgerald to get you off on the right foot. Good luck!