I’ve been trying for awhile to really figure out how best to schedule my days. Organization is my worst skill- I’m continually surrounded by piles, I have more unfinished projects than days left on the earth and I feel like I’m always trying to catch-up.
I’m realizing that a large part of it is because- I don’t allow myself the time to get organized. I don’t make time for it. I find little moments here and there, but I never create the long stretches of space I need to really get things done.
I’m constantly trying to fit a little of everything into everyday, but I’m realizing more and more, the older I get, that it’s hard for me to switch gears between activities, and it’s hard for me to fight whatever my energy is that day.
If I’m in the mood for playing piano and painting, it’s going to be reeeeal hard for me to concentrate when I sit down to work, because I’m ignoring that innate urge that says “play! create! be!” So, some days I end up just giving into the muse. I let it take me away for the whole day, reading and gardening and singing at the piano til the cows come home.
By the end of it though, there’s a lingering guilt left over for not doing what I was “supposed” to do, for not working on all the things I know “should” be done….
But I love those creative, free, not-tied-down to anything days. I crave them. Those are the days when inspiration comes in, where I just ride my flow, the days where I re-engage with that fire within me. They’re the kind of days where blog posts, like this one, just spill out, begging to be written instead of me having to try to coax them out.
So, I want to just allow myself days like this, even make it “a thing”. Something I do. Something I make time for, and honor for myself, because it helps my work and life in so many other ways.
I’ve decided, I’m taking a FOLLOW MY MUSE DAY each week.
Thinking about dedicating a whole day to my muse made me start thinking about how it’d also be amazingly helpful and lovely to have a whole day to dedicate to cooking and cleaning and organizing, etc.
When I’m in the mood to clean and organize, it’s hard to pull myself away to sit down at the computer and write back emails. When I’m in the mood to work, it’s hard to stop and figure out what to cook for dinner. So, why not dedicate a whole day each week for getting organized around the house, too?
I need a day to sit down and make a meal plan, go grocery shopping, cook some meals for the week, PREPARE, instead of figuring it out at 5pm everyday. A day to pay bills and send mail and organize my desk and keep the counters clean. A day to plant herbs and pull weeds and make sure the blackberry bush isn’t sneaking over our neighbors fence again, before she gets mad at us.
I’m taking a DOMESTIC DAY each week, too.
I also need a GET OUT THERE DAY each week to pitch, figure out where to pitch, write guest posts and query letters to magazines. A day to schedule my blog posts and get my newsletter ready for the week, to hang out on social media and schedule updates. A day to answer emails!! I need a day to focus on the marketing stuff, to seek out the opportunities and look for new doors and avenues, to make connections and reach out. It all takes time that I haven’t been giving myself.
I need an EDUCATION DAY each week to catch up on all those books, e-courses, newsletters, articles, TED talks and podcasts I haven’t properly gone thru yet (please tell me I’m not the only one?) There’s so much I want to learn about and so many resources I want to go through, but I’m so unfocused and scattered that all those things quickly become yet another unfinished project. I need a day to focus on learning and reading and researching, a day to go through the exercises and lessons, do some “homework”, strategize, IMPLEMENT ideas!
I need a WORK DAY each week. Just one? Wouldn’t that be THE JAM? Yes it would. I feel that one full day to focus on “work” is more time than I’m giving myself now, actually, by beboppin’ and scattin’ around all these different areas, trying to fit a little bit of everything into every single day. I’m almost never totally focused on work- it’s just one stop along the day-train that keeps on moving.
If I had one whole day to not worry about cooking or cleaning or marketing or emails or anything else, but got to instead just focus on the project at hand? On my clients? To schedule meetings and bring my whole attention to them? A day to finish the to-dos that keep getting pushed to the next week over and over? I imagine that’d be much more productive, concentrated time I’d be spending on “work” than I’m allowing myself now, and I think it’d pay off in spades.
In essence, it’s ALL work, really. I’m just not going to call it that, because it doesn’t feel like it.
My creative/muse day is when I’ll likely be doing a lot of my writing work, because when I’m inspired and open (and thinking about something else) the words just flow. In the same way, I also tend to get really great ideas while I’m cooking and cleaning, and have to run to the office to write them down or grab my phone to record the brainstorm. From now on, I think I’ll just let my writing flow in between my days, naturally. I’ll let it come out when it’s authentically inspired to come out, rather than “when it’s time to write.” My creativity just doesn’t work like that.
I’ll also be doing a lot of work on the “get out there days”, marketing myself and making connections and reaching for opportunities- that’s half the battle right there in terms of success. As creative entrepreneurs, the work itself is usually the fun part, but the letting people know about it can be tough and impossible to find time for! It’d be a huge asset to my business to allow myself a whole day to focus putting my energy “out there.”
I’ll also be doing a lot of work on the education days, learning about new ideas to integrate into my business, doing exercises and implementing new strategies behind the scenes. This is some of the most important work for your business as well, the foundation, the bedrock. It’ll allow me to re-connect again and again to the whys of what I’m doing, and the hows! That’s essential to staying focused and on course. When you don’t connect back to that foundational element of learning, of being new again- that’s when you, and your biz, stop growing.
I hereby promise to myself to plan my schedule around how I work best!
I will no longer try to multi-task all day long!
I will no longer feel guilty about doing the things that pull me away from “work”, by realizing that, in actuality, they contribute to and enhance my work!
I will allow myself to pay attention to and heed the direction my energy wants to flow in!
I will schedule my week in a way that allows me to focus on one thing at a time, so I can get things done!
I guess I’ll have to check back in with you after I follow this schedule for awhile to let you know how it’s going 🙂 but, I already feel a weight lifted, more room to breathe, just from planning things out this way for the week.
What about you?
How could your schedule be changed to increase your productivity, and flow? What kind of “days” might you want to create for yourself to better focus, and get things done?
I’m very interested to see how this will work for you!
I’ve thought about having theme days as well, but I haven’t allowed it to myself yet. Maybe I could try one week and see how it goes…
One day a week would be great to start! I did it all last week and noticed mostly a huge mindset shift- a loss
of the guilt that I “should” be doing something else at a given time, a
freedom in allowing myself to just focus on the task at hand. Overall, I felt like I got more done both work and life wise, instead of kind of half-assing both while thinking about the other, if you know what I mean? If you’ve thought about it before, give it a try!
Yeah it totally makes sense how putting the boundary of “today I’m working on X and nothing else” can make you stop thinking about a ton of other things and really focus. It’s awesome that it worked that well for you!
I’m going to try 🙂
I couldn’t do this because I have to do school with the kids everyday… so my work is always scattered. I do want to work out a better schedule though
Yeah, I imagine it’d be a lot harder with kiddos around! You could still structure the time you do have that’s non-obligatory, before and after their school or even if you only have moments throughout the day, in this way, or a different way that works for you! Some days you might need to re-charge at night and not think about work at all, some days you might feel like burning the midnight oil while the kiddos sleep, but maybe thinking in terms of your energy and how much you have to give to certain things at certain times of the day would help you figure out a schedule that feels better to you 🙂
One of the things that has worked out for me is to actually put less things on my list. I allow myself scheduled communication time (emails and phone) and basically put down my work week the Friday before into my google calendar. Oh and yes, I need an Education Day too to get up to date with my ted talks 😉
Yes, less! Less is key! I think the expectations we have of ourselves is really the main cause of the burden we can feel. Scheduling communication/social media/etc times is another perfect way to break the day down and focus on one thing at a time!
Are you familiar with the Pomodoro technique? http://pomodorotechnique.com/ We are using it here and it has really improved our productivity.
I’ve tried it, but didn’t keep at it too long, it felt too restricting to me somehow to set time limits- but I think for certain things, like getting thru email, it might actually motivate me more. I might have to try it out again! Thanks for the link.
Jena…I love your thoughts here. I too am approaching each day from gentle place. I realized a few weeks ago I would never expect from others what i expect of myself. More breaks….more “pause”. A more intuitive work style….
Thank you, Colleen! Yes, those darn expectations! I’m finally beginning to realize too that I have the power to change my expectations of myself- it’s liberating! A more intuitive work style, yes! I love that. That’s just what I’m going for too…
Love your ideas! I’ve tried the themed days before and it worked really well for my productivity as well as keeping overwhelm in check. I’ve now got a part-time job in the mix so my neat little schedule has gone out the window. I need to make the focus periods work again with my new schedule.
Thanks Alicia! Glad to hear themed days worked well for you in the past, I’m still trying to get used to them, but liking it so far. Hope you can get back into a new schedule that feels good soon- it can be so hard to keep up good habits during transition periods!
Love the one day a week idea! Thanks for sharing!
Thanks for reading!
I think we were separated at birth lol. I seriously thought I could’ve written that, as I could relate to it ALL!! Love your ideas and thoughts on this and would be interested to hear how it goes for you. I think there is something to those creative energy types that you just have to be “in the mood” or its not going to be your best work. I absolutely agree that there must be time to take a break and get organized so you don’t feel like a hamster running in a hamster wheel all day and accomplishing not much of anything! One question… are you deciding each morning which of your “days” it will be depending on your energy or are they preset as certain days of the week?
Yeah, I have been deciding each morning depending on my energy and deadlines and what’s more of a priority… that I sit and answer emails or that I get out in the sunshine! 🙂 There are days for each. I have a morning routine that’s basically the same everyday to center and ground myself, and then I’ve been using these “themes” as my afternoon/bulk of day focus. And then in the evenings, if I’m feeling night-owly sometimes I do a lot of work at night, especially creative things when the muse is awake, or sometimes I just let myself veg and go to bed early 🙂
Thanks for reading and commenting- glad it resonated for you!
YES! I’ve recently had the opportunity to scale back (while still scaling up for growth) to doing production work just twice a week and the other three days are “up to me” days. I never even really thought about it but what you just said here is how I’ve been going about the extra time. One of the three days I kind of just relax and give in to my inner child; let her do what she wants to do. Just having that ONE day for myself that isn’t the weekend has made me so much happier and energized to make bigger and bolder things happen in my business.
Yes yes yes! Inner child indulging days are a biggie for sanity and health. Go you for realizing it and doing that for yourself!
THIS! is amazing. I’m going to try this for a month and see what happens.
🙂 yay! I’d love to hear how it goes for you. It’s hard to transition into a new schedule, but I’m loving it so far!
I hear ya! The first three paragraphs are exactly what I’ve been struggling with lately. I want to be “in the moment” and not thinking about what else I want/should to be doing. My crazy schedule is even crazier now that I have a little 6-month old. I’m going to try and take this technique and apply it to my days, but also split it into day and night since my stretches of time are at night or while baby naps.
Exactly, it’s all about being in the moment, that’s what I want too. I imagine it’d be much more difficult to try to schedule your days with a baby tho! I try to do the everyday things I need to get done, including some client work and writing and exercise and what not in the mornings, and then the afternoons have been what I devote to these “themes”. I find myself doing more work related things at night after dinner too, but only when I’m motivated to, and it’s been a really good way to break things up and let myself focus. It could work with whatever time blocks you have tho, yes! Divide and conquer!
I love this idea! Here I am multitasking every day, trying to answer emails, ship orders, write blog posts, deal with business finance and admin, update systems, oh and just a little thing called product creation which for some strange reason isn’t quite happening when I’m trying to do three squillion things in the same day. Maybe I’ll try your system! Do come back and let us know how you get on with it…
I know what you mean! I’ll have to do an update after I do this for another month or so, but I’m loving it so far. Imagine if you let yourself focus on nothing but product creation/planning for a WHOLE DAY! How much you’d get done! And the things you’d think of! And if you wrote all your blog posts in one day and then scheduled them out, and had one devoted to bookkeeping and admin, etc (or if you could delegate some of that 🙂 Ahh, it sounds easier and breezier to me. I hope you can try it out, even in small doses!
I LOVE this idea. Switching gears + scheduling is getting the best of me these days. I’m borrowing a couple of your ideas here! 🙂
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