I had to laugh, looking back on last year’s resolution, which –quoting a Calvin and Hobbes cartoon– was to “wing it.” As Dr. Phil would say, “How’s that working for you?” Believe me, I liked it a lot in one way– the freedom of it– but the result part? Not so much.
Whenever in an advisory role with my homeschooled kids, I tell them, “Have a plan, and then work your plan.” (They have goals they want to meet, which is why I harp, repeatedly, on this straight-forward theme.) But when I emphasized this again over the break, I felt like a hypocrite. Maybe I should practice what I preach?
The challenge in my life, especially as a Christian Science Practitioner, is that my lifestyle is what I call “interruption based.” I never know when a client’s need may arise. This makes it difficult to plan. Similarly, the budget books always ask you to start with your salary and then divide it up, which never works for someone who is self-employed like me, whose income is highly erratic.
But there are things I want to get done that never seem to happen because everyone else’s needs preempt them – which they should; I’m not complaining – but I still need to carve out a way beyond that if I want to meet some other goals. What are some of my illustrious “other” goals?
For one thing, I’d like to upgrade this website, and bring it into the present day, instead of unsearchably frozen where I started it five years ago. To do that I need to transfer over 1,800+ blogs, individually and by hand. Without a plan, I can think of many other things in any given moment I’d rather do than slog through that, even though in the bigger picture I really want it to happen.
Then there is my office/studio, which is more like an attic, with heaps of stuff everywhere. To clear this out is such an overwhelmingly huge project! This blog heard me pinning after a solution for this ongoing disaster years ago. There is so much to weed through and process, and the space is so full that there is not even room to sort stuff. (I’m talking about things like a whole file cabinet full of poetry from before I moved in here twenty years ago, etc.)
Plus, I want to dig deeper into both art and spirituality, and this takes time. I want to work together with my husband and get out of debt, which will take a conscious plan, or it won’t happen. I want to exercise regularly, which I do pretty well when the weather is nice and I am drawn to being outside, but fizzles to nothing in wet or freezing weather like we are currently experiencing.
So my resolution is to make a plan, and then work my plan. My first plan was not to start my plan until Monday, January 6, and I worked that part of the plan just fine! Meanwhile…
I have picked a certain number of blogs to transfer over every day, five days a week. At this rate, we’ll all see the new website and blog this year, and then I can finally settle in on the other side of doing that.
I have gotten lots of packing boxes, and I am packing up my office until it is empty except for furniture. If we can live all summer with my kid’s dorm boxes in the downstairs hall, my office stuff can be there, too, for a while. It can also clutter up the future guest room while our older daughter is at school. Once I get all the boxes out, I plan on dealing with them one at a time in a clean reordered space, until it is pristine.
Remember my Way of Life App I told you about? I have now streamlined what I list there to only include those things I’m struggling to make enough time for each day. My professional work, my homeschooling, not interrupting my husband, being grateful, learning new things, putting out this blog, etc, happen anyway; they are a baseline and are no longer on the check off list. Instead, I am now keeping track only of daily goals that compete for my attention and often get drowned out, like house cleaning, exercise, and art or spirituality projects. Transferring the blogs is on there and so is time on the office cleanup.
I used to use the Way of Life app every day of the week but for this year I’ve decided to use it only during the five day work week –and to push harder then– knowing I’ve got a couple days coming that I won’t. Being on call 24/7 never gives me the structure of any time off, so this approach will help simulate that sensation a bit. I can use the weekend (when I’m not working) to do whatever I need to to recharge, which might well be one of those goals on my list, or none of them.
I haven’t gotten all fourteen items done yet on my list in any one day, but I’ve gotten as many as 12 out of 14. I’ve done pretty great for three days, but today has tanked because of more “interruptions” –which you have to remember I welcome. I’ll make up the other stuff when I can.
I also bought this paper planner (photographed) to capture what I do in a way that I can see whether how I spend my time is balanced or not. For years my appointments have been on my iphone with digital reminders and I am still doing this. But in the paper planner, shown below, I am recording what happens each day in a color coded system so I can see at a glance how my time is actually spent. Each activity has a different color and I am putting them in at the end of the day. At that time I analyze how to handle what I know is coming up on the following day, and how to work in soon the items I didn’t get to. The only problem with this paper calendar is it doesn’t show my evening hours when I get a lot of my work done, so it is not a complete representation of what goes on…
At least I’m proceeding with some of the flexibility and freedom I enjoyed last year, but with more strident intentions where the foot dragging has been, which hopefully will bring more results. We’ll see how it goes…