(and I think that this also applies to managing our time)
Now that the colder, rainy, windy, weather has set in, in Auckland, New Zealand, I feel that it is time to reorganise my life. For some reason, I always feel this way about this time of the year.
And it is probably because my other warm-weather routines just don't work too well, when the days are shorter and wintry. It's also this time of year when I discover that last year's cold weather clothes are somewhat tatty, and that I don't have enough gear to keep me warm and looking good.
Sorting myself out
So this year, I did a massive winter shopping expedition and biff out. I still have a few more garments to get, but I'm really pleased that I have been so organised.
I also dyed over the warm blonde and light brown hair that I had been wearing since Christmas. I hated the colour, it made me look washed out, and old (and I can't continue with either of those!) I am back to having darker brown hair with a cool undertone, which is more in keeping with my skin colouring and also my personality.
And I realised that it was again time to "sort myself out'. Which, I must confess, is like an ongoing project for me!! This time, in regards to time itself.
Important to know about decisions
Planning is often difficult for me, in terms of making decisions:
- what to do
- and when to do it. (also known as procrastination......)
And that is just a personality thing with me. I actually am quite organised already, by nature. But I can, and do, get bogged down in the details, and this is where the indecision comes in.
making too many choices is tiring
The idea of being organised and pre-planning, is to reduce daily decision making, as there is actually such a thing as decision fatigue. It seems that we have a limited capacity for decisions. When we use up our decision-making reserves early in the day, we can tend to make "bad" decisions later that day.
All you Mums out there: take note! Our children have the same problem with decision fatigue too. They also need some routine so that when they do make decisions, they make good ones.
How to learn to plan
I went on a business course about sixteen years ago. The first thing we were told to do was planning, and we were given a month page out of a calendar to do so, without any advice about what and how to do it.
This was hilarious - who was supposed to know how to plan their life and time with just that? So, I researched time planning, and, because I had been in business for many years, I also added bits and bobs that I already knew. I didn't have access to a computer, so I had to use the library.
I used a monthly calendar page (but now I prefer a wall yearly calendar), and a weekly grid that I already had. Plus my daily dairy.
do a yearly calendar first
- write in anything necessary on the yearly calendar, month by month
- include important things for your children, school terms, school events, holidays, etc.
This is like pre-planning, and having it visible does seem to make planning easier.
then do the diary
Transfer any necessary information from this into your diary, on the appropriate pages. You might need to write in other things to do with this, too. Such as write down when you need to start looking at bookings for a trip, for example. Or book for the dentist.
what I do on my weekly grid
Now fill in the weekly grid, for the week. You will find that you do many things on the same days, at the same times.
I ended up doing this planning on Monday mornings as I was mostly working from home
- when I was teaching a lot of yoga classes, I would lightly colour the times of the classes, including travel, on the grid.
- gym classes were one colour, public classes another colour, with a third colour for private classes.
- you obviously would have a different set of activities.
- then I could see when to fit in shopping, prepare advertising, packing for a weekend trip, catching up with friends and family. And onto the weekly grid these would also go.
- add whatever is important to do this week: (this is anything, e.g: a home chore, put out advertising, prepare for Sunday seminar, visit family)
Planning lessons learnt
This is a rough baseline example. I had a grid drawn up with lines, etc, 1 for each week, nothing fancy. By doing this, then quickly transferring any necessary appointments to my diary, I soon learnt an important lesson.
Just by looking at my grid: I could see that I was always overloading myself. Sometimes it is just our time to have to work hard. But during other times, we can and should, be spacing ourselves better.
Another thing that I learnt, (but didn't always get to do) was to leave a proportion of daily time free. It was either 40% or 60% that was recommended. Because we also need to fit in:
- family and friends
- and whatever else
- and we need space for "things that unexpectedly come up".
my big lesson that I learnt
I learnt that I never allowed time for these things, being self-employed with a child, and this was one of the reasons that I was so stressed. I also had to learn to say "no" to things that encroached on our life. But it took doing my first grid to see how I kept over loading myself. I'm sure all you Mums know what I'm talking about.
Looking at at my grid, I would also be able to see when and where to be able to do other things. The visual aspect of it all was very helpful, and although I haven't done it for a while - it is now next on my "to-do" list - sorting myself out, time-wise, with:
- a monthly (my wicked fireman) calendar
- a drawn up and photocopied grid
- plus my diary. I always have a diary. And I keep them too (my secret hoarder fetish thing).
you don't have to be too rigid
I found that I only had to do a weekly grid for a while, now and then. Now that I am not utilising my time properly, I really need to do it again for a while, to re-establish habits.
I know that some people just use their computers or phones to do their organisation on, but for me, that is just too frustrating. I want something quick, easy, and easily visible.