For as long as I can remember, I have followed a schedule. At school I had a battered planner and I even had a personal one for my social life. My schedule was what kept me together. It organised all of my tasks and kept me in check. My planner was kept daily and I had such pleasure in ticking off all of the things that I needed to do. I became a schedule addict. I have pretty much been keeping a schedule since I was twelve years old. It was drilled into me by my school to keep an orderly planner. We had planner check-ups to see how good we were at organising. Of course, I was top notch. I lived and breathed for the schedule! It’s only recently that I started to see the negative effects of keeping a daily ‘to-do’ list…
My diary no longer includes all the pieces of homework that I need to do. Instead it involves financial bill dates, housework, phone calls I need to make, work that needs to be done within the office and people I need to make time for.. The problem with this is that there is too much on my schedule. All my time was allocated to things and keeping ‘busy’. There are lots of discussions happening and books being published about how our generation are addicted to being busy. To be honest, I am quite partial to being busy. I like filling up my time with the rewarding feeling of being ‘productive’. It’s knackering but it can often feel worth while. I have to watch not to burn the candle at both ends, however. I think recently I am pointing my finger at my schedule as the reason that I am no longer loving the feeling of being ‘busy’. I keep paper records of all my tasks. I even have different planners for different things. I have a blog planner, a work planner and a general life planner. It’s a lot to keep on top of. Recently, I’m not on top of it at all. I weirdly noticed something changing as soon as I stopped making a schedule. I was more productive.
It seems to go against the purpose of a planner. The idea of a schedule is to keep you on top of things. It’s to remind you of all the things that you need to do and by when. But, when I have been looking at my diary – I have been overwhelmed with a sense of panic. I had words screaming at me from my page, ‘DO THIS NOW YOU LAZY SLOTH!’. Yes, my planner was getting obnoxious, rude and intimidating. Of course, I don’t have a magical schedule that is physically screaming these words at me but they might as well be. The front cover says ‘FAILURE’. I no longer view my planner as something that keeps my life in order. Instead I see it as a nagging nuisance. It reminded me of all the things I had to make time for and the time wasn’t there. I never scheduled in time for me or time to watch episodes of Ru Paul’s Drag Race (which btw, I am hooked on now that I ignore the asshole that is my planner). I think part of my problem was/is trying to over-achieve. I make very unrealistic to-do lists. It’s something that I am trying to work on for sure. I like to achieve. I love the sense of fulfilment that achievements bring to me. They make me more positive and the more I can achieve in a day, the better I sleep at night. However, I have come to a realisation that my schedule is causing me to have anxiety and is actually making me counter productive.
I stare at my schedule with a feeling that none of the tasks are achievable. Instead of looking at one tasks at a time, I look at all my tasks as a whole. I write my tasks as ‘high urgency’ (yes, I even rank how urgent a task is) when in actuality, I could put them off for another week. Whenever I have something to do, it’s in my nature to want to do that tasks as quickly and as efficiently as possible. I know that a lot of the problem lies within myself. I have flaws and I do have a major habit of inflicting problems onto myself by putting pressure on myself. What can I say – I’m not good for me! If I could break up with this part of myself, I would in a heartbeat. In complete contrast, my boyfriend remains in a state of calm all day everyday. I am envious and I am increasingly trying to take pointers..But, going back to the schedule – it was like an alarm ringing. All the tasks were firing away an alarm. I saw red. I saw hell. So, I tossed my planner away.
Since getting rid of my planner, I realised that I don’t actually need one at all. Sometimes, I even caught myself finding things to put down in my schedule. Part of me liked seeing a page with tasks. It gave me purpose to get up and be productive. But, of course, on my days off – it just made me feel like crap because all I was doing was eating share bags of crisps on the sofa. All the tasks that I had lined out for the day where put on a back burner and the crisps became my number one priority. I think it’s important to remember (speaking to myself here) that I have a full time job. So, I’m pretty cream crackers come the end of the week. As tempting as it is to schedule in writing the equivalent of the Twilight Saga volumes in blog posts – it just isn’t realistic. What is realistic is not scheduling in anything. It’s important to let yourself have time to relax. This is something that I am learning and trying to put into practice now..
So, the first step, like I mentioned above – was ditching the schedule.
I have a pretty good memory. If something really needs to be done – I’m not forgetting about it. I used to schedule in hoovering the flat but it never needed to be written down. I can see that the little dust bugs are around and I bring out my trusty Henry Hoover by instinct (it’s really a Delilah Dyson but Henry is the level of boss I feel when hoovering). One of the major things that I have stopped scheduling is my blog. It goes against everything a blogger wants to do. Scheduling is like the most important thing for a blogger. It reminds us that we need to make time for our blog and when we should write what post and release it on said day. But, I honestly think this method is to blame for my lack of posts. I have made blog schedules for as long as I have been blogging. I thought that they were keeping me on top of things. Much like I thought that by keeping a section for housework in my schedule would mean that I was like Cinderella around the place. It didn’t work of course. Suddenly my mundane chores were about as daunting as the prospect of doing Maths GCSE all over again. The flat got dusty and the chores remained un-crossed on my to-do list. So, following the same idea – I stopped scheduling my blog posts. And, low and behold – I’ve pumped out more blog posts than I did all of last year.
So, here is how I am coping without a schedule…
- I am more in tune with myself.
I am no longer living by the rule book of my planner. I am taking every moment as it comes and I am letting spontaneity live once more. I am enjoying an occasional binge watch of my favourite shows and I am listening to my body. My moods are more balanced and although I don’t think I’ll ever not be a stress ball, I am less like a basketball and more like a golf ball of stress. I have time to reminisce, think about the future and not think at all!
2. I am doing things when they suit me.
Monday is no longer the day of rest, stress or chores – it’s a day of whatever the hell I want it to be. Not living by a schedule means that I can do things when I want to do them. This has been life changing! Because I have the natural instinct in me to boss something out as soon as it’s on my to-do, it meant that I never fully enjoyed a task. Now that I can do things when they suit me, I can really be in the moment of what I am doing. For example, blogging now is a luxury. It’s an outlet of my current thoughts, vibes and feels. Previously it was last week’s stale thoughts that seemed like a good idea then.
3. I am actually more organised
I mean, who would have thought it?! I am more organised now than I was with a schedule. It feeds off the fact that I am doing things when the suit me rather than doing them when I think I should. I feel more inspired and motivated to do things and they feel less forced. I’ve learnt that I have a natural ability to be organised. It’s deep rooted in me to be on top of things. I don’t feel frantically in a rush to do a task anymore. I just do it. I guess I’m thinking less about that task and I am actually getting off my arse and doing it before I can find it overwhelming.
4. I am less stressed
My life no longer feels like it is crushing me to a pulp. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I have my crappy days. But, I feel less suffocated by things. At the end of the day, the tasks that I write down in a schedule aren’t horrible. They are fun things and some are a little boring but they are necessary. I’m finding the joy in the tasks that I used to schedule. My wellbeing is feeling top notch and I don’t feel like I have to document everything I need to do. Everything that I now manage to achieve in a day is a subconscious pat on the back. I’m sleeping better than I did when I was living with a schedule. My resting thoughts aren’t of whizzing, pressing chores that need to be done the following day – they’re now – zzzzzzzzzzzzz (that was me falling asleep.)
Overall, ditching the schedule was the best thing that I have done all year. I am feeling great. I’m never going to rule out my list making. It is something that I have sworn by for years, but, for now – I am happy putting it to one side.
Could you live without your schedule?