Act 3, episode 2: Plan For You
Happy Fall, Y'all.
It feels like fall to this Midwest Girl.
Central Florida is sprinkled with splashes of cooler mornings, inching below 80*.
There are still days where it "feels like" 100*, and leaves won't fall here for months, but
my pumpkins are unpacked and adorning.
Back-to-School means fresh planners.
As a mom, I used them when attending classes, to keep my Me-Time straight with everyone else time. One of the reasons for my school-joy was this planning for myself.
Maxed out with two classes each semester, I didn't need a thick planner to remember my schedule, but I used it to track other things I really wanted to do:
exercise, see friends, or plan fun things on weekends.
I put my family's lives on paper first. If there was white space left, I'd add my things.
My leftover energy went towards Me.
I also used a planner when prepping to sell a house and move to another state, which I mentally broke into 6-8 months of tasks.
The planner-free years were filled with what I felt like doing. I got distracted and watched too much TV, which felt boring and unfulfilled, with a desire to be more intentional with my time, do more of what I enjoyed.
Enter the world-shifting question: "What do I need to do for a successful divorce?"
Just like moving across the country, the divorce checklist has several tasks that are completed in a certain order. I used the planner to break down a big Family Life of four and systematically shift into my own life of one.
I checked it all off and did an amazing job. I truly rocked it.
Then there was nothing to plan.
I used my time to feel all of the Feels,
until I could finally see time in a weekly spread again.
We started the divorce mediation meetings and that gave me some structure and some tasks.
When that was finished, I added resume building, job searching.
I was building a life, using the planner, to clear out the past and create something new.
At the most perfect time, I found Monday Hour One.
You can learn more about it by searching: LCS podcast #306.
With MHO, you start with your personal goals and self-care FIRST before you ever add things for other people.
That's right. You heard me.
YouTime first, THEN add everyone else.
This is easier for me, in Act 3 of my life--I don't have younger kids who need meals, baths and tuck-ins.
But I wish I'd had it during those years. I may have felt less like I was chasing a parade in my underwear, but never catching up.
So, number one--I cut in the hours for my sleep.
I had fatty liver disease, with irregular enzyme levels for three years.
(It's healed now.)
Sleep allows my liver to clean the blood and process all the food from the previous day. It's also a huge reset for the mind.
Then I add meals and dog-walks. Exercise, laundry and groceries. Errands, doctor's appointments, etc.
I add my own personal writing.
Lastly, the digital marketing for my client and the hours for my organizer job.
This may seem backwards.
We often do All The Things for others:
work, schools, church, kids, cooking, shopping...
until late at night, and only sleep when we finish the last task.
Have you seen the Rocks/Pebbles/Sand jar analogy? Sometimes, you'll see it with water, but that can be messy in a presentation. You can check it out on YouTube or read this:
We attempt to live our lives by doing all the outside things first.
We add the sand and pebbles (work, school, sports, music lessons, carpool)
to the jar (planner) first,
which leaves very little space left in the jar (day) for the bigger rocks: (priorities)
ourselves, connecting with loved ones, and our goals.
The things we really want to be intentional about get pushed aside.
But if you add the big rocks, then the pebbles, then the sand, it all fits perfectly. The smaller bits fill in the air space between the big rocks, and it all fits in the jar.
This is a cush perspective, I admit.
Growing up poor, my belief was: there's not enough food in the world, not enough money in the world, because we didn't have those two things.
I now believe there IS ENOUGH in the world, it is just distributed unequally, which is fine.
But I have enough, even if it is less than some others.
I'm not starving or malnourished or living in the woods.
I do have everything that I need, and I know not everyone does.
But we all have the ability to think, so let's continue to play around with that.
With my life as a priority, there are certain hours in my day, consistently,
where I have more brain power. For me, it's in the morning.
Schedule blocks of Focus Time when your brain truly is capable of Creation.
I write my blog, draft new chapters or work for my client during a two hour block,
at a time in the day when my brain has the most juice.
Cal Newport's book, Deep Work, stresses the importance of no distraction during this time.
Phone silenced and flipped over. Computer muted.
This may also feel backwards. Wrong.
Remember home phones with cords?
That chunky plastic thing on the wall or table rang so loudly, and
we all ran to answer it.
For some reason, if it rang a third time, we labeled ourselves Not Fast Enough.
Now most phone calls are from robots.
Who could have imagined?
It may feel wrong, to allow yourself an hour to not be available to Others,
but do it anyway. You can call them back. Text, DM, email.
It will be there when you are finished.
This is also where we choose Us.
Boundary. The little picket fence around our souls, that we create and protect.
There's only one gate, and you control it.
The phone pinging does not open your gate.
The only thing that will distract you now...
Your brain will suddenly be interested in something else, or
want to check if they messaged back.
You'll get a hankering for a snack or for more caffeine.
This is where you parent yourself. Nope, we're going to sit and finish.
Today's Deep Breath: a practical juju nugget, a collective Next Best Decision.
This system puts me first.
It forces me to be taken care of.
When I am taken care of, I'm not expecting or needing others to take care of me.
It's already done.
For me, the planner helps me not to neglect my own love for me.
As an adult, it was never anyone's responsibility but mine.
When I am cared for, I feel loved.
Which gives me more love in my life.
The type of planner doesn't matter, digital or paper.
I like the weekly spread so I can see and plan the week, but recently purchased a
daily spread with lots of space for post-its or notes.
I made a decision to try it, and I'll decide later which I liked better.
I love making decisions.
Another hack: what would I do this week if I knew I'd die in 7 days?
I'm sure there's a movie with this premise.
List it out.
Compare your dying list to what you did last week. Do they match?
With each task, ask yourself: why am I doing this?
It may take a few Whys to get to the root reason.
If you like your reasons, keep it.
Some things we do out of fear. I'm not fond of those things.
They don't feel good.
We can either change our thoughts about it, to keep them,
or get rid of it altogether.
Give yourself permission to Live.
You are the main character your life. You are not the side kick, the sub plot.
You are the Lead.
Let's make some decisions!
Whatever you use to plan your time, try putting you first.
Let me know how it goes on: