Fail to plan, plan to fail. As much as I love living intuitively and in the moment, I can understand and appreciate the importance of planning our time based on our goals and responsibilities.....especially in the uber-productive world we live in today. Planning helps us stay on track, keep our focus, and get shit done. I get it.
But, we need to start planning other important aspects of our lives, in addition to the monotonous tasks and responsibilities. "How much can I get done today?" might be good for the goal line, but it ain't good for the soul line. (I know you like that)
Because if were all being honest here, most of us don't like planning. We either completely avoid it because it stresses us out to think about their never-ending to do lists, or were slaves to our google calendars and are susceptible to a nervous breakdown if a client reschedules because we'll have to change our SoulCycle reservation.
So where ever you fall on that spectrum, I want to introduce a new way of planning. I want you to stop thinking of planning in terms of productivity. I..e How much could I possibly get done in X amount of time?
I want you to start thinking.... How could I maximize overall quality of my life from planning? Yes. Your LIFE. Not just your job. Your well-being, your relationships, your hobbies....the whole enchilada.
You don't hate planning. You hate the way you've been planning. Because all you focus on is the "important" (cough cough BORING) things you need to get done; meetings, checking e-mails, doctor's appointments, grocery shopping, etc.)
But what about the fun things in life? Spending time with your family, calling a friend, walking your dog, trying out a new restaurant, looking in the mirror and telling yourself how much you love yourself..... That last one might just be for me. But don't worry, you'll get there ;)
What I'm suggesting is that you use planning as a tool to maximize your LIFE, your WELLBEING, your HAPPINESS, instead of focusing on productivity. Don't get me wrong, productivity is important. And you do need to factor in your career and adult-like responsibilities...but you need to jazz up your calendars with some more excitement and self-care time.
Imagine waking up everyday and being actually EXCITED to check your calendar? How would you show up for your family and co-workers if you were prioritizing your own happiness? How would you respond to someone when they ask you "How is your day going?" Instead of saying busy and stressful, you could say amazing and fulfilling. Sounds foo-foo, but I promise you, it's possible. It just takes commitment.
Give yourself the gift of a calendar make-over. Even if it's just for one week. And when you do, keep these guidelines in mind:
Plan for down-time
Everyday, even if it's for only 15 minutes, plan for some down time with yourself. Whether its meditating, journaling, going for a walk, stretching...whatever works for you. Just make the commitment to take some time every day to ground yourself and be in the present moment. It might not seem like "fun" at first, but with time, it might just become your favorite part of the day.
Plan for time with your loved ones
If your partner has ever called you a "workaholic," listen up. I understand that we live in a fast-paced society where achievement in our career is like the end-all, be-all to most people....but get real with yourself. What's actually the most important thing to you? Your career or your loved ones? If you said career, send me an e-mail and we'll help you work through your ego on that one, but for the rest of us... I'm assuming your loved ones are one of the most, if not the most, important part of your lives. So start acting like it.
Plan for 30 minutes at the end of the day to go for a walk with your boyfriend. Plan for a phone call to your sister who you haven't seen in a while. Plan to take your kids to play mini-golf on the weekend. Your loved ones deserve time in your schedule, too. And if you plan for this sacred time ahead of time, you won't miss lout on these moments because "You're too busy."
Plan for well-being
A lot of people are already in the habit of putting time for the gym in their calendars, and that's awesome. But, I'm talking about the full spectrum of well-being; including intuitive movement, nutrition and mental health. So aside from your grueling Crossfit workout, are you taking the time to plan a walk after lunch? Or a stretch before bed? All movement matters.
As for the nutrition aspect, you know I'm all about intuitive eating and bashing the diet mentality, but I do believe in the benefits of quality nutrition. When we eat good, we feel good. Period. But, so many of us forget to plan our healthy meals that we get stuck running to the vending machine at 4pm because were so hungry were going to faint. Don't get stuck in the trap.
Plan to go grocery shopping. Plan for healthy meals and snacks. Don't make it strict, make it fun. Eat the foods you enjoy to eat and know that you're doing this as an act of self-care so you can look and feel your absolute best.
And don't forget about your mental well-being (the most important). Meditating, writing a gratitude list, reciting mantras, journaling, going to a therapist, working with a coach, calling a friend...whatever works for you. Plan for it. We all need it. We all deserve it. Don't run to it in desperation when shit hits the fan. Use it as a preventative practice. Taking care of your mental well-being is always a priority. Every. single. day.
Plan for day-dreaming
Ah, the fun part! You know that dream vacation you've been wanting to take? Are you planning time in your schedule to browse TravelZoo or talk to a travel agent? What about that book you've always wanted to write? Are you planning time to research publishing companies or even start a first page? We all have dreams. We all have "out there" ambitions that we'll "get to one day..." Make today that day.
You don't need to block off two hours of your schedule everyday to start working towards your craziest desires. You can start with ten minutes a week. Just take the first step. Think about it....if you wrote one page of a book everyday, you'd have a completed novel in a year, people!
Set yourself up for success
Who are you writing your to-do list for? Superman? The entire cast of Full House? Seriously. Sometimes writing our to-do lists is just another way to make ourselves feel like shit. There's always too much to do and too little time. From the moment our pen hits the page, were overwhelmed with anxiety. And we often waste a good portion of the day being stuck in thinking "I can't believe how much more I have to do" instead of actually doing it.
So... be realistic. Plan your days as if one, simple human-being could perform them. That might include 15 minutes of social media browsing after lunch. That might include taking an hour at the grocery store because you get stuck deciding which free-range eggs to buy. You do you, boo boo. I'm not saying plan every consecutive 15 minutes to the t, but if you know that you personally take a little longer to complete a certain task and get distracted, give yourself a little leeway. Don't use it as a crutch, but be realistic.
You want to plan your days for productivity, of course. But, don't try and cram so much in your schedule that you're rushing around like a maniac all day.
Think about this....
How do you feel at the end of the day when you haven't completed everything on your to-do list? Frustrated. Anxious. Weak.
Now...how would you feel if you accomplished everything on your to-do list? Accomplished. Proud. Confident.
We need to stop judging ourselves based on "How much did I get done today?" and starting asking "How did I feel today?" Because your feelings are what inspire positive action. If you feel manic and stressed, you are not going to be performing to your best ability...and you probably won't be that pleasant to be around.
Be gentle if theres a sudden change
Life is always throwing us curveballs. Our kids get sick and we have to pick them up from school. Our boss reschedules a meeting. We didn't sleep at all the night before so we are dreading our workout. Shit happens. Life happens. So instead of fighting against the dynamic nature of life, embrace it. If something doesn't go according to your plan, let it go. Be gentle with yourself. You'll get it done another day.
If you find yourself getting stressed out, ask yourself "Would I care about this change in plans 5 years from now?" Most likely, no. So stop stressing it, baby! Let it be.
Realize this moment is all you have
I value planning for the future. I believe in working towards our goals to become the best versions of ourselves. But, I also have a deep understanding that this moment, right now, is the best it will ever get.
When you're planning for the future, keep in mind that nothing you accomplish or get done in the future is going to make you capable of feeling more joy than you do in this moment. Happiness is based on your thinking, not on your accomplishments.
Planning is a great tool to help us stay focused and work towards our goals, but that's what it is...a tool. Planning is a part of your life, not your reason for existence. We are not here on this planet to simply get things done. We are here to feel and experience love and connection with ourselves, each other, and the universe.