It’s 2023. You’ve planned what you want to do, you bought your planner, you’ve done your pre-planning, and now you’re trying a new approach for the new year. You have a new schedule you’ve decided is healthier and will bring you closer to your goals. And, if you’re like most people out there, your New Year’s Resolutions may have already gone out the window. Your new schedule included.
What went wrong?
I had this happen to me last week, I was going just swimmingly and then, I had a bought of fatigue I couldn’t shake. When I sat down and evaluated my failings and my successes; I found I hadn’t properly planned for things like work breaks or days when I was fatigued. I hadn’t even really planned any fun for myself.
Note to self: all work and no play means you burn out before the week is up.
So, what do you do when your schedule isn’t working?
Working from Home vs Working at an Office
Now, I am 100% remote work. I like my Zoom meetings, my flexible schedule, and my home office enough to not want to trade that in for a 9-to-5 office job ever again if I can help it. But what comes with that is the added responsibility of how to spend my time wisely.
So, I mostly geared the advice below towards those of you who are also working independently of a 9 to 5 office job. But, if you like the cubicle and going into an office every day, this is still good for you for those hours when you aren’t at your desk.
Because those hours can very easily slip away in front of Britbox and make you feel all the more trapped. Not that Britbox and Netflix aren’t good coping mechanisms when you really are that exhausted. We’ve all been there, had those snacks, and completed entire seasons of Midsummer Murders in one sitting.
As always, comment, email, or follow me on social media if you want to connect or share your own discoveries about how to manage your personal schedule!
Reason #1 You Don’t Allow Time for Being Human.
Whether being human to you means going to the bathroom, taking time to eat a proper lunch, or simply allowing yourself time to heal when you’re sick, your schedule shouldn’t be so rigid that you cannot take the time you need to recover, heal, and get back on your feet both literally and figuratively.
You are not a robotic machine. You are flesh and blood with biological needs.
Those biological needs will catch up with you eventually, and the fallout is rarely good. It can affect everything from your financial security to your career, your business, and your physical health. Yes, I’m talking about burnout.
Burnout is a biological reaction to you not providing for your humanity. Whether that’s leaving emotional and mental problems on the back burner, running yourself into the ground constantly, or simply hanging on to a situation that doesn’t do you any favors, you are ignoring your humanity for something which probably isn’t worth it in the long run.
Most especially, burnout happens when you don’t see an end in sight and you have either no goals to speak of or no connection to the goals you’re supposedly working towards.
Human beings aren’t meant for hamster wheels. We’re meant for something more.
How to allow yourself your humanity.
You need to know your own triggers and biological cycles and plan accordingly. Plan for time to regulate your system if you become overstimulated, or what you need to have on hand if you feel sick. Don’t over-plan weeks where you know your body is going to be more fatigued than usual (ladies, this one is specifically for you!), and even keep some of your PTO in reserve.
For all the ladies out there, start working with your monthly cycles instead of against them as much as you can. Trust me on this one. You’ll feel a little less like a crazy woman and a little more in control of your life when you do.
If you still have a 9 to 5 job or an at-home life that doesn’t allow you a lot of freedom, work with what you have and find a way whether that’s disappearing into the bathroom for a little while, or keeping a favorite tea on hand. Maybe even allow yourself the luxury of going to bed early that night, if you are able. Of course, if you’re single or child-free, that’s a lot easier. But even if you have a brood, it’s probably a good idea to set a couple of boundaries with your own children.
Yes, that has its own challenges. But speaking as a child who had at least one parent who seriously needed a break and refused to take one, your children will thank you when they are older for taking care of yourself. You will not raise perfectly functioning adults no matter what you do, but you can at least model what needs to be done when you need to take a step back.
Take it from someone who did not have that behavior modeled for them. It’s been a much longer and harder road than it could have been.
Treating yourself like a human begins with you. Not with your school board, your boss, your family, or your religious associations. By the way, if your religion isn’t teaching you that having human needs is normal, then you are in the wrong religion.
Or listening to the wrong teachers.
Reason #2 You are treating your schedule like a religion.
If you do x, y, and z, then you will be successful and will enter the kingdom of Insta-heaven. You will look like that hot mom who has her life together, that multi-millionaire business coach on Instagram, or that chic boho solopreneur who produces effortless reals and TikToks every day.
That’s not how real life works. It seems like it works that way, but it doesn’t. Life doesn’t run on a set schedule, no matter how much the corporate business world, the retail environment, or the public school system claims it does. Human beings are not machines and the toxic middle managers, CEOs, and local school boards need to remember that and actually put their money where their mouth is or “quiet quitting,” “ruthless compliance,” and more will start being the norm and not the exception.
There’s a reason remote work and homeschooling (or un-schooling) are so popular, and it isn’t because of the slackers or religious nutcases out there. It’s those of us who have awakened to the reality that we are human beings with thoughts, feelings, and lives of our own and that we don’t need whatever it is they are selling.
In fact, it’s what they’ve been selling us for decades that has made us sick, tired, and burnt out. Why put yourself through that? Does it actually achieve anything in the end?
You’re going to die every bit as much as you were before, only perhaps sooner and more unhappy than you would have had you sought a different route.
How to stop worshipping your schedule.
Your schedule is a tool, not a god. The salvation of your immortal soul doesn’t depend on you doing everything in a set order every day at a specific time. Stop treating your schedule like it’s a deity. It’s not. Your schedule should be there to give a guideline for how to move through your day.
So, work on changing your mindset. Keep whatever you absolutely must do. Things like school runs, work hours, etc. After that, spend a week and allow yourself the time and the space to visualize what you want your days to look and feel like. Remember how I said you needed to plan your planning? This is part of it.
It doesn’t mean that you can’t be successful if being part of the 5 am club isn’t workable because you’re up all night with a baby or insomnia. It doesn’t mean that if you miss your daily meditation at 5:30 AM that you can’t do it, say at 8:30 AM or later that day.
Allow things to happen for just one week. Find a new routine somewhere in there that helps you or centers you. I recently started doing this same practice. I always allow myself about 15-30 minutes each morning to plan, meditate, and visualize my day. Trust me. It helps!
When those 15-30 minutes occur is flexible, but it must happen before my day can officially begin. I am so much more focused throughout the day and I get a lot more done.
Reason #3 You are buying into someone else’s formula for success.
You’ve seen them on Instagram—the business coaches that have the fancy condos in Miami or LA and talk about how you need to get less sleep and hustle more to make your millions. Wake up extra early, give up alcohol, start going to the gym, and the list goes on.
Some of these influencers also tell you to outsource basic tasks like food prep, driving, grocery shopping, etc. That is great advice if none of those things do anything for you except leach time from you. And the principle behind it is solid: buy back your time because it is your most valuable resource.
Now, I don’t doubt all of this is good advice and yes, it can play a role in your success if you are using any of those things as a crutch. But, it’s not good advice all the time for everyone.
For instance, meal prep is, for me, a time to self-soothe. So is driving. So is grocery shopping. Those are basic, everyday tasks where, if I just outsource them, I don’t do better. I don’t get more time back; I lose more time overall. Why? Because I’m doing something constructive and getting a mental break at the same time.
Household tasks do have an important place in your routine if you get something positive out of them. Are you stuck writing that next article? Spend a moment cleaning and see if you feel better. Do you? Well, that’s a task you can’t outsource.
Is cooking therapeutic for you? Well, don’t outsource it then. Or, only outsource it part of the time.
There are days when I’ll just order everything off Amazon or order grocery delivery. If going out serves no purpose that day than a lot of hassle, then why wouldn’t you? But I try not to make it a regular habit.
Good advice is always good, but it’s not always timely. So, make sure you really evaluate good advice before applying it and make sure it not only works with the way you work but also with your ultimate goals.
How to take good advice without being enslaved by it.
Let’s start with the obvious. Meal prep. Does paying someone to come meal prep for you make sense? Well, do you actually like being in the kitchen all the time? Or at all?
If not, then buy back that time.
If yes, but you desperately need that time for other things, then buy back that time partially. Use meal prep for the weekdays, and on the weekends, you fend for yourself.
Now, use that same method for every single piece of advice you see out there. You’ll quickly find out what you need to apply now, and what you perhaps need to apply later on. If at all.
What you are ultimately doing is using the principle behind the advice. The principle is about buying back your time. So, what can you sacrifice and what can’t you sacrifice? The answer isn’t always getting up before dawn and working until after dusk. Or letting someone else into your kitchen space.
What you’ll find is that the advice you’re being marketed is freeing—not a pass/fail test for how you’re building your business or your life.
Never pass judgment, but make observations.
One of the best parts about making time for inner work in your schedule is the idea that you are merely observing yourself, not passing judgment on what you are or are not doing correctly.
When you observe yourself, you are simply noticing what you do or don’t do in the moment. What you do with those observations is visualize how you can use that to your best advantage.
It’s part of becoming self-aware and learning what makes you tick as a person. Not about comparing yourself unfairly to whatever your company, peer group, or blog post (including this one) says you should be doing.
If I sound like I have it all together, trust me. I don’t. When I give you advice, I’m also giving myself the same advice, usually, because I’ve just found out that I’ve miscalculated what I can physically manage and it’s just backfired.
Your time is valuable, but so are you. Make sure you give both the due care they deserve!
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