Cookie-cutter systems don’t work for most of us, but you can still follow some guidelines as you plan your week.
Because everyone is different and has different circumstances, we all need personalized solutions to our time and task management. We shouldn’t expect every cookie-cutter system to work for us.
There are some general guidelines that you can lean on, as you create a schedule or daily rhythms and routines that you enjoy within those guidelines.
R — what’s realistic and right for you is sustainable
We tend to overestimate (or underestimate) what we can do in a day. Taking some time to map out what your weekly schedule looks like will help you see how much time you have available to you — and plan accordingly.
My weekly task list template has five checkbox slots per day. Two for more important tasks that I can knock off when I have energy and focus in the morning, two for less important things that I can usually get done in the afternoon even if I’m not that focused or energetic, and one slot for self-care at the top. If I know from experience that a task will take longer, I don’t fill up all the slots.
Sometimes I finish early, sometimes I can’t get them all done that day — but they tend to work out on average.
Right for you
We spend so much time comparing ourselves to others and thinking that we gotta do all the things everyone else is doing. But if we do what everyone else does, we gather a lot of stuff to do that cannot fit just one person's life.
We’ve grown up in this society where there are many expectations that we’re supposed to meet and shoulds we’re supposed to do — or at least we perceive that we’re supposed to meet these expectations and should do the things. It’s easy to lose touch with what would actually feel right and good for us and what’s realistic considering our limits, resources, and capacity.
But I promise you can figure it out, and I think we are all capable of more than we give ourselves credit for. Heck, I actually think we aren’t giving ourselves enough credit for what we’re doing already.
U — understand what’s behind how you feel and act
Many coaches are talking about mindset blocks, limiting beliefs, and self-sabotage — but they don’t mention that those things aren’t just about you, the core you, somehow failing on purpose or choosing these negative thoughts.
They are actually the result of your nervous system, your brain trying to protect you from stress based on experiences you’ve acquired so far in your life.
Understanding why you feel a certain way allows you to be gentler with yourself when things don’t go as you’d like them to, enabling you to be more flexible.
How you feel is a symptom — not the problem. When you find the problem, you can course-correct and get closer to what feels right for you.
L — look for opportunities for changes
When we think that there’s no other way, that things have to be a certain way, that we have to be (or that we are) a certain way — it gets practically impossible for your brain to notice the opportunities that are right in front of you.
But if you remember to stay open, remember to not think in absolutes — and switch up your language to be more hopeful, that can change how your mind interprets your environment and opportunities.
If you catch yourself saying, “I never have time for self-care,” you can shift it to “I will look out for pockets of time when I might have time for self-care today.”
I generally advise my coaching clients that small shifts are good opportunities for change, because they’re easier to fit into our lives and easier to stick to. But Dr. Kyra Bobinet has found that what’s most important for sticking to new habits and routines isn’t as tied to how small or big the change is, but the fact that you keep a mindset that it’s ok to iterate on those things.
This brings me to the next letter –
E — take it all as an experiment
Leave self-judgment at the door and stay curious about when things don’t go according to plan. Ask yourself;
What can I learn from this?
What are my feelings telling me?
Like an experimenter, allow yourself to keep tweaking and adjusting based on what you experience — and to iterate again when something that used to work isn’t working anymore.
S — schedule your priorities
We tend to schedule our commitments and responsibilities that have to do with other people. At the same time, we leave self-care and personal projects, activities, and tasks to be done in the margins of everything else. This often leads to not getting to those things because there never seems to be enough time between our other responsibilities.
Always schedule some of your priorities into your week before scheduling everything else.
R — what’s realistic and right for you is best
U —have an understanding of how you act and feel
L — look for opportunities
E — allow yourself to experiment
S — schedule your priorities
That’s it — that’s how you can follow certain guidelines to create a schedule (and life?) you enjoy, without it feeling that you’re following rigid rules.
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