I had a moment last week. One of those moments when I felt overwhelmed by all I had to do. For a second I wondered how I got back to that point. The place I swore I would never be again. But then I realised that while I was busy, I wasn’t actually in a place of overwhelm. I just didn’t feel organised. And when I don’t feel organised my life feels cluttered. And when my life feels cluttered so does my mind. So to get myself back to a place of feeling calm, I knew I needed to sit down and sort out my schedule.
I’ve read a lot of blog posts over the last couple of years about how to create an intentional week. Most of these are written by online business owners, for online business owners. They are often filled with words like ‘flow’ and ‘ease’. They talk about time in the day for self-care. For having time with reconnecting with one’s soul. I don’t know about you but I just need to find the time in my day to get shit done without feeling overwhelmed. So I thought I’d share how I go about scheduling my week in case it helps one of you reading this. And I promise there’s no journaling involved. Because who has time for that!
Over the last few months I have taken more on than I had been planning to this year. I started this year off only doing my part-time Physiotherapy work. I then started working for Creative Countryside as their Stories Editor. Recently I added in an extra four hours a week with Physiotas. Helping them run their social media marketing and blog. On top of that I'm still doing my own creative work. Including writing this blog and sending out a weekly newsletter. It’s all work I enjoy and it’s leading me in a direction I want to go. And it has been an intentional choice. But I hadn’t taken the time to work everything into my schedule in an organised way. So last weekend I set aside time to get my head around it all.
I started by doing a brain dump. I got out my notepad and wrote down everything I needed to get done in a week. I divided it into sections. On one piece of paper I wrote out everything for my work with Creative Countryside. Another was my list for Physiotas. And then a list for my own creative work and projects.
I then opened up Google calendar and got to work. The first thing I did was block out the time for things that weren’t flexible. This only included my Physiotherapy work where my hours are set. The next thing I put in the calendar were daily activities that needed to be done. I blocked out time for walking the dogs. As well as for cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping and running errands. It helped me see how much time there was left over for other projects. On most days there was none!
For example, I only work four hours on a Wednesday morning but then do the grocery shopping on my way home. So if I take into account two hours of travel time, and time spent unpacking the groceries, it’s a total of about 7 hours. I then added in an extra chunk of time for walking the dogs, preparing lunches and cooking dinner. By the time I had done that I realised there isn’t a lot of time left over for anything else. Even though it's a short work day.
By doing this exercise I realised that during the four days I work as a Physiotherapist I can’t fit anything else in. Apart from 20 minutes a day for the social media work I do for Physiotas. While I initially had an OMG moment, it actually made me feel less overwhelmed once reality set in. Because there is no more time on those days for anything else, I’m not going to try and fit anything else in. Which decreases the mind clutter of thinking I have to.
It has also reinforced that Fridays need to be my sacred day. And that I need to keep strong boundaries around it. To start I thought there was no way I could fit everything else into this single day. But by creating a separate schedule I realised it was possible. As long as I stayed focused.
That is the key. Staying focused and on task. As my friend Carol likes to say, it’s all about chipping away. This saying keeps me going on a daily basis. A simple reminder to keep putting one foot in front of the other and keep doing the work.
And best of all I realised I could do the majority of what I need to without eating into my weekend. I do often write my blog post on a Sunday afternoon. But it’s usually at a time when my fiancé is outside doing whatever creative project he’s got on the go. He’s doing his thing and I’m doing mine. So it works. But if it doesn’t get written on the weekend … then I chip away at it during the week.
While some may find schedules boring and constricting, I find them freeing. If I know what needs to be done each day, then I don’t have to think about it. It all just gets done. It’s one of the best ways I know to live with a mind less cluttered.
As you know I’m a huge fan of being organised. So if you have any other great tips for creating an intentional week I’d love for you to share them in the comments below.