Enough is Enough: Take Control of Your Schedule

Once upon a time…

You had a daily and weekly plan.

You were organized.

You knew what day it was.

You remembered to brush your teeth in the morning before work.

And now…

You’re working a ton—busier than normal.

And you’re constantly getting interrupted by the dog freaking out at the neighbors, your mom calling about toilet paper, or meetings getting scheduled out of the blue at the oddest times.

It feels mushy, sloppy, unsteady.

And it’s driving you crazy.

Remember when your life used to have a routine?

Here are some things that have worked for me, our team, and our clients to get some sanity and a schedule back during these challenging times. I know they’ll help you too!

Take your schedule back

Even though life is drastically different than it was a month ago, many of the tools and principles that worked for you before will work now; they just have to be reapplied to your current situation.

For example, you had a real, live schedule in your calendar before. It allowed you to have boundaries. It told you when you had to wake up, When you had to workout, when you had to work and when you had to stop working. It helped you to be efficient and productive.

Now that you’re working from home, why should it be different?

Whatever you did before to make that schedule successful, do it now, even though the schedule may look drastically different.

The important things are all still important

Stop and think about the areas of life that had rock solid places in your schedule before family time, exercise, coaching sessions, standing social appointments, etc. Those were all valuable to you because of your values. And your values haven’t changed. The most valuable things in your life should still have rock solid places in your schedule. Maybe they’ve needed to be moved or adjusted or transferred to zoom, but they should all still be there.

Take a look at your schedule and make sure the big rocks are still in your life, including the time you need to take care of yourself. The smaller pebbles and sand should fill in around them.

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Saying no

Before the current crisis, you were working hard to maintain those boundaries in your life by saying no to meetings and other engagements that popped up into time slots that you already had something more important blocked in. Saying no on a regular basis has always been an essential part of success, and it still is. In fact, whenever you put something into your schedule, you are preemptively saying no to anything else that may come up during that time. It’s healthy. And it’s necessary for sanity and success.

Like always, you don’t have to (and shouldn’t) be available around the clock for calls, meetings, and emails. But, let’s also be real and admit that during this pandemic communication has become more important than ever. So, make sure there are enough times blocked out in your routine to return any calls, texts, and emails you weren’t able to get to right away.

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When everyone bends, no one breaks

One of the interesting things about this time in our lives is that we have gotten a peak at just how flexible our schedules can be. At some point in the last month or so, we have each seen things that had been immovable parts of our life get rescheduled, cancelled, and indefinitely postponed.

We learned this: nothing is set in stone. Things can move to accommodate bigger priorities. Schedules are flexible.

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But now that you work from home, remember that flexibility isn’t just your responsibility. Your bosses, your team, and the other players in your life will still step up or step down when you ask them to be flexible due to your other commitments, including those you keep with yourself. All you need to do is ask. And of course, while you continue to be true to your values and keep your boundaries in place, be flexible when you can.

Most importantly, intend to be flexible with yourself. Having everything planned out allows you to see where things can be rescheduled to if needed, rather than freak when things don’t go according to the plan.

Like legendary basketball coach John Wooden said: “Flexibility is the key to stability.”

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If life under the current restrictions has felt up in the air, giving some attention to your weekly schedule is just what you need.

Self-coaching exercise

I want you to have a tool that has served me well for years, one that I have shared with clients as well as team members. It’s an incredibly simple weekly planning template that you can print off and use to block out your daily activities and regularly occurring meetings. You can get it HERE. Print it off and then work through the self-coaching questions with the template.

First, write out your answers to these questions:

Why is giving attention to your weekly schedule so important to you right now?

If your schedule was well organized and you had everything important blocked neatly into its own place, what would change for you? What would become possible for you? How would this impact your most important values?

Now, with the template in front of you…

  1. Start by blocking out all of the time that you would ideally be spending to take care of yourself. Include time for sleep, exercise, reflection, nature, meals and food prep, reading/study/learning. Add in anything you need to have in your life on a regular basis that helps you to show up as the best possible version of yourself. The things you block out in this step should be the nonnegotiable, immovable rocks in your life.

  2. Block out all the time you need to connect with the people that are most important in your life. Include time for family, friends, and meetings with bosses and coworkers.

  3. Block out time for other work and assignments that you must do each week. Include things that would normally get done at the office like reports, payroll, administrative tasks, and time to respond to communication from others. Add in any additional blocks of time that you know you need to “be at work,” available to your coworkers and customers.

  4. Block out time for the cleaning and housework, like dishes and laundry.

  5. Add in any additional commitments that you have each week.

Take a look at your completed weekly plan. What do you notice? What new insights become available to you now that you’ve put this plan together?

As you wrap this session up, how often would it be best to review how effective your weekly plan has been? When would it be best to schedule that review?

And finally, what might be the best way that you can commit to following through on this plan?

Don’t forget that as you get to work now to take control of your schedule, you’re developing resilience, which well serve you long after this version of your weekly schedule has been replaced.

You got this.

👊

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