Thursday, April 23, 2009

What it Feels Like NOT to be Overbooked

This morning, I was ready for work 15 minutes early. This NEVER happens. I had NO IDEA what to do with myself. So I sat down and tried to figure out what was up. I hadn't rushed more than normal, if anything I was moving slowly. I had slept later than usual. I hadn't forgotten to do anything... so how did this happen?

I had planned ahead, and did a really good job of it.

The backstory:

Looking at my calendar on Sunday, I saw the following on my list for the week:
-prep for and teach a massage class
-do interviews and write a magazine article
-go to two dress rehearsals and perform in three concerts
-host a dinner party

and in addition, somehow still get my actual work done at work, make it to the gym, prepare and eat healthy meals, and get plenty of sleep so my voice didn't suffer.

I knew that there was no way I could "wing it" the way I usually do and make all of this happen, not without sacrificing the sleep. I'm trying to be more proactive about eating right, sticking to my exercise routine, Ascending more, and sleeping enough, and I knew if I was going to pull it all off without a stress freak-out midweek I'd have to do something I haven't done in years: schedule it all out.

So I sat down and planned out, in 15-minute increments, my entire week. This included blocking out travel time, (which I almost never account for) when I was going to cook, shower, etc. I made sure I had adequate time for everything.

It worked beautifully. My week has hummed along easily, and I've never had to be in a rush. I've gotten everything done.

It feels really, really odd. I still rush. I keep finding myself getting home and racing around, even though I have plenty of time. I have to stop and remind myself to slow down, I have to remember that there's plenty of time. I don't need to be stressed or pushing myself. Everything will happen in the time it is supposed to. But part of me keeps saying "don't we have somewhere to be? Are you sure you're not late for something?"

Whoa. Why does part of me want to be stressed out and running around like crazy? Because that's what I'm used to.

By changing up the way we do something, whether trying it a new way or just stepping back from it altogether, we can gain perspective on what we consider "normal." Sometimes we don't even realize that we're doing something in a less effective or even self-destructive way, and it takes changing things up to see that.

Look for more stories next week on this topic.


Your Ill-fitting Overcoat said...

This is amazing!

I'm curious how you got so good at estimating time though. I think that's the hardest part for most people. I budget two hours for something and it really takes three. I budget an hour for something else and it really takes fifteen minutes. Things come up. Obstacles arise. Life gets in the way. Halfway through the first day of my schedule, I'm already off the plan.

On a similar note, I often don't know exactly what something is going to involve, so I'm not sure where to start, or how much time to budget.

Did you struggle with these issues at all? How did you avoid them, or deal with them when they came up?

That's a great insight about rushing around when we don't need to and being addicted to-- or at least used to-- that sense of urgency.

Nicole said...

Thanks for the comments, Laurie!

The estimating was fairly easy because most of the stuff on my schedule either had a set time (i.e. be at rehearsal by 6) or was something where I could control the time (i.e. I'm going to go the gym until 5) I figured a lot of things out by working backward, and adding an extra 15 minutes to whatever I thought I needed for cooking, driving, and getting dressed. Adding the extra time was a big part of it.

I guess most of my tasks were pretty specific time-wise, or they're things I do often enough that I know how long I'll need to do them. For example, I know that I need about 4 hours to write an article. So I budgeted 5. :)

I was lucky that things didn't come up much over the week. And if they did, at least I had some extra time budgeted here and there, so hopefully I could've dealt with it.