This morning I took my early morning coffee out onto the patio and savored the cool air, steam rising from my mug doing its swirling dance with the light breeze.
The pollinators were busy amongst the abundant squash flowers in the garden. I found myself mesmerized by their efficiency and inspired to tackle my day with the same level of tenacity. I began to plan my day.
I used to try and plan out every minute of the day. I loved the checklist style of a Day-timer that allowed me to fill every 15 minute slot if I wanted. I definitely get a dopamine hit every time I check something off my list. I wanted every minute to be a productive one, this set me up for failure most days by not allowing adequate time to complete various things on the list. These failures were discouraging and often led to abandonment of the system and then a sudden, “I can do it this time” mentality. Back in the day I thought bragging about being exhausted and busy was a badge of honor. Ugh.
What I’ve learned is, while I definitely love the dopamine hit of checking off tasks and feeling accomplished, this doesn’t really work for me to be happy and fulfilled in my life. I need space. And by space I mean swaths of time where I have the freedom to think, explore, muse and imagine. I need loose boundaries and timeframes to allow for inspired thought.
Nowadays my schedule looks more like a meeting list and then one or two things that are critical to accomplish on that day. These may be deliverables owed to others or critical strategy items that need further research. Once I accomplish those things, I have a list of ideas and dreams. The open space is where I go deep on a topic or an idea to see if it has legs and can be further developed.
I’ve also started a new practice of not taking my laptop home unless I absolutely must. With work less likely to encroach on my family time, I’m finding myself less pressured in the evenings and feeling free to enjoy the nightly banter of our family. I’m also recapturing time to exercise, which has been something I’ve struggled to maintain throughout the pandemic.
While my way of planning and managing my time may not work for you, my hope is you will be inspired to look at how you are spending your time, your most precious gift, and be sure it aligns with what makes you feel more fulfilled. We get one allotment of time in our lifetime—how will you reclaim it?