The older I get, the more I seem to depend on schedules and lists. It’s not just because I’m becoming forgetful (although earlier this week I completely forgot about a PT appointment). Schedules and lists make sure I get things done. I’ve been self-employed for three decades, and schedules and lists have always been an essential part of staying on track.
When my days were filled with completing jobs for clients and deadlines loomed, a schedule and corresponding to-do list was my salvation. Without these time-management tools, I’d have been lost. They kept me focused on the tasks at hand and assured that I would reach important goals.
Now that I’m spending much of my time blogging and learning online strategies for promoting Don’t Stop Now, planning my days and keeping track of my time is still crucial. My schedule isn’t as tight as it once was, but keeping a calendar brings me satisfaction. Checking items off a list makes me smile. Even though I have a smartphone, I prefer using a planner.
On my calendar, I generally block out three sections of time. For example, I’m a morning person, up by 6:00 a.m. No matter what follows, I begin my day with coffee and a 15-20-minute meditation. On Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, I sit at my desk and spend an hour or so working on a blog post. Then I head to the gym. On Tuesday and Thursday mornings, I break the routine by taking a 7:00 a.m. yoga class and write when I return home. I do most of my important thinking before noon.
Early afternoons I set aside for appointments, bookkeeping, grocery shopping, housekeeping, meetings, and phone calls. Late afternoons and evenings are spent cooking, reading, watching Netflix, or spending time at home or about town with family and friends.
Before bed, I take a few minutes to review my day and plan the next. If a day has been difficult, I often journal about it. Writing my thoughts in a notebook helps me clear my head and make sense of trying situations—the people or circumstances that push my buttons.
Simple as it is, a schedule provides a structure that gives my life meaning. Although I love travel and adventure, my life is mostly about the schedules and lists—the routines—that fill my day. After all, it’s often the smallest things that matter most and bring the most joy.
Perhaps Emily Dickinson said it best, “Find ecstasy in life; the mere sense of living is joy enough.”
Are schedules, lists, and journals a part of your life? What gives your life meaning?