Depending on your personality style schedules may help you thrive. As a Type A personality with a bit of perfectionism in my blood, schedules have always been my lifeline. So when summer hit and I set out with the goal of slowing down and improving in mind and body, I realized my schedule would be my greatest challenge and the first thing that I would have to let go of.
I’ve been working on my goal for about a month now and if I’ve learned anything it’s that I was fooling myself. Schedules can help you be more successful, but they can also be exactly what is getting in your way. They become this larger than life obstacle that gives you every excuse to not do the stuff. The stuff of being present in the moment, making time for the important things, being spontaneous, and getting more done. Even worse, America appreciates schedules so you don’t even realize how engrossed you are in the time suck that it has become in your life.
A few clues that your schedule is ruling your life:
- You live by the clock. Every minute, hour, day, and week is accounted for and pre-planned. Your schedule is full of more than just appointments. Every task and project has a space and is time sensitive.
- You’ve got to check the schedule first. It’s like “checking with mom” before confirming plans or starting a task. Nothing gets accomplished before first making sure there is time for it in the schedule.
- It feels good. Whether it feels good to have a schedule to keep you busy (and avoiding other aspects of life) or it feels good to plan ahead (again to avoid the other things you should be doing), the point is that it’s keeping you from what you are truly needing to deal with.
If it feels good then why change it? Not every thing that feels good is actually good for us.
When you live by the clock you lose the ability to stay in the present moment and enjoy the here and now. You become focused on the future and that leads to anxiety.
When you’re worried about checking the schedule first, you lose spontaneity and that leads to a loss of creativity. It doesn’t seem like a big problem, but it can lead to less success at work, less joy in hobbies and personal endeavors, and depression.
When scheduling starts to feel good it’s likely a coping strategy to avoid something else. Maybe your schedule lets you avoid relationships, makes you feel important, or simply keeps you from completing tasks that are causing you stress.
So how can you regain control over your life?
- Limit scheduling to appointments only. Scheduling is necessary for success and accountability, but it shouldn’t be taking over your entire day/week/month.
- Use a mental image for the additional tasks. This requires no time effort so it can’t be used to avoid other things, but it will keep you focused because it was thought of intentionally. It will put you back in charge of your day and give you the freedom to be more spontaneous.
- Get clear on your goals. It’s still important to have goals so you don’t lose sight of what you are wanting to accomplish. Again, a running mental list is all it takes to keep the focus and stay the course.
If you thrive on a schedule, limiting it’s use can cause some mild anxiety initially. Utilizing mental images and reviewing your goals is going to be vital to your success at regaining control.
When you are sensing the urge to spend some time on your schedule, try devoting some of that energy to getting intentional with whatever is really the pressing issue or task.
Stick with it and expect to see a reduction in anxiety and depression, along with an increase in creativity, motivation, and your sense of freedom.
Birds of a feather flock together so if you found this post helpful, it’s likely that you know someone else that would benefit from you sharing it.