The weather is finally turning here in New York and a few days ago I’d noticed it while I was waiting at the bus stop. Considering I’d been tracking the bus for the last 20 min, I was slightly perturbed at how many I’d managed to miss. The breeze was warm, but settling, it felt so good blowing through my hair until I realized that wind really shouldn’t blow through the hair on your legs. I shook my head as I boarded the bus, silently admonishing myself for failing to shave my legs over the weekend. Two whole days off and I couldn’t find the time to shave my legs! With all that time I could have plucked each hair out one by one, and further if I didn’t shave my legs, exactly what the hell had I done all weekend. Not much, judging by the two planners, book, two magazines, and notebook that I was schlepping on my already grueling commute to try to be productive in stolen moments at work.
Rewind a few years back and I can remember having that same sense of defeat and frustration with myself a few months into the school year. My middle school planner had been the source of so much joy and disappointment from the moment my home room teacher handed them out in class. I’d hastily fill in my schedule and every class assignment for the first few months until my hand began to cramp, marking the good enough point in its completion. If there were stickers I’d adorn each page artistically with the correct sticker to inspire study hours, after school activities and holidays and sadly that would be the extent of its use. I’d had such high hopes for it being the catalyst for my academic success that when I found myself scrambling for answers on test or rushing to finish projects the night before, all I could do was ask myself why I hadn’t completed this earlier!
Needless to say, this has been an ongoing issue for me. I’d like to call myself an organized person, but so much of me is a duality that to stick with a routine seems like such a large feat that it sends me running to the opposite side of the spectrum, basking in the unknown, and flying by the seat of my pants only to land when I’ve noticed how much time has gone by and how much weight I still haven’t lost. I try not to beat myself up, I can’t do everything at once, yet… everything must get done. Square one.
Enter my 32nd year, in t-minus and probably my 30,000 attempt at mastering a system of order and organization. The planner has never really been my issue. I’m great at planning, its the execution of a plan or routine that I’ve verbally abused myself about for years. I’m currently happy with my passion planner
as well as my personal calendar, and have more recently purchased what can be likened to a dated journal. The planning… so easy, the executing… my big opportunity.
Why force it, you may ask, let life be lived. Well, there is something to be said in freeing yourself of focusing on mundane task. Laundry, personal care, working out.. all things that have to occur regardless of what week you’re in, but by putting them on a routine, sort of- autopilot completion, you can free yourself up for greater creativity, greater focus, and in turn greater traction on a bigger goal. Interested? How many evenings have we squandered saying….”I’ll grocery shop tonight after work”, which then lingers on the list every day for the rest of the week because…life, and in turn causing you to eat out every day for a week and a half, snowballing into poor management of your finances and further, more self-inflicted verbal abuse.
How do people do it? We all have the one friend that’s always prepared, umbrella…bam, never late, your birthday…gift /card/call at 12:01 bam! How Sway? How?
Harper’s Bazaar featured a day in the life of Rick Owens
and when I read it a few years back I was amazed at his commitment to his craft. You have to admire that even a fashion designer has to sacrifice their admiration for the art in order to contribute to it. The same black t-shirt, shoes and pants scares a girl like me, but at a broader level, taking the time to review your schedule and the weather for the week and deciding what to wear on Sunday will certainly save you the angst of walking into work in your “let’s get this shit over with” ensemble, to only then remember the lunch meeting you have with your boss. Crisis, no, annoying yes, especially after you’ve forgotten your nephews birthday, that book for your co-worker, and why is today’s date sticking out in your head…is there something you were supposed to do? Ah…your credit card bill , you realize at 12:45 am. Life score of 1, you score of NONE. Small things pile up and next thing you know you’re starting to feel the breeze in your leg hairs!
Ok, so all fine and good for chores and simple things, but what if you’re a Tasmanian devil butterfly like myself. One week its food, the next it’s fashion, on Sunday’s when I’m laying in bed eating, it’s food as fashion. How, and why should I strike balance in my focus, while honoring my fleeting interest. I will eventually return to the kitchen to explore whatever new seasoning, or amazing tool, but for me the spice of life has always lied in the freedom of its variety.
While this personality trait of mine only encouraged me to deny a routine, I decided I’d allow a more flexible goal/ purpose driven version of a routine.
1. Get up earlier, way earlier. As my co-worker put it, it’s an amazing feeling when you wake up and you realize you have time to do other things beside get ready for work, can we say AM workout! Not only are you actually gonna wake yourself up and get your blood flowing, but you’ll also get the single most annoying thing that most everyone will name as a major goal for them selves out of the way, way early in the day.
2. Productivity begets productivity. Getting one extra thing done in the morning has worked wonders for getting anything done in the evenings. As I’ve mentioned planning is my forte, but getting things checked off the list is a whole other level of satisfaction. Ever find a list from the past that has the same shit on it from a list you made yesterday that you were planning on getting done this weekend? Pick one and get er’ done, I’m shocked continually how that turns into 2 or 3 checks!
3. Auto-pilot the fuck out of your chores. Hair, nails, and yes SHAVING all happen on Saturday morning for me. One super long bathroom soire’e saves me from being Hairy Sally and ensures I can make any fashion decisions based on things beyond whether or not I can freely raise my arms.
4. Rewards! I got the chance to goal set with my best good friend Candace for Q2 and an amazing level she added was including rewards for taking action. Considering I’m the type that’s going to treat myself regardless, I’ve found it extremely beneficial to tie some of my typical rewards to some smaller, easy, yet easily neglected task, and incorporate larger rewards and incentives for bigger achievements. Oh you mean I can finally buy myself the Peter Thomas Roth Mask-A-Holic
5. Circle Back. For the umpteenth time, planning is easy for me and for most people a list is easy as well. Remind yourself of all the amazing plans you have for the day, the month and the year by reading it over daily. The Insta models will still be there selling tea, your friend is gonna tag you in the meme later in the day, and you’ll soon realize it can definitely wait until your boss has gone to lunch.
A month in, I’ll admit to still having a few moments of both disappointment but also moments of heightened creativity. Am I always at the right place at the right time in my routine…of course not, but I have been able to respect time in a much better way with a broader focus than just the here and now. I have far less burning priorities, and I find my back less against the wall and more catching the breeze. So another day, another hour, another minute, another win. Each task, one by one, and one day, all of them checked off.