Following a Schedule

GrettaMay 16, 2020


Let's back up. As a school Occupational Therapist I had summers off. I’d go into each summer thinking, ok, this one will be different. I’ll be really productive and get so much done. I tried different strategies but none of them worked. The deeper I got into each summer break, the worse I felt. When it was time to go back to school I felt so much relief. Ok, well at least I don’t have to feel like crap about not doing more everyday. I have my structure and routine back. And then the regret would kick in. Four summers in a row. And, four summers in a row I’d look at all of the time that I had and how I wasn’t any closer to reaching my goals. I didn’t get it. I am an organized person! I thrived on structure and routine during the school year, why couldn’t I create that for myself? I told myself that I couldn’t. That I’m just someone who needs that external structure. That was terrible news for someone who wanted to work for herself and create a business.

Enter the pandemic. After I got through the initial shock of it all, I decided that maybe I could be a person who creates structure for herself. Through trial and error of following a schedule,  what became clear to me was my biggest barrier to following my schedule was using my phone. I was spending hours upon hours on Instagram, Twitter and reading the news. Spending that much time on my phone made it so much harder to peel myself away to follow my schedule and do what I said I'd do. I’d miss the time I was supposed to start something and I’d head down a shame spiral. “You’ll never be able to do this. You messed up. Again. Why can’t I do this? Ugh, I don't want to do that, it's too hard. I'll just do it later. It doesn't matter anyway. Who cares.” During that time, I felt really frustrated with myself and I didn't understand why I couldn't follow a simple schedule. I mean, what else did I have going on? It's not like I can leave the house!

While I was doing some reading for my life coaching program, I learned about a technique that was designed for people who overdrink and I decided to apply it to my phone use. Holy cow it worked. And worked IMMEDIATELY. I noticed that within 2 days of following my plan, a black, heavy cloud that I didn’t even know was there, lifted. I felt light, my mind was clear and I had more energy and excitement than I had had in many, many years. I was waking up hours earlier, with ease, without an alarm. Going to be earlier without stress. Sleeping better. And, followed a schedule with {almost} no mind drama. By mind drama I mean the back and forth in my brain of whether or not to do the thing my schedule is telling me to do. The ONLY time I had trouble following my schedule is when I went off plan with my phone use. The ONLY time. It took me a few weeks to make that connection fully but when I did, things started getting really fun and a heck of a lot easier. It also led to me more clearly seeing the roadblocks to where I wanted to be - a full time life coach. So I took action on clearing those too, by investing in a program on selling and in a 1:1 life coach. All within a span of 1 week.

Now to some more unexpected benefits. I am working out consistently - 6x per week. I am eating a lot healthier AND not eating out of boredom or stress. I am making progress in building my business. My house is clean, every single day. I'm reading for at least 30 minutes a day, and usually for longer than that - between an hour and an hour and a half.

So, how did I do all of this? Planning. I plan out any time I want to spend on my phone, 24 hours in advance. I can plan out as much or as little as I want. I schedule what I will look at (Instagram, News, Twitter, Facebook, etc.), when I will look at it and for how long. I schedule it in my Google Calendar, along with everything else I want to accomplish the next day and I stick to it. I don't hide my phone in another room, in fact, it's next to me for most of the day. I use it to check my schedule and that's it. If I'm having a really strong urge to look at social media - I just tell myself, I'll be able to see whatever I'm looking for at my scheduled time. I use this same technique with my food. I write out exactly what I'm going to eat, 24 hours in advance. It can be anything I want - healthy, unhealthy or something in between and I stick to it. Again, if I have a really strong urge I tell myself I can have whatever it is tomorrow. Sometimes I write it in my plan and other times, by the time I get to writing my meal plan, the urge has passed.

If you're struggling with following a schedule or you want to spend less time on your phone, you're not alone! And there's a way out.

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