4 days: 30 minutes at a time

Making a plan for every 30 minutes of your waking life (as discussed here on Monday) is easy.  It turns out making reality look anything like that plan is tricky.  Go figure.   Now, I’m not looking to turn our lives into some perfect utopian thing where every moment we are perfectly engaged and we are doing exactly what we planned. The goal was/is just to do more of the things we want to do and get some stuff off the master project list we made up for the month.

Some bits of time have gone perfectly – like I planned to eat dinner each night and we totally have!  Also my morning schedule has been spot on.  I know exactly what I’m doing with my life between 6:30 and somewhere between 10 and 11am each day. After that it gets a little dicey.  A few things were completely missed – like I forgot to include the time I spend getting my kiddo into bed each night.  She’s too old to call it bedtime, but it’s still a known chunk of time I spend with her at the end of her day and I totally didn’t put it on my schedule.

Oh, and there was that bit of time on Tuesday where I think I might have just zoned out and stared at the wall for 30 minutes because I have no idea what I did between 7:30 and 8pm but it must have been something close to nothing.

But, as the fourth day of this four week plan comes to a close I would say it has been good thus far.  It felt a little magical to cross off two of the things on our project list, and I’m in the middle of three more.  Hubby and I have both worked out every day, the house is clean, and here am I am (as scheduled) writing this for ya’ll with no mental drama because this is what I’m supposed to be doing.

I printed out my ‘schedule’ for the week and stuck it to the blackboard in my kitchen and I actually reference it all the dang time.  Spending the time in advance to plan the week to this level has meant that I don’t have to constantly be evaluating what I should be doing next.  That has freed up a surprising amount of mental load* in a way no to-do list ever did for me.

And perhaps the very best part is when the time I’m supposed to be working on something ends (or my schedule gets turned upside down) I’m not freaking out because I know more time to work more on whatever has already been scheduled.  That turns out to be a really powerful feeling.

As we head towards the weekend I feel good, and reasonably certain that this weekend won’t be one of the ones where Sunday night we all look at each other wondering where the last two days went and why we didn’t get anything done.  Fingers crossed!

Alison

*Bonus:  Mental load is a concept I’ve been pondering since a friend shared this cartoon with me.  I’m not so into the He vs. She part of it at the moment, but I definitely buy into the “planning and organizing things is already a full time job” and the definition that stuck in my head: “Mental load means always having to remember”

Time and Potential

My life is full of potential.  My house is proof of it.  There is potential absolutely everywhere.  Clothes I could potentially wear, cookbooks filled with recipes I could potentially cook, chairs on which I could potentially sit – but never do.  A look just around my office/craft/laundry room shows off so much potential it almost makes me feel ill.  There is fabric I could potentially sew into amazing things, textbooks for that foreign language I could potentially learn, stacks of keepsakes I could potentially turn into something meaningful.

My digital life is no better.  I have e-books I could potentially read, useful websites with so much potential I had to bookmark them for later, software I could potentially master, photos I could potentially sort and share, but never quite get to actually doing it.  My phone is filled with contacts I could potentially call, and notes I’ve taken so I don’t forget random things that clearly have great potential.  And let’s not even talk about my Pinterest page.  No facet of my life is free from tremendous potential.  And I’m a little sick of looking at it and a lot tired of dusting it.  All that potential and no energy.

I’ve got a soap making kit, I could potentially make a batch for a clean start.  I could ditch it all. I could rearrange it all so at least I felt like I accomplished something.  I could keep having a daily stare down with it or accept potential as part of my existence.  I could even write a captivating conclusion to this post.  Potentially.

Hubby was feeling the same potential  when he wanted to be feeling progress (specifically about our house).  But then he had the big idea for us to schedule out the next four weeks in 30 minute increments to make time for all the house projects we need to get to.  Yeah you read that right. He wanted every 30 minutes for the next four weeks to have a plan.  It’s potentially a little crazy and potentially a little brilliant.

How we did it:

  • We set an overall goal. If you don’t have a specific time related thing you want to accomplish, this isn’t going to be super useful. For us it was dedicating time to finish all the lingering projects around the house.
  • We set a time period. I’m a big believer that you can do anything for a month, so we picked 4 weeks and decided to start on a Monday.
  • I popped into excel and made a handy dandy one week template for each of us that has a little block for every 30 minutes of the times we’re typically awake. We put in ideal getting up and going to bed times so we’d know what we had to work with.
  • First we put in all the mandatory stuff – expected work hours, carpools, theater tickets that are already bought, doctors’ appointments, etc.
  • Then we put in spots for meals and blocked times for washing up and chores like cleaning the house, paying the bills, buying groceries and other regular things that keep us and the house going.  Next we put in the things we do (or want to do) each week for health such as workouts at home, and classes and fitness activities outside the house.  We also each got a few hours blocked each week for our respective hobbies.
  • We wanted to make it realistic, so we also made sure there was some social fun time each day of the weekend. Basically everything that was still blank we scheduled working on the house projects.

A Few Other Notes: 

This crazy/brilliant schedule could easily go off the rails if it were made too specific, so we stayed intentionally vague and mostly kept it to types of activities and not super specific tasks.  My weekday mornings start with a 60 minute block that I’ve just labeled “Morning Routine”.  That’s everything I do from the time the alarm goes off until I am out the door.  I didn’t need to break that down into getting dressed, making breakfast, and all the other random things that need to happen on any given day. There is a similarly generic hour at bedtime for washing up and winding down.

We put in ideal work hours (cleverly labeled as “work” on the sheet), but kept them realistic. We do not expect to miraculously work 9-5 and be done, but we’re trying to use this schedule as the motivation to stay focused and productive during normal work hours because other stuff we’ve planned to do is coming next.

And lastly all our house projects are all labeled as “task list”, and then we created a separate list of all the projects in and around the house.  This gives both hubby and I some flexibility to pick a task that fits our time frame and our skill set.  Today I had one hour for “Task list” but hubby did not, so I picked one I could do on my own without too much setup or cleanup time.

And if you were wondering, my work on Live.Learn.Budget. is schedule for Monday and Thursdays, so you’ll get to live this journey with me over the next four weeks.  Today was day one, and it went really well.  This post is potentially proof that I’m lying when I say I don’t have time to write.

Until Thursday!

Alison