"To think of sticking to a schedule as liberating may sound like a crazy idea, but it's helped me create space in my life. Identifying what you care about most and setting a schedule for it empowers us to say no to distractions. Embrace scheduling for your life. Your brain and heart will be liberated as you grow in the rhythm."
In my first article about "making space" I talked about the importance of creating space for yourself to protect the most important "yes" in life. I promised then I would share some practices I've found helpful for building that margin in life. One is sticking to schedules - they can be liberating.
To think of sticking to a schedule as liberating may sound like a crazy idea, but let me explain from personal experience. My natural tendency is to overstretch my capacity. Working in investment banking and experiencing major life decisions all at once has taught me where my limits are. What I desire most, instead of a list of wide-acclaimed accomplishments, is my health and the freedom to live experiencing joy with the people I love.
Schedules create boundaries that protect the things, or the ‘YES’ we most care about. Implementing healthy boundaries requires the practice of saying NO. If I care about taking personal retreats or regular exercising, I must schedule it. Putting the activities I value on a calendar signals to the world, and to my own brain, that there is a priority in place. Identifying what you care about most and setting a schedule for it empowers us to say no to distractions.
Schedules help us optimize the use of our capacity. Believe it or not, we only have 24 hours in a day. Too often we will take on more responsibility than our physical bodies can handle. When I overextend myself by booking my calendar back to back, my body screams HELP in the form of tension headaches that lead to migraines. Incorporating an equal amount of rest and relaxation on a daily, weekly and even monthly basis is the key to optimize our precious capacity. Yes, of course we as ambitious women are capable of working more than 50 hours a week, running back and forth from kid activities, all the while writing a book and volunteering at three different charities, for example. But this swirl of activity doesn’t necessarily ensure long-term benefits to our health and for the relationships we care about. When we set a schedule, we can prioritize moments of recovery within every role we play, personally and professionally.
Schedules help us learn discipline, which can keep us focused and protect our margin. Schedules can be considered a practical guide for how you’d like your day, your week, or your year to proceed. If you have certain personal milestones, such as working out three times a week or having a family meal at least once a week – whatever your goal is, the schedule is there to help guide you to that direction. We’ll have days or weeks where every goal is hit, and other weeks where it felt like a miserable attempt. The purpose of the schedule is not to condemn you each time you steer off track, but rather to encourage you to keep going. Perhaps we miss one day, but the gift of the next day is that we get to try again. And before long, if we stick with it, a pattern will emerge. The weekly rhythm you set for your yourself over time develops as a healthy habit. Healthy scheduling habits frees up our minds and heart to focus on the things you love.
Embrace scheduling for your life. Your brain and heart will be liberated as you grow in the rhythm.