When life gets in the way…

I was doing great at the beginning of the year.  I had made resolutions and I was sticking to them.  I had a schedule every day and I was sticking to it.  I was getting things done.  Making progress.  It was all going so well.

And then life happened.  A new baby was born and I want to spend every free minute I have with her.  Work got busy, as work always does this time of year.  But several of my co-workers are on maternity leave and I’m covering for them.  So my busy season started earlier and is busier than normal.  J’s busy season has been…I think hellish is the only appropriate word…and when he’s up working late, I don’t sleep well.  Mostly because he’s laying next to me in bed with all the lights on and his computer propped up on a pillow, clicking his mouse every two seconds.  Click-click, click-click.  It doesn’t make for a conducive sleeping environment.  (It does make for excellent torture if you are ever looking for an effective method.)

Life has gotten in the way of all the great stuff that was happening.  My schedule went right out the window as soon as my clients started calling non-stop.  Also, when offered baby snuggling time, the plan to clean out the pantry gets much less appealing. Once I’m done working, I’m too tired to actually do anything but stare at the TV.  I can barely get through a show without falling asleep halfway through.  Reading…what’s that?  I’ve been reading the same book for a month and a half.  And while I have managed to keep up with some of my New Year’s resolutions, all forward progress on the list has come to a screeching halt.

The good news is that I’m actually keeping up with the things I started in January.  I’ve been getting healthy.  I re-joined Weight Watchers and things have been going great.  The new program really goes well with the no sugar plan I was doing before, but it gives me more freedom than the other plan so I can eat an English muffin for breakfast instead of a hemp/chia seed almond butter smoothie.  (God, those were so nasty.)

I’ve been taking care of myself.  I started getting weekly manicures and monthly massages and facials.  I bought anti-aging skin care products because I have come to grips with the fact that I’m no longer 20 and now I have wrinkles.  I stopped spending the entire day in my pajamas.  I mean, I’m only putting on yoga pants and a t-shirt most of the time.  But it’s better than just changing from one set of pajamas to another.

I got my finances back on track.  After months of not updating Quicken, I finally updated everything.  I put myself on a budget.  I restarted auto-savings.  I increased my 401k contribution.  I did my tax return the day my W-2 became available.

It’s definitely a good start, but there are more things on the list.  I have to make a couple of doctor appointments.  I have to start wearing sunscreen.  I have to go back to my morning exercise routine.  I have to finish a couple of books.  There are lots of things left to do.

Last night, as I was driving home from a 1st birthday party that I had almost completely forgotten about, I realized that things were starting to unravel.  While I know that life isn’t perfect, I also know it can’t be a complete disaster.  Complete disasters make me unhappy.  So as soon as I got home I sat down and made a schedule for the week.  I even scheduled out what time I would eat breakfast and when I would take a shower and when I would walk the dogs.  It’s probably overkill, but I thought it best to start with overkill and let it evolve into what works.

The point, I guess, is that life is always going to get in the way somehow.  Instead of letting everything fall apart, I just have to find a way to adapt and stay on course.  Maybe I am getting smarter in my old age.

The benefits of a schedule…

I read an article last week that said people who are really successful schedule out all of their time…including leisure time and family time.  I am a planner and I like to have a general sense of what is going to happen when, but I’m not a scheduler.  I’ve never really been able to schedule my life, because for six years, my job was entirely unpredictable…for example, I would plan to be sleeping while on vacation in Mexico and I would end up having to be on a conference call at 4am.  Or I would plan on having friends visit from Canada for the week and I would end up having to go to the office because my boss’s plane was due to arrive in Geneva at 7am local time, but the wire for the jewelry he was picking up didn’t hit yet.  So I have always made a vague, general plan and then hoped I could stick to it.

That’s not the case anymore.  While my new job certainly has had moments where I’ve had to stay a little late to take a phone call or stop on a weekend to send an email, those moments are few and far between.  I think it’s happened maybe three times in two years.  Therefore, I have decided to become a scheduler.

I bought a planner and sat down at the beginning of the week with my list of resolutions/goals and my brand-spanking-new planner and I got to work making myself a schedule for the week.  I had a lot of appointments…facial, dentist, Weight Watchers meeting…so that really helped in the planning.  I also had a lot of work to do because it was the first week back after a two week vacation.  So I plotted out my work schedule and then added in all of my appointments.

Then came the tricky part…the evenings.  Was I really going to schedule in time for things like taking a bath or watching tv?  And what about more, um, intimate things…I mean, should I schedule that too and send J a Google calendar invite?  (Don’t laugh…I know someone who has done this and she swears it’s a great idea.) Turns out…I was going to schedule things like TV time and time to read.  I stopped short of making a nookie appointment…but I made time for taking down Christmas decorations and cooking chili and reading a magazine and watching Castle re-runs.  I have to admit to being skeptical, but I wrote it all down.

And then…to my surprise…I actually did what was on the schedule.  I would finish one task and go to the schedule to see what was next.  Then I would do the thing that was next.  This was new for me…I’m a procrastinator and I can be super lazy.  But the schedule thing actually worked.

Well…mostly.  Last night, I was really tired so I decided to skip updating my financial info on Quicken.  Instead, I went to bed early.  But the rest of the week I did really well and I got a ton of stuff accomplished.  It was amazing.

So I guess the article was right…schedules lead to success.  I’m going to stick with it and see how I do next week.  Maybe next week I’ll even send J that Google calendar invite.