I’ve gotten a few “how’s your planning going now?” and “what are you doing with your planner these days?” messages from well-meaning friends with gentle attempts to be poke fun at my commitment to having a plan.
The joke may be on them, since more than ever, I’m leaning in to my planning rituals as self-care.
Planning is my wellness practice. I’m relying on what I’ve learned by planning my way through IVF cycles, pregnancy, having a newborn and being part of two-parent working family to guide me through living under stay-at-home orders while also trying to work.
Set boundaries: For anyone working from home**, keeping some limits around work vs non-working time is critical to avoiding burn out. The first thing I do each week is draw in the boundaries for my time-blocks schedule: when I start and end work, when my son’s bedtime is and when my bedtime is. The last month has included the 3 hour shifts my wife and I are each taking to be on point with our son.
Schedule the priorities: I write in the must-do appointments and commitments that are immovable. I am very discerning about what is “must-do”. Taking a page from Greg McKeon’s Essentialism, remember that priority is singular. I limit myself to “the big three”: three things professionally and personally that must get done each week. Then I add in my curated to-do list. Less is better.
Check for balance: I am happiest when my week includes something from each of my 5 HAPPY focus areas: Health (daily walks), Assets (taking care of what I already own), People (connecting with others), Purpose (that’s my blog posts and newsletters!) and Yourself (something just for me – right now, it’s sewing). A review of my week makes sure each of those 5 focus areas gets attention. I also add stickers, just because it’s fun.
Bonus: As I do have fewer meetings and more time with my son, I make sure to use some of the blank space as a memory book, choosing to record the things we’re doing together only because we’re home together. The monthly pages in my planner are for tracking gratitude.
Do my weeks look the same as 6 weeks ago? No.
Do I wish my ZOOM happy hours were at a bar and not my kitchen table? Yes.
Yet planning is giving some shape to my days and my weeks, and now months. It’s helping me remember the good things as well as the hard times. And I always know what day it is.
*Check this out.
**Remember that we’re not working from home, we’re confined to our homes and trying to work. Not the same thing at all.