This is for those of you whose schedules are over-full and tiring you out. In many respects schedule hacking is not rocket science but most people don’t treat themselves like a valuable resource!! Schedule Hacking is about slowing down a little and chiselling out and preserving small periods of time which make your schedule more sustainable and stop it detracting from your quality of life. This is a combination of using your days as efficiently as possible and investing what you can in not being harassed by life. It can be life changing.
Start by thinking about your average weekday – what are the tasks you must do? Some of these are SPECIFIC TIME TASKS – the school run or going to work for example. Other tasks may be more flexible – conference calls, meal preparation etc. Think now about your best times of day – most people have their good thinking time in the morning and do better having eaten breakfast. If you don’t know when your good thinking times of day are, find out what your Sleep Chronotype is and follow the description that fits you. (Health Self-Care or Sleep Self-Care might be necessary if you are not having good times of day!)
Next look at the FLEXIBLE TIME TASKS in your day as think about when it would be best for you to do them. Organise to do difficult thinking tasks at a time of day when you do your good thinking time. Do the less difficult, routine tasks at other times. Remember that some tasks can go from difficult to routine with time – it’s better to learn a new thing in good thinking time and when you can do it easily, move it to a less productive time of day for you.
Next think about ENERGY EATING TASKS. These tasks are energy eating because they are inefficient or cause you anxiety. You are aiming to streamline the tasks themselves, give yourself the best possible experience of it and solve the things that obstruct it. Think about exactly what causes anxiety or delay and now try to fix it. For example: your commute or the school run: to fix this make them easier and invest in it. This might involve getting up 15 minutes earlier, buying a pass for a toll road you use regularly, buying a season ticket for a train or deciding what breakfast will be is the night before. Find ways to eradicate delay, indecision, stress or “too much choice” moments. If you cannot fix it, make a deal with yourself not to linger on it anymore – in short accept that you don’t have power over it.
AN EXAMPLE: Deciding to park somewhere else when dropping the kids off to avoid 20 minutes of stress in the morning. Great! Do a dry run of this straight away, take them to the new parking place after school, park there, walk them through their new approach to school, show them what they will be doing and then do it the next day. BE HONEST - if something stresses you out, think about whether you would expect or want a close friend or loved one to have to do it if they felt that way? If not then try to change it, do it differently or try to get help not do it. If you have anxiety about changing it, investigate what that anxiety is.
Add another 10 minutes to every task in your schedule to give yourself TRANSITION TIME between activities or appointments, you are not a machine but if you were you would need maintenance! Be realistic about TRANSITION TIME, don’t book stuff in back-to-back which will have you rushing around in an aggravated state. Everyone needs time to drink water, get lost, find their way again, eat something or find the correct door to a place they’ve never been before for example.
Do what you need to do, to do your life easily. Nervous about an appointment? Ask someone to come with you or just tell them about it and check in with them after. Say no when an appointment does not fit in or ask to make it 15 minutes later. If you do a regular journey – learn how long it takes you and factor that knowledge in to your daily schedule every time you have to do it.
Schedule hacking is about realistic allocation of time and resources. Bear in mind that TRANSITION TIME will enable you to feel calm and give your best. Also bear in mind that GOOD THINKING TIME is finite. Most people can only concentrate well for 3 to 6 hours per day and need regular breaks within that. If you are tired, hungry, anxious or ill your span will be less than that. Resist macho-type workhard/playhard dogma; in reality, most people need fallow periods. Yes, that means boredom, mindfulness or other down-time activities is needed in order to also have up-time.
Master HOME WEEKLY PREP and WORK WEEKLY PREP. This is when you maintain your machine (Clue: you are the machine 😀)
HOME WEEKLY PREP 1) Choose 3 hours during afternoons or evenings when you will be at home to do this. 2) In this time do your food ordering, planning and prep, make appointments, get broken appliances and household things fixed, pay your bills, book babysitters, sort your repeat prescriptions, arrange deliveries for this time, renew subscriptions necessary for a pleasant life and make any bookings needed. 3) Buy a weekly planner pad and KEEP A LIST of what you will do during HOME WEEKLY PREP somewhere in your home. 4) When the regular stuff is under control, start to use the first hour to do necessary life tasks which have fallen by the wayside: dry cleaning, fuelling a car, buying work clothes, decluttering – tasks which will make your life easier. You will get good at this. It will become routine and less effortful.
WORK WEEKLY PREP is similar – do it at a quiet work time. Answer emails, schedule work appointments, think through the following week, sort out productivity issues, buy supplies, clear your inbox. Do this every week towards the end of the week.
Advanced hacks including the Monthly & Annual Prep, Financial Prep, Hack-Sacks and Parenting Hacks… more on those later 😊
Finally PROTECT your new found transition and prep time.
And repeat …😊
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See you next week!!