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Intentional Planning

I've been in a little bit of a "funk" lately. Something was just a little off but I wasn't sure what. We spent a quiet weekend at our new cottage and I found myself almost dreading coming back home. But why? When I thought about it, my schedule (and thus my days) had become lackluster. Don't get me wrong, they were plenty busy but I realized I was just going through the (expected) motions and was right back in the rat race. The very place I didn't want to go back to. My personality of people-pleasing tends to trap me into things I don't want to do but feel obligated to do. My "NO" boundary fence had fallen down. Or at least the gate was open. So, I decided to audit how I had been spending my time and thus my days. Fortunately, I keep a very detailed planner and use time blocking for a lot of my planning.

I went back a few weeks and categorized the tasks I had been spending my time on and totaled up the hours spent on them. After reviewing the prior few weeks, I quickly found that I was spending over 35% of my waking hours on things I didn't enjoy and weren't aligned with my goals and growth plan. The majority of these tasks stemmed from my inability to say no and my dependability of fulfilling obligations and expectations. To make matters worse I was only spending about 25% of my time on things that I really enjoy, such as cooking and creating recipes. Worse yet, I was spending less than 5% of my time on activities that were part of my growth plan and long term goals. Recognizing this was frustrating but it also got me excited. All I needed to do was to reclaim my schedule and my days. Of course that's easier said than done because I'm not the type to walk away from things I have committed to.

So, I started by time blocking for the joyful things and growth activities so I could commit to them with greater intention. Then, I time blocked for the unfulfilling tasks that were taking up so much time and I would limit the amount of time dedicated to them. I would push back completion dates on non-pressing things and I wouldn't accept anything additional until I had tasks at hand completed. My next step was to literally sit down with my planner and my colorful markers and map out the coming week. My mindset was immediately in a better place just by visually seeing the changes I had made to my days. Taking the time to pause, assess, and reflect was all I needed to change my focus and re-align my priorities with the number of hours in the day.

Intentional planning is what it's all about. I love the satisfaction of checking off a to-do list but intentional planning is much more than just a to-do list. The to-do list is comprised of the tasks you need to get done in your block of time for a specific activity. If you don't plan time for the activities then the to-do list can never get completed.

My planner looks different than it did a month ago. I made changes to my daily schedule and allocation of time and it has completely changed my mindset. It's hard to know the change we need if we don't take the time to figure out the problem. You can't know the effect without knowing the cause. If you need a change, start with what's not working for you and find a way to reduce or eliminate those parts, make more intentional time towards your goals and joyful activities. We all have things we don't want to do but have to do. The key is not letting those things become overwhelming to your schedule and your days. Intentional planning is a great way to try new things because you commit to them when you put them on the calendar. For example, I usually do a 3 mile walk every morning but when it was cold in January and February I wasn't putting it on the calendar and I could tell a difference in how I felt by not getting exercise. So, I stepped out of my comfort zone and booked a spin and barre class. I loved it and am now going 2-3 times per week.

When you sit down to plan your week, start by time blocking your priorities. The class I teach is the first thing that goes in, followed by my workout classes and cooking and family time. When a client contacts me and needs to meet, I can easily look in my planner and know my availability. Block out your calendar with the priorities that will accomplish your goals. The rest will fall into place as time allows. Pick a time each week when you can sit down and thoughtfully plan out your week. I personally like Saturday mornings with coffee while my boys are sleeping in. Happy Planning! And, remember to be intentional!

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