Planning to Take Care of Yourself

I don’t know about you, but as I’ve aged, I grew into this weird-feeling mishmash of Type A personality, with severe adult ADHD, hyperfocused on whatever is in front of her, with the memory of a goldfish. I’ve tried a lot of things to rein this in and control that creative chaos – lists, to-do apps, workflow planning, bullet journaling, Kanban boards, medication (that’s another post, for a different day) – all to varying degrees of success.

At this point, I mostly just accept that I’ll have good days, and I’ll have bad days. Sometimes, I’ll get up early, go for a run, get home at a decent hour, shower, breakfast, and get to my computer early enough to put in what the 8-5 world considers a “full workday.” Other days, I won’t get out of my pajamas until about 1 p.m., at which point I’ll haul on a sports bra and spend half an hour scrolling through yoga videos (almost always courtesy of Yoga with Adriene) on YouTube, then settle on one and drag my lazy ass through 45 minutes or so on the mat. Then maybe around 3 p.m. I get in front of the computer to work for a couple hours.

Every once in a while, I have a day like today. I got up late, but I did manage to get myself over to the park and go for a good, solid, two-mile run. Once I got home, I didn’t waste too much time getting in a shower and breakfast, managing a somewhat respectable 10 a.m. start to my workday. (This self-employed life is new to me, take it easy. Plus I was up working til 10 p.m. the other night, that’s got to count for something … besides my own poor time management.)

Now here I am, about 6 hours of work under my belt, and I’m contemplating the ways in which I could have done shit better this morning (remember that whole Type A personality thing? Yeah.).

Like a lot of people, I keep a bullet journal to help keep my life on track and my tasks organized. I’ve tried a number of different setups and techniques; drawing every page out meticulously, sticking with the original “logging” format, getting artsy, creating daily layouts each morning to suit my needs, you name it. For the most part, I’ve settled into a solid planning routine.

Well, that routine doesn’t work anymore. I struck upon it while I was still grinding away in a cubicle, charting out projects and managing regulatory compliance at a mid-sized bank. That shit just doesn’t translate to freelancing. Now that I don’t have the daily pressure of a boss breathing down my neck, demanding I get to the office at 8 a.m. or earlier, I seem to have (accidentally) completely tossed my scheduling skills out the freakin’ window. Which is how we get to days like today, or like Tuesday (that was the didn’t-get-going-until-1 p.m.-day). See? It comes full circle eventually.

In light of all of these life changes, I’ve decided that, over the next couple weeks, I’m going to try some different techniques. First things first – I need to get my ass out of bed earlier. That means cleaning up my sleep habits. There are loads of websites designed to help you figure out your ideal sleep pattern and duration, but the biggest, most frequently repeated advice I hear is to turn off the screens at night. And I am so, so guilty of not. I’ll sit up until midnight or 1 a.m., watching Buzzfeed videos with the sound turned off, or scrolling through Facebook, or playing anagram games (I’m a nerd, fine, shut up) and wondering why the hell I can’t fall asleep. Then, I drag out of bed late as hell the next morning, and I do the same thing all over again the next night.

nicole-honeywill-576343-unsplash
This is a pile of “what not to do.” Photo by Nicole Honeywill on Unsplash

That will be the first thing I clean up – better sleep hygiene equals better sleep, which means I’ll have an easier time getting up in the morning. Right? Right. (Humor me.) I’d love to get my workspace out of the bedroom, too, but with three kids, two adults, and six pets crammed into a 1,300-square foot house, that’s not going to happen anytime soon. I’ll settle for getting a more comfortable chair – right now I’ve commandeered a dining room chair and rolled up a shawl for a cushion – and staying off my bed. Which is where I’m currently writing from.

Look, I said I was going to try to get better, ok? I’m not better yet.

Coupled with better sleep habits, I’m going to try a bullet journaling technique that I’ve previously attempted, and failed at – time blocking. This didn’t used to work for me, because in a corporate environment, you can’t have a single, dedicated time set aside, for example, to respond to email. In the corporate world, you live and die by your email. Matter of fact, I think most people, in most conventional careers, live and die by their email. I kind of do too, still – that’s how I get new assignments, communicate with clients, and schedule workshops. But now that I’m out on my own, and I can set my own rules, I can be a little more flexible – or, actually, more rigid? – in scheduling my time. So, I’m going to start with trying the schedule below – the one for “dolphins.” Seeing as I’ve had issues with insomnia since I was a child, and I tend to feel better both early in the morning and later at night, I’ll give that a shot first.

sleep patterns - business insider
Image courtesy of Business Insider

Notice that this schedule has “yoga” built right into it.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be tweaking my time. I’ll let you know how it goes. As I go on, though, I intend to keep the important elements of my routine – yoga, running, and family time – at the forefront.

I’ve got to work to live. But I left the corporate world because I was tired of living to work. That was the whole point of this adventure, and I’m not about to let that slide out of sight.

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