I am a firm believer in routines, schedules, to-do lists, plans, and organization. It keeps me sane and helps me manage my natural chaos. I feel like those who have creative bents tend to need structure to be productive in tasks that might otherwise seem mundane. Who wants to fold laundry when there’s a book of beautiful words to get lost in? Who wants to make a grocery list when there’s paint to apply to a canvas? I haven’t given this much thoughtful study, so perhaps it’s just me – but I know in my own personal experience, I stress less when I have a system in place.
Those lists and routines keep me going. I tend to have so much running in and out and through my mind at any given moment that a pen to paper approach (or finger to keyboard) help me stay on track. I’ve discussed my need for meal plans ad nauseam (or to the point that it may make you wish to vomit – that’s not dramatic at all.) However, there are times when I love (read: need) to toss all that planning aside to untangle mental knots and take a step back to assess how I’m handling (or not handling) life.
I like routine when it comes to working and home chores and I am vehement in vocalizing that I can be flexible, but in a very defined set of parameters. I know what has to be done, and I try to leave time for last minute assignments or unexpected glitches, but I’ve come up with a fine-tuned time management strategy that allows it all to get done (or at least clears the critical off the desk.)
I use my calendar, my reminders, my notes, and more – just to keep me going without being overwhelmed. Today, I threw it all to the side and it was necessary, essential to myself mentally and emotionally. I still had work to do, but I knew today’s main task would throw off my whole routine, in a very big way. So I threw out the whole routine. I accomplished the big task. I made a pit stop. I took an extended lunch break to catch up with a friend. I set a timer to get me out of the office at a decent time and limited my must-get-dones. I spent time with my boys before parent-teacher conferences. I scrapped the meal plan (at Justin’s request. We had fully loaded frozen burgers instead of the pork loin I had decided on – and you know what? They were delicious!) I enjoyed myself despite the upset to the systems I had in place, because I recognized the systems are important, but not essential.
It made me think that sometimes we get too caught up in the lists and schedules and what-we-should-dos. We forget that enjoyment and quiet moments and unbeaten paths are healthy and necessary branches of our journey through life. They are opportunities for growth and healing and learning. We often, dare I say at the risk of being deemed cliche, miss the forest for the trees. We work with a single goal in mind, a single focus, and don’t even register the little things, the big things, the things that are not on our radar. We get irritated and upset and thrown off balance by things that are unscheduled, but yet important. What good is a walk through the woods if we don’t stop to take in the view along the way? As Stephen Covey has said, “The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” Some days it’s important to just throw the whole schedule away!