I have realized that there is a very distinct difference between having a routine and having a schedule. Generally, people thrive on routine but resist schedules. I’m here to tell you that the pressure to stick to a schedule is almost always unnecessary. Allow me to explain…
Have you ever been in the situation where you have so much to do that things are always slipping? What is your first action when you try to repair the situation? I’ll guess that you get out your calendar and start to build blocks of time for each task. This seems like a perfectly logical solution. Now, how successful have you been with keeping that schedule? Let me guess…not very. If you’re at all like me, that new schedule falls apart the minute someone asks for a meeting AND you beat yourself up when you can’t stick to it.
Recently, I was working with a client who was determined to work out a schedule for all the things she has to fit into her week: client meetings, children’s activities, association meetings, sales calls etc. These tasks aren’t unlike the things any of us have to do. Imagine her shock when I told her “you’ll be doing well if you meet your schedule 50% of the time”. She was stunned! Coming from me, this seemed to be earth shattering news but liberating too. The concept was earth shattering because I appear to be “schedule girl” and liberating because the pressure to stick to the schedule was oppressive. Before the schedule was made she already knew she was going to fail at keeping it. We all do; schedules for daily duties simply don’t work.
So, what is the answer? Routine. Just look at children: they thrive on routine but scheduling simply isn’t in the cards. Children really don’t care if they have to be out the door at precisely 8:05am; if they need a pit stop they’re going to take it. Have you ever noticed that the resistance you encounter when you try to stick to schedule increases the more you try? However, children thrive with routine, from grumpy wake-ups until baths and stories at bedtime. It’s nice to be able to count on certain things happening in an approximately consistent order. Different things can happen throughout the day but consistency within the day is comforting.
In my mind, there’s a big difference between filling my task list into a schedule and working it into a routine. My schedule is for meetings and appointments; my routine creates sanity. With my routine I can rely on the first couple hours of my day usually being quiet and relaxing as I work on business building activities. I can also count on doing my grocery shopping and errands usually on specific days of the week and I prefer to do them at specific times of day. I almost always take a break just after 4pm as my family comes home from their day so we can catch up with eachother.
If I were to try to schedule my shopping, errands, family time etc. I’d likely drive myself crazy. Having a routine reduces stress because it gives you flexibility to flow with your time yet you still know that things will be done, if not now, a little later is close enough. Of course you have to keep your priorities in mind as you start to shuffle things around and there are circumstances when a strict schedule must be used but how comforting is it to know that with a routine you can usually count on getting everything done calmly and consistently.
If you struggle with this concept, please contact me; I can help!