Un-Pack Your Schedule

As a self-employed person who works from home but goes out for client visits, my schedule fluctuates greatly from week to week. Some weeks, I have a client scheduled every day. Other weeks, I have only one or two clients and can use the spare time to get other things done (including writing these posts!)

Last week I had a packed schedule. I had a client every day, plus a hair appointment, a vet visit, and two workouts with my trainer. I also had something scheduled for four nights in a row. One was a Zoom meeting but the others required me to actually leave my home.

When I woke up on Monday morning and realized what a packed day I had, I became very anxious. When I am overscheduled, I’m not at my best. I also have a tendency to get sick (which is the universe’s way of telling me to stay home and rest.)

I needed to figure out how to insert some space into my day — how to take a packed schedule and un-pack it. I had one daytime Zoom meeting on my calendar that was a passive meeting for me — I would just be sitting and listening. I knew that the information I would receive would be a “nice to have” but not a “must”, so I decided not to attend. It gave me enough breathing room to get a few things done between my workout and my client appointment and to feel less stressed.

I also looked at my to-do list and thought about what things could be pushed to another day or even to the following week. Throughout the week, I kept my focus on tasks that absolutely had to be done and put the rest off until I had more time.

Another time management technique that keeps me calm during a busy time is leaving enough time between activities to make the transition. If I need to leave here at 1:30 pm to reach a client by 2 pm, I stop what I am doing at my computer at 1:15 pm. That gives me plenty of time to physically get ready — load my backpack, check the weather, change clothes if necessary, get my shoes and coat on — but also to mentally get ready.

I knew that I had written a blog post about this habit, and I had to search pretty far back to find it, but here it is: Slow Down, You Move Too Fast.

You may not have as much control over your daily schedule as I do, but if you put yourself in the frame of mind of un-packing your schedule on a day that looks impossibly busy, I bet you’ll find some commitments that can be postponed or skipped entirely. Give it a try.

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