What Does Your Schedule Say About You?

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The best thing about the future is that it comes one day at a time.

--- Abraham Lincoln

Time. We think it's one predictable constant in our lives, but in reality, it, too, is questionable and scientifically debated. One thing that is consistent, however, is the fact that we never seem to have enough of it.

Enter scheduling. We religiously fill our calendars with appointments and plans -- only, more often than not, our days don't follow that imagined path. We're constantly fed info about the habits of successful, creative people, but dynamic infographics like this one, remind just how individual our optimal formula for personal success is. Are you at your best in the early morning or late at night? Do you multi-task or block out distractions? What's your secret for productivity? How do you style your schedule?

Here's a sampling of some of our SoS writers' schedules -- the plans and the reality -- plus an explanation of why we operate the way we do. Maybe some of it will resonate with you.

Anna:

[one_half]Weekend Day 1:

Plan: 

9am-10: Wake up, write in gratitude journal, eat breakfast while watching the Daily Show from the night before, check emails

10-11am: Client Meeting

11-3pm: Do work

3pm-4pm: Go for a run

4pm-5pm: Tidy apartment to prep for friend's arrival; make dinner reservation

5pm-6pm: Shower and get ready

6pm: Friend arrives to spend the night

7:30pm: Dinner

9pm: Meet up with other friends for drinks

Midnight: Head home to sleep[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Reality:

7:30am: Wake up -- can't sleep. Check emails, eat breakfast while doing work

10:30-11:30: Get stuck on customer service call; push back client meeting

11:30-1:30pm: Client Meeting -- runs late

1:30-4:40pm: Do work; eat a snack

4:30-5:30pm: Unsuccessfully try to take a nap

5:30-6:30: Facetime with boyfriend

6:45: Friend arrives -- apartment is not clean; neither am I

6:45-8:30: Clean apartment while catching up with friend, shower, try to find a restaurant that will seat us

8:45: Arrive at dinner (starving) -- no reservation, but we can eat at the bar

11am: Head home, make up her bed, get ready for bed

Midnight: Exhausted; lights out[/one_half_last]

 

[one_half]Weekend Day 2:

Plan:

9am Wake up, write in gratitude journal, shower, drink some tea, call a friend

Noon Brunch with friends

1:30-5pm Hike

5-6pm Prep for team meeting

6pm Virtual team meeting

7pm Facetime with friend

8pm Dinner

9pm Finish up some work

10pm Facetime with boyfriend, prep for bed, write in gratitude journal

11:30 Lights out[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Reality:

8am Wake up -- couldn't sleep again. Read emails, eat breakfast #1, do work, shower

10:30-11:15 Phone call with Friend

11:15-11:45 Finish getting ready

Noon Brunch with friends

2pm Start drive to hiking destination

3:30pm Arrive at destination -- get confused about parking and trail start point

4-5:30pm Hike

5:30-6:45pm Drive home; get stuck in traffic; push back meeting time

7-7:30pm Team meeting

7:30-8:30 Eat dinner while talking to friend

8:30-10pm Finish up some work

10pm Facetime with boyfriend, prep for bed, gratitude journal

11:30pm Surf the web on my phone until I fall asleep

12:45am Drift to sleep[/one_half_last]

Analysis and explanation:

  • Day of week: I should note that both of these days were a weekend -- and it was not a typical weekend. I usually work at least one day on the weekend, and more often than not, both days.  This particular weekend marked the first weekend in months that I'd done any socializing and didn't work both days.
  • Wake/Sleep times: I find it difficult to fall asleep before midnight. I try, but my natural bio-rhythms seem to be to wake around 8-8:30am (possibly later if I'm catching up on sleep) and to fall asleep between 12-1am. Unfortunately, I often have to wake up around 7am during the week, so going to sleep at 1am makes for a groggy day. I also generally need 1-2 hours to unwind and turn my brain off before I go to bed. I long to be one of those efficient 10-minute power-nappers.
  • Exercise: My intention is to do some kind of physical exercise everyday, so I build that into my schedule, but as you can see, I am not always successful. I mentally develop an exercise plan for the week (i.e. a particular yoga class, running outside the days I know it will be warm and sunny, pockets of time I know I can sneak in a workout when I'll have time to shower afterward). I approach exercise like eating: my body wants it everyday.
  • Food: I always eat breakfast and rarely skip meals, but sometimes my lunch is very small if I'm in a work flow state. I don't drink coffee -- it makes me too jittery (unless it's Bulletproof) and I become less productive -- but I do drink several cups of green tea throughout the day. Since moving to California I spend much more time cooking, and I usually multi-task by listening to a podcast while working in the kitchen.
  • Gratitude Journal: A couple of months ago I started writing in a gratitude journal every morning and evening. In the morning I list what I'm grateful for and what would make the day great, along with a daily affirmation, then at night I reflect on the good things that happened and what would have made the day better. It takes only a couple of minutes, and forces me to reflect and reposition my brain in a positive mindset, regardless of what happened that day. There are some mornings and evenings, however, where this practice slips through the cracks.

Eve

[one_half]Weekday:

Plan:

6:00am Wake up, meditate, feed pets, walk dog, get ready

7:00am Leave

7:30am Teach Pilates Private session

8:30am Teach duet Pilates session

9:30am Teach duet Pilates session

10:30am Teach private Pilates session

12:00pm Meet old friend Julie for coffee/lunch at Wildflour

2:30pm Walk dog

5:45pm Yoga

6:30pm Writing group

10:30pm Walk dog[/one_half]

[one_half_last]

Reality:

6:00am Wake up, meditate, feed pets, walk dog, get ready

7:00am Leave

7:30am Teach private Pilates session

8:30am Teach private Pilates session

9:30am Teach private Pilates session

10:30am Teach private Pilates session

12:00pm Return emails, phone calls (talk to friend having romantic meltdown), texts. Do schedule for next week.

12:45pm Meet old friend for coffee

2:45pm Head home to walk dog

3:15pm Dog has already been out. Eat lunch.

4:00-5:30pm Pay bills, check email, spend 30 minutes on Facebook, submit short story queries.

5:30 – 6:45pm Help parents rearrange furniture.

7 pm Dinner

8:00 – 8:30pm Surf Pinterest for baby nursery ideas and DIY maternity clothes.

8:30 – 10pm Write, proofread story rewrite, check emails, Facebook, TV in the background.[/one_half_last]

[one_half]Weekend:

Plan:

8am Feed animals, walk dog, get ready

9am Breakfast with mom

11am Hair

2:30 Yoga

6 pm Art opening[/one_half]

[one_half_last]

Reality:

9am Feed animals, walk dog, get ready

10am Breakfast with mom

11am Hair

1:pm Lunch with mom

2pm – 3:30pm Wait for AAA to replace dead battery in car

4pm Nap

5-8 pm Write

8:30pm Dinner

9:30-11pm Watch TV

11pm Walk dog

11:30-1pm Write, read, Facebook[/one_half_last]

Analysis and explanation:

  • Day of week: I chose to post about a workday (Pilates) and a weekend but, truth be told, my work schedule is erratic so I sometimes work on the weekend. Because writing is my passion, I work on that everyday. There are no days off. How much I get done is another story... Also, I should mention that this particular weekend day included a rare and much needed hair appointment.
  • Wake/Sleep times: I either find myself passing out at 10 PM or, if I miss that window, I, too, find it difficult to fall asleep before midnight. I am a natural night owl but pregnancy and forced habit make me go to bed earlier. I will usually wake up at around 7. This is true no matter what time I go to bed. It is a side effect of forcing my night-owl self to get up early for clients for so many years. Now that I am pregnant, My 7am wake up time is more and more like 6:30. I also usually wake up at least once in the night at around 4:30 am. Sometimes I stay awake for an hour before falling back to sleep. I don't know what that damn baby does to get me up, but it's almost like clockwork. One more notable thing about my sleep patterns is that I nap. A lot. Ah, pregnancy.
  • Exercise: Like Anna, my intention is to do some kind of physical exercise everyday. Prior to my pregnancy, I was pretty successful at including exercise in my schedule, but now I am lucky if I exercise 3 times per week. (See comments about napping above.)
  • Food: I eat breakfast first thing in the morning after I feed the animals which always seems to take forever despite the fact that they are small. I still sometimes drink coffee even though I am with child. Don't judge me. I love coffee. This is one reason I eat right away. It is not healthy to have coffee on an empty stomach.
  • Meditation: I began a morning meditation practice about 7 or 8 years ago. I became very accustomed to and adept at it after awhile. Then, one day almost 2 years ago, I just stopped doing it. This past autumn, I reintroduced it to my morning routine.  I must say, the morning is definitely the most structured part of my day. I must also say that since becoming pregnant my morning meditation has often looked suspiciously similar to napping.
Cameryn

[one_half]Friday

Plan:

9:30 Wake up!

10:00 Make coffee and Breakfast

10:15 Write

Noon Gym

1:30 Grocery Store

3:00 Run a few errands

4:30 Shower, Eat

5:30 Go to Work

6:00 Start Work[/one_half]

[one_half_last]

 

Actual Day:

9:30 Wake up!

10:00 Make Breakfast

10:15 Write

2:00 Gym

3:15 Shower

4:00 Eat Lunch

5:30 Leave for Work

6:00 Work

[/one_half_last]

[one_half]Saturday

Plan

10:00 Wake up!

10:15  Make coffee and breakfast

10:30 Write

12:00- Go to gym

2:00 Matinee Movie

4:30 Run errands, including grocery store, bank and Sephora

7:00 Pick up dinner

8:00 Relax

12:00 Go to sleep[/one_half]

[one_half_last]

 

Actual Day

10:30 Wake up

10:45 Make coffee and breakfast

11:00 Write

1:00  Go to gym

2:00 Laundry

4:00 Run errands (Grocery store, Bank, Lorna Jane and Sephora)

4:30 While I'm there running errands, I walk the whole mall with some coffee to stretch my legs

7:00 Pick up dinner

8:00 Buy new book

8:30 Read book obsessively

10:30 Look at the clock, decide to go to bed in an hour

2:30 Actually go to bed[/one_half_last]

  • Planning: Working nights, I often forget I shouldn't be running around all day because I'll be drained by the time I start work. I usually get half way through the busy day and realize that I should have some down time before work starts. Working nights on the weekdays, I usually leave my weekend nights free to relax. I try to not make any plans later than dinner.
  • Sleep Schedule: On Friday, I did manage to get up at 9:30, even though I typically wake up at 11 AM. This is because I usually start work at 6 PM and work until 3 AM, and therefore I have to keep an odd sleep schedule. This particular Friday and Saturday were the weekend before I was supposed to go back to working days (10 AM to 7 PM), so I was trying to wake up early to prepare. On weekends, I try to give myself a little slack as far as when I wake up, but I usually end up waking up around the same time.
  • Focus/Time Management: On Friday,  I got very into my writing and didn't look at the clock until around 2 PM. If I'm working closely on something, time can easily slip by without me noticing. For Saturday, my relaxing evening turned obsessive when I bought a new book and couldn't stop reading until 2 AM. This was not good considering I was trying to adjust my schedule back to working days. However, not unlike when I write, I was completely unaware of the time. I had last checked my clock at 10:30 PM, thinking I could read for another hour and then go to bed. I looked up what I thought was 20 minutes later, but it was actually 2 AM. When I know I have to be somewhere, like work, I have really good time management. I always arrive early, anywhere I go. However, when it's just my personal time that I have divided up, I let myself stay focused on a task that I am enjoying.
  • Over-scheduling: On weekdays while working nights, I would often over-schedule my days, forgetting that I still have a 9 hour workday in front of me. For Friday, I pushed the errands until Saturday once I remembered there was no way for me to fit the errands in and be able to shower before work. Often times, I will accomplish everything on the list, but occasionally, I will prioritize a specific task over the others and let it rule my day. I tend to not schedule my weekends too closely, in order to focus on relaxing. For weekends, I don't schedule a time when I should do something like laundry or the gym. I always do those things on the weekends and know they need to get done, but I do them when I feel like it. In general, I like having as much as possible written down, even if I have to move it around in the end. That way, at least I don't forget to do it.
  • Paper vs. Digital: One interesting note about my schedule is that I keep a physical planner -- with actual paper. I don't keep my schedule on my phone. Physically writing it down helps me to remember it and the hot pink cover makes it hard to ignore when I glance at my desk. When I put items and To Dos into my phone and they buzz to remind me that I have to do something, as soon as I swipe the phone, the item disappears and I check my email or my texts, forgetting that there was something to do in the first place. A paper calendar also gives me the satisfaction of crossing off things as I accomplish them.
  • Going Forward: Now that I have been back to working days for one week, I have trouble accomplishing much of anything except work. Part of it is that I am still exhausted from the major sleep adjustment, but I also need to re-figure out how to squeeze in activities like grocery shopping and the gym. They will have to be squeezed into the mornings and evenings. However, these are when the grocery store and gym are the most crowded. There was definitely an upside to working nights!