I can easily accomplish a lot in a day if I’m determined. I make time appear out of thin air when it seems there is no time left to spare. I get what needs to be done, done.
There’s a difference between what I want, should, and need to do. And it’s quite easy to convince myself that an important task really isn’t that essential. I should make the bed, I need to do laundry, I want to practice my French. Honestly, these are all three items that could be in the Need category, but I allow internal “reasoning” to contradict them as needs and instead consider the urgency or essentialness of the task in question.
I used to be terrible about making my bed in the morning and would easily brush this task off as a waste of a few minutes, even though I discovered a better frame of my mind when my bed was made: it was less easier to crawl into for a midday nap, it made my room appear cleaner, and I felt a very small sense of accomplishment so early in the morning.
How did I figure this out?
I started Bullet Journaling about a year ago. The idea is simple: a customizable way to organize yourself. The process itself, according to the website, is an “evolving, adaptable practice meant to be self curated as you determine what works best for you.”
One of my main BuJo pages was a daily habit tracker. The first iteration included:
- Awake by 7:30am
- Make Bed
- Eat Breakfast
- Pack Lunch for Work (vs. Eating Out)
- Eat Dinner
- 10-minute Afternoon Walk
- 30-minute Exercise
- Practice French
- Spot Clean Bedroom
- Read a Book
- Read the Bible
- Go to Bed by 11:30pm
- No Alcohol
- No Online Shopping (Something I became accustomed to during downtime at work.)
I kept this journaling method up for a while, found it easy to track my productivity, emotions, and even migraines–which was crucial at the time since I was seeing a neurologist in hope of finding relief to the endless pain. Guess what? Tracking my daily sleep and eating patterns were a big part in me learning how to better balance my lifestyle and thus reduce migraines.
Disappointedly though, my habit tracker wasn’t used after a month or so. I attempted to remake it, hardly used it, and moved on. Even though I don’t use this same habit tracker, I am more mentally aware of these daily habits and thus more mindful of certain decisions I make based on the above list. My Bullet Journal also helped me improve upon to-do lists and overall organization.
But what I’ve learned is, with or without the Bullet Journal, it is difficult to list out the things you want, should, and need to get done and actually do them unless you are dedicating time to these items. Having “Practice French” on a tracker is useless if I don’t carve out the time for it. Just as I can dismiss the need to make a bed in the morning, I can dismiss the urgency of learning another language to do something else.
This is essentially why I missed my blog post last week. I didn’t have dedicated time to writing (I know, it’s a terrible thought), but I didn’t realize that until things fell away and before I knew it the week was over and I never once thought about writing as an urgent matter.
It’s easier to assign time to do something when you have a deadline, but with the everyday, there is always tomorrow. Some people have extensive schedules written into their Bullet Journal, outlining their day’s schedule in their entirety. Whether they keep to this schedule or not, I can’t say, but I don’t necessarily think that is the solution for me. It will make me feel controlled and cramped, as if I absolutely must follow it. If I diverge from the schedule, I’d feel guilty that I’m not keeping with it. For me, knowing there’s a possibility I won’t keep with the schedule is not worth the attempt and feeling that guilt later on. Yet, I know something needs to change so I can accomplish the shoulds. The needs and wants are easy. The shoulds are what often get left behind until they become an absolute need.
Similar to when we’re at work and dedicate an allotted time to complete a task, we should be more conscious of doing this in our personal lives. I’ve considered scheduling a certain number of 30-minute slots each day, to accomplish specific tasks. If I allow myself 3 slots of 30 minutes, that is 3 different pre-determined tasks I can work on during the day. It’s only 90 minutes out of the day and will encourage me to increase productivity and provide a daily sense of accomplishment in my personal life.
Pre-determining the time will keep me from starting on a task and stopping after 10 minutes moving onto something else. Instead I’ll have a goal to accomplish, one closely related to the task. If I spend 30 minutes cleaning, that doesn’t mean I need to spend 30 minutes on just the kitchen, but can move around to different areas of the apartment. If I spend 30 minutes writing, once I hit a wall or exhaust a topic, I can try brainstorming other ideas. Whatever the task, I need to make myself focus and work toward accomplishing it. Think of how productive our whole week could be if we did this once or twice a day. I know for me it would make a big difference and leave me in a better frame of mind.