Several months ago now, I told you all about the schedule I’d been trying to work to on a daily basis, and how much it had done for me. I also told you about the days where it didn’t work so much. I’ve been following that schedule in some form since November, and it’s made a huge difference to my wellbeing and my productivity.
And this week, I removed my schedule from my calendar, and stopped using it. Here’s why.
Since I got back from holiday, I’ve been in a very contradictory place mentally. On the one hand, there have been a ton of things going well. Really well. But not everything has, and I’ve had the stress of knowing things aren’t going quite right here and trying to fix them. On top of that, I’ve had a few things I’m processing personally which, whilst positive, are pretty draining. This has left me vulnerable to my depression and anxiety, who have both had a bit of a field day.
For the past fortnight before this, I was really unwell. I had an amazing weekend away at a LARP event, and after that it all seemed to tank. Most days I would go back to bed. I did all of my work, and I managed a bunch of other things too, but I had no ability to connect with them. When exciting things happened, I just got anxious about them and overwhelmed by them, even as they made me happy. And I was so, so angry at myself for getting like this.
Even though I knew why it was happening, I still blamed myself.
One of the worst things about both anxiety and depression is how much they make you feel like everything is out of control. I wanted to take some of that control back. You might think that makes binning my schedule a weird choice to make. Surely I need that kind of micromanagement all the more right now, in order to feel in control?
But the thing is, the schedule was stressing me. Because on the days I felt like all I could do was go back to bed, my phone was still pinging me to tell me it was time to switch tasks, and each time was like a punch to the gut. I was failing. (Not completely). It was my fault. (It wasn’t). So last weekend, I deleted it. I then made a much better plan for the week’s tasks in my bullet journal, and made a bargain with myself.
I would just focus on doing my work, taking breaks as needed, getting as much as I could done. It didn’t matter if I did those things at 11pm. I would just take each day at a time, and see how I went.
And it worked.
I’m always more productive on Monday, but this Monday I obliterated my tasks. I even got some things I’d been putting off done. The same happened on Tuesday and Thursday – in fact Thursday was incredibly productive. Wednesday wasn’t quite as great, because I felt absolutely exhausted and had to go back to bed. But I still got everything that was required done, plus some brainstorming for the book that follows Oracle, so that’s a pretty good credit to the day.
Which only leaves the questions: why did this work? And should I carry on this way?
I’m going to keep going with it for a while, and keep assessing. If this really does make me less stressed, then that’s wonderful. I don’t regret spending all those months on a schedule though, not at all – that schedule taught me to space things out through my day, trained me to have the stamina to work that many hours. IT transformed my life. But it might be that I’ve reached the point where I’ve outgrown it – where my needs have changed.
As to why it worked, I think the removal of expectations actually left me freer to fulfil and even surpass those expectations. It’s reminded me that I enjoy my job, and because I’ve been enjoying it more the quality of my content has improved. I’m not churning things out because I have to, I’m writing them because I want to. And that, in turn, is making me less stressed. It’s making me happier.
So yes, I gave up on something. But giving up on things is sometimes exactly what you need to do.
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