Quarantine Lessons: I Threw Away My Daily Schedule

Last week I had to remind myself to take my own advice

Up until two weeks ago every Monday -Friday of the last five years has been directed by my work Google Calendar. I’m a self-proclaimed hater of being told what to do but I have to admit that the whiplash from going from having every moment planned to a completely empty slate was a lot to take. 

To help ease the discomfort of having no structure for the foreseeable future I took control. During the first week I set myself a type A personality worthy schedule. I gave myself a plan for each day, a timeline for working on personal projects, physical goals and creative play.

Where Things Went Wrong

While the plan itself was well intentioned I made a major mistake. I ignored my body’s personal cues and didn’t ask myself if the schedule felt authentic. I followed the advice of mental health experts and online articles and attempted to maintain my weekday 6:30 am morning routine. I remained mentally rigid about when I woke up, worked out and worked on personal projects – treating my creative babies like work instead of play.  In an attempt to maintain normalcy I sacrificed flexibility – and I failed miserably. 

Unfortunately for my beautiful, color coded schedule –  I’m a night owl by nature and I SUCK at mornings. My natural sleep cycle sits somewhere from 11pm-8am. Due to the pressures from society to “fit it all in” with work, fitness, creative fulfillment and socializing I’ve spent YEARS trying to convince myself to be a morning person. Sometimes I almost believe it. But, naturally I’m not good at mornings so by day 3 of my furlough I was staying up too late, sleeping in and “throwing off” my perfect plan for the day. It made me feel like a failure. I could feel the perfectionist thoughts sneaking back in so I pumped the brakes and threw away my schedule

Pressing Pause

Thinking back on my schedule I tried to identify why I was so rigid about it. Practicing some of my tools from my authenticity video, I re-evaluated why this wasn’t working. I was worried that without every moment dictated to me, the project planned out, every goal outlined in the tiniest tangible steps, that somehow I was going to miss a step or misuse my time. I dug deeper and realized that I was judging myself for not having what I’ve always been told was a successful person’s schedule. We’ve all seen those articles on LinkedIn about how Joe CEO wakes up at 4:45am everyday and that’s why he’s successful. Those articles are full of shit. And the worst part was that I was comparing myself to people that I didn’t even want to be like. I realized I was being hypercritical of myself – I didn’t trust myself with free time. 

So I had to treat myself like I would a friend. I would NEVER hold anyone else to a daily schedule at this time or try to convince them that if they didn’t plan out every moment they would fail – so I had to stop doing it to myself. We are all our own worst critics and I am no exception. 

Building Trust with Myself

With my newfound freedom from structure I looked at all the things I wanted to do and made a plan – not a schedule. I now have a daily to do list with chunky timeframes to do it in and a lot of extra room for exploration. I still have big plans and I want to stay on top of things but right now there is no reason to live life according to anyone else’s agenda – I’ve literally got nowhere else to be. An unprecedented time calls for an unprecedented schedule. I’m much happier with my glorified daily to-do list than I was with my color coded calendar. 

I hope this inspires you to take stock of your day to day and look at what’s serving you. Ask yourself what you really want, what feels authentic to you and if you are doing things that align with what makes you feel good about yourself. If you can, try letting go of what’s not serving you right now – odds are you don’t need it. 

A little extra self love motivation for you

You Don’t Need to be Productive Right Now

Content from the video included in the text below

But really tho, I’m going to pull all the pressure off right now: you do not have to accomplish anything (other than staying alive) during this pandemic.

We are all being pushed out of our comfort zones and into a lot of uncertainty and we do not need society’s added pressure of productivity to come in and add even more stress to our lives. Please don’t hold yourself to a productive and unrealistic standard.

Productivity as a Concept

Productivity is a sticky concept even when we aren’t in the middle of a pandemic. Productivity tells us that we need to “go go go” and constantly generate output. Productivity feeds off our innate competitive mindset. To quote Pokémon, it makes us “want to be the very best. The best there ever was” at everything we do. Productivity has us out here believing that we are only worth what we contribute. 

A pre- Covid 19 example. To no one in my life’s surprise I majored in English in college. Outside of my friend group and immediate family I was always asked what I was “going to do” with that degree if I didn’t plan on being a teacher. This is shocking for two reasons:

1) Writing and quick comprehension are key skills in the workforce 

2) Why did it matter what my degree contributed to society if I paid for it? 

Productivity and Social Media

Pandemic, scarcity and fear mentality only make this worse. I see parents online trying to homeschool their kids so they don’t get behind in school. I see adults trying to create or put out more content because they should and because they “have the time”. I’ve seen multiple posts float around about how pandemics in the past created things like Shakespearean plays or calculus and honestly – we don’t need another calculus out there. We don’t need a Sir Issac Newton or the next Shakespeare and you don’t need to hold yourself to their standard. 

Society has us trapped in a productivity wheel. We are convinced that we are only worth what we create. While we can get fulfillment from creative activities we do not have to be productive to have value. We’ve been told that we have to always be doing more and our friend social media has made this even worse for us. It’s so easy to now compare how you spend your day against your friends’ day thanks to things like insta stories, and right now social media is our sole way of communicating with each other, putting this perfectionist & must be productive energy at an all time high. But I’m here to remind you that you are still enough – even if you don’t color code your closet over the next six weeks. 

You do not have to write plays, or books, or learn underwater basket weaving. You’re allowed to marathon your favorite comfort tv while eating bonbons (assuming they are still in grocery stores near you). You can take this time to process and validate all the big scary feelings we are all having right now.

What if I want to be productive?

Now, I’m not saying you shouldn’t use this time to write, create, learn a new skill, dance or anything if you feel inclined. If you want to do it – I encourage you to do it and CRUSH IT at that my dude. Chase your dreams. Just make sure you are doing this because YOU want to not because society makes you think you should. But if you don’t do anything, or now isn’t the right time, YOU’RE STILL ENOUGH. and valid and important. 

So, to keep the productivity monster at bay, let’s try these three affirmations: 

I am enough 

I am whole 

I am loved 

Don’t let society, social media, or anything else convince you to be extra productive. Follow what feels right for you and treat yourself with lots of love. 

Questions, comments, concerns? Sound off in the comments. Sending you all lots of love. 

*Disclaimer: I am not a mental health professional. If the stress of this situation is affecting you I implore you to get help from a certified professional.