I was talking to a client the other day and we were on the topic of setting goals and managing your time. And she went like, “Yeah I know I should be more disciplined, but I never seem to be able to tick off any goals I set and I’m a mess at managing my time! Please helppp”.
And this, my friend, is what all of us adults experience probably most days of our lives. Like why the eff am I just not able to check off anything off my to-do lists. I suck at time management. I just lie in bed all day, binge-watch the Queen’s Gambit and get absolutely nothing done.
Yes, you, my friend, need to be having more of this beautiful thing called structure in your life.
But what exactly is structure? Why do I need to structure my life when I’m an adult and can spend my time however I want to?
Because! And this is a handy quote to always keep in mind –
Things that get done at “anytime” get done at “no time”GretCHEN RUBIN
Yes, when you tell yourself that you can x done at some time in the future, anytime you are freed up, guess what? It never gets done.
So let’s unpack this structure thing a little.
What exactly is structure?
Do you remember when you were a wee little kid, you had a schedule that your parents made you follow? 8pm to 9pm, breakfast; 9pm-10pm, shower and wash up, 10-10:30pm lights out.
Remember all that? We had schedules for school, schedules for the weekend etc. Those, were the stepping stones,
the building blocks to having discipline in your adult life.
As adults, must of our time is determined by an external source. Like, work or college. But we no longer keep up the same schedule that we did when we were children. This is when you start to see people struggling with time management and procrastination.
Of course I’m not suggesting we have our entire days mapped out like we did when we were kids but having a semblance of structure to your day is critical to getting anything done.
Okay so, now you are probably wondering, how do I even start to structure my day when there’s just so many things to do?
#1 Start simple
As you are about to start your morning, name the first 3 things you’re gonna do once you get out of bed. For me, it’s breakfast – coffee – write a blog post on the weekends and breakfast – coffee – email on the weekdays.
When you’re just starting out on this structure thing, you want to make it as easy for yourself as possible, so that the routine or the habit would stick. You don’t have to indulge in the whole time-blocking thing, where you have everything planned in 30 minute chunks.
That can feel overly complex and suffocating for most people, which brings me to:
#2 Be flexible with your schedule
Saying stuff like I can only be eating breakfast from 9-10am, and no matter what I need to be in the gym for only 20 minutes at 12pm is gonna leave you feeling stuck and frustrated after awhile! You will be back at square one in no time.
I used to timeblock my entire day to an extreme degree and found myself giving up on my schedule (and my day) by noon. It just doesn’t. So do build in spaces and breaks in between tasks. Have a rough sense of your schedule. For instance, I’m going to write 3 posts today, each would take an hour. So I’d need 3 full hours of focus somewhere in the day.
Have timelines and deadlines but you don’t have to be super wedded to your schedule.
#3 Talking inspired action
Something that I love telling my clients is – do not ignore those sudden ideas or nudges that keep appearing to
you. You may have a sudden urge to read a book or to start a new art project. Do not ignore them.
This is why it is important to be flexible about your schedule and time. It allows you the space to squeeze in those nuggets of sudden inspiration and ideas. For instance, I’ve recently been getting nudges to revamp my website (hence
this new theme) and to write a whole lot more.
I had to schedule in pockets of time in my day to give me the space to tend to those nudges and give them space to grow. They were much too strong to ignore.
Being flexible gives you the fluidity to switch stuff around and gives you the space to pencil in things that suddenly come up in your life. Without feeling like you’ve completely ruined your day.
When you’re overly structured, about your days, you aren’t allowing for the possibility that life (and shit) happens sometimes that you may have to deal with a.s.a.p.
And sometimes you are allowed to just change your mind and decide that you no longer want to go to the gym, at 12pm. Having the flexibility to shift things around and explore random ideas and strong nudges that come up don’t make you go like OMG my day is messed up!
Because life happens, and we should give it the space to do so.
So try this out today and tell me how it goes. What is your relationship with structure right now and do you
have your own methods of introducing structure into your life?
Leave your comments below!