Adjustment is a strange thing. It’s not easy to explain, you just have to, well, adjust. I’m in a period of adjustment right now and for the first time in my life, I’m being considered about it and actually realising that I will need to adjust! Right now, I’m thinking about how I’m going to structure my day and why it’s so important to get it right, especially if I want to achieve my dreams.
For fifteen years, my day has been pretty much structured for me. Make that thirty-three years; my mother structured it when I was a child, then school, then work. I didn’t go to university so I didn’t have the pleasure of planning my own schedule around a few hours a week of lectures.
One of the key motivations to work for myself was managing my own time. I’ve always loved autonomy and flexibility. Being able to do what I want, when I want to totally floats my boat. Hence why, being needed in a particular building, at a particular time and working a particular amount of hours didn’t really fit. I thought this was exactly because I worked for someone else and that trapped me in a routine; going against my natural instincts to follow my rhythm and work when I would do it at my best!
Imagine my surprise, when I realised that working for yourself doesn’t necessarily solve this. It doesn’t unlock the door and give you the freedom of the city. It doesn’t say it’s ok to work at the lake and totally change how you and the rest of the world actually do things. No, it doesn’t do that. Yet again I realised there’s only one thing that can do that – taking responsibility yourself! I’m starting to see a pattern emerge here; me. Me. Me. Annoying, isn’t it? I could easily lock that door regardless of who I work for.
With this in mind, I’ve come up with top three things on what not to do when managing your own working time, to set myself some rules on how I can manage my day differently before I even start.
Procrastinate. When you’re doing this, your time is not you own. It belongs to your dark side – the one that wants you to fail and the one that wants you to spend your energy fighting yourself. What a waste of energy and precious time in your day. Procrastinating is never good! My friend gave me a useful piece of advice this week: ask yourself some questions. Mine were ‘What do I really need to do?’; ‘What is this about?’; ‘Why am I putting it off?’. The answers will help you understand why you’re not facing something and the (often small) actions you need to get out of your cycle. It works!
Keep saying yes. It’s easy to just keep doing what you’ve always done. Then you get what you’ve always got. I don’t have to meet people between 9-5, but I do still have to consider other’s availability. The difference is knowing that the world doesn’t stop if it takes a bit longer to make something happen. I could easily still let others define what I do and when I do it, that’s hard to get out of. But I can choose to decide when I let them do it.
Take time for granted. I’m a time-optimist and this is one of my biggest downfalls. It’s so easy to overestimate what you can do in a set amount of time! Cram in so much or set such unrealistic deadlines, that you abuse time itself! You are not going to be productive when you’re constantly striving to fit more in. Quality over quantity, I say. I was speaking about this with another friend this week and between us, we realised something. Slow isn’t always bad!
I haven’t cut the corporate world a lot of slack and for that I apologise. No-one ever really dictated my schedule, I just made it that way. It’s a choice and now I have the opportunity to change things. Work towards my dreams, but stay in my reality.
I can take that chance and put a bit of effort into getting it right; or I can ignore it and spend the next five years trying to work out why I don’t feel any different. I’m going for option A.