Getting Organized For a New Year and Thoughts on Daily Schedules

Or “How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love My First Grader’s Daily Schedule!”

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Well, that Slack outage this morning sent a lot of the working world into quite a tizzy! I have at least two clients who have come to rely almost exclusively on the Slack environment to work, and this morning was a valuable lesson in why you don’t rely on only one system for, oh, EVERYTHING. I was a little surprised to see one client’s email letting me know that all of their tasks and notes were also exclusively in Slack. 🤯

Me? I was dragging my feet back into attending First grade with my kid, also dragging his feet. Nonstop LEGO and going outside whether the weather was kind or not was starting to feel like a nice flow. Thank DOGS for his well-designed, thoughtful, and easy-to-read daily schedule. No joke, we can all learn a lot from First-grade teachers!

What I love about our First-grade schedule:

  1. There is a creative check-in task/prompt at the top of every day. My son’s school does the thing where each classroom is named for an animal, and this creates a set-up for adorable puns and activities related to the animal of focus. We are foxes this year, and we were otters last year. Each morning, my son uses basic computer skills to do something creative and fox-themed. It is always fun, even when the directions are very clear and inflexible.

2. It’s on a visual grid. It is very easy to navigate visually with time, subject, activities, and links listed. I have to admit, I don’t list out time frames for myself, but I like it, and item number 3 on this list is exactly why…

3. Breaks for eating, rest, and physical activities are listed. “It turns out I really needed to plan for time to just sit and stare at the wall and maybe drool a little,” I joked to my writing group while explaining how a solo retreat in the woods was going. I have also heard on numerous podcasts and read in many articles about how highly successful people schedule downtime. In the past, this sounded so regimented to me that it bordered on soul-crushing, but now I have come to see it as my gift to myself. I no longer believe in the myth that creative people shouldn’t have structure and accountability. I also allow and even plan for the possibility that my schedule can go F itself if the muse needs to take me for a ride!

4. There are links for every meeting, even if it is the same link repeated. This mostly applies if you are keeping a schedule digitally, but even a written schedule can have a note or code to remind yourself how to get there fastest!

5. There are tasks that are very easy to accomplish. It cannot be overstated how motivating it is to check off items from a to-do list. Set yourself up for success by including items that seem too simple to list. Shower? ✔️

6. The final task is creative. This might be the most important thing I overlook and do not do for myself very often. And, there are so many ways I can be creative to satisfy this daily requirement. Journaling, cooking, drawing, writing a postcard to a friend, or sitting down and building with LEGO right alongside my son. (We have been loving making spinning tops!)

7. They celebrate their progress. Age six is already so adorable, but even the hardest of hearts would be melted by watching these little people, wired for joy as they are, sharing their accomplishments with each other. I love hearing them gradually learn how to celebrate and help each other as well. It’s so easy for us adults to fall into a comparison trap instead, and one of my favorite quotes ever is, “comparison is the thief of joy.” Is that why social media can be so unsatisfying? We do not need to share our accomplishments to find satisfaction. A simple look-back on your schedule and/or accomplished tasks is all you need to receive a little dopamine reward.

  • Bonus- it can work on paper or digitally! I am coming around to returning to a paper journal is that I can get more creative and disengage with screens earlier in the day. It is almost a break unto itself to sit with my journal and sketch out tomorrow’s schedule, and therefore, also gets scheduled.

I am a BIG fan of Google Keep and Trello for organizing tasks and notes, so that is where my lists primarily live and have deeper, semantic engagement. As I revert back to paper and embrace a more creative daily scheduling practice, it has been interesting to notice that I have less need, or sense of need, for Google Keep. I still rely on Google Calendar for events that involve other people, but Google Keep has become much more about simple notes, recipes, and lists. I also like that my handwritten journal provides a bit of a time capsule to browse back through and feel a tangible sense of accomplishment. It may also support a ritual I am considering- burning them upon completion!

Thinking about daily schedules reminded me of when a creative coworker told me that she had dabbled in a bit of a craze at the moment-following Benjamin Franklin’s daily journal as a guide. I’m a lifelong night owl and not a polymath, so I really didn’t connect with his up-at-5 AM-lifestyle when first I gave it a gander. But, upon a deeper perusal of his daily schedule, I was inspired.

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Benjamin Franklin’s Daily Schedule from chapter IX of his autobiography In the Public Domain on Project Gutenberg: PLAN FOR ATTAINING MORAL PERFECTION

I love the way he bookended his days, asking a pair of questions. I have zero fucks, however, for attaining moral perfection. It may be a byproduct of my journey with MBSR, but my questions, still changing daily, look a little more like:

“How would I like to feel today?/What made me feel good today?”

and,

“What would I like to see today? What did I observe today?”

I have mostly just been noodling around in handwriting in bound journals from Muji (I love their paper and pens,) but I have also made a few templates in Canva to try as well. Do you have something you like?

So, friends! What would your questions be? Do you have daily practices? Do you even want daily practices? What are your scheduling Jedi mind-tricks? What should talk about more? What should I #dailyblog about more? Trello? Journaling?

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nerd with an MLIS superphoebe.com

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