I don’t do well when I’m untethered. Not for me the glorious freedom of no constraints or obligations; I operate best within boundaries. I think I might fly away without them.
The past couple of weeks have been all about getting to know my ‘new normal’. I have alternated between restless boredom and brimming with excited opportunity. No inbetween, it seems. So many ideas to implement… but for what? The prospect of rapidly diminishing funds is quite the motivator, but it turns out it’s not enough of a motivator to keep me on track.
Boundaries are so important. I could always see how they work for kids and now I can see that they simply work because we’re people. We all approach productivity differently, of course – I like Gretchen Rubin’s Four-Tendencies to explain this best). As a born Rebel, I am well aware the I won’t do anything if I feel like I should be doing it. Instant motivation killer right there. This is why boundaries are so important for me – it’s the only way I know to keep myself accountable. With three separate projects kicking off at the same time – client social media work, freelance writing and Mumlyfe, I need some daily structure!
Here are three ways I’ve put some boundaries in place for myself:
1. A theme a day
With so many projects to work on and so much to do, I thought it best to put a loose theme in place for each weekday. A theme isn’t a ‘what I am working on today’ thing (that’s my To Do list), rather it’s a way of hopefully channelling my ideas and thinking in a certain direction to help me focus. While I will be working on every aspect of my life every day (as we do), I’m hoping a theme will help calm me down and tether my thoughts. At the moment, my themes look like this:
- Monday – Social Addict
- Tuesday – Mumlyfe
- Wednesday – Home life / New projects
- Thursday – Freelance writing
- Friday – Social Addict
2. Blocks of time
I am very good at staying on track once I get going (tending to lose myself in my work quite easily), but I am terrible at beginning. I’ve found that a loose structure of blocks of time each day helps me with this. This is something I learned from my friend Kelly Exeter, but where Kel likes to structure her day down almost to the minute (actually, I imagine it is to the exact minute if she can get it), I need to take a looser approach or I’m likely to rebel against my own system. A typical day for me right now looks like this:
3. Daily rhythm
The word ‘routine’ makes me break out in a cold sweat. As I’ve mentioned above, I can’t do too much structure and a routine feels very structurey. Instead, I have daily rhythms (something Brooke McAlary talks about a lot in her book Destination Simple and on her blog Slow Your Home). Here are are some of the daily rhythms that keep my day dancing along:
- At some point in the morning I will do a 10-minute quick clean up while I boil the kettle for a cup of tea. I enjoy my tea on my front verandah and try not to read or scroll or do anything else while I drink it.
- At some stage every day I put 15 minutes aside to tackle a project or a job that I’ve been putting off. This morning I swept the leaves off the back deck.
- At some stage every day I do a ‘brain dump’, where I refresh my To Do list and write down new ideas to get them out of my head
- At some stage every day I will phone someone for a quick chat – I have a tendency to live in my computer so a chat is very important
- In the afternoon I always break from whatever I’m doing to enjoy afternoon tea with the kids. Some days I’ve baked something earlier, other days I spread jam on a bit of bread or cut up an apple, but we always make time to sit and talk about our days.
It’s a fine line between rhythm and routine, but I always know when I’m crossing it. The minute I feel like something is becoming regimented, I simply won’t do it. I try to make myself do it, but I just won’t. I’ve learned to see that my ‘procrastination’ tendencies are just my juvenile way of rebelling when I feel too structured. Keeping things loose and free-flowy is vital if I’m going to stay on track.
Do you like routine or rebel against it? How do you structure your days? Or maybe you don’t have to?