One thing I’ve had to learn and re-learn and re-re-learn is that there’s no such thing as a normal week. If I needed a reminder, this week was a reminder (and apparently I did need a reminder because once again I was shocked — SHOCKED! — that the week did not go according to plan). Labor Day, sick kids, network outages — I did not get done what I’d planned to. Not around the house and not at my desk. Since we’ve been talking about scheduling this week, I see that there’s some poetic justice in my up-ended week. Still, I carry on. I hope you’ll forgive me for using the roundup to cover just two more topics on scheduling. I’ll reward you with a killer last line at the end. On to the roundup:
nuts and bolts I figure everyone probably knows how to plug time-slots into a calendar (paper or digital), but I do want to share a few nuts-and-bolts like tricks that help me make time for my creative life. Here they are:
- have a basic schedule — Mine is pictured here (although it has already changed since I wrote it out). It’s the blueprint for each week that I sit down with on Sunday night when I’m planning out the week to come. Speaking of which, this
- sunday night reminder is also very helpful. A few minutes to sit down, look at the week, make adjustments, remind myself of all the most important things, and recommit to the wild ride of life, helps me feel more centered and committed at the beginning of every week. But speaking of making adjustments, I make sure to
- build in flexibility. A schedule without some built-in flexibility is a schedule that won’t hold. The schedule I wrote out last weekend has already shifted. Note that I have two days that I call flex days — I’ll spend these days at my desk if time allows; I’ll do other things if life requires it, or if I need some extra self-care that week, or if someone’s home sick from school. Which is why I
- do the most important things early and often. The two most important things for me — my fundamental unit of work (morning reading/writing) and submitting poems) come early in the week, and/or early in the day.
If you’d like to read more about the inner work and nuts and bolts of scheduling, I recommend The Clockwork Muse. Although it’s more suited to long projects such as doctoral dissertations and prose books, I do think it’s a good resource (Chapter 1 especially) for anyone who wants to create a schedule with time for everything that’s most important in their lives.
living intentionally So, I feel like the Peanuts’ teacher: wah wah wah wah wah. I’m doling out my advice, pretending I know something. Really, I’m only learning as I go and trying my best to live intentionally so that I can live a life that feels like it’s mine. And I know that I am on the “extremely” end of the fortunate scale — and that scheduling (and many other things in life) is easier for me because of it. Still, I think the number one thing to living intentionally is remembering this other thing I’ve learned and re-learned and re-re-learned: If something’s not working, there is usually something we can do to change it. We might have to ask for more help, say no to our kids or our church or our mothers-in-law, give up that TV show we kind of like but not as much as we like this other thing we want to do. Et cetera. So, for example, one thing I’m very intentional about is limiting the number of activities my kids participate in. First of all, I think down time is good for everyone. But secondly, I’m protective of my time and energy and I don’t want to spend my whole life shuttling them places. They can join more when they’re old enough to get to activities themselves (which will be soon). So, blah, blah and all that — what I’m saying is, if there’s not enough time for something that’s vital to our lives, we can usually change things to get at least a little more time, if not right away, then over the long run.
(Somebody shut her up!)
Okay, now, finally, someone else’s voice. I’m cheating on this, but Donna has a really great poem on her blog today with a
killer last line Here it is:
From the Platform
The subway doors close
between us. I wave goodbye, still
taste morning from your quick
kiss-toothpaste, coffee, a bite
from last night’s chocolate cake.
I walk alongside the train, turn
to catch your eyes one last
time through the commuter crowd.
But you look straight ahead into
the dark lines of the tunnel,
book resting on your lap, eyes
full of the hazel green of your scarf.
You could live without me.
My heart is pierced! This poem is from the chapbook Memory/Future by Heather Aimee O’Nell (Gold Line Press), which I now want to run out and read. Do you have any favorite killer last line poems? I would love to know — share them in comments if you like.
Happy Friday, Reader, and thanks as always for reading. Next week we’ll talk more about organization: understanding your process and setting up a filing system that fits whatever your process is.