Time Awareness Part 2: How Planning Impacts Results
We’ve been covering time and becoming more aware of how it is being spent. I hope you’ve had the opportunity to assess where you’re at in your awareness of how you’re spending your time The opportunity to do some time journaling to empower you with the knowledge of where you have hidden time and the opportunity to gather some new perspectives to make decisions about how you want to do things. In this article, we will go over how your planning impacts results.
Today I want to share with you the concept or misconception, actually of spontaneity as it relates to how we spend our time. Some people think that in order to have fun, or feel free in their lives that they need to be “spontaneous”, “live in the moment”, “do things as they come up”.
I coach on reducing overwhelm. Increasing your satisfaction as a clinician and in your life. One of the things that comes up a lot is becoming deliberate about calendaring. I teach my clients a system of planning their days a week in advance in detail with a clear plan on how to achieve the results they’re after. What I teach works. I’m an example of it. The doctors who I’ve worked with on this are examples of it. It’s good stuff. But it’s not uncommon for some initial resistance to come up when we begin.
When I’m coaching on time and planning, the most common objections I get are that planning everything, especially in advance, is boring, rigid, and restrictive.
So I want to hit each of these things head-on and debunk them. I want to explain why our brains offer those objections, and offer you what I know to be an incredible experience of living life to the fullest, intentionally!
First of all, I recommend that you pick a designated time each week to plan your week. Some people get up early Monday morning, others prefer Sunday night. Pick a time that works for you and make it a habit.
As you’re planning your week, consider the things that you want to do. Exercise, family time, lunch with a friend, get those things on your calendar. Now, obviously, many of the “wants” are going to need to go outside of your designated “workday” hours. But put them on your schedule at the beginning of the week and when you do, you’ve just increased the likelihood of three sources of pleasure.
That preplanning your week is a boring way to live. Guys, if you’re preplanning your week and your week is boring, plan more fun and enjoyable things into your week!! My life is never boring and in the same breath, I’ll tell you that like clockwork certain things happen in my week, every week, just as I plan for them to happen. Why? Because I like them!
Take my workouts, for example. My work out is at the same time 5 days each week. I love my workouts. I look forward to my workouts. They’re good for my mind, body, and soul. They’re planned. Secured. In their spot, on my schedule, like a little gift I give myself each day at the same time. So do that. Decide what things you want to do. Decide what would be exciting for you and plan it. Get it on your schedule, commit to the date and time you’re going to treat yourself, or your spouse, or your family, and do it!
Now, why does the primitive brain resist the option of planning if you can pre-plan enjoyable activities? Because it’s work and the brain’s default is to gravitate toward ease. To avoid things that seem “laborious.” Not planning is easy. It requires nothing initially. But what the primitive brain doesn’t provide you is the reality check that while not planning may conserve effort and energy, it can cost you tons of both down the road when your lack of planning leads you to a whirlwind of things you have to do, scattered and disorganized. When I look at it that way, for me, there’s no contest. I’d much rather choose to put the effort into pre-planning my week than hope I have the energy for the countless fire drills of unplanned events I’m signing up for by not scheduling for things.
The next thing my clients tell me is that planning everything seems rigid. Let’s define rigidity. Rigidity is an inability to be bent or lacking flexibility. So, again, this one’s on you. I applaud you if you’re already making an effort to plan your week in advance, but I’d encourage you, if your schedule is lacking the necessary flexibility, to build that time back in. Help your staff know where to build that time back in. For a single surface composite filling, you may be in and out of the room in 5-10 minutes. But if it’s Mrs. Jones, your 83 year old patient who seems to feel everything and always has a lot of questions, you might add an extra 5-10 minutes to have a more reasonable perspective on how that appointment will go.
It’s the opposite of rigid to plan these things ahead of time. Because now I know what I’m dealing with. Now I know my availability to do the other things I’m doing. I’m equipped to make decisions about whether or not to take on anything extra. By not planning you’re “going with the flow” which may be a very bottlenecked or rushed flow. Trying to keep my head above water, being at the mercy of a day or a week that could have been better planned lacks the flexibility to design and create the results that I want. Not planning is rigid!
So when you go to plan your week, and your brain offers you thoughts about how rigid pre-planning is, remind yourself that the only way to combat rigidity, the only way to have true flexibility, is to take authority over your schedule and make sure you plan for it. That is where you gain power over your mind and your life. When you direct your mind go to work for you to plan for and design the things you want to happen when you take full ownership over your ability to have whatever you want in your days, your weeks, and your life, you gain authority over the resistance, the hesitance, and the avoidance of planning. You learn to master your mind and the limiting thoughts it offers you.
Let’s talk about freedom. I have found that my weekly practice of scheduling a week in advance to be one of the most freeing things that I do. So often, clinicians, especially ones who only follow a schedule during work hours, and generally one that’s been created for them, I understand that you perceive scheduling to be a restrictive activity. That couldn’t be further from the truth.
What’s restrictive is having a desire to do things, achieve things, visit places, have experiences, and never committing to them with enough intention that they are nailed down on the calendar. These can be big things or small things. It doesn’t really matter. Either way, if they’re not planned for they often don’t happen. Unconsciously holding yourself back from some or all of the things you want, because of a lack of conscious planning. That’s restrictive. It restricts some of the most enjoyable things. Some of your strongest desires!
I refuse to live that way. I have too many things I want to do, share, contribute to, see, and experience to just “let things happen.” If you’re reading this and thinking that what I teach somehow requires you to give up your book reading, window shopping, or lounge time, you’re not understanding me. Do those things too! But plan them. Own them!
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to hang out in your pj’s and play with your kids until 10 am on a Sunday morning. Do it all day if that’s what you want. Just take ownership over the decision. Don’t plan to not plan, then play all day, and then sink into overwhelm when you realize you didn’t do the other things you needed to do around the house. Choose play. Plan it first, and then plan when you’ll do other things. Maybe it’s a whole weekend of relaxation. That’s totally fine! Just plan to take care of the house stuff next week. Put it on the schedule so that your downtime is 100% engaged, not distracted, not ignoring the recurring thought that there are house tasks that you need to do. Just complete and total involvement with your family.
If you’ve planned your downtime or family time or catching up with friends in advance, the things you know you love doing and look forward to, it also frees you up to be completely engaged in your work, your business, your study groups, and your community involvement. When everything has a place on your calendar, and when you plug it in and follow through with it, you don’t have to spend any energy worrying about if or when you’ll get to things. You know exactly when you’ll get to things. They’ve been planned. And you’re the kind of doctor who does what he or she plans to do. Your follow-through is predictable because you value and honor your time.
That is what I want for you. That is what will allow you the space to create the results you want in your life. I value my time and I honor my schedule. It makes all of the difference and if there’s room for you to improve on your scheduling I want to encourage you to consider what you could do to make better use of your hours so that you can have your best life.
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