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In 2021, I decided to plan out a more predictable schedule, than the already pretty structured week to week schedule I was following previously. I decided to plan my content, my day-to-day tasks and weekly milestones a month in advance. I produced my Instagram content for the coming month and planned my posting schedule. While Facebook Creator Studio automatically posted my content at scheduled times that month, I could work on the content for the next month. I set up my days with each day of the week dedicated to a certain tasks or personal project, with some margins for admin work, client projects and productivity lulls to be swapped in and out as needed. I was pretty chuffed about my schedule.
The first work week in January showed great promise of my new schedule being a success. I felt productive and I was less distracted because my calendar, the entity I had created to be my supervisor, was telling me what to do and when to do it. It told me not to dawdle, it stopped me from squeezing in unplanned tasks that, surely won’t take long and I can just do quickly. I even felt motivated to continue personal projects, like the second part of my MOGRT online class series. I had been putting it off, because I had gotten stuck at a particularly difficult part and since I can launch that any time, there is no pressure to finish that now. But my new boss was telling me that Tuesday’s and Friday’s are class creation and live stream days and therefore I must focus on those tasks. And I did! I felt like I was finally ahead, that I wasn’t running a race, gasping for breath, waiting for the next hurdle.
Then I fell ill. It was nothing dramatic or anything to worry about. It was a mild stomach flu but it threw my whole schedule out of wack. I was told by my doctor to rest and not to work. Even if I had been allowed, I was barely able to sit upright. Rest was the only option. I felt defeated.
I had finally found a rhythm that was working, that kept me motivated, even through drudging tasks like updating my ledger and submitting my taxes. It felt like I had spent all this time to create a schedule that was running like clockwork, just for it to get smashed by a hammer. I had calculated for interruptions of my daily routine by other projects but I hadn’t calculated for this. I hadn’t calculated for not working.
I struggle with unplanned events. Although, I deal well enough with unexpected situations when they occur during the course of a project, I have a hard time maneuvering them when they happen in other parts of my life. From experience I know, you can’t plan for every event throughout the life cycle of a project. Somehow, this experience doesn’t manifest itself outside of the project cycle.
Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.
― LAO TZU
It took, my doctor writing me a sick note (even though I don’t need one as a freelancer), for me to accept that this was the course my schedule was taking. Just like with my calendar overlord, it took someone else’s word for me to accept my fate. And just like with my sticker set, it took going through a focus testing phase, to refine and improve upon my schedule. I was reminded again that I can’t plan for everything and that my goals can’t be set so tightly that an unexpected event will make them unreachable. During this time of rest and recuperation, I also returned to my mindfulness practice. Learning to accept change and sitting with uncomfortable feelings is part of life. Meditation helps me train this acceptance. My breathing exercise inspired animation above reflects this practice. Inhala, exhala; breath in, breath out and accept what is happening instead of trying to force your way and change it.
Be kind to yourself and rest when your body calls for it.