When I started thinking about how I would make some changes in my personal and creative life, I started with the first necessary component: scheduling. I knew several things, up front, and I began to plan accordingly.
First, making changes in our lives that have measurable, positive effects almost never happen accidentally. Once I came to a point of saying, “Something’s gotta give,” then I needed to be INTENTIONAL about my actions. Further, those actions have to be a part of a PROCESS. Change is rarely a “magic wand” moment. It takes time, effort, and patience. (And, to fuel the commitment to see the process through, I have to believe in both the process and the intended outcomes.) Finally, I knew my intentions, and the resulting practices, had to be HOLISTIC. The plan I was coming up with needed to address the whole me: mind, body, and spirit.
As the public school year came to a close, and as we settled into our new living space, it seemed like a good time to hit the “reset” button and try something new. So, here’s the three-part method I used to come to terms with scheduling (or planning, or facilitating) my program. (Pick whichever word doesn’t ruffle your creative feathers…)
1. Identification – The first thing I needed to do was identify what I perceived as the deficiencies in my current plan, the ways I could remedy those deficiencies, and decide on some measurable ways to keep track of progress. For me, I knew there were some very specific areas I needed to address: creativity, time on task with writing, spiritual and psychological well-being, and physical health. I made a list of each of these areas (along with a brief description of what the “ideal” would look like) and then, within each area, a sub-list of specific actions I could take to address the identified needs. This was a brainstorm list, not just a list of things I had already decided to do.
2. Set Goals – You can call them “priorities” if the word “goal” makes you nervous. I took things from the list (such as “Daily Journal” or “Regular time for prayer and meditation” or “Go to one new place each week”) and began to quantify the frequency I wanted them to happen. For example, I wanted to finish at least one new book a week, and wanted to have a quiet time of meditation and prayer every day. It was during this phase that I also decided to commit to a twelve week plan: once I set the goals and made up a schedule for meeting the goals, I was going to stick with it for twelve weeks. (Why twelve? It’s divisible into three 4-week phases of implementation…mostly.)
3. I wrote it all down – First, by making a listing of the specific things I wanted to accomplish, and the frequency I wished to accomplish them. I wrote them out, then, I came up with a daily “ideal” calendar which would allow me time on task for each area. (Otherwise, I’m just “hoping” it happens, not making it happen.) And then, I developed tracking sheets to measure my progress.
And, that’s where I will resume this discussion, next time…
Until then, Happy Writing.