Recently I blogged about Laura Vanderkam’s Tranquillity by Tuesday: 9 Ways to Calm the Chaos and Make Time for What Matters. Now that I have finished the book, and tried out some of the rules for time management, here is a follow up sharing how things went:
What did I try out and how did it go?
The first ‘rule’ that I put to the test for me is Rule Two: Plan on Fridays. The basic idea is to plan for the week ahead on a Friday afternoon and the chapter goes into explaining why this is a helpful practice and how to do it. I already plan on a weekly basis, but it was still interesting to read more about why this is effective. Two things jumped out at me:
Plan across three key categories: career (which I took to be short-hand for all types of work, paid and unpaid), relationships (which encompasses partners, family, friends, any we care for and spend time with, including pets) and self (this is the category that is easy to overlook).
Plan on Fridays: there is a good section on why Friday afternoon is a good time to plan (provided you follow a Monday – Friday work or school schedule):
- there is little opportunity cost: for many of us, Friday afternoon is close to the weekend, it’s not a good time to start something new and this less busy time can be extra productive if used for planning;
- You can make Monday productive: start the week knowing what your day is going to bring and focusing on it;
- Upgrade your weekends: making more time to make plans for leisure or family time or self care rather than using the weekend for planning;
- Calm the ‘Sunday scaries’: meaning that going into the weekend with a clear plan for the following week helps you switch off and stop worrying about or planning for what’s ahead.
This last reason resonates with me in particular, as I usually do planning on Sunday evenings and I have definitely found that to have downsides.
Overall, I found this habit took some effort to embed in my week, partly because I don’t follow a regular Monday to Friday work schedule and partly because some of my planning is done with other’s.
However, I did schedule a regular planning session into my work diary and home diary, and I made an effort to start planning on Thursdays and Fridays for the week ahead.
The biggest improvement that I felt nearly immediately was that I worried a lot less over the weekend. I found it very helpful to have thought about the week ahead and have a plan in place.
I also found it easier than I had expected to slip in some productive time into my usually quiet Friday afternoons. This was something I hadn’t been sure about, but I found it easier than expected.
Upgrading my weekends hasn’t really happened yet, but I think that is largely because they already work very well… and as it happens I started a new yoga class on Saturday mornings at the same time as I started this new habit, which feels like good timing.
Further inspiration from the book
I really enjoyed this book and took a lot of inspiration from it. The two ideas that jumped out at me that feel particularly helpful to me are: first, the concept of a back-up slot and also the idea to include one little and one big adventure in plans for each week.
Planning in some ‘adventures’ seems like a cheerful idea and looking for activities that I could do in one hour or less (little adventure) or half a day (big adventure) feels both challenging and achievable. It relates to the three categories I used to start planning my weeks (work, relationships, self) and I am going to try that idea out in the coming months.
I also LOVE the concept of a back up slot for my diary. In the book Laura goes into different ways in which this can be helpful, from scheduling time slots for particular work tasks, for family time or even days of the week.
In practice I have long had back up slots in my schedule, but I never thought of them as such, so revisiting this in the context of the book. I found it helpful to consider in what ways I could use this strategy and I found exercise a really good example of an activity that needs a back up slot as it is rare for me to be able to exercise as I plan each week as something always comes up. So an exercise back up slot will definitely be in my schedule from now on!