If you let your schedule do the talking, what would it say? If you wrote down everything you did every day for one week, you’d find that there are certain things you always do at particular times — a ritual, so to speak. But not in a compulsive sense; think of it as an activity pattern. For example, before going to class, you head to Jazzman’s for X drink and Y food or any combination thereof. Those are the patterns of activity that I’m referencing here.
I’m in no way about to suggest that you should break out of your patterns because you’re somehow a slave to a developed routine that works for your life or that you should feel guilty about balancing your responsibilities and such or even that relying on certain substances or objects to get you through is wrong. (Coffee and an iPod, anyone?)
I’m merely suggesting you break out of your pattern, at least every now and again. Take a miniature vacation from your prefigured responsibilities and do things you wouldn’t normally do. Even better is doing the things you normally would at different times.
One seems to find control in following a routine, but for me, my day comprises the things I have to get done. I call it my “today list” not my “to do list” because I tend to get ahead of myself sometimes. But having a set program to follow, avoiding it and still accomplishing the things on my list creates a stronger feeling of control. I guess it’s the equivalent to the muscle confusion fitness technique, but in this case a more fitting title would be schedule confusion.
I don’t own a car in Oregon, so when I have things to take care of before or between classes those things are planned into my day —that’s simple and nothing out of the ordinary, right? But with me, once it’s in my plan — the one I make sure is logical and time efficient so as to avoid unnecessarily trekking across campus from the Legacy Apartments down to the mailroom — I have trouble seeing an alternative plan. Everything is set in place as if I can’t take care of things any other way.
That may come off as slightly neurotic, but I’m convinced that I’m not solo in terms of this technique. I’m also sure that when a person plans out his or her day, that person doesn’t also list out how many different ways the day’s tasks can be accomplished. Usually, the original plan is the master plan, and there’s no need to determine the best-case scenario for getting errands done.
Should there be, though, a bonus for sorting out the most efficient game plan? I think that there already is a bonus, hence the aforementioned feelings of control, not to mention efficiency and a tidge of pride.
Perhaps what I have failed to mention thus far is how seldom the best-case scenario arises. It usually happens on a whim, like when I’ve forgotten to do something while I’m on my way to do something else. I realize that I can make some quick adjustments and still come out on top despite my mind’s tendency to adhere to a specific order.
The potential to optimize one’s schedule should not be undervalued; it leaves us open to new things and situations, sharpens our focus and planning skills and helps us think on our feet. In my case, rearranging the order in which I accomplish the day’s tasks gives me the feeling that I am the boss and that I make my schedule —not the opposite.
Septembre Russell/Copy chief
Septembre Russell can be reached at email@example.com.