Most people think I'm a pretty laid-back, happy-go-lucky kinda gal. That's true. Except, of course, when it comes to time management. Therein lies my dirty little secret. You see, I'm a SUPER PLANNER.
What is a SUPER PLANNER, you ask? I'll give you an example. I was walking by my neighbor's house the other day. You know, the cool mom with the three little kids. She's hanging out in the front yard, rocking in her porch swing with a glass of ice tea in her hand, watching her kids play in the dirt. She's always doing that, you know. Just sort of swaying in the breeze. I think it's pretty cool.
"Hey Christine!," she calls. "We're heading to the beach later today. You and Marley should come with us!"
I should have been delighted. After all, it was a beautiful day for the beach. Not a cloud in the sky, and barely enough breeze to ruffle Marley's pigtails. But I wasn't delighted. I was appalled. Appalled! Why? Because going to the beach wasn't part of the PLAN.
"Oh, thanks so much!" I reply. "But we have a really busy day. Maybe next time!"
"Oh yeah?" says my neighbor. Clearly, I'm not off the hook. "What are you up to?"
"Well," I respond. "We are going for a little jog, then over to the park. Marley's really into the swings now. Then we're going to the library, because we REALLY need some new books, and I have some old ones to return, and, you know, I don't want to get a fine."
I'm feeling really stupid now, because none of these things are THAT important. I COULD go to the beach and still have time to return the books...but...well...I planned on doing these other things.
"Stop by some other time then," she says. "Just bring Marley over to play. She'll have a blast! Come anytime."
"I will, I will, thanks!" I say, and we are on our way.
Later on, when we're inside the library reading books, I look out the window at the sunny, perfect day. I silently wonder if I'm depriving Marley of a fun day at the beach. I wonder if I'm depriving myself of a fun day at the beach. I vow that in the very near future, I will bring Marley over to my neighbor's house to play. I will be more spontaneous. I will not plan everything, I will let life happen to me!
I guess planning is my nature. It's my way of keeping order out of chaos. I have my special black day planner, and every day is carefully planned out. Most of it is fun stuff--Stroller Strides, Marley's dance classes, playdates, the occasional date night or happy hour with the girls. Of course, I also list work-related items, like updating our real estate website, following up with clients, etc.
And then there's the home-related stuff. Every week, I list what I will make for dinner that night. I also list dumb things like WASH HAIR (les I forget) and VACCUM/SWIFFER (because I do forget.) Once a task is completed, I strike thru it with a blue (not black) pen. If a task is eliminated (ie, playdate cancelled) I mark it out with my special dryline whiteout, so it looks like it never existed, and therefore cannot be mourned.
In short, if it's in my planner, it's probably going to happen. And if it's not in my planner, it probably won't happen.
In many ways, managing my time so well enables me to balance a lot of good stuff. I think it helps me be a good mom, hopefully a good wife, run a business, and still have a pretty rockin' social life. But in other ways...it just feels so limiting.
Finally, a few days later, I stop by my neighbor's house, unannounced. I'm doing it! I'm coming over for a spontaneous playdate. At first, I am nervous. I hesitate before I ring the bell. Then I hear three pairs of feet charging the door, and Grace, the oldest, announces with a huge smile of delight, "Marley's here to play!"
And that's how it is. My neighbor and I drink iced tea and sit in the porch swing in the afternoon sun. We watch all the kids playing in the dirt. And it is beautiful.
Is anyone else out there SUPER PLANNER like me? How do you remind yourself to just go with the flow, and let things happen?