Productivity, Uncategorized

On Liberating Constraints (aka Bossy Calendars)

What do you think of when you hear the phrase, “calendar worship”?  When I first heard it, my ego was like, “Nuh-uh. Nope.  That’s not healthy.  That’s too restrictive.”  But then when I was introduced to the concept of “liberating constraint” in conjunction with “calendar worship,” my perspective shifted.  By putting self-imposed restrictions on our time, it can actually free up more brain space and energy to actually DO the things we want to do.  It can be a boon to focus and flow.  Let me explain.

I’ve been working with a business coach, Kate Reuter, and in response to my frustrations about having too much to do and too little time in which to do it, she encouraged me to start following The Life Coach School – Monday Hour One protocol.  With this protocol, you take your whole To Do list, and you book EVERYTHING on your calendar.  And then you throw away your To Do list.  You don’t need it anymore, because everything you need to do is now on your calendar. 

Easy Peasy, right?

Ha!  Well, it’s not easy.  But it IS eye-opening.

First I pulled together all the random to-do lists I have.  Then I put them in a To Do app (Todoist), and then I integrated that with my Gmail calendar.  That didn’t work so well.

Next, I actually did what Kate told me to do (Funny how one resists taking advice from an expert that one is paying quite a bit of money for.  Human brains are funny). I took my bullet journal (which is where I keep some of my tasks/appointments), my Acuity calendar (which is where I keep my bodywork appointments), and then I pulled up my Gmail calendar (which is where birthdays, some reminders, and some appointments are tracked).  No wonder I consistently feel overwhelmed – so much data in so many places.  Not to mention my Outlook calendar (which is where my appointments/tasks/reminders for my job as a project & resource manager at the bank are kept), but I’m keeping that sequestered for now.

I took all of my non-bank stuff and put it ALL on my Gmail calendar.  I started by putting in my recurring stuff:  Morning coffee & reading & writing, meditation, work-outs, showers, meals, blocks for when I work at the bank, blocks for when I see clients, and blocks for sleeping (8 hours/night). 

O M G

Before this exercise, I experienced so much self-recrimination for not accomplishing more in my week.  Why don’t I actually DO the classes I have paid for?  Why don’t I read more?  Why don’t I write more?  Why has my car been perilously close to empty for a week? 

Because my week is already pretty damn full with Living Life stuff – eating, sleeping, working. 

This was so eye-opening.  Yes, I do have some blocks of open time in my week, but I don’t have enough blocks to do EVERYTHING at the same time.  Which means I have to look at my values, and schedule those open blocks in alignment with my values.  I have to CHOOSE what is most important, and then block out time on the calendar to accomplish that.

For the past 3 weeks I have been spending an hour on Sundays planning out the upcoming week.  I already have all those recurring appointments in my calendar, which takes care of a big chunk of my week. I then take my list of To Dos that have accumulated over the week and book time for them in my calendar, and I reserve time for the following:

  • Relaxation and NOT doing stuff (usually Saturday afternoon and evening and tidbits of time throughout the week)
  • Finishing the Buteyko Breathing Certification class I bought LAST YEAR
  • Connecting with friends and/or family
  • Creating the Bodymind Blindspot Assessment and Program
  • And the misc. appointments and meetings that need to occur that week

What have I learned whilst doing this process:

  • Scheduling “free time” is liberating.  I can NOT do anything and NOT feel guilty.  “I’m just following my schedule, Ego, you can just be quiet now.”
  • I can’t do everything.  I have more realistic expectations for myself now.
  • Putting stuff on the calendar gets it out of your head, reducing “cognitive load.”  What that means is that all that stuff floating around in your head that you know you have to do “some time” takes up working memory and makes you less focused and efficient.
  • It takes discipline to do what you have scheduled to do.  Sometimes I don’t “feel” like it.  And then sometimes I don’t follow my calendar.  But sometimes I do, and then I feel very proud of myself, which is a lovely feeling!!
  • While I love working with a paper calendar, working with an online calendar makes setting up recurring events and adjusting the calendar much easier.
  • I continue to refine my calendar, based on how things went the prior week.  Each week I have a better idea of how much time things should take and what kind of balance of doing vs. being I need in order to stay sane.

If this concepts piques your interest, here are some additional resources:

Flow Research Collective – Calendar Worship and Time Tracking

  • This introduces you to the theory of “liberating constraint” and the logistics of how to start creating a calendar that will help you get into Flow.  Plus the host of the class has a gorgeous accent.  <3.

The Life Coach School – Monday Hour One

  • Brooke Castillo walks you through her approach.  I personally use kind of a hybrid between the FRC and LCS approaches.

From a spiritual, whole-person wellbeing approach, here is time-tracking guidance from “Yoga Therapy as a Creative Response to Pain” by Dr.  Matthew Taylor:

“Abusing your time commitments is participating in violence against self.  This may be in the form of overscheduling to the point that you are never still.  Or it may be by allocating your time in a manner that doesn’t reflect your inner priorities.

Both create strain and turbulence.  We aren’t machines designed to run at maximum capacity.  Try making a list of your values and prioritize them, then compare those priorities with how you actually spend your time.  Keep this list and check it each week as you plan your time.  Schedule just “being” time and honor that as a high priority.  Set the intention, set the schedule for a human (I LOVE THIS), then review.  Every week.”

Let me know if you have any questions about how I am implementing this advice, or if you need some ideas about how to get started without overwhelming yourself.

And now on to some news to share with my clients:

I am likely going to be moving in to MY OWN SPACE within the next month or so!! The new space will enable me to offer additional appointment times, and I’ll be able to offer you more treatment options including restorative yoga, mindful movement coaching, and resources to help with shifting your mindset.  I will also have an electric table, which will make it easier for you to get on and off the table, as well as enable me to lower the table, so I can more effectively treat those hips!  I am finalizing the details, but I wanted to give you a heads up as early as possible.  When I move to the new space, I will send an update in the newsletter and within your reminders from Acuity. 

Due to a variety of factors, I will also need to increase my rates.  Starting 2/1/22 rates for follow-up appointments will increase by $10.  I have options that will help keep your cost per treatment down, so please reach out to me if interested.

As always, if anything I wrote piques your interest, and you want to know more, holler at me.  I want to know what YOU want to know!  And if you need some help with reducing pain, improving your performance, or with feeling more at home in your body, you can book with me here

Whew, I budgeted 90 minutes for this letter, so I better scoot so I can get it loaded and sent out within the remaining 20 minutes.  Hope you have a great Sunday and chat with you next week!