I am a morning person and when I get up I follow my morning routine. When I work a full day I plan on getting to work by 7:30 so I know I will be on my way home by 4:00PM. The funny thing is when I only have to work a half day I still end up getting to work by 7:30. I have not learned the fine art of sleeping late or lounging when there is work to be done. Don’t get me wrong if I don’t have to go to work I can sit back and chill and occasionally forget to change out of my pajamas! But when there is work to be done my brain only has one speed and it is the equivalent to 4th gear! My job is fast paced and productivity matters so procrastination is a really BAD thing.
Now that I am not working full-time I have a lot more unstructured days. After sleeping in until 6:30 or 7:00AM, I drink my tea, feed my dog, take my quiet time, walk my dog, make and drink my breakfast smoothie. And then I think what next???? Now don’t get me wrong this is a really nice, pleasant question and I am honestly only asking it because I have had 2 slow weeks at work and have been home quite a bit. I have to factor in some activities on my days at home to ensure I don’t just play on the computer while lounging in my sweats or go on mad cleaning and organizational frenzies day after day.
I used to fight my urge/need to clean and organize the house. I used to fight it like it was a bad thing. I thought of cleaning as a form of procrastination from other more important tasks. I am learning to embrace my need to clean. I love a clean house and the cleaning frenzy is just a short manic phase I go thru usually when home alone that gets the house organized and presentable. However as important as an organized home is to me, I do have other goals that I plan to accomplish such as visiting Alaska, having a cool garden/yard, going on a bike or kayak adventure and continuing to work a flexible schedule that meets my financial as well as emotional, social and physical needs.
In many ways, I am a simple person living a simple life. My full-time job had high productivity standards that increased my stress levels beyond my comfort level and required constant social interaction with nowhere to go to decompress. Being somewhat introverted this was difficult for me. I remember placing a yellow sticky note on my clipboard that said something like “go to your happy place; your little blue kayak in the middle of the lake.” This was just one way I tried to keep my sanity!
I don’t claim to be an incredible Occupational Therapist however I know I have the ability to relate to my patients, to calm their fears and to gain their trust. Although I enjoyed the actual work related tasks I did not like my job. I started to slowly explore reducing full-time work in 2013 by taking 2 months off. I quit my job and moved in April of 2014 and did not resume full-time work for 7 months. By May of 2015 I voluntarily
stepped SKIPPED out of the 9-5 routine by going per-diem at my job and doing odd jobs here and there while simultaneously reducing my expenses. Working per-diem allows me to continue to engage in work that I enjoy and am good at without compromising my emotional needs.
As I have simplified my life by stepping away from a 9-5 routine I have complicated my life as well. Don’t get me wrong, I love the life I am living and I do not see myself returning to full-time employment any time soon, however I have an underlying unsettled feeling that comes with a decrease in financial security. I find myself mentally calculating how much money I have earned with each day at work or every odd job I do. I tally up the total and compare it to my monthly expenses. When I am working a lot of hours I fund my retirement and savings account and when the hours decrease I reach out for additional work and reduce spending a bit more.
Financially, I am doing fine and the underlying worry is perhaps my way of reminding myself that my life is not as simple as I like to think. I know I need to stay on top of my income and expenses and that I have options if I can not meet my financial needs. Socially I know I need to interact with friends and family on a regular basis and not shrink my social circle by too firmly embracing my inner introvert. Emotionally I am learning to take my quiet time to keep my head clear and calm. Physically I need to remain active in order to have the strength and endurance to pursue the activities that I love such as hiking, biking and kayaking.
Since 2013, one of my favorite activities to stay on top of my financial, social, emotional and physical needs is what I call “Sculpting My Day”. I learned this term from the Sculptor’s Attitude which states “Today lies ahead of me waiting to be shaped, and here I am the sculptor who gets to do the shaping.” Don’t you think “Sculpting My Day” sounds so much cooler than “Writing My To Do List”? For me it incorporates more than just bullet points to be checked off as completed.
When I write my to list, I remember to vacuum, pick up groceries and go to the bank. When I sculpt my day, I remember to include doing my yoga video, reading the brochure on visiting Anchorage, researching garden/yard projects as well as the daily tasks that must get completed. When I sculpt my day I ensure there is a balance and a flow to my day. It helps me to ensure that the daily tasks get done but also that I take small steps toward achieving my long-term goals while meeting my needs.
As I get better at remembering to sculpt my day and improve in the practice of doing so I anticipate a decrease in worrying and an increase in my ability to purposefully choose work options, social engagements, emotional activities and physical pursuits that are in alignment with my goals. Taking quiet time daily to clear my head and allow my AHA moments of insight followed by purposefully sculpting my day are two techniques I am learning to use to ensure I choose health, wealth and happiness every day, not just when my kayak veers off course and I stop to figure out where I am and how the hell I got there.