We are approaching the end of the year and would be a good time to reflect on your accomplishments of this year and start planning for your future.
Yes, even though you are a creative, free spirit or a non conformist, you really need to plan to keep things together, get organized and achieve your goals or aspirations. If you consider yourself a dreamer, well, you still want your dreams to be a reality rite? And it takes conscious steps to achieve that.
You may encounter the some scenarios that forces you to learn to plan and follow it through. It is not necessarily a bad thing and it does not mean that you need to change into the kind of person that you are not comfortable in becoming. The modern world that we live in are based on systems and certain conventions. To a certain degree, we need to adhere to some of the norms of the society.
Planning for the creative soul, free spirit and non conformist
I know how it is like to be a rebel within and not being able to stick to plans, be it from others (like your teacher, boss, spouse, parents) or those of your own. But at certain scenario or stages in your life, you know very well, like it or not, you must plan in order to accomplish important tasks such as:
- planning your study and revision to pass exams
- meeting a project deadline
- planning for an important event like wedding, moving or migration
- goals that you wish to accomplish
If I could do it, so can you, my free spirited friend
I had been able to waltz through a large part of my life without the formal planning per se… ie writing down deadlines on paper. When I was still in school or university, I just mentally make a note of the revisions, projects or syllabus that I needed to complete. I guess I was what you could call the creative messy person, haha. Mostly my life was totally disorganized, my workdesk and home cluttered.
The need to be organized in work life
However, it came to certain stage of my life where it became totally necessary to plan. It was at my last job where work is never ending. But some work is more urgent than others. After a few times where I missed out on sending crucial communication to a few hundred key persons, I knew I have to get organized.
I got myself a work diary- B5 size with the setup that I like. And I would write down tasks that I need to do before I forget them. If a particular task needed to be done by Friday, I would put on the Friday or Thursday page. If it is really important, I will also mark it on my desk calendar. If it is super important, I will additional write a piece of paper and stick it on my monitor.
I have tried setting reminders at Microsoft Outlook…. but the popping windows were too distracting and overwhelming. And I had accidentally dismissed an important reminder instead of snoozing it.
Each time I complete a task, I will just strike off from the page. It kinda feel good to see it being struck off. And mentally I feel less pressured because my brain no longer need to remember stuff….that basically I have brain dumped them on my book.
Then, when my boss make me attend and sit through boring and sometimes totally unnecessary meetings, I will take my diary along. And then while folks are talking about stuff that I don’t really need to know…. I will go through my diary again and started transferring unfinished tasks to future dates- usually I transfer it on a Saturday/Sunday spread. Once transferred, I will strike off and write “OK” and circle it on top of the page. This lets me know that I need not worry about anything prior to that date.
Usually these unfinished tasks are not really urgent tasks but something I have identified that I could do if I have time (I am a workaholic so I don’t really rest).
At the end of each day, sometimes few times a day I will quickly go through the past week’s tasks to see that I have not missed out on anything urgent.
No doubt, I consider myself a non conformist, my sense of responsibility and accountability forced me to become more organized. Many staff are counting on me on a daily basis and I cannot afford to let them down.
Personal life when I become a caregiver and blogger
After I resigned from my job last year to become a full time caregiver, I resume back my free spirited self. Even though I resumed back my blogging, picking where I left off years ago, my passion alone was able to keep my hyperfocus into my blogging activities. At times, I went without sufficient sleep to complete certain migration or major changes to my blog.
However, there are certain occasions and events where planning is completely necessary. Lots of tasks to do such as cleaning, buying stuff, prayers and preparation, planning visits and buying gifts, etc for Chinese New Year. If I do not use a planner, diary and calendar to plan out my tasks, it will be totally chaos. And for events which requires a lot of preparation and small details, which can lead to a total disaster if you forget or overlook, you need to get the stress and weight off your mind by simply writing down these tasks on paper (for you it may be using an app or your laptop but I have always preferred pen and paper).
Next month, I would be making a big move and there is also a lot of things for me to plan out. Cleaning, decluttering, throwing away stuff and planning for my blogs. I went back to my planner and diary again because it feels utterly overwhelming to seemingly have lots of things to do but not enough time. But after I write down all my tasks in my diary and looked at my planner, it did not feel that overwhelming.
The simple act of writing down tasks and then planning when to execute these tasks really does help to take the weight and the stress off us, at least a little. It enables us to look at the situation realistically, rather than with imagined pessimism or unfounded fears. While most of the time we may be able to get away by living life ‘in the flow’, we would encounter certain challenging situation which is best dealt using some good old planning…. and sticking to it.
After a while, we may want to consider to slowly incorporate some plan and lists into other aspects of our lives to keep things sane and less overwhelming.