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Severine Sets A Schedule


Severine

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This challenge, I am doing something that makes me quite nervous. I'm going to try adding more regimentation and structure to my life, and see if it helps me increase productivity, manage my stress, and make greater progress toward accomplishing my goals.

 

For many people that might seem like a very logical, obvious, and harmless idea. But I don't have a happy relationship with structure. In general, this is how I feel about rigid structure and routine:

giphy.gif

 

I have always been someone who chafed under rules. I value the ability to think freely and make my own choices, not to just follow instructions set by someone else who may not even know what they're doing. I value the freedom to experiment, to make mistakes, to experience all of life has to offer - not just the safe and predictable stuff. I hate being told what to do and I treasure the freedom to make my own choices, even if they're the wrong choices.

 

So for the past few years, as I've worked on self-improvement goals like fitness and weight loss and career advancement, I have avoided making anything too constricting or too rigid. I needed flexibility, I reasoned, to prevent me from rebelling. And I made a good amount of progress. But eventually I hit a wall past which I have not been able to progress. And I had trouble with consistency, and maintaining my achievements, and I backslid some. 

 

Spoiler for a bit of explanation of how I decided to try doing a thing I used to think was a really bad idea for me:

Spoiler

 

About two months ago I started seeing a therapist to help me deal with my anxiety and stress management issues. I'm a pretty introspective person and I always thought I understood myself very well, but therapy made me re-examine a lot of things I used to think of as settled questions. My attitude toward structure is one of them. I always thought of it as a negative, but my therapist has pointed out a lot of instances where I feel anxious about uncontrollable things (like politics or family illness) and not anxious about something if I feel it is predictable or something that is within my power to change (like paying bills, or filing insurance papers).

 

And having examined more closely, I think it might not be structure itself that bothers me. I think it's the source of the structure - if it's imposed upon me, without my agreement or input, by an external source that I don't respect or agree with (like a company I work for, or a physical trainer who I don't believe knows what he's doing) then I resent the oppression of their stupid rules. But when I think back, I remember telling people that one of the things I loved about running a farm was that the schedule of farming was determined not by arbitrary rules or timetables, but by the genuine physical circumstances of sun and rain and plant growth stages. It wasn't a fake schedule, it was a real schedule, based on good reasons. The crops needed to be watered and harvested at set times, but I never resented that regimentation. I trusted that it was justified.

 

Anyone who has been following my challenges knows that I struggle with procrastination and consistency. There are so many things on my to-do list and so many goals that I often have trouble figuring out which thing to do in any one minute. I have this overarching feeling that I am always making really poor use of my time, always letting myself be distracted or interrupted, never focusing on something fully. It's like I'm constantly stuck at the point of deciding what I should be doing, and never doing it. And I realized that in order to escape that paralysis that I feel is limiting my productivity, I might actually need more of the structure I've always tried to avoid. The key is that I have to be the one to build the structure, to make all the choices. It had to be a structure based on real conditions and real needs, like on the farm. Not the fake arbitrary structure of an office.

 

 

Anyway, the short version is that I'm going to try more structure this challenge, and see if it affects my ability to reach my goals. I have set myself up a daily schedule of sorts, with time allocated for my morning and evening routines, exercise, work, chores, learning, and fun and social time. Some days will look slightly different due to various scheduled events but my plan is to follow the schedule as much as practical and keep honest track of how I feel about it, and whether it's helping. I talked with my therapist and loved ones about this and everyone thinks it's a good idea and worth trying. 

 

What are my actual goals?

 

  1. Food 
    • I want to continue logging my food every day, right after I eat.
    • I want to eat as close to my schedule as possible, so long as it feels good and makes sense with the day's events.
    • My eventual goal is to cut down on snacking outside meals. But for now I will just track when I snack.
    • I will try to keep my calories under maintenance, if possible. I may re-evaluate and drop this goal if it starts to freak me out. 
  2. Exercise
    • I will exercise every day during my set exercise time (in the morning before I shower). My goal is 30-60 minutes a day. This is going to feel hard. Some days I will not want to do it. I will need to pay attention to how I feel and see how this goes.
  3. Stress Management
    • I will go to therapy every week.
    • My new schedule includes a morning routine, which includes 10 minutes to review the plan for the day in my Hobonichi. It also includes 5-10 minutes for morning stretching.
    • I also have a new evening routine, which includes time for microjournalling in my Hobonichi, a bit of light evening stretching/breathing, and 30 min of reading before bed. There is also a set bedtime. I struggle with insomnia so I am hoping this will help my sleep hygiene, get me more rest, and in turn reduce stress.
    • I am not going to read any news after dinner time. I have changed my phone notifications to auto-mute during that time.
    • Every day as part of my evening routine I will rate how stressed out I felt that day, from 1-10.
  4. Learning
    • I just started learning Spanish and it's a priority for me right now. My schedule includes time every day to work on it (30-60 min depending on the day).

 

You might notice the goals are mostly the same as before, with a few additions. The schedule is not a goal in itself, it's simply a method I am testing out, to see if it helps me make better progress on the goals.

 

I am expecting this to be really hard. I am expecting myself to have a lot of BUT I DON'T WANNA feelings when it's the set time for me to do something like exercise or work. But I also have to admit that what I am doing now - no structure, and just assuming that I'll do things when I feel like it - is not working for me. Procrastination is a huge problem for me and makes me a less productive, less happy person. The reality is that there are some things I may never feel like doing that I need to do anyway. And usually what happens is I put them off for ages, I'm stressed and guilty the whole time I'm not doing them, and then when I finally start, I feel dumb for putting it off because it's really not such a big deal. And I wish I had just started way sooner. But starting is the hard part. That's part of what the schedule is for. 

 

I'm going to assess, as I go, how this is working for me. It might turn out to be a terrible idea. But I won't know until I give it an honest try. And the simple fact of me even being willing to consider trying a schedule is such a giant change that I honestly have no idea how it'll go.

 

Bring it on!

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Totally here for this. Huzzah! It's funny, I'm totally bristling reading your schedule, but now it makes me want to examine my own relationship with scheduling and timing. Cheering for you to make it work!

 

were you the one who told me about Lingvist for French? It looks like they've added Spanish now but I haven't been able to check it out bc I forgot my login. FYI, anyway. 

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Oh my god, I can so relate to this! I hate schedules! So much so that I never had a scheduled nap time for my kids, or times my family eats, nothing. I'm working on that stuff too. You know what helped me? I read this book called Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin. I'm not a schedule or habit pro now, or anything, I still have a loooong way to go, but she has a lot of really great ideas in there to help you form habits and understand your relationship to habits. She has this four tendencies model, and when I first read it I was like "None of these describe me, this is BS" but I just reread it last month and really thought hard, and it turns out I'm a rebel. At least I am mostly a rebel. Which is a crappy thing to admit about myself but it gives me a starting place to improve my tendencies.

 

Anyhow, I think you'd probably enjoy the book. I'm in a book club / support group based on that book on Facebook and it's awesome.

 

 

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16 minutes ago, fleaball said:

were you the one who told me about Lingvist for French? It looks like they've added Spanish now but I haven't been able to check it out bc I forgot my login. FYI, anyway. 

 

I am! And yeah I signed up for their Spanish thing...but I'm torn. While I really like their app and their methodology, it's Spanish as spoken in Spain which means they pronounce c and z as th, and use vosotros, and somewhat different vocab. And I'm focused on the Latin American Spanish that's more common here in the US. So mostly haven't been using it because I'm afraid of confusing myself. 

 

In French there are a bunch of hilarious pitfalls when you move between what's spoken in France and Quebec (e.g. 'gosses' means kids in France but testicles in Quebec) and I know enough about French to avoid those, but I'm a Spanish noob so I would probably make an ass of myself even more than usual.

 

16 minutes ago, fleaball said:

Totally here for this. Huzzah! It's funny, I'm totally bristling reading your schedule, but now it makes me want to examine my own relationship with scheduling and timing. Cheering for you to make it work

 

Yeah, it's funny. I never thought I would even want to try it. But my therapist said something to me that totally blew my mind. She said, "You don't have to think it's going to work in order to try it."

 

And maybe to other people that seems like a truism but I was just...like...DOES NOT COMPUTE. Why would I try something if I didn't think it'd work? But of course I don't know what's going to work or I'd have figured this all out by now. So that was a real thought-provoker for me. And it has allowed me to go into this with a nice impartiality. I don't have any preconceived notions of what will happen, and I don't feel like I'm going to lose face if it fails because I wasn't sure if it'd work or not. Which is kind of freeing - it allows me to try it without feeling so much pressure about the consequences.

 

Anyway so I'm trying it, and we'll see!  Right now I am like my dear friend, the LOL I DUNNO Eggplant:

9VAZYJN.png

 

Note: this is an eggplant I harvested three summers ago. It made my day.

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21 minutes ago, GardenGeek said:

Oh my god, I can so relate to this! I hate schedules! So much so that I never had a scheduled nap time for my kids, or times my family eats, nothing. I'm working on that stuff too. You know what helped me? I read this book called Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin. I'm not a schedule or habit pro now, or anything, I still have a loooong way to go, but she has a lot of really great ideas in there to help you form habits and understand your relationship to habits. She has this four tendencies model, and when I first read it I was like "None of these describe me, this is BS" but I just reread it last month and really thought hard, and it turns out I'm a rebel. At least I am mostly a rebel. Which is a crappy thing to admit about myself but it gives me a starting place to improve my tendencies.

 

Anyhow, I think you'd probably enjoy the book. I'm in a book club / support group based on that book on Facebook and it's awesome.

 

Yeah, my mother never had set bedtimes for us or anything, for a wide variety of reasons, and I grew up with an immense amount of freedom, and I loved it. I always saw it as a total positive. And I still think it has a lot of positives but I'm realizing later in life that there may actually be something to this thing called "balance" that everyone talks so much about. So I'm trying to find the best of both worlds, I guess.

 

I'll check out that book for sure, thanks. Can't 100% promise I'll read it but I'll at least go read reviews and see if it looks like something I want to read. I've had some really good book recommendations on here so I always appreciate people sharing the stuff that's worked for them.

 

We sound a lot alike, haha. Whenever I read a list of personality types or whatnot, I always bristle and think "no simple stupid categories can describe people! People are way too complex!" but obviously even a model that is not 100% accurate may still be able to point out some general trends that lead to useful insights. So it's good to stay open minded even though we're in critical thinking mode. Perhaps we are both rebels, or at least mostly rebels.

 

And hey, at least that means we're in the right forums. And yes, I am aware of the irony of making a challenge about adding more structure to my life in the Rebel forum :D

 

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I have been an hater of structure and schedules for the same reason you are.

 

However, I've found that I can set them for myself and find a lot of benefits from it. Although I still struggle with consistency at times.

 

Like, my morning nourish ritual is supposed to happen as soon as my tea finishes steeping (this is the first thing I do in the morning right now, I started it for the express purpose of doing the ritual while waiting for the tea to cool, before then I'd have tea some mornings, but not all), but I let that get away from me further and further until I did it two hours after getting up on yesterday.

 

Today, I reined it in and did it when I had first started doing it. I don't know if that made a difference for the day, but I have felt pretty good today. However, I don't think it is directly related, or rather not only because I followed my morning routine better.

 

What I'm trying to say is that be gentle with yourself. Setting routines definitely helps, and only you know if you can do it all at once. I couldn't change like that, but then we aren't the same person! :D

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I love that the developing theme is "Your idea sounds like hell on earth, good luck tho!"

 

giphy.gif

 

To be fair, I might agree with you? We'll find out!

 

giphy.gif

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1 hour ago, Severine said:

 

I am! And yeah I signed up for their Spanish thing...but I'm torn. While I really like their app and their methodology, it's Spanish as spoken in Spain which means they pronounce c and z as th, and use vosotros, and somewhat different vocab. And I'm focused on the Latin American Spanish that's more common here in the US. So mostly haven't been using it because I'm afraid of confusing myself. 

 

In French there are a bunch of hilarious pitfalls when you move between what's spoken in France and Quebec (e.g. 'gosses' means kids in France but testicles in Quebec) and I know enough about French to avoid those, but I'm a Spanish noob so I would probably make an ass of myself even more than usual.

Oh right. I wasn't thinking about that at all. Hurr durr.

 

If I go to Canada for any length of time it's going to be interesting. The only major difference I'm aware of is that "magasiner" is a verb in Canada and I find it absolutely hilarious so no valid reason.

 

1 hour ago, Severine said:

Yeah, it's funny. I never thought I would even want to try it. But my therapist said something to me that totally blew my mind. She said, "You don't have to think it's going to work in order to try it."

 

And maybe to other people that seems like a truism but I was just...like...DOES NOT COMPUTE. Why would I try something if I didn't think it'd work? But of course I don't know what's going to work or I'd have figured this all out by now. So that was a real thought-provoker for me. And it has allowed me to go into this with a nice impartiality. I don't have any preconceived notions of what will happen, and I don't feel like I'm going to lose face if it fails because I wasn't sure if it'd work or not. Which is kind of freeing - it allows me to try it without feeling so much pressure about the consequences.

 

Anyway so I'm trying it, and we'll see!  Right now I am like my dear friend, the LOL I DUNNO Eggplant:

9VAZYJN.png

 

Note: this is an eggplant I harvested three summers ago. It made my day.

Holy crap? That would never had occurred to me? I'm right there with you, what's the point if it's not guaranteed? Now I'm even more interested to see if it works for you. Although the attitude of going in without worrying about failing since it is, in fact, an experiment is awesome.

 

I don't like eggplants. Except for that one. That one is the greatest.

 

46 minutes ago, Countess D'If said:

But it needs to be external for me, I can't keep a self-set schedule to save my life, and when I try I get completely overwhelmed, anxious and crazy. 

+1

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1 hour ago, Severine said:

I love that the developing theme is "Your idea sounds like hell on earth, good luck tho!"

For the record, I don't think your idea sounds like hell. XD

 

I'm hella impressed you decided to put in a schedule for your whole day at once. I knew if I did that I would guarantee failure. It has been enough to just put in a regular morning routine. :3 Eventually I want to grow it out and get more structured around my tasks because I do believe I'll get more done.

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<3
I did the same thing last year. Once I finally figured out how to stick to a schedule, it turned out to be incredibly liberating. Much the opposite of what I thought it would be.


Knowing what I was doing every day, where I was going, and all that freed up brain space to actually concentrate on things. Figuring out what to do next was the one thing I did not worry about. Having a structured lifestyle also did wonders for my mental health. I was recovering from a rather long depressive period, so i was by no means in my best state of mine, and yet I still remember it as one of the few periods of my life where I felt like my brain was working normally.

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4 hours ago, Dagger said:

What I'm trying to say is that be gentle with yourself. Setting routines definitely helps, and only you know if you can do it all at once. I couldn't change like that, but then we aren't the same person! :D

 

Part of what I am going to experiment with is the idea of how much structure. So for example, I could say "I'm always going to do Spanish for an hour after lunch" or I could just say "I'm going to do Spanish sometime between lunch and dinner." And I'm not sure which will end up being better. On the one hand flexibility can be nice, but on the other hand I'm worried it'll just put me into a smaller version of the same procrastinating habit where I always push whatever it is to the last possible minute of the designated time block.

 

So I'm going to start out with set times for things and adjust if needed. Maybe I'll post the actual schedule here once I have it in a pretty format.

 

2 hours ago, Dagger said:

I'm hella impressed you decided to put in a schedule for your whole day at once. I knew if I did that I would guarantee failure. It has been enough to just put in a regular morning routine. :3 Eventually I want to grow it out and get more structured around my tasks because I do believe I'll get more done.

 

Yeah, I wondered about this. I am partially worried it might be too drastic a change. But still, I think that in order to truly test the concept of whether routine will lower my stress and make me more productive, I have to really give it a chance. And the idea is that I'm trying to remove the stress of having to constantly figure out what to do in what order. And I want to remove the stress of constantly struggling to begin difficult tasks. I'm trying to think of it not as imposing constraints upon myself, but giving Future Severine the gift of having figured out the plan in advance, and just letting her get down to work. And I can adjust as needed - it's intended to free me, not to box me in.

 

1 hour ago, Miw_Sher said:

<3
I did the same thing last year. Once I finally figured out how to stick to a schedule, it turned out to be incredibly liberating. Much the opposite of what I thought it would be.


Knowing what I was doing every day, where I was going, and all that freed up brain space to actually concentrate on things. Figuring out what to do next was the one thing I did not worry about. Having a structured lifestyle also did wonders for my mental health. I was recovering from a rather long depressive period, so i was by no means in my best state of mine, and yet I still remember it as one of the few periods of my life where I felt like my brain was working normally.

 

Yes, this is exactly what I'm going for! I want to remove the constant feeling of pressure to figure everything out on the fly. The routine is supposed to free me from the pressure of a thousand tiny decision points, each of which is a chance to make the wrong choice. I mean, in an average day, my goals and activities do vary but the big ingredients: work, social time, exercise, learning, sleep, eating, fun, etc. are pretty constant. And my goal is to set my priorities and plans thoughtfully in advance, when I am calm and rational. And then move forward, trusting myself and my decisions, and do what I set out to do.

 

And I am hoping that the schedule will help me do healthy things (like exercise and get adequate sleep) that I would otherwise skimp on to the detriment of my health, and also help me to get started on things I would otherwise procrastinate. Because lowering procrastination and feeling productive is, I know from experience, one of my best tools for lowering stress.

 

I am glad to hear it was helpful for you. Thanks for weighing in :)

 

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I'm one of those weird, strange people who thrives in a structured setting.  I think maybe a big part of that is because that's what I grew up with, definitely.  I can't sleep in a single day, I prefer setting a bedtime for myself, all the craziness.

 

For me I've found that schedule really ties into my limitations mentality.  I need to know exactly where my limitations are so that I can excel within them, or sometimes push them.  It becomes a bit of a game of "How much free time can I create for myself by getting things done" some days. 

 

I hope this experiment works out for you!  One way or another you're pushing yourself out of your comfort zone with it, which is majorly impressive :)

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I also think scheduling is helpful! With something like Spanish, I find it really helpful to set a trigger that cues me to start doing it. For example, when I start getting ready for bed I automatically say "time to do a duolingo lesson!" and "time to meditate!" and it works really well. It doesn't necessarily have to be a specific time, but it's really helpful when you set some sort of trigger and learn to associate the habit with it. 

 

It's also great because it doesn't feel like "I need to do X at 12pm" or anything restrictive. Instead, once you've developed a habit, it just happens automatically. It's kind of scheduling, but it's also kind of autopilot. 

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Adding a bit of a schedule to my life has really helped me, even though I'm not great at it and have generally hated the idea most of my life. I have ADHD (diagnosed and medicated), so it's a tool I've come to find handy. Still, I'd be miserable if my schedule were too rigid so I try to keep a flexible schedule. Sometimes I even schedule what I call "Flex Time" so I can move things around and feel like I have more freedom. Mostly I find little schedules useful, like "This is the order in which I will tackle my homework". 

On another note, that eggplant is awesome. I love silly plants. See below a picture of an erotic carrot that came out of my mom's garden. Also, tell me more about this language app you all spoke of. 

IMG_1642.PNG

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Also perhaps a relevant tip - what I found worked for me were anchor habits. A really important one turning out to be an early wake up followed by meditation. Aside from putting me in the right mindset, it gives me some me time I can use however I want in the morning and makes it so much easier to be productive.

 

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5 hours ago, Butternut said:

I wish you the best of luck!

 

I may not always respond or post a lot but I'm always reading :) 

Same here! I suck at responding, but I love reading everyone's posts! :D

 

Support!

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11 hours ago, zeroh13 said:

Me too!

LOL, me three! :D 

 

Finding out what kind of scheduling works for you is 90% of the battle (i.e. rigid or rough).  Best of luck!

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On 2/9/2017 at 1:40 AM, GardenGeek said:

On another note, that eggplant is awesome. I love silly plants. See below a picture of an erotic carrot that came out of my mom's garden. Also, tell me more about this language app you all spoke of. 

 

CARROT PANTS! I love those. I always find a few every year.

 

I think you mean Lingvist? It's an app/website I like - they started out with just French and have recently added German, Spanish, and Russian. It uses the principle of spaced repetition to help your memory build vocabulary more efficiently, and (at least in French, not sure about other languages) it also has a little library of readings and recordings that it arranges into different difficulty levels based on what percentage of the words in a given sample you already know. 

 

I'm at a level in French where my main problem is vocabulary. I can express myself well in French, think in French, etc. and the grammar and rhythm of the language all make sense to me. But the problem is that I don't know more obscure French words like...I don't know, thermos or antidote or nearsighted. So while I can speak "fluently" with my existing vocabulary, I am still very obviously a non-native speaker because my vocabulary has these gaps in it. When I'm reading I can just figure it out by context, and usually when listening to people in conversation or movies...but when speaking or writing it's frustrating. I have to talk around the words I don't know, or look it up. 

 

Anyway so vocab building is my main focus right now, for French. And I like Lingvist for a couple reasons: good interface, it includes a lot of slang and idioms, good quality recordings, sound methodology. And it helps you build vocabulary by including words in actual sentences, not just presenting them in isolation. It doesn't have all the obscure words I need to learn obviously, but it was really great for me to review what I knew, and I did pick up a lot of new things too.

 

On 2/8/2017 at 1:21 PM, NeverThatBored said:

I also think scheduling is helpful! With something like Spanish, I find it really helpful to set a trigger that cues me to start doing it. For example, when I start getting ready for bed I automatically say "time to do a duolingo lesson!" and "time to meditate!" and it works really well. It doesn't necessarily have to be a specific time, but it's really helpful when you set some sort of trigger and learn to associate the habit with it. 

 

It's also great because it doesn't feel like "I need to do X at 12pm" or anything restrictive. Instead, once you've developed a habit, it just happens automatically. It's kind of scheduling, but it's also kind of autopilot. 

On 2/9/2017 at 3:07 AM, Miw_Sher said:

Also perhaps a relevant tip - what I found worked for me were anchor habits. A really important one turning out to be an early wake up followed by meditation. Aside from putting me in the right mindset, it gives me some me time I can use however I want in the morning and makes it so much easier to be productive.

 

Yeah, I think you're both talking about the same thing. I think of them as "habit hooks" and to me it seems like a great, gentle way to structure certain things. I'm trying to do something similar with my new evening and morning rituals (which I'll post about, actually). 

 

And yeah that's one of the things I'll need to figure out as I go along is which things are best structured like that, and which are better with a set time. Or some combination of both, or something else entirely.

 

Thanks so much for the tips. I like hearing what other people do and stealing your ideas :D

 

 

 

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14 minutes ago, Severine said:

I'm at a level in French where my main problem is vocabulary. I can express myself well in French, think in French, etc. and the grammar and rhythm of the language all make sense to me. But the problem is that I don't know more obscure French words like...I don't know, thermos or antidote or nearsighted. So while I can speak "fluently" with my existing vocabulary, I am still very obviously a non-native speaker because my vocabulary has these gaps in it. When I'm reading I can just figure it out by context, and usually when listening to people in conversation or movies...but when speaking or writing it's frustrating. I have to talk around the words I don't know, or look it up. 

Me in Paris, realizing I have no idea how to ask about the thing and holding up the line: soooo, I don't know if you do this here, but in the u.s., sometimes after a show you can like, wait outside the theatre somewhere, and the actors will come out, and they can sign your stuff...

French lady: *not impressed* an autograph?

Me: Yup. That. Kthxbye

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