With winter being in full swing and the beginning of a new year feeling motivated and energized can be difficult depending on where you live. Here it’s cold, it’s snowy, and it gets dark early and stays dark late. Trying to find energy and motivation can be tricky. However, I also find winter relaxing and a great time to plan.
Sure today is the last day of the holiday season. The day of epiphany. The egg nog is all but gone, the last of the whoopee pies have been eaten and the leftovers from all the holiday feasts have been used… well, sort of. Now it’s back to menu planning, budgeting, setting goals, and applying what I learned from last year to this year as well as improve on it.
Calendars can seem like this daunting or nagging thing that spell out your life and give you no flexibility. The key to good planning is quite the opposite. With a plan in place it gives you more flexibility because you’re not forgetting or sacrificing something important. I find digital calendars critical for this.
Being able to turn on or off different aspects of the calendar means I can put absolutely everything on the calendar. Then when I need to focus in on something like meal planning I can turn everything off except my meal calendars to see what I need to plan for in my grocery shopping. By doing this I don’t have to stress about “what’s for dinner”. I don’t have to spend time going grocery shopping only to discover I forgot ingredients. I can also punch in travel time for each of my stops on my calendar so I can more accurately assess how long my errands will take. By doing all of this I can then be freed up to be more spontaneous or flexible. By having this plan in place, if something else comes up, I can just rearrange the blocks on my calendar or even delete them. If I am going to delete something it’s a conscious decision and I can decide how important it is. This is MUCH better than simply forgetting and remembering later only to be stressed over it after the fact.
Think of a written plan as a “back-up” for your brain. It’s not to say you have to do everything on the plan it’s just a way to sort through everything and stay on whatever track is important to you.
Another aspect of planning and documenting the plan is being able to look back on it. Whenever my husband has a vacation from work whether we go somewhere or not I make a note of everything we did and where. This way for future vacations we can look back and see if we want to repeat what we did or do something different. I also put in everything we’re planning to do on vacation. An example is that I will find out a head of time where the closest Starbucks is to the hotel we’re staying at and put it into the calendar with the actual address. This way while we’re there all I have to do is tap on the address and it will give me walking for driving directions… I do this for anything we will be doing that has an address.
All in all it’s about removing stress from the equation. When there is no stress you can relax and enjoy yourself. You don’t have to worry, over think, try to figure out… you just “do”… this makes it much easier to alter the plan if something else comes up.
I also take this time to apply the same rules I do with holiday planning. I look back over last year and think about what worked, what needs work, and what would I do differently. Being able to look back to last winter and see the meals I was doing allows me to not have to start fresh this season. All I have to do is tweak it.
This is my time to sit with my 2017 calendar and make the plan. This is nothing more than what it “could be” nothing says we have to follow it to the letter but it frees up the stress and the worry and ultimately isn’t that what we all want?