I love planning, detail, and lists; yet I also crave plenty of open time with nothing scheduled, where I am free to be creative and do my tasks in whatever order I feel like.
To respect these conflicting needs, I cater for them both. I do this by having morning and evening routines that I mostly follow, while on days I am at home I try to keep as much time clear during the day as I can manage.
I schedule appointments, but hardly anything else. I'm happy with this approach, but the danger is that my open time can be swallowed up with small tasks and side-tracks. If I let this happen, I feel frustrated, dissatisfied, and tired by the end of the day. But if I feel like I've spent my day in a meaningful way, I still end it tired but it's a nice, satisfied tired.
One technique I use is a simple checklist for my open time; a guide that steers me through the important types of things I would like to do during the day.
My checklist at the moment includes activities like:
- Time with my family
- Writing session
- Exercise (usually a long walk with Bonnie the dog)
- Play piano or guitar
- Crossing a couple of jobs off my task list
I try to spend some time on each one although that doesn't always happen! And the list is ordered so the important things are at the top. If I spend time with my family but don’t cross anything off my task list, that’s OK and still a good use of time.
How do you spend your ‘open’ time? How do you make sure you regularly do what’s important to you?