Do your days always go as planned? It seems to always happen that a day gets hijacked with little notice. I have my week all scheduled out, my days are filled with to-dos and appointments, and it’s inevitable that a day will get hijacked by unexpected plans or events.
In my life stage, the hijacking usually comes from the farm because everyday looks different outside based on weather. Typically, I’m on a roll at my desk, being overly productive with writing and making phone calls, when my husband pops his head in the door and says, “are you busy?” Well, isn’t that a loaded question?! Unless I have a client on the calendar, I scurry to change my clothes and head on out for “just a couple minutes.” Three hours later, I’ve helped to move loads of feed up, sort out cows, or run errands for tractor parts.
Your day might not be hijacked by feeding cattle, but it most likely gets some sort of interruptions that you don’t expect – a long phone call, a sick child, a malfunctioning vehicle, or a deadline you weren’t anticipating, etc. We all have things that interrupt our schedules and throw our plans out the window.
The bugger is, even when days don’t go as planned, the tasks are still looming and we have to squeeze them into other days, or worse yet, still get accomplished that day [or night!].
When our days are taken from us, we are exposed to getting behind and starting to tread water. If we don’t go on the defense in these times, we can be at risk of drowning.
Here are tips for managing your days even when things don’t go as planned.
Plan for the unexpected
If you acknowledge that usually the busiest weeks are when you tend to have unexpected things happen, you can be prepared by planning and anticipating your needs in advance. Such as,
• Having a couple meals in the freezer to pull out when prep time gets eliminated.
• If there is a project with a deadline, always move the deadline up two days in your mind. When you wait until the last minute, the last minute may be taken from you.
• Make shopping lists based on looking at the entire month’s plans. i.e. Buy or order gifts ahead of time, be sure to have the soccer snack in the house more than an hour before the game, and have the uniforms ironed a day early.
• Plan errands based on location rather than making trips for one and two items, on different sides of town to save time and be more efficient.
• Gather all the social and work calendars for weekly review in order to chart out your path so you can anticipate the needs for the month.
Assess what can be adjusted
Often times when something changes your plans, it opens the door for something else unexpected to be accomplished. When a child gets ill and you have to cancel the day’s appointments, it may open the door to get things caught up at home, of which you wouldn’t have otherwise had time for. If you’re on the road with little heads up, listen to those podcasts you missed last week, or bring a book along if you’ll have to wait at your destination. Don’t throw the towel in when things go array, life may give you an even better opportunity!
Allow for buffers
Don’t schedule things back to back to back. Things have a tendency to run behind, you’re usually late getting out of the house, there could be traffic, or you need a wardrobe change after a spill [I’m the one with the high spill ratio!]. We all know it’s almost impossible to make a “quick” trip to Target, so schedule in enough time just in case you get held up in the beauty aisle [guilty!]. Also, don’t pack everyday with scheduled appointments or activities. You need to schedule in the tasks that need to be accomplished at your desk and at home. Those things don’t get accomplished if you’re scheduled to be out of the house every day.
Eliminate and reschedule
When the day has come to a close and you’re looking at your schedule discouraged that you’ve accomplished nothing on the agenda, rather than crashing on the couch or jumping into a new project, re-adjust the rest of the week/month to squeeze in the essentials. Prioritizing becomes important on days like these. When your schedule doesn’t go as planned, the less important things can fall to the wayside and the essentials can find a new place on the calendar or list.
Make the time now
It may not seem like a big deal for things to be left undone until “tomorrow,” but if you aren’t a disciplined person, you can quickly fall into a cycle that takes you two weeks to recover from. Even simple things like laundry, if you get a week behind, it can be really, really hard to catch up on it. Be diligent to get on top of the priorities so they don’t swallow you up.
We don’t get time back in our days so when our schedule gets taken from us, the best thing we can do is be pro-active and re-active…or the hijackers will inevitably take it all.