I’ve spent a lot of time trying to structure my life. I work from home, so it’s pretty much a requirement for me to have somewhat of a rigid schedule, otherwise I end up either being completely unproductive or find myself working every waking hour. Plus, I’ve always liked to do a lot of different things, so scheduling work, kids, date nights, family activities, play rehearsals, running, and anything else vaguely important is pretty much par for the course. It’s always a “if it’s not in my calendar, it doesn’t exist” type of situation. Bizzarely enough, I get a strange satisfaction from mapping everything out, even though it’s a rare day that everything works out exactly as planned. It’s to the point where an unexpected project or even a sick day can really throw me off to the point where I’m so bent out of shape that it seems pointless to even keep a schedule.
The other day I had an emergency tooth extraction and ended up on some wonderful pain meds. Normally I’d try to push through the pain and keep working, but I think my girlfriend is getting wise to that fact. She took the day off work to take care of me and to make sure I did nothing but rest and recover. The pain meds turn me into a zombie, so even had I tried to work things would have been nonsensical at best. Now, had I been by myself and unable to stick to my schedule, I would have spent the entire day worrying about the work I wasn’t going to be able to do that day. But instead, I stopped trying to control the situation and ended up having an amazing day with my girlfriend, just sitting and talking and goofing off, and spending time with the woman I love. I was completely relaxed and happy, and never once worried about what was or wasn’t getting done.
Thinking back, the only other time I can remember not having part of my brain worried about ticking off some internal to-do list was a time that I was in the hospital. It was one of those situations where I knew I was not going to be getting out any time soon and that it was pointless to worry about work. It never even entered my mind because it simply wasn’t an option, and it’s another one of the few times in my high-strung life that I’ve been completely relaxed (despite being stuck in the hospital).
There’s something to be said about relinquishing control over your schedule. Most of us spend the better part of our lives trying to control time, so we can squeeze as much into it as possible. The reality is, we don’t really ever have control. Even if you work from home, or are your own boss, there’s always something that will come up in your schedule that you haven’t accounted for. Sometimes it’s an outside force, sometimes it’s just a sleepy or unfocused morning. The reality is that we don’t really ‘have’ to check everything off our to-do list. Would the walls come crumbling down around you if you took a day off? It’s tempting to think that, but the reality is that it wouldn’t. I took the day off because I had to, and things were completely fine. Nothing bad happened. That sense of urgency and panic is just you trying to excercise absolute control over time. Once you realize that you don’t have control, you also realize that you don’t need to have control, and life becomes a lot more enjoyable.