When On A Tight Schedule

We are living on a fast paced world. This is given. But the ways people respond to that pace vary. There are some who easily cope while others linger a bit.

I am raised in a home where everything need to be done the right way at the right time, where things need to be put in their proper places at all times, or if misplaced, "look with your eyes, not with your mouth."

As a child, I followed a schedule posted at the back of our bedroom door. My day is timed from the moment I wake in the morning until the hour when I should go to bed. All activities has a corresponding timestamp: 5:00am - wake up; 5:00-5:15 - prayer and devotion; 5:15-5:30 - fix bed and clean room... 12:00 - arrive from school, lunch; 12:45 - go back to school; and the time goes up to 9:00pm - sleeping time. There was also a checklist on the things I should do on a weekend.

That training, I think, made me to always run after time or have the feeling that time is running so fast that I often lose if I were not able to accomplish anything for a day. It seems that rest and so-called free time are rare commodities. This kind of training was even professionalized when I took my journalism degree. Deadlines are DEADLINES! Because of this, I feel that I am always working on a tight schedule.

Admittedly, there are times that it is difficult to cope with schedules; and the feeling of weariness, tiredness, and helplessness can strike me anytime and make me even more guilty of seemingly not doing anything worthwhile. Sometimes I linger and slow down but again backlogs are piling on my desk and lingering does not cross out a task in my checklist.

Checklist and Calendar/Journal. I have a lot of commitments with different organizations and forgetting an appointment or task is very likely without my ever faithful checklist (but honestly, sometimes I still forget something). But keeping checklist helps a lot. I keep one on paper, on my desktop, and on my phone. Post-its are also helpful especially for keeping ideas. The journal is for longer notes to myself or for reflections and keeping my calendar. On my phone, I use Astrid Tasks. It's very convenient because it syncs schedules/tasks from my email and even display funny comments.

The Best Time. I am not a morning person, I have accepted that long time ago. Though I can do meetings in the morning, I am not in my best energy. My mind seems to switch on after lunch, so I have to make most of that time until before dinner to work on the things on my checklist. Then continue after dinner and I can go up until midnight or a little past that. So instead of trying so hard to work during the morning and waste my energy, I usually use the time reading and doing household chores. Know your best time and work on it.

I am a very mobile person, too. I travel a lot, and most of the times travel disrupt my routine. So to keep up, I have learned the following:

Wander and Wonder. To keep me from being bored, I wander and wonder. I learned to appreciate small things that will brighten my day--a child smiling, funny conversations, etc. I also take pictures to capture the memories especially fleeting moments. Wandering around the block also helps to clear my mind. And to enhance my problem-solving skills, I usually ask "what if" questions to keep my mind occupied. I doodle and read a book, too!

Travel Light (but bring extras). Packing checklist helps and also knowing the right way to fold your clothes. I use vacuum bags a lot. They take away unnecessary air and spaces. I also make an inventory of my clothes and plan ahead what to wear on certain days. I am not an expert in traveling light because I always bring an extra pair or two. I have experiences that I have to stay an extra day so at least I have clean clothes to wear. I have also learned to mix and match. I usually wear jeans that can match different styles of tops. Bring extra because you'll never know about weather changes, too.

Stay Charged. Even if they say that charging your phone or your gadgets even though they still have battery charges is not advisable, it's better to go out of your home with batteries fully charged. You do not know when you need them especially in cases of emergency. So before I leave, I make sure I plug-in.

Communicate Back Home. Stay in touch with your loved ones. Or bring something that reminds you of them, a picture in your wallet may do. When I am away, I make sure to send a note, email or text to my husband everyday. I also chat with friends and family. I always have to deal with separation anxieties but having a daily connection at home helps me to cope.

Keep Friends Everywhere. There are friends who are really friends, who will come to your rescue, stay with you late at night or take a walk with you. I learned to keep those friends whom I can call whenever I am in town. The good thing, they can accompany you to places, too!

Plan Z. As an event planner/organizer, I always keep alternative plans. My friend and I have a mantra: "Be prepared to execute Plan Z" if all else fail. When I am on a tight schedule, these alternative plans work!

Go Home. There's no place like home, indeed. My first place to go when I go home, the bedroom and just feel the ambiance and rest. The best thing when working on a tight schedule is to know that you have a place to go home to and a family waiting for you.

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