Planning to Keep Up Rather than Catch Up

The game of catch up is a ridiculous game as far as I’m concerned.  I mean, once and opportunity passes you by do you really every catch another opportunity just like that one?  Or what about the overload of tasks on your to do list, do you ever really catch up on all those things so you can do what you truly want to do? 

Okay, so you missed the baby shower, but you’ll catch up with your friend before the baby is born. You missed the girls’ night out again, but there will be time when you finish the reports on your desk, Your body’s saying rest, but you only have three more projects to write before that pending deadline. You really can’t plan to catch up without something else coming up, and sometimes that’s because you never say “No”. After all you are the go to person in the family, on the job, in the club, everywhere. Just ask Sue, she never turns anybody down! Does this sound all too familiar?

Perhaps we need to take a different approach to planning our lives. I’ve got two suggestions. The first one is to put everything in your planner (or smart phone). Include your social activities, your down time, and your special plans right alongside your business and “have-to” appointments. I put everything on the calendar so that when someone asks me to do something whether work or pleasure I can look to see if I already have something in that slot. I treat my social and pleasure activities like a appointment because they are. They are appointments with myself and the people and things that are important to me. In the same way that I won’t let things interfere with my business appointments, I don’t let things interfere with my life appointments.

My granddaughter is graduating from high school this year.  We are very close and I’m going to miss her terribly when she goes off to college.  So I’ve made the choice to spend time with her whenever possible  – breakfast outings, shopping sprees, the ballet, special conferences and classes she needs transportation to – whatever allows us to have time together in the midst of our busy schedules. (She’s also a very active and overly committed person.)   In order to make these things happen I’ve had to turn down seminars, get-to-togethers with friends, teaching opportunities, and even some writing time.  True some of these opportunities won’t come around again until next year. Some may never come again, but I also know I won’t get these previous moments with my granddaughter again.  Its a matter of planning and priority for me, and right now she is a priority.

There will be other conferences and seminars. My friends, if they really are friends will not disappear on me.  I will always find time to write.  (Like right now in the middle of my bed with a slice of cheesecake.)   So I have no problem planning and prioritizing what I want to do. So my first suggestion is to put everything in your planning calendar that’s important to you. This will help you make the time and keep the time of your life events.

My second suggestion, you may have guessed by now, is to administer the word, “No!” To do list and busyness will never stop growing if you don’t know how to administer the word “no”.  Seriously, why do we feel bad when the answer is no? We don’t have to make excuses to turn things down, we just have to set our priorities, check our calendars, and our conscience and answer accordingly. “No, I don’t have time for that!” “No, I’m really not interested in doing that! ”  “I’m not available at that time, so the answer is no this time.” Now that didn’t hurt too much did it? You don’t have to be rude or harsh, just matter of fact. (I’m sure you’ve been on the receiving end of the word no from time to time. Were you understanding? Then others will understand your no’s too.)

Here’s the real questions: how much joy (bucket filling ) are we missing because we say yes to everything that comes along?  How often are we complaining on the inside because we aren’t doing what we really want to do? Are we missing the important events in our lives, like our children growing up, or spending time with our elderly family members, or rejuvenating our bodies with some healthy down time (personal investments)?    How often are we trying to play catch up with the people we love because our time has been stolen away by busyness?

That use to be me until I realized there’s no catching up!  I always planned to spend more time with my dad, but now he’s gone.  I really wanted to catch that Broadway play but I missed it.  Graduations, strolls in the park, midnight swims, seeing the new baby, taking that vacation – I was too overly committed to ever catch up.    Now I let my personal priorities take precedence over other people’s demands on my life! 

How about you?  What are you missing the things that mean so much to you?  Perhaps it’s time to start planning to keep up rather than play catch up.   It goes back to personal investments and filling your bucket (If you are new to these conversations, we covered these topics earlier, take a look back Jan 9th and 16th.) 2020 is a good time to start planning and prioritizing your life.
Boundaries Updated and Expanded Edition: When to Say Yes, How to Say No To Take Control of Your Life