So as I do every year, I pulled out my new day-planner this week (from InkWELL Press, it’s amazing!) and got out my pens… about 15 of them, maybe 20…. and began to plan how I would plan my amazing new planner.
[ “plan how I would plan my planner” - That’s geek-speak for us crazy-bird, over-thinking, wrapped-too-tight Type A’s…. like myself….and maybe you - ?? ]
I settle in and discover that I LOVE my new planner! I’m so excited to fill it up with stuff! It's glor-i-oussss!!! It’s got a place for goals, and task list items, and weekly summaries, and a three-section colored area to use as I wish (which is just super-cool, y'all!!), and a monthly view, all for my to-do’s, appointments, deadlines and such. It’s beautiful, I love, love, love it!! <insert loud geek squeak here!!>
Except … it was evident rather quickly that this year would look different than last. In fact… this year actually be quite unique and unlike any other year I’d had before. You see, after a season of kicking-screaming submission in 2017, I’m following the doctor’s orders and have not returned to regular work. It’s suddenly painfully clear that there really isn’t a lot of regular stuff to write down for 2018. Like, business-y stuff. Work stuff. This year, there are no team meetings. No project deadlines. No rehearsals with the worship team. No classes to teach or lessons to give. It seems kind of weird.
Can I be transparent? I feel a little lost.
In some ways, 2017 was a glorious time to finally just be sick and concentrate on getting better. To just deal with rheumatoid and Sjogrens and the other AI’s (auto-immunes) and not have to fight quite so hard all day, every day. Climbing uphill every day. Every step. Always.
It's just exhausting.
As I write this, I actually have a little energy. Not sure if it’s the snow that’s falling or the caffeine in my tea, but hallelujah for the small wins today! Energy is a wonderful thing. But it’s also just as awful when you don’t have any – which is a lot of the time. Actually, most of the time.
So I try to get past the obvious emptiness on the pages. I begin to think of things that do consume my time. And over and over, hour after hour, week after week, the biggest entry still needs to be …. Rest. I can trace my activities from the last 6 months and see that on the weeks I don’t rest much, I have a worse time with RA symptoms. Fatigue. Nausea from meds. GI issues from Sjogren’s. Headaches. So this year, I will take a new approach. This year, the “main thing” will be re-defined. A new "first." This year, my awesome new planner will be different in this one way….
Rest.comes.first. I’m letting that sink in as I write…
Rest.comes.first. What will this look like ?
Instead of wedging rest times in the little bitty holes that might appear in any given day or sometimes not for several days, I will plan my first - first, and everything else works around that.
I do like the sound...
My body will thank me. My pain level, fatigue and overall sense of health are improved when I’ve rested. And it’s a night-and-day difference when I’ve overdone it.
My family will thank me. I’m a better wife and mom when I’m rested and having good days, so I serve my family better when I take care of myself. My husband has told me this. Over and over.
My friends will thank me. I’m nicer and more reliable when I feel better and have some energy, which always requires sufficient rest in the lead-in days.
Because the good Lord said so. He even created a day especially for this purpose. So it must be that important.
This isn’t some pie-in-the-sky, sound-good desire that I write about just to sound like I always get the rest I need. I don’t. I fight it, less so than in previous months and years, but “rest” just doesn’t come naturally for me and my crazy personality. And of course, my body betrays me by changing the definition of how much rest is needed on any given day, and it’s a double-gotcha more often than I’d like to admit. I have CDP (chronic disease people/patients) friends who work full-time jobs, so rest time is particularly challenging for them. It can still be done, and saying “no” to some things is saying “yes” to others, like rest, but it’s hard. It's really, really hard. When I worked full-time, there really were some days that were 12 and 14 hours long. When you’re the team leader, it just is what it is at work. So to these fellow CDP’s, I say hang in there. Fight for down-time. For rest. Make it a must. Delegate what you can. If it’s not something that YOU have to do… consider assigning it to someone else. Your 10-year-old can probably clean the dishes for you. Your friends likely don’t care if the dust-bunnies aren’t all swept up. Truth be known, they probably have some dust-bunnies of their own. They probably do a better job at not caring so much than you. Me. ouch.
2017 .... Having had a chance to rest and catch my breath this last year has proven a tremendous benefit to my overall state of health. We still have a long way to go and meds are continuing to change as we try to find the right maintenance plan. I don't enjoy the metho injections again. Medication side effects knock me down some days, and frequently the disease process wins the day. It just does, that’s part of the journey. But I cherish my rest time. I fight for it. My body demands it, even if I don’t agree. I can see that I feel better and I’m a better person for those around me when I schedule rest and make sure that I keep those appointments with myself. In 2018, I will do a better job at prioritizing rest. Yes for me, but more importantly, for those people around me, people I love dearly.
Maybe you have a [ first ]. Just like my (blank).comes.first. is "rest" this year, maybe you have somebody or something that needs you to re-order the way you put things on your calendar. The way you fill up your plate. The way you make your investments of time and energy. If you're a CDP like I am, I bet "rest" has got to find its way towards your "first."
So, here are 5 tips for implementing your "first" :
- Schedule your first ... first.
- Delegate where possible, as often as possible
- Prioritize goals and pursue only those things that truly, truly matter.
- Compartmentalize your day, week, month. (for example, pay bills once a week instead of every day you get them; or, check email or Facebook once in the morning and once in the afternoon instead of in/out all day long; combine your errands/doctor's visits/groceries on one day when you can, to leave some days open with nothing to do but rest, and other such combining/compartmentalizing)
- Use the “off” switch to rest from a digitized life. (this probably doesn't need much explanation, but there's no rest when a "ding" is going off every 2 minutes. Turn it off already and have some disconnect time.)
What tips do YOU use to make your dayplanner work for you? What strategies are you implementing in 2018 to stay close to your "first" ? Have you identified your "first" for 2018?