When you awaken one morning to learn your bread-winning and supportive spouse has died and you have children to raise and bills to pay, it’s amazing what you can do.

I know. That very thing happened to me in 1993.

And my life on a schedule became even more important.

Looking back, I have been “scheduled” since high school. I carried that trait of “scheduling” to college, where I graduated magna cum laude and was a distance runner (something I never imagined in high school, but, hey, I scheduled my running times!). After college, scheduling and time-management became a way of life for me, and I even put my workouts on the schedule (they are important for my health and sanity!)

As a widowed mother of two sons, it was important to me to demonstrate a strong work ethic and community involvement for my boys, and doing that, along with their activities and family fitness, required great discipline and scheduling. These, along with not-too-shabby time-management skills, have helped me succeed in business and I hope, in life. Honestly, I don’t know how to NOT live by a schedule. Just ask anyone who’s vacationed with me (but I promise I am learning to sometimes ditch it!).

 I am still a bit taken back when I work with clients who have not mastered the art of scheduling. In fact, scheduling and prioritizing are among the most common challenges I see in clients. I admit I often don’t get the absence of these important tasks, but I take great joy in helping clients learn and develop a system that works for them, which is key. It’s up to them to use that system and to actually ACT on their tasks.

So… I have developed a simple acronym to help my clients and to help you. You are reading it here first (note the date), so don’t even try to claim it as your own, corny as it may be. A downloadable template is coming!

WELCOME TO THE SPA WAY OF LIFE!

When we feel a sense of accomplishment at day’s end, we can relax… just like a day at the spa! Maybe your relaxation is chilling with a glass of wine and savoring the silence or having great conversation with another. Maybe it’s kicking back with Netflix or a good book. Walking or working out might be your idea of relaxation or indulging in a luxurious bath.

Before you do that, though, make a day of it in your work with the SPA method of getting the most out of your day.

SO, What is this?

S-Schedule! If you are going to be a productive person, you must create a schedule, and you must stick to it. There are all sorts of fancy planners out there, but I advise you not to get caught up in all the cute stickers and such. I’ve seen far too many beautifully created planners go unused. Why bother to make it all pretty if you don’t actually USE it?

A basic planner works just fine, but it also must work for YOU, so if fancy planners are your thing, stick to them. Computer templates are great, too. Again, though, the planner/template itself is something that must work for you. Put EVERYTHING on it: Time with God (a priority!), exercise and self-care, family activities, work appointments, extra appointments and meetings, phone calls, your social media posts (for those in business). You get the picture.

One of my favorite new finds is Peak Pages, created by Christian life coach Dawn Sadler. You can learn more about Peak Pages at http://www.dawnsadler.com

And don’t forget to build MARGIN into your schedule! Margin is that so-called “white space” we need. Maybe your self-care lies in a marginal area of your schedule. For me, I never schedule back to back coaching sessions, because I would not be serving my clients well. I always build margin into my schedule.

Bottom line: Schedules are important. Find a system that works for you, and use it!

P-Prioritize! Okay, a schedule is one thing, and you need a schedule; but prioritizing is a completely different animal. I know what it’s like to want to work on a project that I really love and want to do but have other more urgent ones. I know what it’s like to not prioritize, too, which just creates frustration and stress.

The late skincare and cosmetic guru Mary Kay Ash stressed the Six Most Important Things List, which consultants are encouraged to use on a daily basis. It’s a pretty simple method, and it helps them prioritize tasks. I usually highlight my 5 most important work-related tasks. Too often we want to work on projects that feed our souls or creative spirits or some other part of us, and we drop the ball on the urgent stuff. That’s a recipe for not feeling accomplished. Oh, yes… how I know!

Stay. On. Task. Prioritize.

A-Act! Nothing happens if we don’t act. There is no such thing as being “ready.” Why? I know too many women who hold themselves back from accomplishing things because they “aren’t ready,” and they will give every excuse in the world. Stop the excuses!

Have you ever given birth? Did you pack a bag weeks before your due date? Guess what? You can actually give birth without having your “ready bag!” I know this from experience, too!

Schedules are developed to be acted on.  Stay focused and DO!

And after you SPA- Schedule, Prioritize, Act- you can and SHOULD reward yourself with a “spa experience,” which can be anything that rewards you for a day well lived and for accomplishing that day’s goals. Trust me: You’ll feel very self-satisfied!

Oh… and one more thing. Ask yourself, “What if God controlled my schedule?” 

Enough said!

 

Amy Walton is a certified life coach and Christian life coach who lives in coastal Virginia but works with women around the country. Because she also writes and speaks and takes precious occasional trips to visit her beautiful granddaughters, she must have a schedule and often says “no” to enticing social events if it means working extra to take a fun trip. Procrastination is only a tiny part of her vocabulary. Connect with her at http://www.amywaltoncoaching.com. She will put it on her schedule to respond in a timely manner!