Over the last few weeks, I’ve been starting to feel simultaneously exhausted and restless. I’ve been taking two acting classes and have been really excited about the progress I’ve been making. At the same time, the structure I set to keep moving forward with all of my goals was no longer working. It was time to re-calibrate my schedule and my priorities.
My Early Success with A, B, C, Y Scheduling
You may recall me talking at the beginning of 2021 about my new A, B, C, Y schedule. A stands for Coaching, B for Acting, C for Writing, and Y for Personal. Each day would be designated for one of these focuses, to be cycled through during my week and month.
I pre-planned what day was for what purpose for the entire month, but gave myself some flexibility too:
- It was okay to have acting classes on a coaching day or a coaching appointment on an acting day. The remainder of any unstructured time would be to work on my chosen focus.
- I could swap days in my schedule to permit more time for each focus if suddenly I had tons of appointments.
When I decided to try this, I was having two different challenges. Either I would spend all my time working on this business (leaving no time for acting) or I was task switching so much that I was feeling anxious and was never dropping into the zone of deep work.
Initially, it was pretty hard for me to stick to the parameters I defined. By the time February came around, I was feeling much more in the flow and relaxed in my work.
Then March hit. As I got busier with my acting classes, I did my best to stick to the parameters I set for myself. But it was no longer working for me to not work on my craft every day. Unfortunately, I also was still clinging tight to all my other priorities. My schedule became so tightly packed that I stopped resting, taking breaks, and exercising. I couldn’t even recognize how tired I was becoming.
During my group coaching session on Tuesday (yes, I get regular coaching too), I thought I was going to figure out how to keep doing everything and find the sense of ease and space that I had before when my schedule neatly fit into my A, B, C, Y Day Plan …
Fortunately, my coach saw right through me. She asked me to do some forward thinking to figure out what was most important to me. What did I most want to accomplish by the end of 2021? (That part was actually pretty easy.)
Then she encouraged me to look at the habits I was trying to integrate: self-care, self-taping 1-2 times a week, writing 3 hours a week, and practicing every day and choose one to focus on.
I didn’t want to choose. I still wanted to do them all. My future self, who has great representation, has to be available to self-tape every day and also is running a business. I felt a really strong need to create that NOW, not even seeing what I was doing was just stressing myself out and setting myself up for burnout (again).
After a lot of resistance (my inner child was kicking and screaming) I gave in. I realized I was trying to go from 0 to 60 instead of allowing myself to build up to the life I want in a slow and steady, yet highly sustainable manner. (0 to 10, then 10 to 20, then 20 to 30, etc.)
I gave myself permission to take a break from acting classes for the next few months (you can hold me to it). I also embraced the fact that I wasn’t able to book my headshot session until late summer. (Headshot prep is now off my plate for the month.)
My 30 minute coaching session felt a lot like giving birth. I was pushing, resisting, and then finally gave in and accepted the reality of the situation. With that acceptance, came huge relief.
I don’t need to do everything at once in order to make progress toward my goals.
And you know what’s really funny? I have a great example of how that slow, steady progress works:
Long Term Solutions
Let me tell you a little secret: Recovering from the habit of doing too much and being addicted to busyness and overwhelm is no joke. I’ve been consciously working on this since last July and my ego is smart as hell!! It keeps finding new ways to bring me back under its spell. Sharing how I am learning and re-learning to work with this habit, it part of my own journey towards change.
If you are also looking to break your own habits around overwork and overwhelm, be gentle with yourself.
Are you ready to let go of some of the extra priorities and goals that are keeping you busy and stopping you from achieving what you really want?