balancing your personal system week to week

at this point, i have a fairly elaborate personal system. it consists of a bunch of practices and principles that help me live my best life (lol). it helps me make decisions about what to do at any given moment, minimizes my stress, maximizes my social life, and also keeps me on track with my big picture life goals.

now, if we lived in a world where everything was predictable, i could plan out my weeks and months totally in advance. however, reality doesn’t work that way because change is the only constant. over time, i’ve had to learn how to balance my systems from week to week.

if i’m honest, that learning process caused much gnashing of teeth. i hate surprises and i really hate feeling out of control (i’m getting better about the control thing). now that i’ve come to terms with reality, though, i have figured out how to readjust my system when things change.

regardless of what your system looks like, the most important thing to keeping it balanced when change happens is to be aware of the impact of the change. then you can look through your commitments (to yourself and to others) and take an appropriate amount off your plate.

so for example, this week a dear friend is visiting from london. given that he only visits a few times a year, i know i want to prioritize seeing him while he’s here. as a course of action, last week, i rescheduled several meetings so that i’d be the most free to see him. doing that takes energy, but i’ve repeatedly found that the pre-emptive energy use is much less stressful and will likely make my week more enjoyable because i can be much more flexible while not feeling the anxiety of blowing people off.

this same practice of rearranging commitments can of course happen after the change has occurred if you couldn’t see it coming. but the most you can predict these types of changes, the less stress you’ll feel.

and like david allen says, people often feel bad about their productivity not because they’re not doing enough, but because they don’t keep promises with themselves. it’s totally okay to renegotiate agreements with yourself (“i really wanted to work out”, “i promised i was gonna cook dinner this week”, “i was gonna file my taxes yesterday”). letting go is valuable. really valuable.

and one cool thing is that over time i’ve found that the more established my personal system becomes, the less things are able to surprise me. and the less things surprise me, the most i’m able to keep commitments to myself and to others. but that’s for another post i think.