Order after chaos

Yes, I have deliberately altered the title to this blog post from the original saying of ‘order among chaos’. That original saying pretty much sums up my recent life. It has been quite an uncharacteristic and eventful few months where a lot of pressure came to bear on me. Previously, in accordance with another old wise saying to ‘practice what you preach’, I had been managing well with busy schedules. The title I have chosen here is inherently a very positive one.

Let me explain this for you. I am ditching the original saying. Because that is telling me that such things will continue. Today, I want no part of that. Given my experiences in the past few months, this is not something that suits my health and personality. Those of you who are professional and, indeed, do work hard, might understand a little what I have been through and how I feel about this old saying on chaos. You will all agree that it is quite unsettling to see things lying about in a disorganized clutter.

Here, I am also speaking metaphorically, because cluttered and confused thoughts do not help for the productive and successful completion of work projects. I think I am about to give you girls a brief outline on how I am ordering my work life and also making space for my personal life. The nature of my work is demanding and sometimes it is not always possible to keep things to a preferred schedule. But at least the idea is in place and the skeleton draft is flexible. So here are a few thoughts on how I am putting back things that I used before and seemed to work well too.

The personal journal
Whether you do this first thing in the morning, surreptitiously during the day, or at night before you go to sleep, I think we should all have one of these. A small, personal journal where you can hand-write your thoughts about your day. Handwriting works for me because it allows for clarity of thoughts and for a little bit of playful creativity. You do not need to be ashamed of your ‘un-masterful’ prose because, after all, this is your private note book which no-one but yourself will be reading.

Keeping a work diary
This is quite important, I think. No successful professional woman or entrepreneur should be without it. Because we all do different types of work and our personalities and work methods or styles are different, I gather that we will all have a different way of working our diary. My way is pretty standard, I think. If it can work for me then it can work for everyone else, I am sure. I begin by reviewing the week ahead on Sunday evenings. Then a similar short exercise starts each work day. And by the time the last task has been completed for the day, I have another look at that diary to check progress made, or not, and then make any amendments, if necessary.

Flexible work hours
With the exception of these recent months, in fact it stretched to over a year, I keep quite long hours. My new year is about to start. So, here I had a fresh opportunity to review this schedule which seemed to work well for me before. I start really early in the morning, and sometimes, I go back to another project in the evening, particularly if the subject is a complex one and there’s a deadline looming. But, fear not, this does not mean that I am killing myself and burning my lights out as the case was more recently.

Longer breaks
The early start is a feast of sorts. I get to enjoy a really long breakfast which also includes coffee and a thorough review of the morning’s papers. By mid-morning, say around eleven, I am ready for another long (two hour) break. A good lunch and even some time for walking and shopping.

More personal space
In the midst of a hectic schedule, I always clear my decks for my me time. Sundays, while I may have to work on occasion, I simply switch myself off from everything. It helps me to both focus and unwind and communicate better with my inner self.

After the early start, a healthier ending
So, working Sundays is an occasional habit, but generally that day is kept entirely free. Saturdays, I only reserve two or three hours for work. Fridays are half days, I insist on that. But from Mondays to Thursdays I work full steam ahead and try to get as much done as possible. So, yes, days theoretically can be longer, but stretched out as it is, I do seem to find more time for myself. That’s quite important, wouldn’t you agree.