About six months ago I made it a personal goal of mine to get involved in as much as I could. In an effort to make myself as valuable as possible at work as well as just simply get connected in my new community, I sought after every networking opportunity and female-focused charity that I could somehow get involved with. Perhaps it was the wide range of events I would attend that assembled everyone to simply rattle off their laundry list of participations in Chamber of Commerce events, volunteer organizations, food bank mixers, and the rest of the leadership boards they were on that flipped an insecure switch inside of me causing me to ask myself: why aren’t I as involved as these other women in my community, and what am I doing wrong? I instantly felt the pressure to start piling things up on my calendar to somehow feel more valuable, more involved, and more important.
I think there’s this phenomenon in our society that perhaps was undeniable once successful women in the workplace started to become not only the norm, but the alluring goal. It was so widely celebrated for women to be wives, mothers, AND successful career women that I think some of our priorities got lost in the process. Having a full calendar may seem like a golden notch of success in our busy lives, knowing we can do it all — but am I alone in the notion of wanting to slow down a bit? If you sometimes feel overwhelmed by the idea of not being busy enough or perhaps are too busy to have even garnered the thought, here are few things I do to keep myself in check, and to always celebrate the beauty in my calendar’s margins:
1. Alexis time.
I have been blocking off nights for Alexis Time for as long as I can remember, and as annoying as the term may sound—they are my very favorite nights of the week. You may think that since I live alone that every night is “Alexis Night,” but chores pile up, workouts run long, and dinner dates with girlfriends pop up. When I’m feeling overwhelmed with anything in life, the cure for me is to always just take a small step back and quite literally relax. There truly is nothing my favorite dinner paired with snuggling on the couch all night with Gossip Girl on the queue can’t fix. Sometimes it’s a bubble bath with a big glass of Pinot Noir or sometimes it’s strolling the aisles of TJ Maxx, but scheduling myself some much needed alone time is the most refreshing calendar invite I could ever think of.
2. Coffee dates over happy hours.
Don’t get me wrong—connecting with people is still very important to me. However I’ve learned the beauty in saying no when my week calls for a night to myself or when squeezing in an after-work event would really disrupt my original plans of getting the laundry done and finishing a blog post. I’m pretty protective over my week nights as they’re very precious to me. I travel quite a bit to visit Bobby on the weekends and when we’re not at his place in Iowa City, he’s visiting me here in Des Moines and doing house chores or having alone time isn’t always the easiest come Saturdays & Sundays. Therefore I like to keep my weeknights to myself as much as possible, so when meeting new people or catching up with a friend, I really try and opt for coffee dates before work rather than post-work happy hours. Now, the occasional glass of half-priced wine with some girls is most definitely what the doctor ordered, so the point here is: find what works for you and your schedule, and listen to yourself. If meeting someone on Tuesday night after work is really going to make getting the things on your to-do list done much harder, try and meet them on Wednesday morning for coffee instead! It’s your life—you make the rules.
3. Making yoga a priority.
I love my sweet, sweet yoga. I try and go around 4 times a week and usually attend the same class times each week, creating a really solid routine for myself. I rarely veer off from my typical yoga schedule and it gives me great joy knowing that I’m able to not only make my beloved time on my mat a priority for myself so much that I look forward to going each night, but that I have gotten to a place of confidence where I can resist plans or even reschedule an outing so that I can make class. There are obvious exceptions to this, but for me- it’s all about finding a lifestyle that leaves me the least amount of stressed. Sometimes that means packing in a later night of activities because I didn’t want to miss my yoga class, and sometimes that means skipping yoga so I can meet friends and call it an early night. It’s about balance and about listening to what you need.
4. Using the Purposeful Planner.
I’ve always been an organization freak, color-coding my closet ever since I could reach the hangers, and my life and corresponding events are no exception. If you follow me on Instagram, I'm sure you've seen me post pictures of my marble, gold spiraled life-saving planner. I am obsessed with it, and it is absolutely the reason I'm able to feel semi-put together throughout my days. I love Google Calendar just as much as the next girl, but there's something so satisfying about writing out your schedules, to do's, and prayers. I've been using the Purposeful Planner by Cori Clark since college and it seriously saves my life. Not only am I able to stay organized, but this planner is all about intention. I use the Daily Planner that comes with an hourly breakdown of your day to jot down meetings and appointments, a Brain Dump section for your to do's and thoughts, a "Today I Will" section for you top priorities, a water tracker to make sure you stay hydrated, and a prayer and praise section to keep you grounded. It also comes with monthly budget sheets, menu planning pages, and a master task list for cleaning and organizing your life. It's a serious lifesaver and an Instagram flat lay favorite. If you're looking for a chic way to stay organized, look no further because this planner has got everything you need and then some.
I don't know about you, but I'm ready to stop making it look cool to be busy. No one cares if my calendar is stocked full with post-work meetings or events that honestly... I probably don’t even want to attend anyways. We’re always trying to fill our calendars with more things that we’re passionate about or that will bring us more joy, but maybe what we really need is less. Maybe what we need is to take a step outside in the middle of the day to breathe in some fresh air. Or perhaps we just need to block off this week’s nights for some serious one-on-one time with ourselves—ice cream and romance novel in hand. Whatever it is that fills you up, focus on that this week instead of trying incessantly to fill up your calendar.
Life is too short to miss out on the things that make our hearts sing. Maybe that is going out every night to see all our friends, but for me—that means snuggling under the covers at 6PM on a Thursday just because I can. Who says being adult has to be anything less of exactly what we want it to be?
Cheers to creating a life that looks exactly how we want it to, however lame or boring it may seem... ha!