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Week 39: Throw Away The Schedule

Anyone who's worked with me or knows me well understands that I live by my schedule. During working hours, if you want time with me the only real way to get it is through my calendar. Everything goes on my calendar, everything from work meetings, events, the kids activities, and I've now even started to schedule lunch times and mental health breaks. A day could be totally filled with back-to-back meetings, but I find there's something comforting about having it all captured in one place.

This week in CT was a week like nothing I've ever experienced. Tropical Storm Isaias started around 1pm on Tuesday and it wasn’t long before the lights started to flicker, closely followed by total loss of power around 3pm. I was able to finish the day's tasks with my fully charged laptop and cellphone, plus I had every intention of getting up and tackling the following day as per my schedule. Truth be told, I rarely deviate from my schedule especially not the day of, so in an attempt to be prepared I had worked through a few back up plans just in case the power wasn’t restored before the morning.

After a long and hot night without air conditioning, it wasn’t much of a surprise to wake up with no power, but I was shocked to learn that at some point overnight, cellular service had been knocked offline leaving me with no mechanism of communication. I needed a quick Plan B, so I dashed across to the town library to access the public WiFi, but couldn’t figure out how to log on. Ugh, now I needed to mobilize Plan C.

I jumped back in the car and headed to my brother's house who has a generator. On a normal day, my brother's house is only 10 minutes down the road, but what I didn’t consider was the multitude of trees that had fallen making a lot of local roads impassible. 45 minutes later after several detours, I did finally make it to my brother's house only to find out that his WiFi wasn’t working either. The good news was that in his neighborhood the cellular service was working and I was able to get a few emails out letting my assistant and manager team know that I needed to cancel my morning meetings. At this point I was still optimistic I could get up and running, but truth be told I was also starting to panic a bit and worry about everything else that needed to be done.

This is when it hit me: Why was I driving myself crazy? Why couldn’t I just let go of my schedule and allow myself the day to get things in order and figure out a plan for the remainder of the week? There was nothing terribly urgent that couldn’t wait a day or two and the benefit to my emotional health by not worrying would far outweigh the stress of figuring out how to get online and get the house connected to some back up power. Right then and there, I let my assistant know that I would not be taking any meetings for the remainder of the day and from that point on I shifted my full attention to getting the house ready for what was shaping up to be a long term power outage.

It really isn't important to chronicle what I did with the extra time, simply letting go of my calendar and giving myself "a pass" from the day was the best decision I could've made. The reality of the situation was that there really was no good option to get online and combining that with the stress of worrying about all the things I wasn’t doing was just too much. Once I was able to let go and release myself from the work commitments, I was free to take the time I needed to focus on the personal demands.

While having a schedule is helpful to stay organized, it's equally important to realize a schedule is not set in stone and there are occasionally very real circumstances that require last minute changes to be made. Allow yourself the freedom to be flexible as situations unfold and most of all, give yourself a break; it’s totally ok to just say no sometimes.

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