What happens when things get off track?
Having a plan is fantastic. Following a plan is even better. What happens though when the plan isn’t followed? Do you start over? Do you get a new plan? Does it make a difference? All of the above were things I asked as February reached the midway point and at least 5 things I’d planned on tracking, and by default planned on continuing with consistency, weren’t happening. Now what was the problem, and what was I going to do about it? Well the answers were both simple and frustrating. The good news is that because I’d been keeping track of things (via bullet journaling) it was easy to find where things went wrong. The bad news was how to handle it. I had picked up bullet journaling because I realized around the end of 2016 that there were a lot of different ways I wanted to achieve a work/life balance. I’m a full time special education teacher. I blog on the side. I’m attendee of multiple local events and conventions. On top of all that, I’m married with three dogs. Finally I’m a spectacular procrastinator. Meaning when I have deadlines and pressure I thrive, but then I’m exhausted. So, how to do everything and feel awesome doing it?
That’s why I began the bullet journaling. I love color coding things, and giving myself goals seemed like it would be effective. And starting off, it was effective. In January, I was walking my dogs every day, posting three times a week, and making sure I had time for chores and guests without wearing myself out. My little grid of categories and colors was turning into an incredibly motivating rainbow graph! The only issue was, it wasn’t effective once I stopped color coding the squares. In February I barely posted anything, I was taking my dogs on half the walks and felt like I had no time for anything but sleep. Most of my grid, though well organized, was blank and empty. Now, it wasn’t that bullet journaling stopped being effective. I stopped being effective. Once that sunk in, it was hard to motivate myself to keep trying knowing that I’d already missed the mark.
The first step I took to turning things around was by taking a look back and comparing the two months, not just in what I was tracking, but in what I wasn’t tracking. For starters, the area in my planner where I track things per month, is not near my calendars, so I had to go back and see when and where things started getting off track. Three big things stood out. First, compared to January, I had a much higher number of social and work engagements during the weekends. Then, I spent almost two weeks of February fighting a head cold that did everything in its power to become bronchitis. Additionally, I started January still on a restful Winter Break. Finally, I’d gotten lazy about planning things in advance, and setting time expectations for myself.
So, after pondering the Mana Matrix, it was easy to see where to hold myself accountable and where to cut myself some slack. To start there were three areas where I wasn’t doing or getting what I needed, and that contributed to a fourth. Right away by looking at my calendar I saw that my Acuity, or lack of maintaining good habits started things off in the wrong direction. Then, my Attitude was off,
It makes the most sense, that my Acuity, the first area where things started to fall apart, was the first place to mentally regroup, so that I could regain some confidence and start getting everything else back on track. It wasn’t exactly easy taking a look at where I went wrong, but it was definitely the best step to get myself headed in the right direction again. Additionally, February going forward will stand out as a reminder to plan ahead, even for the “if’s” and “then’s” of when things go wrong. As I fill in my squares for March it’s already been fulfilling seeing the difference from one month to the next.
Wearing multiple hats might never be easy, and things will always come up that make habits and progress a bit wobbly, but as long as I have a plan and as long as I’m willing to take the time to look ahead as much as I’m looking back, I think my planner and bullet journaling are in good hands.