Thursday, September 2, 2010

Calendar Girl

Over Time • Dye on Paper • ©2010 Jennifer Libby Fay

Last year at this time I was sitting in my favorite chair in the living room of our new home in Northwest Arkansas. The laundry was washed, folded and put away, the dishes were clean, the pantry stocked, the meals planned, and I'd recently written or called all my friends and family. I remember wondering if all that was really the reason I was put here on earth.

A few weeks ago I sat in the same chair wondering how I was ever going to get the laundry done, the dishes washed, the pantry stocked, the meals planned, and whether or not my friends and family are still speaking to me.

I've known for awhile that the situation was reaching a crisis point, but I hadn't taken the time to slow down long enough to analyze the reasons why. For me, one of the best ways to get focused is to take a class, so I signed up for the Get Organized class offered by Art Biz Coach, Alyson Stanfield. When, on Day Ten: Maintain Your Calendar, Alyson strongly urged us to try using an electronic calendar, I balked, I complained, I resisted. I have been using my trusty Sun Graphix calendar with the blue leather cover engraved with my initials for twelve years. I love it, it fits in my purse, it isn't heavy and it works—well I thought it worked, but lately I have been writing things in it, but not looking at it, or worse, not writing down appointments at all. Also, when I did look at each weekly spread, it looked pretty manageable to me. I was saying yes to things and then feeling overwhelmed and not knowing why. Reluctantly, but because I had committed the time and money to the class, I decided to take Alyson's advice and try the iCal application that came with my Mac and syncs to my iPhone. I entered all the appointments from my paper calendar. Enthralled by the ability to automatically fill in the repeats, I filled up the year with monthly meetings and weekly appointments. It was actually a bit fun. I printed August and carried it around for a while to see how it felt. The new calendar was pretty and neatly organized but the laundry still wasn't getting done. In frustration, I read the Day Ten notes again—and there it was, the sentence that changed my life: "If tasks take up a significant amount of time (say, more than an hour) add them to your calendar. This will keep you from over-committing yourself." Talk about Aha! moments. That meant that writing the blog went on the calendar, studio time, marketing, finances, householder duties…when I was finished I had a pretty and neatly organized graphic representation of why I feel overwhelmed.

Now comes the hard part because a few activities will have to go—not because they aren't fun, fulfilling or important but because if I really want to be who I say I do, then I can do a lot, but I can't do it all. I suspect September will be about setting priorities and saying no. If anyone has any advice on the subject, I could sure use it. Thank you for reading this blog and for your comments, I really appreciate your time.


  1. I am still struggling with this, too. Thank you for the reminder about putting the big tasks into the calendar. I haven't done that. It would probably help a lot. I am really struggling with setting up a routine. Hugs to you!

  2. I just finished the GO class too, and am still chipping away at the list of "things to do." It does seem overwhelming, but I think the routines and scheduling will help -- but you're right, there is the temptation to try to fit it ALL in. I'm now trying to focus each evening on the "list of 5" main things I need to do the next day -- and if some of the other things get done, that's great too but at least 5 important things will have been accomplished. Let us know how it goes!

  3. Hugs right back to you, Claudine! Thank you for your comment. You are right, routine and creativity are difficult to combine, they keep getting in each other's way! Sigh.

  4. MJ, Five main things is a great idea, I do tend to get overwhelmed with the large number of things that I "should" do. I will try that. Thank you for your comment, I really appreciate it.

  5. I think that anyone who is remotely interested in maintaining connections with people struggles with priorities. I know I do. Is this the curse of modern life?

  6. Hi Jennifer
    I took the GGO class and am still flopping between my much loved paper calendar and the new computer calendar and task list...I do LOVE those reminder chimes!!

    Thanks so much for visiting my new blog you can tell from the current post you are clearly in harmony with the current energies.

    regarding your FB message...I wonder why you cannot comment to my blog and I wonder why I have to go back to my Blogger account in order to visit and comment to you...ahhhh...another learning curve;-)

    enjoy your day