Like many people interested in productivity and optimization, I’ve consumed a lot of resources and tried a lot of different systems — too many of which blend together and soon fall by the wayside. This summer, though, Ali Abdaal’s channel introduced me to Make Time by Jake Knapp and John Zeratsky, which has substantially changed my planning mindset in a positive way.
As some of you might know, I’ve been doing monthly self-improvement challenges. In January it was daily journaling and a quick workout routine
(both of which I abandoned pretty quickly after the month ended).
In February I decided to follow the 30-day plan in Catherine Price’s How to Break Up with Your Phone. Compared to a lot of people, I thought I was already reasonably good about not constantly reaching for and scrolling through my phone, but I knew there was room for improvement.
This was an … interesting experience, to say the least.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve preferred to have pre-scheduled days, weeks, and months. Not that I don’t like the occasional surprise, but this minimizes decision fatigue, plus I feel like it helps me better notice and appreciate the little things in life. (Like, stopping to smell the roses … though not literally, since I have a pollen allergy.)
I also started habit tracking not long after I started bullet journaling, which led to the realization that it’s so much easier to maintain habits if I build them into my routines. Not an original discovery, I know, but experiencing is believing.
To be honest, a large part of why I’m writing this post is for accountability: making sure that I sat down to create and commit to routines. So that’s enough procrastination, time to actually figure these out.
If I’ve learned anything from years of watching YouTube, it’s that timing is particularly tricky for back-to-school posts. Everyone has a different first day of classes, so you’re always going to be too early for someone and too late for someone else. (And, of course, there are always those who aren’t in school anymore and those who are but don’t want to think about it.)
So I decided to just hope for the best with this post, scheduling it after my brother’s first day of (high) school but before mine (college / uni), and doing my best to find books that will hopefully be useful no matter what grade you’re in or if you’re done with school altogether.
Even if you were productive every day of the week (kudos to those of you can manage it, I am not one of you), you’d probably still have tasks left over at the end of each day — whether because they take a lot of time, or so little time that you de-prioritize them, or you keep putting them off because you just don’t have the energy or want to do them, or you just forget about them in the course of a busy day. Or if you manage to check everything off the list, odds are you could use a break: some self-care, whatever form that takes for you.
So you set aside a period of time — it can be an hour every morning, every Sunday, the first weekend of each month, or on an as-needed basis … whatever works for you — and get all those things, and yourself, taken care of.
Get Your Shit Together (GYST) days are a concept introduced to me by Clo @ Book Dragons, but as far as I can tell the term was coined by YouTuber Kalyn Nicholson. No one’s perfect and things can slip through the cracks all too easily, so it’s really helpful to dedicate some time to check in with yourself. And hey, if you find your life is running smoothly, you’re not stressed out and want to keep the momentum going, you can always get ahead for next week or next month. Adulting never stops.