Your calendar is your canvas

I would love to get us all to a place where our well-being and happiness were naturally and effortlessly our top priority at all times for each of us, but we’re just not there yet (ooh if you are, then PLEASE write to me – I’ll want to chat and learn about how you do it). And that’s OK. Step by step.

In the meantime I have the closest thing to a magic wand that I can offer you: a calendar.

A calendar with a day planner where you can create slots of hourly time into your day.

Plenty of us use it successfully to keep on top of things at work and do what needs to be done. But the magic happens when you start to use it to create your life, by creating your year, your month, your week, your day so that you are consciously filling it with the good stuff.

Your calendar is your canvas.

Develop a strong, committed relationship to your calendar and you’ll really start to create and live the life you dream up.

Let’s start with well-being basics: what keeps you feeling healthy, calm, grounded, alive? These need to form the foundations of your day to day, whether it’s daily mediation, weekly yoga, running, time in nature, 8 hours sleep a night, an evening in to yourself, a massage once a month. Block the time out that you want to dedicate to these activities. They have to go in first.

Next schedule in the fun stuff – the personal projects, creative pursuits, hobbies, leisure time, hanging out with friends, pampering. The things you do for the enjoyment of it. You’d think we wouldn’t have to book in time to do the things we enjoy but again, those things slip down the priority list when we get caught up in the fast-paced reactive lives so many of us lead.

Time for you. Putting aside time to spend on our own, getting to know ourselves is also something that we don’t often prioritise but which is essential to our well-being and happiness. So get that in your diary too.

Next comes work – we’re usually more used to scheduling in time for work-focused activities – meetings etc. I dedicate specific time to tasks I can’t be bothered to do (otherwise I’ll never do them) and to new projects I want to get off the ground (otherwise the day to day stuff can end up eating up my time). As a recovering workaholic I also schedule in work time to ring-fence it otherwise I’ll sneakily use up my night off to get ahead on one of my projects. Just because I love doing it doesn’t mean it’s not going to burn me out eventually, so I have to be firm with myself about when to stop.

Then step back and take a look at your whole year ahead and block in time for the fun adventures, holidays, courses and outings you want to enjoy throughout the year, even if roughly at first. If they require a good amount of planning and research then block out time to do that too.

Finally, use your calendar to get into new habits so that they eventually become second-nature: When I was focusing on getting my well-being into gear because I wanted to feel nourished in my life, I scheduled in everything from ‘lunch break‘ (which I used to frequently skip) to ‘go to shops to buy nourishing food‘ (or I lived off rice cakes and marmite). Now I have turned those into firm habits I don’t need to schedule them in. This year I want to get back into painting and have a go at meditating for a month. I know the moment it gets a space in my calendar, it’ll appear in my life.

Your calendar is your canvas and a magic wand when you want to bring about change in your life.

So choose what it is you want to fill your life with and start scheduling it.

Selina Barker