As we enter into the month of February, our thoughts often float to love. With Valentine’s Day marking this month’s calendar, we might be thinking of how to showcase our love to family, friends, or a partner. But let’s not forget to show love to ourselves. Self-love is the greatest gift you can give to yourself and others.
Some might visualize self-love as bubble baths, manicures, or a delicious dessert. While those are all amazing ways to treat yourself (I love a good chocolate treat!), when I think about self-love, I am also drawn to the concept of self-management. This organizer’s brain is always thinking of systems and tools that will allow me more time to enjoy my favorite people and hobbies and to be as successful in my career as possible.
Though you might think of it as task management or getting things done, I choose to see the time I take to plan, systemize, and follow through as a form of self-love. To give love to myself, now and in the future, I ask myself, “What can I do right now to make things easier and more joyful for myself tomorrow, this week, and this year?” Then, I take action, joyfully, because I know what I am doing is of great importance and benefit to my future self.
Interested in exploring self-management as a form of self-love to make your days smoother and allow you to soak up all the good moments?
Here are three ways I use organizational and planning skills to live fully and in flow.
1. Keep categorized lists, and review them.
For all aspects of my life, I have a specific place I keep track of items. For work meetings and tasks, I use my company-provided calendar (mine is electronic, but yours doesn’t have to be). Personal appointments and to-dos go in my planner. Grocery lists go in the notes app in my phone.
The key to making lists work is to only put each item in its designated spot. I never put personal commitments in my work calendar or vice-versa. I don’t write down the ingredients I need for the week on random post-its or scraps of paper – only in my notes app. Keeping strict boundaries around the way I use my lists not only keeps me organized, it also saves time and keeps me from feeling stressed because I always know just where to look to see what’s going on or what I need.
I also spend intentional time reviewing my lists regularly so I know what is upcoming. This might mean reviewing my work calendar the day before so I feel prepared for the next day or looking at my personal planner for the month ahead to see whose birthday is coming up and what gifts I might want to purchase.
2. Plan ahead for the next day or week.
To ensure I am feeling my best and have the time to participate in activities I love, I plan them out ahead of time. For example, since being active is important to me and something I enjoy, I plan ahead and decide what kind of exercise I will do the next day (e.g., run, yoga, bike). I then prepare accordingly. Especially if I’m planning farther out, say for a week or two, I will add my activities at the right time on the appropriate calendar (see #1). The night before, I also lay out the right clothing and make sure any equipment needed is prepped, whether that means making sure there’s air in my bike tires or putting my running watch on its charger. That way all I need to do the next morning is wake up and have fun!
Sometimes I also use planning ahead as a way to make sure I get the things done I do not enjoy doing. An example of this is batch cooking multiple meals on one day on the weekend. Confession – I do not love cooking. What I do love is having nourishing meals and extra time to partake in hobbies that are fulfilling. By cooking everything I need all on one day, I know I have my food set for the week. I do not waste time every day thinking, “What will I have for dinner?” or running out to the grocery store every day for items I forgot. Instead, I can spend that time going on a hike with a friend or reading… or whatever form of self-love I’m feeling most right then.
3. Use tracking methods as motivation.
Personally, I feel immense joy when I write down an accomplishment or cross a task off my list. This, in turn, provides motivation for keeping up my momentum and following through on my other promises, both to myself and other people.
As we shared in another recent post, celebrating wins is the number one thing you need to do to achieve your goals. To help make that happen, try keeping track of what you are doing and celebrating your achievements all in one place. For me, that means listing my work tasks in my calendar so I have a visual reminder of what I plan to get done and a place I can cross things off my list, too.
Here’s another example: I feel my best when I move my body and meditate every day. To help me build the habit and stay consistent, I have the days of the week written out in my planner with a place to note what I did that day, movement-wise and meditation-wise. I can use this space to plan ahead if I want, but, I especially like to record my successes. Getting to the end of the week, looking back, and seeing a week full of success is as much motivation for me as the actual, post-workout endorphin highs.
Your self-management systems and tools and the way you show yourself love may not look quite like mine. The “right” systems and methods always vary from person to person. But I truly believe taking the time to discover the self-management methods that work for you is like giving yourself a gift that gives back for the rest of your life.
So, where will you start? Which of these self-management approaches resonates with you? How can you show yourself a little more self-love, beginning right now? Share your answers in the comments!