I Need to Get My Act Together.

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I am in serious need of some life organization, my friends. I need to get organized, and get my act together, pronto. Lately I have been a bit, no a lot, like Lord Ronald in Stephen Leacock’s Gertrude the Governess. I’ve been riding “madly off in all directions.”

Lord Ronald said nothing; he flung himself from the room, flung himself upon his horse and rode madly off in all directions.

Stephen Leacock, “Gertrude the Governess”

I am all energy, lots and lots of flinging, and no perceptible direction. And directionless flinging is not my normal state. In fact it makes me anxious when I don’t have a plan. Even a rough plan will do.

Now that Thanksgiving is over, fall camping is over, and Hubby and I will be home for the next couple of months, I need to devise a structure for my life.

Graphic "I need to get my act together" on maple leaf background.

I may be a bit of an airhead, but I like structure. Teaching suited me so well because I worked within a set structure. Oh, sure, I had lots of scope for creativity and controlling my own life in the classroom. I had lots of scope for working creatively and collaboratively with other teachers and administrators. But ultimately we worked within certain time parameters, and within the school, board, and province-wide plans. So we had leeway, but we also had master-plans to which we had to conform. And that suited me. Total plan-less freedom means that, like Lord Ronald, I usually ride madly off in all directions. Ha.

Like yesterday. I had planned to write a blog post, on this exact subject. But I couldn’t get my act together. First I spent way too much time taking pictures of the outfit I was going to wear to run errands to the library and post office.

Dressed for errand running. Aritzia cargo pants, Vince tee, Everlane sweater, Stan Smith sneakers.
I have lots of time. Don’t I?

Then once my errands were run, instead of coming straight home and getting stuck in, I bought a take-out coffee and strolled all over downtown Manotick. Strolling off in all directions, you might say.

Watson's Mill, Manotick, Ontario.
Watson’s Mill in the sunshine.

I strolled over the dam at Watson’s Mill, then back across, then down to Main Street and back. I stopped every so often to get a photo. Like this one, below, of the amazing maple tree on the edge of the Knox Presbyterian Church lawn. You can see Watson’s Mill in the background. Then I sat on a bench beside the mill. The sun was shining, my latte was delicious, and the fall colour everywhere was so lovely that I was absolutely unable to rush home and sit in my den working on the computer. Then when I did get home it was too late to start blogging. So I sat with my book and read and felt guilty about putting off what I thought I should have been doing.

Downtown Manotick in the fall with Watson's Mill in the background.
That is one amazing maple tree, eh?

So to quote Lady Macbeth, “No more o’ that, my lord, no more o’ that.” I need a plan. A weekly plan that includes all my obligations, all the tasks that I must do, the ones I should do but may decide not to do, and the ones I want to do. I need a plan that allows for flexibility, while at the same time providing enough structure that I don’t just sit and read all the time. And which gives me enough time to get things done, so that if I do decide to stroll madly off in all directions, I won’t mess up all my other plans.

To that end, I have made a fall “To Do” list. The things I need to get done: blog stuff (finding a new hosting and tech support team), shopping for myself and for the house, plus important organizational things I need to do for Mum.

And I also have another list of things I want to do, in fact need to do, for my own sake. Like fitness, which to be honest is not a problem. I rarely have trouble fitting fitness into my week. And other endeavours. I want to make time to get back to my reading about slow fashion, and use that reading to inspire blog posts or maybe a vlog. I’d like to set aside some time each week to do some forward thinking for the blog. Not actual writing, just reading and playing with ideas. I’d like to carve some time every week to explore drawing again. And I want to start a couple of small knitting projects.

My journals and notebooks to help me get my act together.
Juggling my time and obligations with my desires.

I need a weekly structure that fits all of these things in. But which still allows time for spontaneity. Plus I have given myself permission to abandon the entire plan if I choose.

I have also decided that in order to make time for some things, I will have to jettison other things. Like book club. I don’t want to lose touch with these ladies with whom I have been discussing books for years and years. But I’m finding I can’t keep up with the assigned reading, and still explore all the reading rabbit holes I’d like to explore which crop up. So I think I will take a hiatus from book club for a few months.

My rough weekly schedule will look something like this: Sunday: Walking, riding, or skiing with Hubby. This is our regular get out and exercise together day. Monday: Cleaning and other household chores. Bill paying, reno research, or organizational tasks that I need to do for Mum. Tuesday: No set tasks. Art maybe. Lunch with friends. Shopping. Whatever. Wednesday: Blogging day. Researching and writing a post. Thursday: No set tasks. Art maybe. Lunch with friends. Shopping. Ski day with Hubby in winter. Whatever. Friday: Blog photos, outfit try-ons. Vlog filming and/or editing. Saturday: Laundry and blogging. This is usually the day I write a fashion post based on Friday’s photos.

I always squeeze my personal exercise schedule around my daily tasks. If I am going shopping and meeting a friend for lunch, I will pedal my exercise bike early. If I am at home all day, I will pedal just before lunch, or late in the afternoon. Or if it’s a nice day and I am at home blogging, I will walk early, and blog afterward. Sunday, Wednesday, and Saturday will be fixed schedule days. If possible, I will avoid other commitments on these days.

On normal weeks, Tuesday and Thursday are days when I can do as I please. Those will be shopping days, errand running, lunch with friends days, reading and researching days, playing with art days. Friday is blog photo day as a rule. And Monday will be my chore day. But if something fun comes up on a Monday, I can easily move Monday’s chores to Tuesday or Thursday.

If I have no lunches with friends, no walking or shopping date, or other activity on Tuesday, I will plan to spend part of this day playing with ideas for future blog posts. Reading, taking notes, going somewhere different to take photos. Not with any set writing deadline in mind, just with an eye to exploring ideas. I am excited about this. Some bloggers I know plan a month of blog topics in advance. I tried this a few years ago and it didn’t work for me. Blogging is not my job. I am under no obligation to create content for a brand. What I love about blogging is the freedom to explore whatever is on my mind. Or to choose to abandon an idea if it no longer interests me.

So that is my plan to get my act together. For now. I’m happy with my plan. Nothing is carved in stone. But there is enough structure to give my week some shape. I can’t be doing with a blobby, free-form, amoeba of a week. No structure at all is stressful for me. I become my own worst enemy, procrastinating, sashaying around doing nothing, sitting on my butt with a book, and then rushing madly off in all directions to get everything done in a hurry. That’s hard on a girl. And it’s very hard on the guy who lives with the girl. Or so I’m told.

What about you, folks? Or you a person who needs structure? Or do you prefer a free-form, amoeba-like week?

P.S. You can read Stephen Leacock’s story about Gertrude the Governess and Lord Ronald here.

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57 thoughts on “I Need to Get My Act Together.”

  1. I can relate totally to this. Although ultimate freedom to do as you wish sounds ideal, but it doesn’t work for me. I need some structure but not too many commitments in a week or I become overwhelmed and anxious. I am also a “fear of missing out” (fomo) person so I can get overly busy. Oh to achieve the balance that is a challenge. I will look forward to your updates.

    1. Part of me doesn’t want to feel as if I am letting time slip through my fingers. Especially now that we’re not travelling. Big trips always bookended our year. Now they are gone, it’s too easy to do nothing.

  2. I tend to over-schedule and generally have a few too many projects on the go (Italian practice every day and class Saturday mornings; knitting and embroidery and mending; blogging. And reading! activities with husband and family). But I’m very protective of my afternoon nap time and I try for an hour walking most days and enough strength-training to stave off injury. The last few months I’ve been adding short (20-45-minute) yoga sessions 4 or 5 rimes a week and loving those more and more as a way to slow down without feeling too “free-form amoeba-like.”

      1. If you read what I’m actually doing in that list, though, you can see that most of those activities are pretty restorative. . . In fact, quite a few can be done on a couch . . . 😉

  3. If you had written this a month ago I would have said: yes, totally! But things have changed and, after a lifetime of planning, ruminating, over-thinking, self-judgement and basically driving myself so far up my fundament….I have decided to make a very big alteration. I may well write a blog post about it myself (but I am not holding myself to that decision…) in the coming weeks. I am all for the strolling and yours looked spectacular. Strolling will form part of my day, as will meeting up with a friend for a late breakfast and long chat. That is as far as it goes.

  4. Oh dear , Wendy the amoeba here . It wasn’t always the case . I had thirty five years of leaving home half asleep at 7.45 am & then arriving home after 6pm to prepare meals etc . After early redundancy I floundered a little with so much unusual free time on my hands . So I became a volunteer at the local animal home , vetting prospective adopters of dogs & cats in their homes . Volunteering is a big thing here & many people I know devote time to their favourite causes . After almost twenty years I was tiring a little & decided to conserve my energy for home & the garden . I can see the need for structure though . Our morning hour or two of dog walk is a must , not just for the exercise but also the social interaction with other dog walkers . After that if there’s nothing arranged we just ‘ follow our noses ‘ . It’s abit like being a child again before being pinned down behind a desk for most of my life .
    Your wander round Manotik in all directions sounds a lovely way to spend time to me . Both you & Frances seem to have prodigious energy & lots of self discipline which is perhaps why you are excellent bloggers ( & I’m not )

    1. I am not nearly as energetic as it might appear. I am very slow off the mark in the morning. On my second cup of tea as I write this and it’s 9:00. If I don’t plan things for myself, I’d never go anywhere. I’m not good at doing things last minute.

  5. I love reading your post and don’t want you to quit blogging but really rethink giving up your wonderful book group and the contact with old friends. Spontaneity is the delight of retirement. My book groups bring me so much joy and inspire me to read unusual books.

      1. Have you thought of listening to the book group’s selection especially on your strolls – not quite the same but you get the best of both – the book and the company of the group on an ongoing basis.

        I do understand what you mean as sometimes book group gets in the way of all my other choices.

  6. Retired teacher here who functions very well with routine! I do a bullet journal to keep track of meal planning, exercise, cleaning and whatever else I choose. Helps me get things done. However, if it doesn’t happen as scheduled each week, it’s all good!

  7. Perfect timing Sue! (Feels funny calling you Sue -as I only know you through your blog -which I enjoy immensely from Muskoka/Toronto).

    I retired just before Covid hit (that too was perfect timing!) and have been enjoying a slower pace and no schedule. However, just the other day I was thinking I may enjoy a bit more structure. Perhaps it is 18 months of floating. Perhaps it is the onset of coppery fall.

    I had thought of a daily structure but that seemed like wearing a too tight jacket (and heels!). I really like your idea of a weekly structure, esp including 3 or 4 days of nothing planned other than workouts and healthy meals.

    Funny how little shifts can have big impacts.

    Thx again!

  8. Yesterday looks like it was a lovely fall day. I sure did enjoy seeing it. When you have sights like that why stay indoors! Permission granted to put off one more day of getting your act together.

  9. I can relate. I am three years retired from a job with a lot of deadlines. Without that structure I seem to be working on many things at once and sometimes feel that none are getting completed. I think COVID made it more difficult for me to find my new pattern. I think your day of enjoying your area at this beautiful time of year is very restoring.

  10. Wednesdays are my hike or XC ski days and last winter on Saturdays I took a demanding Master Gardener course. These scheduled days kept me going through our last covid winter. Looking at the upcoming covid winter, I need to get set up again for some structure. My daughter tells me I am an expert at retirement because I do lots of interesting things. For me, it’s a few structured and dedicated days that make it work. Courses are difficult to take these days unless you really want more zoom time. I might get back to teaching ESL which I can do on Whatsapp. All in all, Social +Physical +Mental activities + a few Dedicated days every week = a great retirement life for me. Still waiting to travel, Lizette

    1. I agree. A few days that are structured are enough to give my week some shape. I am reluctant to make a structure based on the timeline of others, though. Not sure I could commit to a course.

  11. Newly retired teacher here and I enjoy your blog immensely. I am a very organized, task driven individual…perhaps from 37 years of teaching and all the ideas you mentioned above. I try to complete a minimum of 5 tasks a day…working out, stretching and meditation is non-negotiable…so I really only have 2 other tasks each day. Those tasks can be anything from house chores to just getting outside (and yes, I will put that down as one of my goals/tasks). I am enjoying the freedom of sleeping in and reading late into the night if my heart desires. Spontaneous afternoon walks or a planned drive to the mountains. I have found that I really noticed the changing of the season this autumn. Usually September is a busy time for a primary teacher. My head was down, heading into school early in the morning and working late but this fall, this glorious fall…walks in the parks, kayaking on the water or just sitting and enjoying a lazy coffee watching the leaves change. This fall, I have actually stopped to breathe. So for now, 5 tasks a day is about all I wish to handle…

    1. During Covid lockdowns in 2020 I had decided that I would do one productive thing a day. That helped alleviate my guilt and still gave me the freedom to read all afternoon if I wanted.

  12. I have a love/hate affair with schedules. Was quite happy to retire a few years ago after 12 hour days, lots of business travel and v. long, perilous driving commutes that started at 4:30 am. I don’t miss it in the least (well, liked business travel when I could tag on a personal day–or more–to visit new places or old favorites (e.g. Big Sur), attend concerts, ballets or art exhibitions in cities all over the US). While I don’t have a regular weekly schedule anymore, I do keep an ongoing list of things each month of things to be accomplished and at the beginning of each week look it over and determine what will happen and when. I am pretty fluid about it. Just enough of a rebellious nature to avoid being boxed in when it is no longer required.
    Having said that, I have spent the last five months planning a solo trip overseas (leave Saturday). May I say that planning the journey (even in these precarious times) has been an absolute joy. For me, there is simply nothing quite so much fun as planning and anticipating travel–except perhaps, actually doing it. 🙂

    1. I so agree. I do so much research before a trip and I love every minute of it. I hardly need to actually go I’m so familiar with the place by the time I get there. I would hate to return and find out I missed something great that was right under my nose while there!

  13. I just retired in September and am struggling to be less organized and stop being so structured. Who knew those habits would be so hard to rid! I’m slowing getting the hang of the fact that I now have time and can let the day unfold organically. But I am keeping a loose weekly schedule similar to yours. I feel vindicated somehow! 🙂

  14. Sue, thank you again for another excellent blog. I started reading your blogs a few years back when I had retired from teaching and we started traveling a lot. Now this past year plus when traveling wasn’t doable, I have needed a weekly structure to keep me sane. Exercise, Italian classes and book club interspersed with free days to garden, make jam and sit in the sunshine! Enjoy the fall season.

  15. Dearly love that phrase, ‘run madly off in all directions.’ Sounds like me most days. I do like an agenda, and I do try to make one most days but….my husband and family can derail that in an instant. This past year and a half I derailed myself, sad and crying with all the lockdowns. I am back trying to accomplish a little bit each day. Love your day of takeout coffee and a walk in all the fall colors…perfect.

  16. Old Leacock got it down didn’t he? That’s me, sitting with my second coffee at 11:00am THINKING of ALL the things I need to do…letting my brain ‘run madly off in all directions’ or as my dear friend has said ‘all the burners on and nothing is cooking’! Arrrgh! Then I become so overwhelmed and exhausted just thinkin’ aboutit….After retiring from the hospital last year (smack in the middle of Covid) I was exhausted..in 2017 lost my brother to a brain tumour, 2018 lost MIL, and to cap it off lost my mother in 2019…my employer introduced a new electronic charting system in 2019 with a mountainous learning curve for all..then, well we all know what happened March 13, 2020!! By the time I retired scheduling was the last thing on my mind. I have had almost a full year of no schedule, not exactly lazing about but not exactly accomplishing much either. That’s the problem …my life was based on accomplishments, on finding the answers, making the right decisions for those that depended on me both professionally and my family. ‘Get’er done’ was my motto!
    I need to consider a schedule no matter how loose, my expanding bottom is showing the effects of too much reading/screen time/Netflix. I am great at planning my financial month when all the pensions flow in on the 1st…need to consider my personal month as well. It’s so easy to flail about and another week has passed without much getting done.
    Someone commented that being retired is like going back to childhood…a kid in a candy shop as it were but I recall that my sons thrived on routine (which I think is actually a softer word for schedule) they knew that after supper they had a bath, story and bedtime. My grandsons seem to thrive on their little daily routines as well, with the odd wild card thrown in for fun. Grandma needs to ‘get with the program’:)

    1. Oh gosh… that line about burners is perfect. You have had a hellish few years. No wonder you were exhausted. Do you find that sometimes you don’t feel the exhaustion until you stop and give yourself permission to collapse?
      P.S. Bath, story, and bed sounds like my routine. Ha.

  17. Like you, I function better with a schedule. Retirement was a challenge for me at first, because I had virtually no obligations. Travel planning and execution were a fun part of my schedule, but of course, there is not much of that going on right now. And I also found that without writing things down, I tended to forget them because, well, tomorrow’s another day, right? 😉

    So, I went back to a paper planner (just like I would have used during work). I find one that appeals to me visually each year (usually by Blue Sky) and it helps me to stay on task and remember things on my to do list. I have my schedule/appointments on my iPhone, but something about writing things down and having them sitting in front of me on my desk each morning makes them happen more reliably.

  18. Sadly, since I retired I often seem to have of these kind of “butterfly moments.” I used to be known as one who had tunnel vision and could stay on and multi-task with ease. Then I remind myself it’s OK to be good to yourself and just put the “to do” list back on the schedule.

  19. I can certainly relate! As a teacher, my day was scheduled – classes, staff meetings, meetings with parents, and so on. Now I’m finding myself, as you said, ‘riding off madly in all directions.’ Just this morning, before I read your blog, I sat down and worked out a schedule for four days of the week. It felt great to commit myself for even a portion of each day. Here in Alberta we’re still mired in COVID, so I’m not going out for coffee/lunches. We are holding Book Club in our back yards, until it gets too cold. Then we’ll be online. I think that your decision to go on hiatus from your Book Club is a good one; sometime you just need to read the books that YOU want to read.

  20. With cold weather coming, I can understand how you dropped everything, got a latté, took photos and relaxed outside. We Northerners (and you are more North than I am) need to to take advantage of the last warm days and beautiful fall foliage.
    I like a bit of structure. I am working full time, so I squeeze my blog, house cleaning, garden, exercise, etc. around the job. Routine and structure helps. I tend to plan to accomplish much more than is possible for off days. I try to come up with a priority and stick to it. Easier said than done, but when the weekend is over, I try to focus on what got done instead of what did not.
    You have an admirable plan pulled together, with flexibility built into it. That is very impressive. Good luck with it and keep us posted on what works well or how you’ve adjusted it. I need tips!

  21. I am a person who wants to have the plan and the structure indeed ( it might have the connection with my job as well), and than I have the freedom to follow it,postpone,re-schedule or break it….even only to smell the roses,if I wish
    I have the schedule written on my table planner,I plan even the goings out (dah…) or Sunday coffee
    Only,it seems that I’m smelling the roses nowdays more often than I should….or I’m simply lazy,because all the waiting (for months) for all different kind of (very important and hard to get) repair people has crushed all of my other plans,so,yes,time to be serious
    It might sound crazy in this moment,but during the pandemic, I’ve decided that I will (in the future….) not have more than one social event in a day
    Dottoressa

  22. Ann in Missouri

    These are BIG subjects for me–those subjects being purpose, structure, control, scheduling and flexibility.

    After my lack of control last year when so many days, weeks and months were indistinguishable from one another, my 2021 spring and summer have been comparative whirlwinds of activity–doing two years’ worth of property maintenance (I bailed on all that in 2020), losing some pandemic weight, traveling anywhere I could drive to and see beloved friends I’d been unable to hug for too long, and re-learning how to be fit for society again. (The length of the previous sentence illustrates my current mood.)

    In fact, finding that ever-fluctuating fulcrum between (1) discovering new things and getting things done vs. (2) simply being present is my lifelong challenge. The challenge continues.

  23. I can relate to letting the hours get away from me when I don’t have structure. It has been a big problem since the early days of the pandemic when all my group activities outside our home were cancelled. Even with the improving situation in NS, nothing is starting up again too soon. So I am without direction now that quilting with friends in either the church basement or community centre isn’t a part of my life. The structure is gone. Reading, never a bad thing, has moved up the list of things to do. But looking at your lovely photos, and just having returned from your neighbourhood, I can well understand being torn. I sat on a bench and enjoyed the sun too. But, I found a planner and sketched out a structure, not to confine my wandering but with lists I can stroke off and feel like I’ve done something in the next week. Best of luck to both of us.

  24. Hey Sue, I definitely need a structure to my day. The pandemic has helped me in so many ways- physically, emotionally and with my positive mindset. Everything is scheduled and colour coded in my Google calendar. My mornings are always devoted to me. Monday to Friday are pretty consistent: breakfast, catching up on emails and social media to start the day followed by stretching with daily affirmations, then my exercise classes with some strength training followed by stretching again. This takes me to lunch. Lunch is a two hour affair for me between chopping vegetables, eating and cleaning dishes. (We rarely use our dishwasher). Afternoons are more flexible. I try to schedule appointments and time with friends. Afternoons may also be for cooking soups, chilis and doing house cleaning (Sunday & Monday). I do spend an awful lot of time in the kitchen making everything from scratch. We rarely eat processed food anymore. We have moved more in a vegan direction. Evenings are for workshops, reading, yapping and FaceTiming with family and friends. I hardly have time to watch any TV or even hockey games anymore!!!

  25. Margaretanne Clinton

    Well. I’m an oil painter .
    I think you WERE doing what you should have been doing.
    Great maple 🍁 photo. That was worth your day ! And. Thanks for the lovely post.

    1. I am planning to do the same tomorrow. Have a wandering drinking coffee day. Maybe looking for a good place to take photos. Next on my list… is to muster enough courage to take my tripod and take blog outfit photos somewhere not in my backyard.

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