The One Thing I Do Every Monday in Order to Have a Successful Week

I calendar. I color-code. I kvetch.

If you read my first few posts, then you already know that what inspired my newsletter (and welcome to everyone new!) is that I was recently referred to as “The Swiss Army knife of vegans,” and though I was (am) really tickled by that, I have also recently become aware that I have to say “no” a lot more often because it’s just silly how much I try to squeeze into a day. I’m still struggling with this, but I’ll keep you posted as I find tools and toys that help me succeed (such as the mindfulness I clunked my way through telling you about a few days ago).

(Look at this fabulous present I got … from me!)

The reason I started down this path in the first place was that my anxiety was seriously out of control, I didn’t know how to say “no” to projects that intrigued me (even if I had no time to do them), I refused to recognize that even “good” projects sometimes require a hard pass, and I was becoming obsessed with my schedule—resulting in way too much rigidity and another spiral of anxiety when I missed even one tiny thing and therefore couldn’t get back to my routine without some deadline passing me by like a parade I should have been asked to be in, dammit (I have FOMO sometimes).

So I implemented “The Jasmin Gets Happier Mission,” scheduled out several calls with a trusted therapist who I talk to from time to time, and started to deep-dive ways that I can both optimize my time, feel more comfortable turning down projects (even the “good” ones), and stay in a proactive mode much more than a reactive one (bye-bye, emailing-on-the-toilet).

It’s worth noting that one friend/mentor (friendtor?) whom I confided to about this at the time it was reaching a head—the great Elisa Camahort-Page—cut right through the bullshit and texted me this:

“You sound like your worth is tied up in trying to do what you consider ‘enough,’ but you tell yourself somewhere deep down that nothing is ‘enough.’”

Welp.

Though it’s true that I could have probably taken all of those therapy funds and just handed them over to Elisa at that mic-drop moment because damn if she doesn’t know how to go exactly for the jugular … but we can psychoanalyze me another time …

The point is that “fixing this” (or, okay, not fixing it, exactly; but rather, accepting that this is something that I will likely have to manage for my whole damn life and that doesn’t actually have to be a bad thing) will require a mix of psychological and organizational know-how.

I’ve been an activist for more than twenty years, and I fully understand that effective social justice campaigning requires a multiplicity of approaches—so why should campaigning-for-a-happier-Jasmin be any different?

Since today is Monday-Funday, I figured I’d let you know about another tool that has been working stupendously for me on this quest to recognizing my limits and celebrating my strengths. I hope it resonates with you.

Each Monday, I reserve some time (time-blocking!) for calendaring out my week. This is what that process looks like for me:

  1. Whenever something comes up, I put it on my GoogleCal immediately. I have several calendars—one for each project/job (some calendars are shared)—and I use the “all-day” section to put any general reminders for that day (such as what article is going up on the Kinder Beauty blog, or a reminder to send someone flowers because I’m really nice, or a general check-in note to myself to see if I’m meeting my benchmarks for the such-and-such project).

  2. Then, every Monday, I calendar out my week on my Ink & Volt planner, using my favorite gel pens to effectively color-code (purple is for my work with Kinder Beauty; green is for my work with Our Hen House; orange is for my work with VegNews and Fabulous Vegan; blue is for my board work with the Newark LGBTQ Center; pink is for my work editing a forthcoming anthology about antiracism, which I’m doing alongside Encompass; and brown is for my personal goals, fitness, and mental health).

  3. Whenever I do my weekly calendaring, I also follow the prompts to set my weekly goals (this week those included “finish the first draft of fat acceptance article” and “write my newsletter three times, then advertise it to my community”); to reflect and celebrate (I go over my last week’s goals and see how I did, moving over anything I didn’t get to); and to check in with my month and year goals.

  4. One other thing I’ve started to add to those pages is one-to-three words to bring with me that week. Last week, it was “look inward // prioritize personal creative projects // slow down.” And I am happy to say I stuck with those powerful words and they repeated in my head all last week like a sing-songy meditation (there I go talking about meditation again).

  5. So now that I have the written-down version of my planner, I head over to my CaveDay Squad and I take some of the more unusual (not by-rote) goals and write them in as weekly tasks. This info is public to everyone in The Squad, and I’ve even agreed to pay money if I don’t complete them (it’s all donations to an esteemed charity), so I am very incentivized. (I also love to peep what others in The Squad are working on.) I am finding more and more that accountability—along with a community of other folks who are focused on time-optimization—is paramount to my success.

  6. One thing I’ve been playing with a bit is the app Notion, which would add another layer to my digital scheduling and let me really put a firm order to my thoughts and to-do lists. I’m not quite there yet, as I’m wondering whether adding that in would be helpful or would be overkill (that’s basically the Question of My Life!), but I promise to keep you posted.

Scheduling out my week this way is possibly a bit “extra,” but it has unlocked something important for me as I work to get more and more organized, inside and out.

The color coding alone is showing me where I am putting energy and where I need to pull back, not to mention where I need to put more energy. This colorful, thousand-foot-high view inspired me to do an audit of how much time I spend on each project, and that information resulted in me making a few much-needed changes (such as letting go of certain obligations in order to have more time for others).

I’d love to hear a bit more about how you schedule your time, manage your projects, and set yourself up for success. If you don’t feel you’re ready yet, or if you think I’m completely insane (I don’t blame you, really), what are you hoping to address as you optimize your time-management?

One Thing I’m Jazzed About

Ink & Volt, obviously. I own every single of their productivity pads, from the to-do list to the meeting notes pad to the yearly planner I just told you all about. Everyone has their own preference for a type of planner; this one really works for me because I like the way it divides up the weeks and focuses on goal-setting. I also recently got a Hobonichi Techno 2021 because I thought I might benefit from hand-writing my daily schedule every day (Ink & Volt isn’t great at that), but after a few times, it wasn’t really working for me. I get antsy though (could you tell?) so I might give it another try.

A Random Thing I’d Like to Share

The new issue of VegNews is out and I got to interview the “Non-Dairy Queen,” Miyoko Schinner. She really is incredible, just like her plant-based butter and cheese that rock my world each day. I also have a second article in this epic “Best of Vegan” issue, but more on that another time.

And yes. Aside from Miyoko, you might spy another diva in that photo. (I love you, Bette.)