Week 4/2023: Plan on friday

Week of 23 January 2023

A week on and a week off

After our week in Sydney, I went straight back to work on Monday knowing I’d only have just over a week before I’d be on leave for another week.

The main things I wanted to do this week were to work through all my photos, write up my travel blog posts, and finish off the creative writing course I started a few weeks ago on Domestika. I also wanted to finish the Unravel Your Year work.

The other thing I wanted to do, which has been on my “to try”list for ages was to test out the “Plan on Friday” idea that Laura Vanderkam suggests in her book Tranquility by Tuesday.

Tranquility by Tuesday revisited

Plan on Friday is chapter 2 of the book. I had skipped over it last year because it seemed complicated, and I’ve kept avoiding going back to it.

A reminder of what this book is about.

It’s Laura’s nine rules (she calls them rules, I call them suggestions) for “achieving tranquility even when life is complicated, challenging and occasionally chaotic”. I started going through them last October.

The cover of the book Tranquility by Tuesday with nine tiles summarising the contents of the book
Tranquility by Tuesday (from Amazon.com)

Chapter 1 was about making a bedtime for yourself and going to bed on time, and the bonus activity was crafting a morning ritual.

Chapter 3 was called Move by 3pm, which is about committing to doing at least 10 minutes of movement every day before 3 pm.

Both of these were things I was already doing and just tweaked a bit so they worked better for me.

Trying out planning on Friday

Plan on Friday is a new one.

It has two parts:

  1. Plan weekly, which I’m already doing, if you can call what I do “planning”
  2. Plan on Friday.

My weekly planning usually involves sitting down on a Sunday, wasting a lot of time trying to figure out what I’ve done the past week and what I want to do the next week, and not actually doing anything. I also make a bit of a work plan on Fridays that I don’t follow through on.

Laura suggests integrating the personal planning with the work planning and do it all in one hit on Friday.

This way, she suggests, you know what your upcoming work week is going to look like, you make time for your personal stuff for that week AND a rough plan for the weekend following. Then you can tweak your upcoming weekend plan/schedule/whatever you called it (which you made last week) based on anything that might have happened during the week. Invitations, people getting take to hospital, things getting cancelled, whatever.

Laura says the key to weekly planning is doing it on Friday rather than on Sunday night or on Monday morning. She sets out a few reasons for this, including the idea that it’s hard to start something new on a Friday. Friday is more of a finishing time, and Laura suggests making a plan on Friday better use of time that is often already less productive, which then enables us to start work fully energised on Monday. (If anyone is ever fully energised on Monday. But you get the idea, right?) Friday planning also means you have time that day to tee stuff up ready for Monday instead of trying to organise things on Monday.

She also says it’s easier to make weekend plans on Friday than on Saturday morning, much for the same reason. If you leave it until Saturday morning, half the morning is gone before you know what you want to be doing.

I’m a rejector of schedules and my idea of fun is to meticulously plan a day (or a week or a month or a year) and then do nothing of the sort. The planning bit is fun. The doing is not. So keeping it rough, like Laura suggests, is a good idea because it doesn’t make me feel constrained hour by hour and minute by minute.

And I know that if I don’t actually set aside time to do things I want to do, they don’t get done.

Making those two mindsets (hating to stick to a plan but knowing I have to if I want to get anything done) work together nicely is a challenge.

Laura suggests we look at planning as a way to shift away from getting caught up in “what’s happening” to doing “what’s important”, especially for our personal projects on the weekends. This sounds similar to the message of the book Four Thousand Weeks. If you don’t make time for the things that are important, you’ll keep getting sucked up by the things that aren’t.

As an avowed schedule hater, I struggle with this. But the more I watch my 4000 weeks leech away without having done some of the things I really want to do, I know it’s something that will benefit me.

So Friday was Plan on Friday Day 1. It felt awkward and weird but I did it.

I think the more I do it and tinker with my system until I find something that works, the easier it will be.

I’m going to keep playing with it.

The normal stuff

23 for 2023 update

Status to date: 1/23 comfort zone challenges complete. There are more coming.

What do I want to do next week?

Week 5’s main tasks are

  • Continue doing my shoulder exercises.
  • Work on Unravel Your Year (because I didn’t do it this week) and turn it into some actual actions (which I can plan to do next Friday . . . ).
  • Finish my travel blog series and edit more photos from the trip.

Weekly summary

What was the best thing about this week?

I finished my creative writing course and got some encouraging feedback from the teacher as well as from one of the other students in the class who I’ve stayed in contact with.

What did I learn this week?

I went to an installation called Salt Water Country by palawa artist Emma Robertson. Here’s a short piece about it from ABC radio.

A blue and green sea kelp forest with the words "Emma Robertson Salt Water County" in white text
Salt Water Country

This was a life-sized diorama in a shipping container! It fully immersed you in a kelp forest, and you could see, touch, hear and smell the environment that the kelp grows in.

Emma has collected the washed-up kelp she used in the installation ethically from Country.

Strips of kelp hanging down lit with a purple light
The inside of the kelp diorama

The exhibition was accompanied by a video narrated by Emma’s kids, which told me that kelp grows in nutrient rich waters in kelp forests. It can grow at 30 cm a day, reaching a height of 60 metres. Kelp forests are disappearing at an alarming rate because of climate change—95 per cent of our kelp forests have gone. What’s causing this is the Eastern Australian current bringing down warmer and less nutrient-rich water, which is destroying the kelp.

That’s a lot of destruction.

In her statement, Emma invites us to “reflect on [our] daily practices and consider the small changes we can all make to protect our seas from the impact of climate change. This tactile experience emphasises the deep connection we have with kelp and the sea, and highlights how they can aid against the effects of climate change and global warming.”

What did I notice this week?

Most of the agapanthus are in bloom now.

Two flowerlets of a purple agapanthus clinging to a broken stem
Broken agapanthus

This one looked a bit sad.

What I’m reading this week

  • In Sunlight and Shadow: Stories inspired by the paintings of Edward Hopper edited by Lawrence Block
  • Tranquility by Tuesday by Laura Vanderkam

Habit tracker

  • Morning ritual (Goal = 7): 7
  • Move (preferably before 3 pm) (Goal = 7): 6
  • Morning writing (Goal = 7): 0
  • The Little Red Writing Book exercises (Goal = 5): 0
  • Listened to writing podcasts (Goal = 2): 0
  • All five physiotherapy exercises (Goal = 7): 7
  • Mental health break outside during my work days in the office (2 days): 2
  • Finish work by 5.30 (Goal = 5): 6
  • Shut my computer down before 9.15 (Goal = 6): (I forgot to track this)
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