Rule Your Relationships
So here we are. I’ve arrived at my final blog entry along this journey toward organizational enlightenment, and if I’m lucky, maybe a few of you Chronicle Books blog-readers are still out there with me. If I’m really lucky, a handful of you have been organizing your lives simultaneously. You might be wondering, “So, what’s left to do?’ According to Meryl, the list of organizing tasks is infinite, but once you have the impetus to change, you can focus your sights on anything that troubles you. One of the “heavy hitters” is the social calendar. “Remember, you’ve cleaned up your financial act, you’ve caught up on the to-dos, you’ve learned how to manage your calendar, and even structure your time, but what about your friends and family? Are they benefiting from your organization? It’s time to manage your relationships in a more systematic way.” I’m intrigued by this one…
Within minutes of my conversation with Meryl, I got it. I’m famous for broken plans, late RSVPs, and empty promises to plan lunch dates. These are telltale signs of social disaster. No wonder I’m always complaining that I never see my friends and I don’t have time to visit with my family. I’ve been using my “social time” irresponsibly – not valuing the time I have to devote to those I love. So Meryl suggests that I think about the important people in my life and consider the following – “Who,” “What,” “When,” and “How Long.”
“Who” do I want to see? Will they appreciate our time together? “What” will we do together? Do I enjoy it? “When” prompts me to consider which days really work. “How Long” reminds me to budget the time I can devote to the commitment. Meryl promises that by proactively managing my interactions I can limit frustration and maximize my precious time. So I gave it a shot. I can take control.
To protect the innocent, names have been changed. I got a call from Lisa who was in town for just a few days. Unfortunately her schedule conflicted with everything in my schedule – from work, to yoga, to my weekly drink date with friends. So rather than promising to juggle my calendar and “make things work,” sacrificing my plans, and struggling to enjoy the time, Lisa and I made a plan together. Lisa came to yoga class, and then we grabbed a light dinner afterward. I enjoyed my workout, I got to catch up, and I was home in time for bed! The satisfaction I felt giving Lisa a hug and tucking her into a cab was wonderful.
With this new approach to my social life it’s easy to make plans and commit to them, knowing that I have priorities and boundaries. And what’s more interesting is that my friends and family have responded well, too. Everyone appreciates it when you’re honest about your schedule – my friends value our time together when I meet them and lament that “My week is chock full so I’ll have to leave after a drink, but I can’t bear to miss our weekly chat session.” My Dad loves when I’m honest, “I can’t make it home this weekend, there’s too much to do, but next Saturday is all yours!” I never thought that limiting myself could be so liberating.
So there you have it. The last entry in my series of blogs on toiling to achieve organizational nirvana. You might wonder whether I’m there yet. No, probably not. “But you’ve got an amazing start!” Meryl reminds me. “And you want to change.” What about you?
This is the last post, so don’t forget that one lucky commenter will win an autographed copy of Meryl’s Personal Organizing Workbook and her Home Organizing Workbook. Isn’t that enough incentive to get organized!?
Assistant to the President