Proactive Aging… Tweaking the Course

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“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail” is a quote I’ve shared more than a handful of times throughout my life. But, I’ve never thought of it in respect to having a plan for how I’ll handle various symptoms of the aging process, specifically the ability to effectively keep track of everything.  Sure, I’ve worked on things like refining my sleep habits, managing stress, and adjustments in diet, but I haven’t changed the way I organize my life in some time. When I arrived at my daughter’s friend’s tea party on the wrong day and did the same thing for a friend’s multi-level marketing get together a few months later, I knew changes were necessary.

While I recognize that early 40s certainly aren’t considered “old,” I’m realizing that a number of factors come with time that make organizing life a little more challenging… like parenting, home ownership, aging parents, increased (better) responsibilities at work, etc. Over the years, I’ve found myself looking at days from the perspective of infinite blocks of time to now increments of 15 minutes. There’s just more to do, and I don’t want to be the person that complains about the quantity of stuff required. I just want to be able to better manage all the things, which means getting what’s important done while maintaining a high quality of life.

So, spouse says to me the other day as I’m complaining about my difficulty in trying to manage what seems like a million things at one time:

“If you know you’re getting older and going to have these issues, why not plan around it and organize yourself in a different way?”

The statement itself forces me to recognize the issue and take initial steps towards improvement rather than to continue to worry and consider various solutions I’m not likely to implement. Preventative action seems like the best course of action in this case. A lot has changed since my 20s and even my 30s… maybe the way I manage myself and my life could use some updating.

My plan:

  1. Evaluate how I’m currently organizing myself. What works and what doesn’t? I pride myself on being an organized person, but if what I’m doing isn’t working anymore, I need to make some adjustments. I might even throw in a little 5 Whys in there to try and figure out the root cause of why what I’m doing is failing in the first place. I could ramble off a number of reasons that contribute to the problem. But, what’s that one thing? How can I fix that?
  2. Develop a new system, or tweak the old one as necessary. When I really gave it some thought, my half-butt use of Google Calendar and the inbox combined with the scribbled notebook I like to think of as my “planner,” it’s no wonder the system is starting to fail. It’s definitely not scalable, and I worry I haven’t been as organized as I’ve thought all these years. I guess just having the notebook isn’t half the battle after all.
  3. Re-evaluate what I’m doing and make adjustments. Rather than suddenly being surprised and affected again, I’d like to just make minor corrections as I go along.

I’ll admit I’ve gone through this before. I’ll read Lifehacker or similar posts and try the latest organizer (the SELF Journal lived a short life) or organization system (the kanban experiment was fun).  But, I think approaching it as a proactive solution to an issue I know will get worse if I keep doing the same thing seems plausible.

Plan > Do > Check > Act… it never fails to be applicable.

 

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