3 ways I manage the mental overwhelm caused by my inner ‘planner’

3 way to manage your inner planner

It’s Monday, and I’m thinking I’d like to do a Saturday morning CrossFit class. Problem is, you can only do that class if you take a friend along with you. I want to take Ant, but if we both go and do that class, then I need to sort out my Father-in-Law to look after the kids while we’re there. Thing is, I can’t ask Ant whether he wants to do the class at just any old time. I have to wait till he’s in a chilled out frame of mind and able to process questions like that. Problem with this is … not having the ‘plan’ for Saturday morning locked away within a few minutes of doing the logistics for it makes me fidgety and anxious because my brain finds it very hard to relax if all the things that need organising in my life aren’t organised. Or at the very least ‘under control’. 

Now the above is me. Here’s Jennifer, one of my readers:

What’s bothering me right now is being disappointed in myself for letting feelings of overwhelm cause a frantic attitude in myself towards my husband and two kids.  I get so crazy in my head when I don’t have enough days with no plans.  We try to live simply and keep our schedule as easygoing as possible and I wish, when there is stuff I have to do, I could just be more chilled about it.  I am a planner, constantly planning my next days. I just wish I could be more easily in the moment, just be chilled.  My kids are six and nine and I work full-time. My husband is awesome, but since I am the mom and the planner, sometimes I just get overwhelmed by it all!!!

This is the point where I need to talk personality types for a second. What you’re seeing above is two people (myself and Jennifer) who sit very heavily down the Judging end of the Judging-Perceiving continuum. If you’re a Perceiving type, you’re reading the above and thinking ‘oh my god, get a grip’. If you’re a fellow Judger, especially a hard-core Judger, every word resonated.

That’s because Judgers:

prefer a planned or orderly way of life, like to have things settled and organised, feel more comfortable when decisions are made, and like to bring life under control to the degree that it is possible.”

So while it’s tempting for Jennifer and I to think we’re just silly for thinking this way, it’s not something we can just ‘switch off’ or ‘get over’ because it’s hard wired into us. But … it does need to be managed better.

I’ve found the stress and overwhelm of the ‘planner mind’ comes from those days where every minute of the day scheduled. Because, as we all know, shit does happen. Your child will spill their drink all over themselves just as you’re about to get in the car. You will get in the car with just enough time to get to your destination and realise your darling husband has been running it on the smell of an oily rag for two days. Your ‘quick coffee’ meeting will end up taking 90 minutes.

So, other than the obvious (not scheduling every day down to the last second), what have I done to manage my Judger personality better so I’m actually able to relax and live in the moment each day?

1. Have routines

The more things you do out of routine, the less you have to think. The less you have to think, the more opportunities you’ll have in each day to chill out. Consequently, our household has a weekday morning and evening routine. I have routines for going for a run and for getting up in the morning and writing. I have routines for meal preparation and pretty much anything we do on a regular basis (like say going to AusKick on Sunday mornings).

2. Factor buffer periods into every day

It used to be that our weekday morning routine was planned to the minute. Which meant that if Ant didn’t leave the house at 7.30am to take Mia to daycare, then that’d screw up my whole morning and I’d get cranky at him. Good way to start the day! I’ve now set up our mornings so there are around 30 minutes of ‘buffer’ time in there. If Ant and Mia leave the house on time, I get to meander my way through the tasks I have to do before taking Jaden to school. If they don’t leave on time I have to complete those tasks more quickly … but I’m still not rushing. I factor little buffer points like this into all parts of the day where I can.

3. Accept fewer invitations

As a rule our family does not do weeknight commitments, we seldom do Friday night commitments … and on the weekend we try to stick to one commitment a day. The weekends where we have several places to be over the course of the day, they tend to be stressful no matter how organised I am because the logistics around several events with a two-year-old who still needs an afternoon sleep are tricky. And the penalty for her not having her sleep is a cranky toddler mixed with trying to move the family from one event to another. Not fun, not relaxing. Given Ant and I work full-time and don’t see heaps of the kids during the week, we don’t want to spend our weeknights and weekends being cranky. We want to relax. So we work hard to protect the space in our weeks.

In a nutshell?

The key to actually being able to relax when you’re like Jennifer and myself?

Be organised … but have less things to be organised about.

Are you a planner? How do you find your way to actually relaxing each day?