How I’m using “Personal Work Days” to address my Priorities

I started off 2019 feeling stressed and overburdened.

Between working a 40-hour work week at my family business, rehearsing 3x a week for an upcoming production of Mamma Mia (in which I play Sky!), and remaining completely dedicated to fitness, I had taken a break from working with clients, and had not reached my goal of becoming fully certified in the KonMari Method before the show, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo released on Netflix.  On top of all that, I was about to begin a year-long 600 hour Yoga Teacher Training which would pile on the readings & time commitments.

How was I going to manage?

The idea came to me on a drive back from my lunch hour workout (and I’ll admit, the majority of my best ideas come from the car, the gym, or the bathroom.)  I won’t claim full responsibility for this idea, what I call my “personal work days”, because I’m certain I’m not the only person doing this…  But I can’t say for sure whether I heard the idea in passing somewhere or if it actually came from me.

What I can tell you is I made a commitment to myself:  To take one day each week, that I dedicate to all my other work (that is:  all my work that does not have to do with Northern Edge Algonquin, my family’s retreat centre.)

I recognize that I am privileged to work in a family business where I am in control of my hours…  I also know that many businesses out there are open to this level of flexibility with staff.  If I wasn’t family, I’d still be able to do this at my workplace.  There are lots of articles out there about the benefits of employees working on external projects in the workplace.  In fact, when I first started Tidy Tim, I had the support of my work to dedicate an hour here or there to my side project.  If you can’t take a day, you might be able to take a morning or an afternoon; or an hour.

My personal work days don’t necessarily take place at the office – but if I want to use that atmosphere to focus, I will.  There is something powerful about saying “I am going to use this time to intentionally do the things I’ve been meaning to do.” I’m not giving myself license to take the day off work to watch Netflix (that I would file under “mental health day”!)  I’m calling it a Personal Work Day because I’m still working – but I’m working intentionally on my own time, my own projects, and improving my own life.  It sounds lazy, but I don’t want to do this stuff on the weekends! Those are my days off!

My first personal work day was last Thursday.

I woke up, and before even getting out of bed I finished the first of many Tidy Tim blog posts.  This was fuelled by some articles my sister had sent me before bed the night before.  Once I hit “publish”, I fixed myself a nourishing breakfast and drove into North Bay.  I met with a young fellow so he could inspect my old laptop computer and buy it off me (one of my “in transit” items that I had been lagging on moving out the door!)

I then treated myself to a work lunch (Thai food – not available in South River) before joining a new client at her home to begin our first KonMari Method Session together.

My second personal work day was Today.

I allowed myself to sleep in a tiny bit, helping to restore my energy.  Then, I put on a load of laundry, laced my skates with the new laces I’d been meaning to put on them, re-organized my closet and revisited the contents of my underwear and tee shirt drawers to make sure everything there still sparks joy.  After lunch I focused on some of my yoga readings, contacted some people I’ve been meaning to contact, reviewed my calendar for the rest of the week, used Facebook ads to get more likes on my Tidy Tim Facebook Page, and started writing this very post.

You get the idea – it’s all about getting shit done.  I’m thrilled with myself for making this a resolution for the year 2019.

When I’m coaching a client through the process of letting go, I like to talk about The Secret:  You remember, the power of intention?  When we create space in our lives, I believe we should be intentional about what we are filling that space with.  Otherwise, the space might get filled up with junk again!  Yes, I am taking a cut to my Northern Edge paycheque in order to allow myself these days, however, I believe I’ll receive that back – either energetically, or SURE, through Tidy Tim paycheques instead.

Already I feel less overburdened and more accomplished.

I can’t recommend this enough.  In closing, I’d like to share this short Ted Talk by Laura Vanderkam on how to gain control of your free time:


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