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Episode 6 - Zero Based Scheduling Update

I got so much feedback and questions and awesome stories about the episode, "Why You Don't Have Enough Time" that I wanted to run another episode--Part 2 on Zero Based Scheduling! Time Management can be one of our major stressors, and this tool has helped my husband and I feel so much more at peace with how we spend our time. This episode addresses some of the more common questions I received and gives you an update on where we are with the tool ourselves. It's been great hearing stories from listeners about how this is giving you clarity and empowerment as you make decisions about what to do and what to cut. And while this isn't only about marriage, one of the main things newlyweds are navigating is learning to share all parts of life--finances, space, and time--with another person, and you want to do it successfully! Please keep sending in your feedback, questions, and stories--I love to hear from you! 

00:00 This is episode six. An update on Zero Based Scheduling.

00:17 Welcome to the First Year Married Podcast. Where we get real about building the marriage of your dreams. I'm marriage coach, Kayla Levin. And I take newly married and engaged women from anxious and insecure to confident and connected through practical tips, real life inspiration, and more than a little self-awareness along the way.

00:34 Hey you guys. Thanks so much again for tuning back in. I have been hearing so much about the second episode. If you haven't listened to episode two yet, we're going to be doing an update today on this whole system called Zero Based Scheduling. So if you want to go back and listen, it's episode two, which is called Why You Don't Have Enough Time.

01:02 I wanted to come back on because I've been getting tons of feedback about that episode and that's really exciting for me to hear back from people and sometimes I don't even realize that they listen to the podcast. That it's somebody that I know or sometimes it's somebody reaching out on social media. So I love to hear from you all because otherwise this is a very one way conversation. So one or two people reached out to me at first. And then when more people started reaching out to me I realized that it would be I think really helpful to do another episode to take this a little bit further and clarify some of the points that were coming up for people.

01:35 Just as a quick recap, the idea of Zero Based Scheduling came up when my husband and I were both feeling that we were completely over extended. And he challenged me to write down on a piece of paper everything that I would want to accomplish in a week and how long it would take. And from there, we actually made a Google Calendar. We actually made one for each of us and wanted to find out if we could actually fit those things into our calendar. And we were extremely surprised to find that we pretty much could.

02:03 One really important point is that this was not our main calendar. This was an additional calendar, which we call Dream Cal. It's a calendar that can be hidden. Since it's Google Calendar, you can select it on or off. So it can be hidden if you don't want to be looking at it. It's not the calendar we put things like doctors appointments and things on. It's just a calendar that gives us kind of an idea of a structure of our week.

02:24 Some questions came up and I wanted to sort of get to them. So number one. And this is one that I think it really helped me see how this could need clarification in the context of a newlywed relationship was how does this work with my husband. Right? Let's say I sit down, and I love this system, and I sit down and I create my Dream Calendar. And then here's my time where I'm supposed to be working out. Or here's my time where I get to read my book. And nothing else is scheduled during that time. And my husband comes in and he wants to chat. So what should I do? That's a great question.

02:53 Now, this is one of those where it's just really simple. You just flip the situation for yourself. And then you answer it for yourself. If your husband was sitting down to read a book and you really wanted to talk about something with him, what would you want him to do? It's really simple. I wish there was a deep and complex way of how we deal with things like that, but that's really it. Right? Any situation like that, in general, for me, if I would want to be able to talk to my spouse, then I'm gonna try and be available for him. If you have a more independent type marriage and you guys really know where to take your space, then it could be, you know what, hon, I would really love to hear all about this. I need 20 minutes by myself and then we could reconnect. Both of those things are fine. So that's sort of where that comes in.

03:35 Now the premise of the question came from already a big difference from what happened in our system. So our system was that this was done between the two of us. I don't know that it has to be something that's done with your spouse the same way that my husband and I did this. Even though we each had our own calendars, this was an exercise we were doing together to say in this busy stage in our lives, can we create an ideal schedule, an ideal week, and what would that look like? Even if you're doing this for yourself and this is totally not your husband's thing. Or you're the guy and you're doing this for yourself and your wife is not interested, that's fine.

04:12 But remember that the ultimate goal here for everything that we're doing is trying to improve the relationship. If you're creating a schedule, you might want to tune him in. Or you might want to let her know what you're planning on doing and reach out and find out because my assumption is that for those of us who are married, part of your Dream Calendar is going to include making sure that your spouse is happy. Whether you're the guy or the girl. You might want to get input from them about what that looks like for them. If you go and schedule date night on Tuesday but that's the night that they're out doing something with their friends, then that's not gonna work very well for you. So again, you don't need to sit down and do this exercise with your spouse if that's not their speed. That's totally fine. But I would definitely get their input. I would share that you're doing this as an activity. And at the end of the day, the whole idea for Dream Cal is that you are able to make choices about your time. It is not there to restrict you in any way. And I'm gonna talk about that in a minute.

05:09 Another question that came up was how to get started. The whole concept of fitting everything that this person wanted to do into her week was so overwhelming that she was completely frozen. Yeah? That is why I really do think it's valuable to just take a piece of paper and just start with a list. Okay, you take your list and you can either put down how often you want this to happen per week or maybe per day if it's a more regular thing. And just start listing it out. And it's okay. If it's not on a list and you start your calendar and then you realize that you missed something and you want to go back, that's what I did with going to sleep on time. I knew that I wanted to make sure that I was going to ... Heading towards bed I think at 10:30, or 10, or 10:30. I'm not sure. And I didn't realize that until we were already mapping out the calendar. It's fine. I just grabbed my piece of paper and I added it back to the list. So don't feel like you have to have that list perfect before you start with the Google Calendar part.

06:00 But I would definitely recommend starting with a list. I think once you start actually looking at hours of a week, right? In terms of a schedule. Like looking at the Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday schedule with nine to nine or whatever your schedule looks like, then your brain is going to want to say, "This is impossible. It's not gonna fit." Right? So that's why you start on a piece of paper that has nothing to do with how many hours in a week. I don't want you calculating out okay, I've got this many hours. And now let me fill them all on my piece of paper. What you're gonna do first is you're just gonna put down those priorities. What are the things that you really want to get into your week? Again, when I say priorities, I don't mean these need to be highly valuable things, right? You might feel like you want two hours of unstructured time a day. You might feel like you want time where you can just budge out and do social media. I don't care. There's no judgment here for what you're choosing to do. But what things would give you a happy, successful week where you would look back and say, "Wow, I got it all in," right?

06:56 Then you're gonna go in. And after you've written all those things down, then you're gonna schedule it into the calendar. Okay, so you're dividing out that part of your brain that can brainstorm and the part of your brain that can plan. You brainstorm first. You live in the possibility. And then you go into the actual implementation when you schedule it into your calendar.

07:14 That leads into the third question and this is definitely something that I think should be reinforced which is what about when I'm not following my plan? Right? I had my Dream Calendar. And today was day one and I didn't do it. So does that mean that I failed? And the answer is absolutely not. And I don't mean you failed. You can get back on the bandwagon tomorrow. I mean, you did exactly what you're supposed to do. The entire concept for the Dream Calendar is not that you're putting something down in order to follow it. Is that crazy? The idea of the Dream Calendar is you're putting it down to show yourself that if you do those things during that time, you will accomplish everything that was on your list. Which, by the way, is why when the list changes, you're gonna want to go back and redo your Dream Calendar.

08:02 If you make a choice, and the example I gave was having a Skype tea date with my mother instead of doing stuff around the house. If you make a choice, that's great. That's wonderful. In fact, since I started Dream Calendar, I have not once gotten to my yoga class. And I think it's been three or four weeks now at the time that I'm recording. By the time you hear it, I will definitely post on Instagram if I actually make it to yoga class because that'll be very relevant. But the difference for me is that before, I wasn't going to yoga and I was feeling deprived. I was feeling like I couldn't take care of myself. And actually, I would say the main feeling I was having about it was guilt. Here I am, a person who doesn't follow through. Who can't get her act together. She says she likes to do yoga, but she doesn't actually show up.

08:48 What happened instead is that when we looked in our Dream Calendar, there was one place in my week where it would make sense for me to go to yoga. Where it was the highest priority for that day. And it would work in terms of my energy and when I wanted to go. Because I was going to a Monday night class and it was really late. And I just hated going then, right? So we found a Sunday morning class with the teacher that I wanted. And it was great. And then we went into holiday season and there was a Hanukkah play every Sunday. So the difference for me is that I feel totally great about not having gone to any yoga classes in the last three weeks. Why? Because I wasn't just not going. I wasn't not showing up. I wasn't being a slacker. I was making a value decision. My one opportunity to go to yoga versus listening to my child in the choir. I chose to go see my child in the choir. Again, there's no correct or incorrect choice. That's a choice I feel really good about.

09:47 What it did for me and what I'm hoping that this will do for you and from what I've heard so far, it really is helping. It's not about actually stuffing everything in. This is actually more about simplicity. Even though it sounds very busy, what it really is is that when I'm missing my yoga class, now I'm not carrying over the guilt and then maybe I can fit it in and maybe it'll happen some time this week. I missed it. It's done. I made a choice. It didn't happen. And now my calendar's going to go on its merry way and I will follow it or I will make choices not to follow it. But it's reducing that mental confusion of maybe I can fit it in later. Maybe I could do it here. I know that it won't happen the rest of the week because I didn't go then. Unless I want to look at my calendar and reevaluate other priorities. Maybe I can cancel what's happening Monday night or not do that. That's an option. But to me, that's a much clearer option that just sort of thinking that there's some time out there floating around that I might be able to get it together. Right? It's all about your relationship with your time more than what you're actually checking off your list.

10:53 And so I had an example about this that actually happened yesterday. I posted about this on Instagram. If you're not following me there, it's @firstyearmarried. And I love to listen to you guys and hear your comments and your DMs over there. So please follow me over there and be in touch. So I was going grocery shopping yesterday. I used to always go grocery shopping on Thursdays, I started going on Wednesdays. I know this sounds very mundane. I promise there's a point. I am usually cooking a very big meal for Friday night and for Saturday. Which means that if I'm cooking on Thursday, I've already planned out my menu and I know what I'm cooking. But when we did Dream Calendar, the day for me to shop is Wednesday. And I don't like grocery shopping and I don't really enjoy a lot of cooking. So I didn't put a lot of time in my calendar for cooking and grocery shopping. It's not something I enjoy.

11:37 So it's really a matter of how quickly I can get the healthiest thing on the table that is relatively edible. So I was grocery shopping and I realized that I hadn't made a list for what I was going to cook on Friday and Saturday. My first thought was as I was passing through the produce aisle and I was passing passed the meat, and the poultry, and everything was, "I'm just gonna have to go back home and make a list at some point. A menu plan at some point. And then I'll come back and I'll do the shopping before then." Knowing at this point we are having guests for the Friday night meal.

12:11 And then it occurred to me that I had this thing called a Dream Cal. And there wasn't another time in my week where I was gonna be able to go out to the grocery store. And if I did choose that, I'd be choosing it over something else. And knowing myself, there wasn't something that I had on my calendar that I would enjoy less than going grocery shopping. There are very few things I enjoy less than going grocery shopping. So it immediately occurred to me, why would I put more energy and more time in my precious week and my precious time to focus on grocery shopping, which I don't really even enjoy doing. Then I was able to make a very easy decision. I'm just gonna grab whatever vegetables I basically know what to do with. And we're gonna cook it on the fly. Without a plan. And it's gonna be fine.

12:54 The reason I'm sharing that example is that I wouldn't have gotten to that point without having created that calendar of oh wait, I already know what's happening with my time for the rest of the week. Even if I don't have the whole thing memorized in my head, I know everything's booked. I know my time is booked. And it's booked with all the stuff I want to be doing. It's stuff that I chose. No one else told me what goes on that calendar. I picked it. It's what I like to do. And so if I choose to come back to the grocery store, now I have to not do something that I wanted to do. I would so much rather just get it all done now.

13:24 If any of you follow Gretchen Rubin, this is a classic example of me being a rebel. It's all about what I feel like doing and what I don't feel like doing. Anyway. Just throwing that out there. I think this would work with also for any other type. It definitely works for me.

13:38 So when you are creating the Dream Calendar, I'm gonna just reiterate this point one more time. It's not about you succeeded if you followed it and you failed if you didn't. It's just there to show you a framework so that when you are deciding what you're doing, you have a clear choice. The same idea. And again, this is all based off of Dave Ramsey's system of Zero Based Budgeting, right? Where he doesn't have you say, "Okay, make sure you save $200 a month." He says, "Okay, when you actually look at how much money you're gonna spend on everything every month, what's left over and what's your plan for that money?" And the reason is theoretically you could save that money, whether you decide or not. But what actually in practice ends up happening is that when you don't decide what happens with that money, you end up spending even more than that. Because there's just this feeling that there's kind of a buffer somewhere at the end of the month. And so the whole relationship with the money isn't as scheduled. It's not ... I'm sorry. Not scheduled. It's not as planned. It's not as intentional.

14:41 So it's the same idea with Zero Based Scheduling. We're trying to be intentional with our time. And you can intentionally choose not to follow the schedule. In fact, again, as a rebel, that's one of the best parts about this. There's no judgment. There's no outside expectation that I'm supposed to be following this schedule. It's what I chose that I want. And I cannot do it or I can do it. But I am not carrying around that feeling that it's somehow gonna get caught up later in the week. If I don't get the paperwork done on Monday, it's not happening until next Monday unless I want to go in and change something off that calendar.

15:14 Okay, so I hope that was really helpful. The last thing I want to say is when to know when it's time to go back in and change it. So personally, I haven't experienced this yet. Because nothing major has happened to change in my life. I will say that over winter break, we just kind of ignored the whole thing because it wasn't so relevant and it would be ridiculous for me to say, "Nope, this is the time that I'm doing X and you guys just entertain yourself." It wasn't worth it. It wasn't worth it for me for that short period of time to create a brand new Dream Calendar, but you could absolutely do that if that would give you more direction. In fact, maybe I would've had a more relaxing break if I had done that. But I like the feeling of not knowing what we're gonna do from day to day and just sort of playing things by ear. That worked better for me.

15:53 If, however, something major would change. Like my work schedule, or my husband's work schedule, or our child care schedules. Something like that. If that was going to change, then I would ... And especially, not just for a week or two but in the long-term, right? Then I would definitely say that's the time to go back in and reevaluate. And I would even start from scratch. Right? I would even say, "Okay, let me just start over. What are the things I want to get done in a week." And I also think if it just really isn't working, that's also a good time to do this. One of the benefits of doing this with your spouse is that if you allow them to have that kind of outside consultant hat where they live with you, they know how you deal with your time, they know how long things take for you, sometimes better than you know for yourself, it can be nice to have that sort of outside person be like, "Oh, well what about that one?" And then you can sort of take their advice into consideration as you make your choices.

16:44 I hope that was helpful for you. I, again, really loved hearing from you guys about using the Zero Based Schedule. I think it sounded from what I was hearing that it was very empowering for people, and very motivating, and inspiring. And I actually wasn't thinking about the fact that it was coming out right before New Years. So this is gonna hit you a little bit into the new year. I wonder if any of you have thought of including any of your resolutions if you chose any into the Zero Based Schedule. That would be very interesting to hear. I wish you all the best of luck. I hope it goes great. Again, would love to hear from you. And if you have any other questions, please reach out. And if I'm not answering it over here on the podcast, then I will be answering it over @firstyearmarried on Instagram. Okay. Have an amazing day. Bye.

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