Struggling with Structure

As part of my healing process I’m trying to add more structure to my days and weeks. I’ve never been a very structured person when it comes to time management. I don’t eat or sleep at set times nor do I plan my days and weeks out ahead. I know what I need to do roughly each week and then just do that task whenever I have the time to do it. I show up on time for appointments and I’ve only been late to work twice in the 6 years I’ve held this job, both times because I forgot to set my alarm the day before and overslept.. And even then I was only late by 30 minutes. When there’s commitments where other people rely on me I’ll block my time in advance and prepare to be on time for wherever I need to be. If it’s somewhere I haven’t been before I’ll look up the route beforehand and calculate when I’ll have to leave.
When I’m mentally doing well I’m normally also pretty organised in my house. Every object has it’s place and I try to keep things as neat as possible (although sometimes when I feel bad or tired things can get a bit messy). It helps me later when I’m looking for stuff that I know where things can be found. Which is the polar opposite to how I grew up in my dad’s household where mess was normal and things would always get lost. That’s probably why I prefer it not to be that way.

However. Outside of work and meetups I’m terrible when it comes to managing my time. Often times I don’t know what to do with myself and waste hours upon hours of just not doing anything I really enjoy. I’m terrible at forming new habits, because I’m bad at sticking to them and then I feel bad because I abandon things not even halfway through. I was committed to doing 10k steps a day and I would go on walks after work every day. I managed to do that for a week and a half and then abandoned it. I can’t count how many times I tried starting a new evening routine only to give up after a week. Or going to the gym, or going swimming or picking up a new hobby. I’d set a time to do X and then just, not do it. I can’t even cook dinner around the same time each day, let alone commit to anything else.

I’ve tried anything from different planners and bullet journals to just making lists each day of the things I want done to setting timers for me to start or stop doing things. I’ve planned my day down to the minute and I’ve thrown everything to the wind and just let it all loose and see whatever happens happens. Nothing seems to work and it’s costing me a lot of energy and giving me a lot of frustration. I often look at people in envy who seem to have their shit together and are able to get up at the same time every day, go to the gym, have a good evening routine and overall seem to have a nice structured life. I desperately want the same and I just don’t know how to achieve it. Even when it comes to hobbies I can’t seem to manage my time between the things I enjoy. I feel like I always just go towards an extreme end of the spectrum and it’s tiresome.

I realise that my depression plays a major part in this as well. I’m so often overwhelmed and exhausted and feeling down that I just can’t seem to pick up anything else. But I don’t want that to be my excuse. My mental health can’t be what defines me for the rest of my life. And so I struggle on, trying to find something that works for me. Eventually I hope something will stick, but for now this is just another thing kicking me down. I can’t even structure my days or weeks right, how am I supposed to get through another 40-50 years of my life like this? I guess only time will tell.

1 thought on “Struggling with Structure

  1. I think everybody exists on a spectrum of preferences. I’ve seen those super-structured people who operate like clockwork on timed routines, and I, for one, can’t figure out how they do it. I’m just not sensitive to time and the clock in the same way.

    If I really think about it, I’m not sure I can stand living decades with that sort of clockwork restrictive structure either. A couple days as a sort of experiment might be fine, but it’s probably not my primary preference.

    I prefer aiming for just task completion within a given period of time. GTD works for me because it’s just a bunch of lists of things I might want to get done within a set period (say, a week) and then it gets reviewed and re-negotiated (do I really still want to do this? Maybe I’ll just put it on Someday/Maybe and forget about it for now? Maybe I’ve decided this isn’t something I want to do after all and can delete it) if it doesn’t get done.

    Whatever the case, I think it’s important to remember that nothing has to last forever. It’s okay to try something out for a day or a week or a fortnight or a month, and then try something else.

    Hope you’ll find a bunch of things that you prefer, as well as figure out what doesn’t quite work or isn’t your preference, as the days go by.

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