Expect the unexpected

Life seldom goes exactly as planned, and the more moving parts there are, the more chances that something unexpected happens with one of them.

Yesterday featured two such examples. Around lunch time, I got a call from our nanny that the little guy had fallen off a piece of equipment on the playground and had a deep cut on his chin. After face-timing, my husband (who was also working at home) and I decided to meet her at the local urgent care clinic (we tend to try this first for moderate injuries — if they tell us they can’t handle it then we go to the ER). They wound up being able to just do glue, rather than stitches, so that was good, and the 2-year-old was very brave about the whole thing. Indeed, he was quite curious about all the equipment in the exam room — we talked about the device that measures blood oxygen levels for quite a while!

Then, in the evening, it came to light that the 15-year-old’s graphing calculator had gone missing, just in time for a math test today. Cleaning out his room and his backpack did not reveal it. So he and I made a just-before-closing trip to our local Staples (right across the street from urgent care!) and left with a new TI-84. We also, apparently, left with the security tags still on it because we set off all the alarms, but that was rectified soon enough.

Anyway, while not every day or week features a trip to urgent care or a late night store run, every week will feature something that wasn’t expected. It’s just the nature of life, and particularly a life where you are responsible for the care of other people.

An animating principle behind at least a few of the Tranquility by Tuesday rules is that life won’t always go as planned, but we can structure our lives to still make progress on our goals and feel good about our time even when the unexpected happens.

For example, Rule #4 is that “Three times a week is a habit.” In a life where the unexpected happens, it may not be possible to do a desired activity every single day. But few things have to happen daily. Aim for three times a week and an activity can still be part of your identity.

And Rule #5, to “Create a back-up slot” acknowledges that our original designated time for a priority might not happen, no matter how good our systems are. Kids fall off playground equipment and kids lose things (adults also lose things! We tend not to fall off playground equipment but we definitely injure ourselves in other ways.). If you’ve got a back-up option, though, or you leave enough open space in your life, you can still stay on track. That’s what it means to create a resilient schedule, which tends to work better than a “perfect” one.

In other news: More Tranquility by Tuesday publicity! It’s so fun to see and hear people talking about these topics.

I was a guest on Mike Vardy’s Productivityist podcast, talking through the nine rules and why they work.

I was a guest on DJ Hillier’s Mi FIT podcast, with an upbeat discussion of habits and how they play out in our lives.

I was on David Lancefield’s Lancefield on the Line, where we talked about mistakes executives sometimes make with their schedules, and how the TBT rules can help.

StartupNation ran an excerpt from TBT, in which I talk about the two-minute rule and other ways to structure your time.

I am going to be on a panel next week Tuesday evening as part of Verily magazine’s ten year celebration. I’ll be talking time; other guests will be talking relationships and style. If you’d like to tune in, you can RSVP here.

2 thoughts on “Expect the unexpected

  1. Those were some major curveballs in your Wednesday (thankfully neither happened Tuesday when TBT launched!) and glad both situations ended up being manageable. Sounds like Henry was a real trooper about it all!

    We’ve made our own trek to outpatient care because of a deep chin wound on a toddler and, ironically enough, have some sweet memories from the night (both kids were rockstars – my husband was away for work travel – and got the last Popsicle in the hospital to share which they STILL talk about to this day). One side note: we also got glue instead of stitches and it got wet and kept reopening/bleeding. If I had it to do over again, I would put an EXTRA bandage over the glue!!!

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