For the past few months, I’ve absolutely packed my calendar. From the summer through the end of October, I didn’t have an empty weekend and most weeknights were filled with dinner plans, happy hours, events and more.
At the very beginning of November, I opened up my Google Calendar and looked at the month ahead. I saw something amazing…something I haven’t seen on my calendar for a long time.
Empty spaces. Freedom. I didn’t have ANY after work weekday plans on my calendar for the month of November…and I decided to keep it that way.
A fan of alliteration, I dubbed this personal challenge “No Plans November” and spent the month experimenting with my energy levels and happiness when I purposely left week nights open for yoga, running or simply, relaxation.
A few notes about No Plans November:
- No Plans November applied to weeknight social plans only.
- I did have a couple of work events in November, but didn’t count those toward the challenge since that’s not something I could say no to.
- No Plans November had nothing to do with not liking the activities I choose to fill my time with. I LOVE being social and hanging out with my friends, but this experiment was intended to see how I felt if I limited those activities to weekends only.
- I realize November isn’t over yet, but with the Thanksgiving holiday and upcoming weekend, there are no more work week weeknights to take into consideration.
Here’s what I learned and how I felt after one month with an (almost) empty calendar.
- I felt way less stressed. Many of my post-work social plans take place in the city. I work in the suburbs, which usually means fighting rush hour traffic on 95 to get to my destination. Traffic makes me absolutely nutty and I noticed that my stress levels were way down when I wasn’t spending an hour or more in my car simply trying to get to a fun event or dinner.
- No Plans November helped me better identify the things I want to do vs. the things I feel like I need to/should do. It was an easy excuse to tell people, “No, sorry, I can’t do ______ because I’m doing this thing called No Plans November.” But more than that, it helped me identify and decide between the things I actually WANTED to do and the things I had previously been saying yes to, but really didn’t want to do.
- I felt, dare I say it, a little bored. Toward the end of the month, I found myself a little…bored. It was nice to have free time to lounge on the couch and catch up on TV shows, but I began to miss the social interaction I had become so used to throughout the week.
- I WANTED to create more weekend plans. Because of how bored I began to feel, I found myself eager to make weekend social plans, which was a nice change from the feeling of just wanting the weekend to come to catch up on sleep and do nothing.
- I had time to refocus on my health. I’ve struggled lately with finding time to get back into running and healthy eating. In November, I had more time to run (mostly after work, although it’s getting tougher now that it’s dark so early) and also had more space to plan out my meals, helping me eat healthier. I’m definitely happier when I’m active, so this helped with my energy and happiness levels.
- It helped me be more choosy about what I say yes to. I’m getting better at saying no, but No Plans November really helped me prioritize what’s important to me. Because I was limited to only weekend plans, I was a little more conscious of the activities I chose to pursue on the weekends.
- I felt calm. Mostly, No Plans November helped me feel more calm. I realized I spend my days super tense and stressed out because I’m trying to cram a million things into one tiny block of 24 hours. My expectations for how much could be packed in a day was unrealistic. I felt like I had more room to breathe and be a little more intentional about how I spent my time in November.
The big takeaway here? No Plans November is not realistic on an every month basis, but it was a fantastic way to help me find BALANCE in my calendar. It taught me the importance of SCHEDULING and blocking time for myself to make for a saner and happier life.
Most importantly, it reminded me of my priorities and helped me better evaluate what I say yes and no to and how those decisions make me feel.
Moving forward, I plan to incorporate a little bit of “No Plans November” into every month. I plan to block 1-2 weeknights per week for myself, while keeping plans to a healthy minimum. I want to find a healthy balance where I feel like I’m still able to be social, but also keep myself and my energy in check.
Have you ever tried a similar experiment? Think you’ll try this in a future month? Chime in below!