Schedule changes can be agonizing for a lot of people. Are schedule changes hard for you? If you’ve been out of work for any length of time, is getting back to the daily routine of going to work difficult? Or, say you’ve gone the other direction, from working a 9–5 for years to being a free agent (an independent author, perhaps). Is it hard to stay on schedule—or to have one at all?
Schedule changes are hard for my family when it comes to the doing—navigating through the actual changes themselves, remembering what to do and when.
Shifts used to be difficult for me when it came to all the energy I expended herding the cats. For some reason, it always falls to me to be the one who pushes the family to get things done. If I didn’t do that every day, if I were to drop that role (whether voluntarily or involuntarily), it seemed that very little would ever get done. Meals would consist of peanut butter sandwiches, three-day-old unrefrigerated pizza, and cold breakfast cereal unless I had done some batch cooking ahead of time. People would be trudging through knee-deep detritus in no time. So schedule changes just made things more difficult.
When kids don’t do well with a schedule
A long time ago, I thought, My kids are lovable locomotives that will go anywhere but on the tracks called “the schedule.” They probably need a drill sergeant or time at a military school if they are to have any hope of having a regimented life. That’s not who they were at all, though. They fit with the Myers-Briggs category of P. And they were balls of energy.
People who knew my kids are on the spectrum found that aspect strange because it’s a common theme or stereotype for people with autism to be rigid in many ways, especially when it comes to schedule changes.
For years, my children all preferred to have no schedule whatsoever. I worried that life was going to be hard on them because a schedule or at least a routine of some kind is a must. Even in a life of entrepreneurship, people have to have some structure.
My eldest did finally grow in that way and now insists on following a schedule to the point of being irritating to others. Thank you, autism.
When schedule changes make you exhausted
A few years ago, my schedule changed. For a while, I had been helping a friend with his business. Between that and church, I was gone for part of the day every day of the week, then homeschooling and editing for eight to twelve hours when I got home at night. When he let me know I could cut down to one day a week, it meant I had some time to rest.
Rather than feeling good, however, it was like an athlete who had been working far harder than he’d realized and when he stopped, the brick wall of exhaustion toppled onto him.
Have you ever done that? You were busting butt, moving right along—and planning to keep going for a long time—but then someone said, “Hey, take a break!” You listened, and whammo! It became clear to you just how exhausted you were and had been for who knows how long. You wondered where you’d been getting the energy from in the first place.
Then it took a long time to recover. Somewhere in there, you realized you’d been borrowing from your future.
I had been planning to continue helping my friend until his client contracts were up. He said I had been performing as well as ever. That’s because when I do any job, I bring my A game no matter what. I would have continued to serve as I always do.
But when he said what he said about making schedule changes so I could rest more, and I took him up on it, I got very tired. I slept great amounts for the next week. When I slowed down, it really caught up to me.
Symptom of burnout
That tiredness when you stop is a huge symptom of burnout. Don’t get me wrong. Burnout doesn’t just happen when you’re bored or tired of doing something, although it certainly can develop in that situation. You can love what you’re doing and still burn out.
That happened to me again in October of 2021. When I came home from the ICU, I decided I was not going to resume doing the tasks I had handed over to team members while I was in the hospital fighting ketoacidosis and sepsis. I needed time to recover. I’d needed a schedule change but got more than I bargained for.
If you’re tired after you’ve begun to rest more thanks to schedule changes, you might be burned out, too. Here’s a post about hidden causes of burnout.