When Schedules Collide

"When scheduled collide" by Lisa Hess (CatholicMom.com)

Image credit: Pixabay.com (2015), CC0/PD

We don’t have a family vacation planned this summer, which means my husband doesn’t need to save his days for a week off and is treating himself to some long weekends. While it seems that a three-day weekend in the summer would be a great thing (and it is for him), it’s only a great thing all around if everyone is off. What he sees as a spur-of-the-moment vacation day (“Let’s do stuff!”) I see as an obstacle to my productivity (“I already have stuff to do!”)

Did I mention that I work from home?

Last-minute decisions challenge me, even when there’s fun involved. On the one hand, I admire the spontaneity and feel as though I should (oops — there’s that word again) be better at rolling with it. On the other hand, when I’ve laid out my work assuming a five-day week, fun, spontaneous, and “rolling with it” are nowhere to be found. When one part of me says, “lighten up!” while the other part of me says, “you have deadlines!” it can be challenging to satisfy both sides.

As with many other aspects of organizing and time management, I’m a work-in-progress when situations like these arise. Here are three keys I’m trying in an effort to satisfy all of me.

Show myself some respect. I feel guilty being unenthusiastic when my husband announces a day off with little prior notice, especially when I respond with precisely the amount of enthusiasm I feel. But — and I mean this without malice — why should I feel guilty that I’m not enthusiastic about all of my plans being tossed into the air? Still, while it’s natural to feel frustrated when my best-laid plans get sidetracked, I can change the way I respond. I can acknowledge that the day off is a great thing for him, while also explaining that I have plans I might not be able — or willing — to change.

Accept the things I cannot change 
— and not just the things on my list. If my husband is going to be home, my day is going to look different. There will be noise where there is usually quiet. My freedom to work in places besides my office may be curtailed. I might have to settle for accomplishing less than I’d hoped to. From a practical perspective, anything that has a deadline may be immovable, rendering me truly unavailable for part — or all — of the day. Determining what is truly non-negotiable is the first step to letting go of the shoulds and the guilt and figuring out where flexibility fits in.

Have the courage to change the things I can. Discretionary items, on the other hand, are not immovable. Unlike deadlines, which need to stay on the list, things I wanted to do (or was looking forward to doing) fit into the category of things I can change — if I choose to. While separating the “must do” items from the “want to do” items takes me a step closer to satisfying the side of me that says, “lighten up,” it’s only a first step. Whether or not I actually want to replace those things with other things is another discussion.

Are you thinking that this seems like an awful lot of thinking for a day off? Yeah. Me too. But what’s at stake here is more than just a deadline or a to-do list. It’s about priorities. When a family member is suddenly available for a day off on a weekday, finding the want -to-do/must-do balance impacts more than to-do lists; it impacts relationships.

Which is exactly what makes this whole thing so complicated in the first place.

How about you? What do you do when your schedule comes undone? Is it as simple as ditching the list and seizing the day?

Copyright 2019 Lisa Hess


About Author

Lisa Lawmaster Hess has contributed articles to local, national and online publications, and blogs at The Porch Swing Chronicles, The Susquehanna Writers and here at Catholicmom.com. She is the author of two non-fiction books (Acting Assertively and Diverse Divorce) and two novels, Casting the First Stone and Chasing a Second Chance. A retired elementary school counselor, Lisa is a lecturer in psychology at York College and enjoys singing with the contemporary choir at her church.


  1. I have similar dilemmas every summer, as my husband has tons of vacation and I have very little – and if I take extra days off, I don’t get paid. So those “spontaneous” days off result in budget woes as well as frustration for me. In the back of my head are always words from Maria von Trapp, who said after her husband died that she would gladly crawl across the country on her hands and knees if it would make up for the times she had made him unhappy or spoken to him unkindly. So I try to say yes to those days off with my whole heart. Sometimes I succeed!

  2. Eva, I think that’s where my guilt comes from. My mom passed away two years ago and every time I wish for time to myself, I think about how my dad would do anything to have time with her again. Me, too, but that’s a different relationship.

    Thanks for your comment. I’m learning that it’s easier to admit to being a work-in-progress in some ways more than others.

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