By now you have figured out that I am a big fan of routines, scaffolding, done-for-me checklists, and the like. This is because I am a terrible decision-maker when under pressure, and you know what? There’s a lot of pressure about!
Honestly, if life were all white-sand beaches, Paris Fashion Week and Idris Elba, well, me and my nervous system would have an easy time figuring out the self-caring thing to do in any situation.
But we live on Earth, aka Planet of Disaster, where you need 86 spare keys and a spot of backup for pretty much everything else, too.
Here is my favorite new routine this year: The Self-Care Inventory Day. I’ve been doing something similar for ages, but this is a clever improvement from Sabrina Hersi Issa, via the podcast Call Your Girlfriend.
As Sabrina does it, Self-Care Inventory Day falls once a month on the same day. Sabrina does hers the day her birthday falls on, but you could do yours on the first Thursday, or anything you like.
This is not a staycation weekend to handle everything on your list and empty your mending basket, too. (Although the self-care staycation weekend is an excellent idea, come to think of it, and I’m going to put one of those in the calendar when I finish typing this sentence.)
Nope, all we’re doing here is taking a couple of hours to assess the state of our domain, and address some basic needs.
Now, I am not going to hoodwink you. Sabrina Hersi Issa is a Force of Nature! I could not possibly hope to accomplish a fraction of what this woman addresses in her Inventory. (I also have one day job in contrast to Sabrina’s five or six.) So she obviously has a time turner, and can include things I leave out.
What I’ve taken from Sabrina is the idea of a dedicated time for DOING stuff, not simply checking its status. So far, two hours a month has been tolerable. Hopefully you will agree, because this is the kind of stuff that could otherwise stay at the bottom of our list all year.
What Is Self-Care Inventory Day?
How to do it:
- Pick a day for your inventory, and schedule it to repeat monthly. (You can put it in your calendar right now, if you like.) Block out two hours, or whatever time you’re able to spend.
- Make yourself a checklist. There’s a sample below you can use as a starting point.
- When it’s time, review your inventory. See what’s on fire (maybe nothing, in future, but the first time around there will probably be some sparks). Handle the hot items now, or make appointments to have them taken care of.
- Take note of what’s in great shape, and congratulate yourself for already taking care of business as you make checkmarks.
- Everything else is somewhere in the middle: not a disaster, but could use attention. Do whatever you can in the time you have left: tidy up financial transactions, clean out your bag, cancel an unused credit card. If all else is equal, choose things that can be completed during the session.
- When the time’s up, know that next month you’ll get to what’s left. Or more of it, anyway.
What’s On Your List?
Here are some suggestions for your checklist. Customize at will. This is just a place to start, not the only key to heaven.
- Ask: Do I need prescriptions renewed? (contacts, medications)
- Do I need appointments for exams? (eyes, teeth, pelvic, mammogram, colon, annual physical)
- Do I need appointments for regular maintenance? (nails, hair, teeth)
- How’s my water filter? My dryer vent? That complicated trap arrangement in the dishwasher that I don’t like to think about but surely needs cleaning?
- Is it time to replace batteries on my alarms?
- Is the earthquake/emergency kit in good shape?
- Does my bag need restocking? Is there enough Advil and lip balm and other little necessities of comfort?
- Download and review statements.
- Set up credit card or recurring bill payments.
- Run a free credit check on yourself. Close accounts you don’t use.
- Ask: Do I need to make spending or savings changes? Consolidate accounts? Diversify some other thing?
- Get your checkbook up to date.
- Take all the receipts out of your wallet; keep the ones you need and toss the rest.
For my list, I’ve concentrated on the practical and mundane, because managing the checkbook is the kind of place where things can get away from me. But you may wish to include more spiritual concerns, as Sabrina does. Whatever you need to be well provisioned for your stay here on the planet! And in only two hours a month.
Please let us know what’s on your list in the comments below. And you can read or listen to more on the Self-Care Inventory Day here: