Jackie Schuld Art Therapy Blog

No Plans Days as an Autistic Tool

My favorite response to the question, “What are you doing tomorrow?” is, “Absolutely nothing!”


There is so much freedom in a day that has no plans. I call them no plans days - days where I have no scheduled meetings, social events, appointments … NOTHING.


It all began when I decided to stop pursuing relentless growth and change in my private practice. It felt really nice to not push so hard. It also meant I didn’t need to meet with so many fellow therapists and colleagues to be talking about our businesses and how to constantly improve.


"No Plans" Watercolor by Jackie Schuld. This image is from Jackie's book "Grief is a Mess"

I already had implemented a strict schedule for my therapy hours months prior (M-Th afternoons), but I had filled much of my free time with meetings with fellow therapists, consultation groups, educational programs, and more. I was spending more time in superfluous meetings than in therapy meetings.


So I began reducing my superfluous meetings. The more I removed from my schedule, the more I wanted to remove. It felt so good to have more time, and it just made me want more of it.


I also began to notice that even if I had just one work-related meeting in a day, it made it feel like a work day. It was like my head went into work mode the moment I woke up. While I didn’t want to throw all of my meetings out the window, I started to consolidate them so they weren’t spread throughout the week. It felt amazing.


The more space I had, the more I could see and feel how things energetically impacted me. When I was so overloaded, one extra meeting didn’t really matter. However, with a light schedule, I could notice the impact and determine what felt good and what didn’t.


Through this process, I noticed how much my brain would think about upcoming social meetings. Even if it was something I wanted to do, my brain would strategize about it like it was a chore (this is likely due to my lovely autistic mind).


I decided to give myself a day with absolutely no plans. I triumphantly declared Saturdays my no plan days.


If a friend wanted to schedule a coffee date that day, “Sorry, it’s my no plans day.”


If the dog groomer offered an open slot on that day, “No thank you, what other days do you have?”


If I was tempted to set up a virtual meeting with someone I enjoy talking to, I reminded myself, “NO. That is your no plans day.”


A no plans day doesn’t mean I don’t do anything. In fact, a no plans day is the opposite. It means I can do ANYTHING I WANT. I have the freedom to do whatever I want when I feel like it. Sometimes I wake up and dive into art. Sometimes I decide to get all of my errands done. Sometimes I decide to drop by my parents house to say hello.


As autistics, we have INCREDIBLY FULL minds. We can think A LOT. This means that we need to provide space for our minds, and no plans days do just that.


What’s particularly glorious about my no plans day, is now that my friends and family understand, they have adapted to my no plans schedule. For example, my sister will randomly drop by on my no plans day. Her unexpected presence is always joyfully welcomed - and we have the rest of the day to do whatever we want. If we had planned our meeting, my mind would have spent valuable time thinking about what we would do and much more.


I now have at least one no plans day a week - sometimes I even get two, like this weekend! It’s really helped me to enjoy my life and the present far more.

 

Thank you for reading. If you’d like to read more, sign up for my FUNletter. If you would like to explore your autistic identity with an autistic therapist, you can learn more about my therapy services here.

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