When I sat down to write this post I had every intention of writing some sort of narrative of how I successfully manage my time. In the past this was true the majority of the time, but with the addition of this blog to my daily to do list, I find myself needing to take another look at how I am using my own time and make some changes. I don’t enjoy being completely frazzled at the end of every day. So, I guess this is more about me sitting down to evaluate how I’m spending my time and figure out what changes to make so my life gets back to feeling more manageable.
Here are the things I know about myself that inform most of the decisions I make in how to manage my time.
- Generally, I don’t work well under pressure. I can do it from time to time with no problem, but if it becomes a regular thing, I start feeling the stress.
- I need a good nights sleep (7-9 hours) almost every night to be a functional, happy, pleasant person. So this means I need to be able to get all my work done before 9pm and light’s off around 10:00pm if I’m going to be up by 7:00am to get the kids going.
- I need me time. Time at the gym. Lunch or coffee with a friend. Something that is purely for taking care of myself. They don’t tell you to put on your own oxygen mask BEFORE helping anyone else with theirs for nothing.
If any of these things are missing from my life for very long, it isn’t a pretty picture. Just ask my husband.
So, when budgeting my time I always have these things in mind. I really like Stephen Covey’s books and a couple of the things he talks about inform my decisions in managing my own schedule and our family schedule.
- Begin with the end in mind. To me, the end or goal is: feeling good, being present in all that I do and feeling like I’ve got things relatively under control most of the time. Meaning, I haven’t over scheduled myself and am not spending my days running around trying to get it all done only to wake up the next day and run around like crazy trying to get it all done again.
- Sharpen the saw. I might start out sawing wood with a sharp saw, but eventually it will get dull. If I keep sawing wood with that dull saw I am not going to be as effective or efficient as I would be if I would just stop and take the time to sharpen my saw.
- First things first. After taking care of myself my next priority is taking care of my marriage. To make sure my husband and I stay connected I don’t run errands in the evenings or on the weekends unless I have to. After 9:00pm is time when we have a chance to talk and catch up on the day or on the weekends we might put in a movie. The weekend is family time. We have boy date, spend time with friends and family or do little projects around the house.
During the week I have 4 days with all 3 children at school. I’m done with drop-off at 9am and need to pick up Trevino at 4:00pm to get home in time to meet Primo and Segundo getting off the bus. So that means 4 days a week I have about 7 hours alone which totals to about 28 hours.
During this time I need to accomplish the following:
- 2 trips to the grocery store: approximately 4 hours (drive to and from, shop, put groceries away)
- 2 trips to the gym: (approximately 4 hours)
- 1 lunch or coffee with a friend. (2 hours)
- Any appointments for myself (doctor, chiropractor, haircut. blood donation)
- Writing and blog posting (approximately 10 hours a week)
- Photo sessions, classes and private lessons that aren’t scheduled in the evenings
The first three things on that list total up to 10 hours, plus the blog is another 10 which leaves me 8 hours to get everything else done. It sounds like a lot, , somehow it isn’t always enough. I think this is where I get tripped up.
My schedule is changing all the time so there isn’t a set routine that I can stick to. If the kids have a snow day, are sick or are off for some reason then I have less time that week to get certain things done. If I’ve done a session then that will be additional hours during the following week or two that I need to edit that session, get it uploaded to my website and communicate with my client. In December a lot of time was taken up preparing for Christmas. Right now I have birthdays coming up for two of the boys.
There are some things that I can do when the kids are home. I do laundry every other day. This works better for me than doing laundry for one entire day and then having a mountain of laundry to put away. I can also do the monthly menu planning and write out the grocery list when the kids are home along with some other little things like checking mvelopes.com to see what new transactions came through. And then there are some things that fall somewhere in the middle. I can do them when the kids are home, but they take so much longer and they take my time and attention away from the kids. I don’t need to sit down and play with them all the time or even pay attention to them every second. But, I also don’t want them to feel like whatever is on my computer is more important than them.
So I have to figure out where I am wasting my time. When we moved 15 months ago we went from cable and Tivo having just an antenna. This cut out a great deal of TV watching. I would still watch certain shows on my laptop, but eventually cut out more than half of them and now have only 3 shows that I watch every week. I’ll admit to having gone through a bejeweled phase, , can now say that I only play it on my itouch occasionally when waiting at the doctors office or something like that. I’ve unsubscribe to almost every single email that comes from one company or another. I’ve canceled most of my magazine subscriptions except the few I really enjoy.
I still need to do some thinking on this, but I see my real issues being:
- I am easily distracted
- I often do the things that are neither urgent nor important just because they are easy to do and get checked off my list. But at the end of the day I often run out of time to do the important things and they sit on my to-do list for yet another day
- I over estimate the amount of time it will take to get things done. This works both for and against me. It works for me in that it helps me not to over schedule myself because I always imagine that things will take more time than they really do. It works against me in that it causes anxiety in me about getting it all done. It usually turns out that I have plenty of time so this anxiety is mostly unnecessary and unpleasant.
So, if identifying the problem is half the battle (so “they” say) then I must be halfway to solving my problem, right? I’ve got some ideas about how to change some of my bad habits. I’ll post an update in a few weeks to let you know what’s working and what’s not. Wish me luck!