Thursday, January 21, 2010

Time management is a foreign concept

Since Sadie's been born "time management" has become a foreign concept. It's been simply "survive" mode. Eat when you can, sleep when you can, bathe when you can, pee when you can... you get the idea. Do what you need to do to get through the day and survive. Not complaining about her or the situation AT ALL, I couldn't be a prouder, happier parent (although I COULD be a better rested one) but I'm just saying, our life if much different now and one of those major changes is how we spend our "leisure" time.

We used to have the luxury to go to the gym 3 to 4 times a week. We used to be able to properly walk the dog to get in some extra leg work. Now, if we'd join a gym they'd have to be open between then hours of 10p.m. and 6 a.m. because those are the times that we have now for "ourselves". That's totally never going to happen this century in the Netherlands, such accomodating hours for the non traditional person or family. Just not going to happen.

I took a writing workshop over the weekend. It was part of my Christmas present and I was really really looking forward to it. I have expressed how much I like to write here before and that still rings true. I love to write but alas, writing flies to the back burner and off of the stove altogether so quickly that it doesn't even begin to steam (as my loyal blog reader know, poor things!).

To say "I learned a lot" in this workshop would be unfair. Unfair to me, unfair to Lisa, who hosted the workshop and unfair to my writing. This workshop moved mountains, almost literally for me. The mountain that stood in front of my writing, Time Suck Mountain, as it's come to be known, is still standing there. What this mighty little workshop did was, it strapped on some dynamite, boarded the train and blew a hole right through Time Suck Mountain. By blowing a hole in the mountain, besides killing some small woodland creatures, (sorry guys but thanks for the sacrifice) it created a tunnel in which I can now see the other side of the mountain. Dare I say that I can even begin to look at the next mountain (named: Knock it off you whiney baby, you just got over ONE mountain") but let's take one step at a time.

The workshop didn't create more time in a day for me. She's not freaking super woman, but she did talk and teach a bit about priorities and time management. The first eye openeing step was a task she gave me. The week leading up to the workshop she asked me to set a timer for five minutes every day and write. Just for those five minutes. She asked that I do it first thing in the morning, even before I peed, to just sit and write just for 5 minutes for one week.

I couldn't write first thing in the morning before I peed because I was answering to the scream of a sickly child (who is MUCH better now, thanks!) but I did manage, every day, to set a timer and write for 5 minutes. For one week. I just made it my priority.

When I got to the workshop I produced my papers proudly. I love following instructions and turning things in on time, it's just who I am, so I was giddy with my weeks work in hand. Lisa said, as a general question to the participants, how much have you written? Some of us had done the exercise for 3 weeks, some for 2 and some, like me, for just a week. Some answered audibly, I just counted my pages. She didn't want an actual answer... she just simply asked "and how much MORE is that number than what you had written in the weeks before?" My answer was simple... I had written 100% MORE in those 5 minutes of time for 7 days than I had in the week before...and the week before that...and the week before that... and the week before that.

I had been putting off "writing" because I didn't have large chunks of time to sit down and write and in doing so I missed so many opportunities to actually just sit down and write!

Lesson learned, but that's not what this post is about... this post is about priorities...and time management. Just like I want to write... I also want to lose weight... there is a great blog out there and I believe it's on my blog roll to the left there called "5 minutes for me" and it's written by a woman who was plannnig on (I fully admit here that I have sorely neglected reading any blogs for a long long while, so maybe her plan has changed) taking the 5 minute commercial breaks and spending them exercising instead of sitting on her couch. Simple enough concept right?

So I need to prioritize my time better but I also have to be realistic, while not sugar coating my time management. I touched on the fact that I play video games on the previous post and it's true, I do play video games. I also spend every waking moment that I have available with my daughter actually focused on my daughter. I'm not saying I drown her with attention but as I work 40 hours a week, I feel that the little time that I do have with her should be spent, focused on her either playing, singing, reading or just hanging out. work 40 hours a week. I sleep.

To break it down a bit further, here are all bits of Time Mountain (in no particular order):

40 hours a week at work, plus commute time
spending time with my husband
walking the dog
chilling out/reading
watching TV
playing video games

By breaking the mountain down into tangible sized boulders I can start to piece my mountain back together leaving out the bits that I don't need (do I need to watch 2 solid hours of TV?) to make that tunnel over to the other side while still keeping that mountain stable enough to hold the weight of my caboose (I DO have to work 40 hours a week, I do have to sleep!) You have to be realistic about what things you can cut out and change in your life.

But here is an exercise that I've done and maybe, if you're looking to "find time" as well you can do it too... take a day or two and break them down into hours, minutes even, and log what you're doing at all times of the day, even if it's just sitting on the "big white chair" that flushes. Then give yourself a real honest evaluation of where your Time Sucker Mountain stands. Find out which rocks are immovable and which ones can be blown to mits. Find out what your priorities currently ARE (because it's right there in front of your face you can no longer deny that you let brushing your hair suck 4 hours out of your week!), what you want your priorities to become and make small changes to get there, even if it's just 5 minutes a day. Those 5 minutes can still be 100% more than what you were doing before.

I hope you are all having healthy, successful weeks!


becklette said...

i'm glad to see you pity us faithful readers... now, set aside fifteen minutes a week to blog, and nobody gets hurt :)

Barbara Loure` Gunn said...

Hi Sarah,
Great advice and such a wonderful way of sharing it. Don't ever loose your sense of humor!

Barbara G.