I’m actually going to put together a post here. Rah, rah, rah! Since the weather turned so gorgeous, I have trouble staying indoors. There are so many things to do in the yard. In fact, recently, one of my daughters asked me which “site” I’d been working on lately and I said, “The one outside!” Sometimes SIGHTS win out over SITES. Which is something that I hope each and every person who works online realizes. I’ve often said that we should all be very careful that the backs of our heads aren’t the views our family members see most.
But it’s more than that. It’s about balance. Those of us who work from home – especially those alpha humans of you who have outside jobs AND work online – have to be particularly mindful of the balance we’re creating in our lives. A while back, I felt like my life’s balance was a bit out of whack.
You know me… I broke out the notebook and pen.
I wrote down things that were important to me – activities that made my day worthwhile, enjoyable, and productive. Not JUST worthwhile, not JUST enjoyable, and not JUST productive – I included everything: spending time with my family, playing with my cats, staying on top of housework, Bible reading, Agatha Christie reading, cooking, gardening, writing, e-mail correspondence, baking, , bird-watching, walking, yoga, my blogs, baseball (watching, not playing) and so on.
It occurred to me that some of my favorite activities were being neglected, because I didn’t have time for them. Then I took a close look at areas where I could “steal” a little time – like a Time Management Robin Hood (I’m beginning to think that Social Media is the Sheriff of Nottingham).
Honestly, these periodic self-examinations are vital. Why? Because we humans (yes, even you alpha humans) are creatures of habit. We grow so accustomed to doing particular things and doing them in a particular way that we don’t even realize what’s going on half the time.
Why do you think refrigerators get so overrun with leftovers (which reminds me…)? No one in their right mind would stack container upon container of food that’ll never see the light of day again on purpose. We just don’t think about it. We’re cleaning off the table and there are a few spoonfuls left of baby carrots – – – – of course they have to be salvaged! Into a plastic container they go for a future meal.
Never to be heard from again.
We just get sort of wrapped up in a way of doing things and we, half the time, don’t fully even realize what we’re doing.
My husband told me not long ago about an older man that he does business with. This man is what my husband calls “Straight up country.” The man was doing his business in a way that, frankly, didn’t make sense. When my husband (politely) asked him why he did things this particular way, the man said,”Well, that’s just how we always done it.” How many of us could put on our best “country-fied” accent and say the same thing about our systems, “Well, that’s just how we always done it.”
Whether it worked or not!
Time management is one of those things in life that, in my opinion, requires frequent adjustments. Why? Because things change! What worked like a charm three months ago may not work at all today. Chores change, projects change, seasons change, Monday night sports change, goals change, situations change, and WE change.
We may require more “ME time” now than we did then. We may simply want to spend more time bird-watching and flower sniffing this month than last. We may have a clear goal that has come into focus and we may need more time to work toward that goal.
The point is, always take a good look at your average day and how you spend it. Are you spending your time or is your time spending you?
Grab pen and paper and write down how you spend a typical day. Are there any areas that are given too much time at the expense of others? Trim off a little of this excess time and put it to better use.
Below are just a few Time Management tips that may help.
- Set goals for particular projects. If you want a particular task completed, give yourself a deadline. It keeps you honest and, often, will bring out your best. We tend to get pretty creative when we’re under the gun.
- Prioritize. Make an honest assessment – which things are the most important? Tackle them first and put the others on the back burner.
- If a project is particularly difficult or time-consuming, take it on early in the day. If I’m working on a project that involves a new learning curve, I schedule it for my am coffee hours. This is the period of time when I have the least interruptions, the most caffeine, and my mind seems to be the sharpest. Personally, I credit the coffee.
- Do – NOT – Procrastinate. It’s as easy to do as breathing, and sometimes infinitely more enjoyable, but it causes more headaches tomorrow. Do it now and be done with it.
- Always beware of time wasters. Now let me say this: If you have a particular activity that brings you peace, enjoyment, and serves as a way for you to unwind – it’s not a time waster! Sitting back after a long day and watching a re-run of The Golden Girls (love those gals!), catching up on tweets, or playing a video game is a perfect way to unwind. What one person may call “wasting time” can be the next person’s sanity preserver. Everyone needs personal time and, again, that’s not a time waster. However, if there are activities that you find yourself spending an unusual amount of time doing – while getting nothing out of them – it’s time to invite them to leave. If e-mail has become overwhelming, unsubscribe to a few newsletters that no longer serve a purpose. (Frankly, half of them have become sales pitches and commercials anyway – PET PEEVE alert: Don’t promise me something gloriously cool in your title then throw a price tag on it once I’m in the e-mail!)
- Stop chasing perfection. The person who thinks their outfit, their hair, their blog post, their blog’s design, their tweet updates – everything – has to be perfect is chasing unicorns. Perfection doesn’t exist any more than unicorns do, and chasing after either simply makes a spectacle out of the one giving chase. It also wastes precious time.
- Create a schedule and stick to it. If you allot yourself the 9:00 to 10:00 hour for a certain task, you will do everything in your power to make the deadline. Again, when we know we have a “cut off” time, we dig deep into our well of creativity and make things happen.
- If you do make a schedule, don’t fill every hour of the day with work. What kind of a life is that?! Even Superman takes his cape off when his work is done.
- Make certain times of the day a “HANDS OFF” zone – a period of time when you don’t even touch the computer or iPhone (or any other tech-y marvel). I read an article not long ago about “Unplugging” your kids. We adults need to be periodically unplugged as well – it’ll make us more efficient!
- Don’t take on more than you can handle. Don’t be afraid to say, “I’m sorry but I’m simply too busy right now.” Don’t let other people make unnecessary demands on your time. If they aren’t cool enough to keep their pens and plans off of your to do list, they’re the ones with the problem, not you. Don’t let other people confiscate your time. Just refuse to let them have it.
A final thing about your daily schedule: Be sure to include activities that promote your health, your happiness, and enrich your mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being. Ask yourself what activities you enjoy the most. Are you able to do these activities or are other things crowding them out? Your happiness is at stake, here!
Life is absolutely beautiful. It can be unexpected, for certain, and it can completely catch us off guard at times – but, make no mistake about it, life is breathtakingly beautiful and incredibly precious. If you’re too busy – chasing dollar signs, fortune, fame, or the perfect body – you just might miss the magic. Slow down. Sit down. Most of all, enjoy the ride.
Never postpone happiness and never squeeze what you want to do out of the way for things you think you have to do. There’s room for both. So, my good merry men and women, examine your day and see if you need to rob any time from one area to shore up another. And, seriously, keep an eye on social media sites – they’re the real robbers.
Now, for that refrigerator….