Thinking About Time? Get Out of the Box
I hope everyone had a great week-end, and used their time off from work, school, or whatever other constraints wisely…Hmmm…Really, though? How do you use your time wisely? Is there even such a thing? Sure, if you’re the hyper-organized type, are surrounded by hyper-organized people, have your kids on a tight, immoveable schedule all day long, and manage to get everyone else going on a military routine the rest of the time, well, you may be able to use your time wisely…For the rest of us common folks, dealing with hyper-active toddlers, loads of unfinished laundry, extended family and friends, meals to cook, work to attend to, and about 100 other trivial things to do in about 24 hours a day (give or take, and that’s when you can fit in some sleep and one episode of reality TV), using your time wisely roughly equates to…well…finding your house clean every day, or ironing every single piece of clothing owned by every single family member…You know what I mean: MISSION IMPOSSIBLE!
But since we always tell our kids that NOTHING is IMPOSSIBLE, and we’re the adults (sort of), I guess we have to figure out this time management thing, in a more or less wise manner. And since we can’t change the fact that there are 24 hours a day, or that some of us just hate ironing dress shirts, or dealing with laundry altogether, I guess we’d have to simply change the way we think about time. And after 30-something years, about 10 loads of laundry behind and still no dishwasher in my home (despite the incredible amount of dishes produced by the three human beings I share my residence with), that’s what I decided to do:
- There is no such a thing as work-life balance! I know I’ve written before about the proverbial work-life balance, and how working mothers (that’s all of us, in cubicles or at home) can achieve it and blah blah blah….Well, frankly speaking, I suck at it. As a matter of fact, every time I think about balance, it’s just a given that I will NOT achieve it. Trying to make it out of work on time to pick up the kids on time, and cook a healthy meal with at least one vegetable and less than five processed elements in it before I crash on the couch, and still read my kids a bedtime story and tell them about the meaning of life? Are you kidding me? Ain’t no SUperwoman living around here…So I just stopped thinking about balance, and instead I just think in terms of priorities. That crucial project at work? It gets done first, instead of starting it roughly about 30 minutes before I actually have to rush out the door and drive 90 miles an hour to avoid that “you are late again” look on the babysitter’s face. Feeding my kids? It takes precedence over telling them about the meaning of life, and I may even skip one bedtime story every now and then for the sake of everyone’s nourishment…
- Be PRESENT! I am finding that as much as I want to do in the course of the day, what works for me is not so much to compartmentalize my time and try and force myself to get organized…It’s like going on a diet: as soon as the word “Diet” gets out my mouth, everything else that remotely looks like food gets in. You’ve gotta know yourself, years of yo-yo diet and to-do lists have taught me one thing: I don’t work well with imposed schedules or a sense of general obligation. I call it being “free spirited”, my mother has other very unflattering terms for it, including “undisciplined, “rebel”, you know, those types of big words…So I simply learnt to shorten my to-do lists to 4 or 5 items a day, and do less, but with more engagement, hence more power and effectiveness. If I’m studying, even if that means waiting for my phone to die and Facebook to be completely unavailable, or putting everyone to bed first so I don’t have to deal with interruptions, then so be it! 30 minutes of engaged concentration beats one hour of interrupted, Facebook-laced time any day….just sayin’….
- Have FUN! yes, as counter-intuitive as it may sound, doing away with fun is guaranteed to give you just about….0 results! I’m a Cancer, which translates into highly sensitive, emotionally acute individual. And since I tend to be closer to my emotions in general, frustration is not a friend of mine….So forcing myself into repetitive tasks that frustrate the stilettos off my feet, and raise both my blood pressure and level of frizz in my ‘fro to astronomical heights does not work for me…Having to complete that supremely boring, 60-hour worth project at work or school in order to get that promotion or passing grade? Sure…but right before plucking every hair off your frizzy, stressed-out curly ‘fro, think about incorporating some fun in your work….Whether in the form of restorative breaks, Buddhist meditation or angry rants in your blog, or even by funking up that Accounting presentation with a lil’ something something that is uniquely you (think MC Hammer or Louboutin’s competitive advantage in the global market…or your closet), make sure you actually make a genuine effort at incorporating fun in what you do…Ok, now you can keep plucking your hair out….
How are you thinking about time?