Thursday, November 6, 2008

Time management

I've just read Rhonda's post about Time Management over at Down to Earth.

I've really been struggling with this over the past few weeks. I think it's partly because for a few weeks I was feeling quite a lot of malaise bordering on depression. In the past day or two that has lifted, thank goodness. Shortly after her first birthday, we worked hard at addressing Lillian's nasty night-waking habits. Encouraged by a couple of visits to the GP, we had two nights of controlled crying to night-wean her, and they were really essential for my sanity, although I couldn't bear listening to her cry and so many times almost gave in. The extra unbroken sleep has made such a difference to the family. Unfortunately she's taken to waking at the crack of dawn, but I have some strategies up my sleeve to sort that out as well... there is always something!

Anyway, time management is often a bugbear. I am an organised person, but I often feel that I need to be more organised to fit in all the things that need doing and this is frustrating. Life's challenges vary according to the age of your children, and as we still have a little person who has two day sleeps and is still breastfed, there are only so many things I can do each day, and I just have to accept it - as do others.

I do believe in the maxim, "If you want something done, ask a busy person." But just how busy do we need to be? I am busy. Very busy. Sometimes I do not know where my time goes. These days I spend over an hour a day in the car just doing the school run. And I know we made the choice to school our son across town, but in Tassie terms that's only a 20 minute drive from home - although it feels interminable! And we do not regret our choice of school.

But apart from the school run, there's everything else to do around and for the home. I try and let Lillian have the two sleeps a day she still seems to need. I love that she still has two sleeps a day, but the poor little chicken only gets both of them at home if I don't go anywhere! Then there's work. I've been teaching again since the end of September, which has been a bit of a shock but now the dust has settled I feel completely energised by it.

Since I finished my commission, I have been busier than I possibly imagined - and the thought of another commission fills me with dread! How would I possibly get it done? Well, by not doing all the things I've been doing since I finished my commission, of course! Life has a way of sorting itself out and you juggle demands and take short-cuts when you need to, and do things the long way when you don't need to.

Anyway here is my take on Rhonda's Time Management post.

Yes! I love lists. I cannot live without my Filofax. Yes, ancient technology, I know, but I do not have an iPhone yet and I like the tactility of writing my lists, jotting down my commitments. Lists are especially important when shopping. I still have nappy brain and when short on sleep, there is nothing worse than going to the supermarket and coming out with 20 things but forgetting the three that you actually went in for.

Hmn. I don't really like doing this. I used to teach aural skills at 8.00am and thought that was tough. It was probably tougher on the students than me. But that was then and this is now and we have two children and so we rarely sleep in these days. At the moment, Lillian is enjoying the pre-dawn chorus. (I think there's a bird in a tree near her room whose days are numbered.) But seriously, getting up early does mean that your day starts with a gradual increase of activity and things just get done because that's what you do when you get up early. And when things get done, the whole house hums.

I always feel much more at ease when I know what we are going to have for dinner. It's just one less thing to think about when you're tired and the children are whingy at the end of the afternoon, and some small person is saying, "I'm STARVING. I'm so hungry I could eat three fridges." Oh yes. This only half an hour after he was last fed. I've been lagging with my meal plans lately, must improve.

I'm not very good at doing this. I tend to think that things get done faster if I just do them. But it's important to let go, and so I'm trying to encourage the five-year-old to do little things like set the table, clear his plates, take his shoes off outside, bring me his lunchbox etc. Children enjoy some responsibility - and so do adults. If David wasn't catching the bus to and from work, he'd be making a few more trips for milk and bananas on the way home!

Even if I am running from early morning until night-time, I try to do this. It just makes life simpler. I am finding lately that I'm not having to do laundry every day, but when I do, it's generally a couple of fuller loads which save on power, water, and effort.

TV, computer, long phone conversations - sometimes you need some down time, but TV and the computer particularly tend to suck up the hours. Some days I only check email in the evening, as I literally haven't even set foot in my study. Sorry for anyone who has been emailing me and wondering why I'm so slack at replying! Or blogging, for that matter.

At this stage in my life, the only time to myself is when the baby is asleep and the five-year-old is at school. Or in the evening. But I do prefer to spend evenings companionably so time to myself is a rare commodity. I think it would be beneficial for my state of mind, particularly on weekends when there is someone else around to do a spot of child-minding.

I have been trying to do this, although storage is an issue. Buying in bulk works really well for families if you can manage it - cuts down on trips to the shops and you always have something in the Magic Cupboard, whether it's a tin of salmon for a quick dinner, or another box of tissues for when someone starts sneezing unexpectedly.

Make lunches the night before. Lay out clothing. Do some ironing and/or baking. Pack bags for the next day's school, activities or outings. Put on a load of laundry or nappies. I even went through a stage when I would put out the cereal bowls the night before. A little obsessive, but it worked at the time.

Thanks Rhonda. She always has such great common sense on her blog. Go and have a look, but don't waste too much time on the computer today. Think of all the other things you could be doing instead!


johnk said...

Good suggestions all.

I used and taught Covey and Daytimer for many years before reading David Allen's GTD book and switching to GTD. Its made a significant impact for the good on my business and personal productivity.

And I found an application that allows me to view my entire GTD at work on my Win machine, at home on my Macs and even on my cell phone. And another app lets me call in tasks to my GTD without any writing or typing, great for those thoughts that hit me while driving.

I've written about my experiences with GTD at John

docwitch said...

Good strategies. I'm often trying to tell myself to do a number of these things. I too am usually pretty organised, but over the past year a lot has gone out the window and I feel I'm just wading through disorder of one kind or another.

Meal plans make an enormous difference. I must get back to doing them. And getting off the computer...oh yes! Something I should do right now as I have a pile of marking to finish off!