Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Thoughts on Time (Part 1)

Ole Hermione with that Time-Turner...wouldn't that be handy?

I can waste time better than just about anyone I know. Three hour baths? Yep. Hour and a half long stroll through the magazines at Books-A-Million? Absolutely. Afternoon of Pinterest hunting? Totes bagotes. Five episode marathon of Phryne Fisher/Rosemary & Thyme/Parcs & Rec or {insert name of awesome television program here}? You got it, dude.

Sometimes I wake up the day after a "waster" and ask myself how it happened. Sometimes I ask why it happened because that's the more relevant question, to be real with y'all.  But I know why and I'm working on that bigger issue with some steadily-growing urgency.

What it really boils down to though, is time management. When I feel overwhelmed, I escape; but if I feel like I've been productive, then when I do escape it's much less frequently and for shorter amounts of time. So, I thought I'd work on a few time management skills for myself and share them with y'all. Care to join me on this one? I don't know anyone who couldn't use a boost in this area!

Okay! So, first things first...the macro elements of time management. The bigger, more nebulous ideas that have a tendency to cause one to undermine their attempts at organization.

#1: Time management is energy management.

Y'all, when I read that sentence the other day, something clicked in my head. Yes, I'm an earth muffin with crystals on my windowsills, but energy is real and when you work with it instead of against it, amazing things can happen.

For example:

I am an total whiny, achey blob after 3 pm at work. If a task involves critical thinking or problem-solving skills then forget about it. I'm out. I'm stellar in those departments between the hours of 8:30 a.m. through about 11:30 a.m. though.

If I eat properly (every 2 hours- with protein) and get plenty of water, then I can maintain a light decency as a human until about 2:30. After that, I'm sheer presence and not much else. If I happen to be off work, then my energy becomes more fluid because I can work with the peaks and valleys and make adjustments more easily. The fact remains the same though, I am a perky, happy powerhouse a certain time of day and a chilled out, and more quiet piddler the rest.

My solution to this is to work on my more "thinkier" things early before work so my evenings are free for the more "piddley-er" tasks such as folding and putting away laundry, tidying, packing lunches for the next day etc etc. It'll help my mentality going in to work too, as I have less anxiety when I've been more productive and less anxiety at my job is always good.

It's amazing how just acknowledging that has helped me already!

#2. Develop a sleep routine and get up earlier.

Not everyone is a morning person, however we could all use a few extra minutes in the mornings, am I right? I am very mindful of my sleep. If I have jacked up sleeping patterns for three days consecutively, I almost always catch a cold. If I sleep less than what my body likes, my skin goes bananas and I'm generally a butthead.

But I'm not the only one who can benefit from a dedicated sleep routine. Every day on my to-do list, I write what bedtime I'm aiming for tonight. Are there nights I miss it? Absolutely. Do I try to aim for a thirty minute window on either side of it regardless? Absolutely.

Sleep is precious. I've learned to honor it. I don't drink booze or caffeine several hours before I aim to hit the hay. I keep a very dark room. I layer three of the coziest blankets on the bed so regardless of the effect the weather has on our horribly weather-proofed house, we have options. I keep a glass of water on each side of the bed (so we don't have to get up if we wake up thirsty). I have banned the television but keep light, cosy fireplace sounds crackling out of the sound machine on my phone veeeeeery quietly.

Please note that I would like to remove all cell phones from the bedroom in the future, but that will take some serious strategy and an alarm clock I can trust after years of failed ones. That is a story for another time. The important thing though, is that electronics disrupt your sleep. Even if they are not turned on. If you must have them in your room, unplug them and cover them with a pretty scarf or something (not dirty clothes preferably). You need sleep. Your body is working magic while you sleep, repairing the previous days' damage and working through all kinds of mental, emotional and physical stuff! Let it do so peacefully!

If I'm not sleepy by my pre-determined bedtime, I meditate to get my head to calm down a bit. I also write lists so my head won't swarm with ideas right before bed. I also limit watching things that work me up (t.v. shows, the news etc.) right before "bedtime".

You can also try going to bed and setting your alarm clock for fifteen minutes earlier a week at a time. It lets your body gradually adjust to the new habits. Once you feel actually rested in the morning, it's amazing what you find you can get accomplished when you normally would be slumped over the coffee machine waiting for it to brew. Time just seems to accumulate in the corner, waiting to be used for more awesome stuff!

Oh, Lorelai!

#3. Let go of some of that control, or at least use it more wisely.

This one will be a tough one for most of us and it's a complicated idea. Time management involves the balance between understanding that we cannot control everything but also that we can control some and we need to know the difference. If you want to get more bang for your buck, so to speak, out of the time you've been given then you need to wrap your head around that balance.

Can you control how much television you watch? Yes. Can you control your part of the morning routine? Yes. Can you control that a snowstorm is going to shut down your town for a few days? Nope. Can you control the laziness, inconsideration, or poor-planning of others? Nope. But you can adapt and be flexible and plan for the unforeseeable.

You can turn the television off (hell, unplug the thing) for certain hours of the day, or certain days of the week if its a real time-sucker for you. You can pack your car up with essentials (backpacks, what have you) before bed. You can set your coffee pot to instant brew and have your outfit picked out and steamed before your little head hits the pillow. You can control contingency plans when there are emergencies, like a dependable ride for your kids if a weather emergency comes up, or spare rain accessories in the car in case of an unforeseen thunder-boomer right before an important meeting. You can allow time buffers in your planning so if you're carpooling with a coworker and they are running late (or you get a flat tire), you'll have a "safety net". You get the picture.

You can't control the world but you can control your response to it.

Those are the bigger-picture ideas that, if absorbed into your way of life can really have a huge effect on the efficiency of your time management. I'm soaking them up this week. Care to try the same? Next week I'll have more of the finer-point details  (as well as some super awesome and helpful links) on Monday and Wednesday to help us all get a bit more organized.

I hope you have a truly wonderful day, y'all!! Be sure to get to bed a little earlier tonight!

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