I seem to have a lot going on right now – and I feel like I shouldn’t say that, because everyone says that.
But between my 70 contest/day minimum (see my article on how I upgrade my lifestyle through contests here), working full time at a new job that is much more demanding with the immediate learning curve required, a very busy two year old, a Board of Director position on a local theatre board, date nights (which involve some work usually – see my article on mystery shopping here), blogging, wanting to see friends and family, and just regular life stuff, it feels overwhelming.
It reached a crisis point a few days ago when I didn’t meet my (self-directed) contest entering minimum and had a slight meltdown, convinced that all of our interesting life activities were going to shudder to a grinding halt because I’d missed a day. This was clearly just minor crazy speaking, caused by overscheduling. But something has to change, or I need to find more hours in the day.
Here’s the thing. We all have exactly the same number of hours in the day that others have had: Marie Curie, Mother Theresa, Newton, Galileo, Leonardo da Vinci, LM Montgomery, Taylor Swift, Benjamin Franklin, Bach, Nikola Tesla, among others. (Yes, I *did* include Taylor Swift in the same comparison with Nikola Tesla. And that’s why you love me. But she has cranked out a seriously impressive number of songs for an early 20something). So in terms of accomplishments, clearly you can manage quite a few in the same number of hours that I have. And often more, as some of these folks statistically had far shorter lifespan expectations than we do.
So now what? I took a couple of minutes and made a list of priorities, and then figured out how I could accomplish them.
Here are some tips on managing time that I got from my inside-my-head adventure:
1) Put it in your calendar! This prevents double booking, but also ensures that priorities don’t get set aside for making dinners and playing endless games of Facebook Scrabble. If it’s important to you, carve out the time. You’re the most vital piece of your universe – so treat yourself kindly, and make time for what you need to feel sane and (somewhat) balanced.
2) Stop goofing off on the Interwebs! Seriously. You could spend literally all day reading Facebook feeds and clicking onto articles. Jot down a list of things you want to look up as they occur to you (origins of Daylight Savings Time, anyone?) and then set aside half an hour to actually do it, rather than interrupting what you’re in the middle of because you can’t remember Jennifer Aniston’s character’s last name in Friends.
3) If it takes less than 5 minutes, do it now. I have spent WAY more than 5 minutes reminding myself to pay the property tax bill/call a friend to check in/make an oil change appointment. If it’s less than five minutes, you’ve saved time by doing it right away when you think of it.
4) Outsource where you can. We have a miraculous teenager that we know as a friend of the family, who is reliable, hardworking and smart. She comes over and cleans for us for a couple hours a week and also babysits K for us once in awhile. She likes the cash, and it means that when I do have spare time, it’s not spent washing floors. Everyone knows someone who has teenagers, and I suspect that if you offered said teenager money to mow your lawn/plug your friends’ birthdays into your iPhone calendar/clean your kitchen/cook you three meals a week and deliver them to your freezer/whatever, they’d be delighted.
5) Ask for help, and swap services. Maybe your Mom can take the kids to the park on Saturday mornings. Maybe your husband can do the grocery shopping every second week. Your best friend the fabulous cook? Ask her to make you a new recipe and a stack of meals for your birthday present. Maybe one of the other parents in your kid’s class wants to drive to soccer on Thursdays if you can do Tuesdays. Who knows? Think outside the box!
6) Eat that frog. Mark Twain once said “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” (Oddly, I went to elementary school with his great granddaughter). What he meant was that you should start the day with the task you’ve been dreading most. Whatever your personal frog is, deal with it right away. Desperately avoiding that meeting? Get it over with at 9am. Procrastinating because your history homework is due? Eat that historic amphibian, baby. You’ll immediately feel a huge sense of relief and accomplishment that will propel you through the rest of your day.
7) Make the regular life needs easier. We also, once in awhile, get meals from a local caterer who delivers. That way, if I know I won’t have the energy or inclination to cook, I have a stack of genuinely good quality frozen meals ready to put in the oven. Healthier than pizza, better quality than your local takeout place and roughly the same price. And when you are cooking, always make enough to have leftovers – it’s no more work, but you’ll have something to heat up or bring for lunch later on in the week.
8) Lower your standards. This one is a challenge, but I realize that there are going to be days where I can only enter 30 contests. Or where I may need to send an email instead of a card in order for it to arrive in time for a birthday. Your 10 year old may not make their bed quite the way you like it, but you know what? That’s okay. They need to learn how anyways. Kids are ideal for activities such as matching socks, unloading the dishwasher and folding laundry, and as they get older, for things like making casseroles once or twice a week when they get home from school. Assign a day that’s ‘their’ dinner night, and they can make whatever they want for the family. And unless it’s inedible, don’t criticize – this is a learning process for everybody! – but feel free to suggest recipes.
9) Get enough sleep! Skimping on sleep (which to me means less than 7 hours a night) is going to make things harder, not create more time. Being constantly tired will make you fuzzy headed, more likely to get sick and it will take you longer to do simple things. So try not to make that your “cost saving measure”.
What about you? What do you do to make more time in the day?