Monday, February 2, 2015

A Quick Gripe Session…

…about time management.

My perfect ideal weekend looks something like this:
  • Saturday morning: get up early to prep for and complete errands
  • Saturday afternoon: cleaning and various other chores around the house, perhaps a nap if there’s time or the need
  • Saturday evening: dinner and a quiet evening at home watching a movie while knitting or dinner out or some other fun social activity with friends or family
  • Sunday morning: a bit of journaling before heading out to church
  • Sunday afternoon: blogging and catching up on other computer work, perhaps a nap if there’s time and/or a need, a bit of reading before prepping dinner
  • Sunday evening: getting ready for the week ahead – weekly planning, ironing clothes – and relaxing

The problem is, this weekend rarely—if ever—happens.  Life gets in the way.  Inevitably, something comes up that rearranges my entire weekend.  And I allow for that—after all, what good is life if we strictly live by our own rules all of the time and never enjoy ourselves, never stray from our routines?

Usually, when something comes up, I rearrange accordingly.  For example, yesterday I had to attend a birthday party from 11 am – 1 pm in the next town over, the town where I do all of my errands.  While I prefer to get up early to get these errands accomplished, it didn’t make much sense to get up even earlier than I would have normally to get them finished with enough time to return home, put everything away, get ready for the party, and drive back out to where I had just come from.  So I rearranged my schedule so that my errands came after the party.

The trouble with that, of course, is that almost nothing gets accomplished in the amount of time I think it will take.  The party extended beyond the 1 pm end time.  I didn’t leave there until 2 pm, which means that errands started even later.  This isn’t a problem in and of itself, but I know that after noon, Target is one big nightmare of crowded aisles, carts that are nowhere to be found, lines longer than I care to wait on, and drivers stalking you and your parking spot.  (I always manage to fool the drivers, however, because I prefer to park far away from the entrance, both to give myself just a little more exercise and because I refuse to spend time fighting for a parking space close to the door.  It just amazes me how people spend so much time circling the parking lot, up and down the aisles just waiting for a spot a little closer; meanwhile, it would have taken them less time to park at the end of the row and walk to the door.  But I digress.)

My grocery store is always a joy after noon, too – people leaving their carts in the middle of the aisle, ignoring you when you say excuse me just to eek by them as they ponder which type of pasta to buy.  Yesterday was a triple joy since it was after noon.  On Super Bowl weekend.  With snow in the forecast.

See?  I get cranky when I have to deal with large crowds.  Shopping crowds, no less.  Hence why I get up early on a Saturday to get the errands done.  Trust me; it’s just better for everyone involved.

Anyway, by the time I got home from errands and cleaned up the kitchen, it was close to 5 pm.  We had dinner plans for 6:30, which meant going on a bender to finish up random other chores, getting ready to leave, and getting out the door.

Sunday was no better.  I went to church, but if I’m honest, I barely made it in time.  I’m always rushing out the door for church.  No matter what I do, I can’t seem to stay on schedule Sunday mornings.  And of course, we have a ton of things going on at church right now, so I didn’t get home until close to 2 pm.  Then I worked on some church things a little while longer.  Right up until dinnertime, in fact.  No blogging was done.  I rushed through a quickie cleaning session.  I planned for the week while watching the Super Bowl.  (My hubby and I had a Super Bowl date, complete with homemade pulled pork—yummo!)  I vaguely remember answering some emails.

This is why I never feel like I have a weekend.  The best-laid plans to make my weekend run as smoothly as possible always get messed up somehow.  And while I’m okay with slight changes here and there, it seems like everything happens at once.  Got an all day Saturday event planned in New York City?  Wouldn’t you know; it’s the same weekend that I happen to work that Sunday?  Boom.  My entire weekend—gone.  It always happens like this.  When I plan events, I try to plan them on weekends when nothing else is happening.  But then something else creeps in and I’m done.  I don’t know how people manage it all.  Most times, I feel like I’m barely keeping my head above water.

We’ve only just started February and already my April weekends are out of control.  Granted, certain once-in-a-lifetime events are happening, which affects everything else.  But that’s the way it seems to go.  Always.  These are events that I “have to” go to, events I want to go to.  But they inevitably affect everything else, which makes me feel so out of control of my own time.  Thus my being awake, thoughts of upcoming meetings and Super Bowl wins and the snow that is threatening to ruin a smooth morning commute swirling non-stop in my head, resulting in my writing this post at 1:36 am to get it all out of my mind and written down, the only way I can let it go and drift off to sleep.

Deep breaths.  Deep breaths.

It will all work itself out; I have no doubt.  I am constantly reminding myself of that.  My favorite quote, which I only just recently found, is by Lao Tzu:

“Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.”

This is a perfect quote for me because only in nature can I find calm and peace.  And this quote reminds me that even by going at our own pace, we will still accomplish all that we need to, and what doesn’t get accomplished didn’t really “need” to be accomplished in the first place.  It was only ever an added bonus, even from the start.

So, at the risk of sounding like Mr. Rogers, today’s lesson is this: Managing and planning our time only takes us so far.  Life has other plans.  And sometimes life derails the plans we so painstakingly put into place.  The not-so-easy trick (for me anyway) is to adjust to those changes and let go of the rest.  I do have a hard time letting go of my unfinished list, of guilt for not accomplishing what I set out to do, for not spending enough time with friends and family, enough time just being.  It has not been an easy lesson for me—I know the steps the take, but putting it into practice is the challenge.  But I am working on it, slowly, mindfully.  And I do feel that I’m making small steps forward, even if by way of taking a few back, too. 

But we all have to start somewhere, no?

And now, rest, dear mind.  Rest…

12 comments:

  1. I don't have any great advice for you, but a few thoughts (all of which I am sure you've already considered and rejected, so perhaps it's silly to mention them): Hire a cleaning lady, use one of those systems where you order your groceries online and they deliver to your home, send your clothes to the cleaners for ironing, Schedule entire afternoons off and don't allow anything to encroach on that time... I agree, we need to focus on the important things in life. I spent the day shoveling, over and over again... And just decided that I'm going to work in wrinkly clothes today because I'm just not up for an hour or two at the ironing board right now. I kinda feel guilty about this but also feel free to make that choice.

    You are so well organized; organization is my system challenge. Perhaps your challenge is centered on learning how to delete; delete 40% of your tasks, errands, appointments, social commitments, and then allow yourself to really immerse in and enjoy the free time.

    Just back in December I made a list of all the commitments I had involved myself with, and gave them a critical evaluation and ended up deciding on a few I would focus on, some others I would marginalize, and a few I would just quit. Not feeling like I need to attend every single meeting of every single organization, not needing to attend every party, not needing to show up at every networking event. It has been quite a blessing, I can evaluate the incoming flow of invitations and notices and know which ones I will schedule and which ones I will decline, which ones I will actually prepare for and which ones I will just show up to because they aren't that important.

    I really love your posts!

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    1. Thanks for your comment, Josh. Not silly at all to mention anything, and I appreciate your thoughts. :) Hiring a cleaning lady would be nice but not something in the budget. I have tried ordering groceries online and I wasn't a huge fan. I like to peruse the produce and pick whatever looks good. Though, to be fair, perhaps I didn't give it enough of a chance. I will admit that a majority of my tasks are of my own making. I come up with projects that I want to accomplish and break them down into smaller tasks, which I attend to a little at a time. Breaking them down allows me to spend only small chunks of time on it while still feel like I'm accomplishing something. However, that also means that I'm always working on something "extra." And my thinking is always "once it's done I can relax." But of course a new idea comes to mind and the cycle starts all over again. So I will agree that I need to step back and take a good, long, hard look at the things I'm spending my time on and decide what is truly important to me and when I can let go of, or at the very least, be okay with not finishing in a "timely" manner. I will say that it is diffcult to manage weekends when I'm working, which happens twice a month. I miss out on some family functions or feel like my time is being robbed by work. But the truth is, I do get time back from that, it's just a week day when no family functions are taking place. But then, that gives me more time to work on my projects.

      I think what it really comes down to guilt. I feel guilty if I don't do at least some cleaning on the weekends because I know it won't be addressed during the week. I feel guilty for having a list of to dos that I'll probably never get to, some of which come about for ideas that will utilize planners that are just sitting on a shelf empty, for which I also feel guilty. I feel guilty if I ask my husband to get the groceries right now since he's in high tax season and is working 12 hour days, 6 days a week. And I feel guilty for saying no to friends and family because I really do want to see them, even if I don't want to add one more event to my calendar. It's really all bout the guilt. And THAT is where I need to start. Once I let go of that, I think everything will work itself out because I won't really care about what happens to all of those undone tasks.

      See, you helped me realize that just now -- THANK YOU!

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  2. I hear you! I was just thinking about how much weekends just vanish. Especially with my new job, which has me working a decent amount of Saturdays. Combine that with church on Sunday morning and the seed group we are joining and I'm down to a few hours on weekends.

    I love Josh's idea of blocking hours for "off time" - I have to try this at some point but I agree - the guilt always sets in!!!

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    1. Yes, I definitely need to block in some off time. But there isn't enough time for me to do that without giving up something else, which I am willing to do, if I'm able. But that wouldn't come without guilt either. What I really need is a third weekend day to get it all done. ;)

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  3. I love that quote! I know how you feel. I have Mondays off and half a day on Tuesdays. When my phone started blowing up yesterday at 1:30pm, I knew it was over;). My planner has started looking more like a wish list than a list of things will actually do. DIY my kitchen cabinets with a beautiful faux finish like I saw on YouTube? Not likely, but I probably will call a contractor and ask him to fix the leaky faucet Bathe the dogs and clip their nails? It would save me some money, but I'd have to deal with their fur in the tub and risk cutting into the quick when I trim their nails; so no, I'll make an appt with the groomer. Knit one of those gorgeous Alice Starmore sweaters with intricate colorwork? Probably not, but I can manage a few rows on a sock every evening or so. There are some things I can't control (last month it was plumbing, yesterday it was a gas leak at the tank) and things I can (I'm heading to the grocery store to end the stand off over who's going to buy fabric softener), but it does all work out in the end. What matters gets done and what doesn't…doesn't.

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    1. Very true, Lisa! I need to learn to let go of what just cannot get done in a day. Plus, I need to be more realistic about the mount of things I can get through in any given time period. The stuff that needs to get done has to come first, and the wnats second. Of course, it's the wants that I would rather work on. ;)

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  4. I also don't have anything much to add in the way of advice, but I understand too well. This is exactly what I struggle with on the weekend. Also, I did shop right before the Super Bowl. I knew it was stupid, but I did it anyway! I regret it, too.

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    1. Just knowing there are people out there who understand makes me feel better. :) My family doesn't know where I get all of my "to dos" from, I guess because I am the one who creates most of my tasks. ("Why does anyone need several binders for keeping random information? It sounds exhausting.") And that's true. But I do enjoy doing those things. But as they build up, they tend to take over. I'm actually going to work on a list of projects and try to whittle down what I really want to accomplish.

      Here's to never shopping on Super Bowl Sunday again!

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  5. I love the way you turn your gripes into a joke! It's all about the wonderful way you look at life...yes, I really do believe that. "The supermarket, at noon, on Super Bowl Sunday, with snow in the forecast," you take what most people would consider a nightmare, and you put a humorous slant on it. I think you're doing great, and you should give yourself credit for a positive outlook (and yes, you can quote me to the hubster). ;)

    Like the other commenters, I don't really know what to tell you about how to make this better. It's life, and it does tend to get in the way of our plans. Of course, even though we know this, it doesn't make it any less annoying! You do have A LOT to do!

    One thing that could help...when you know you're going to have a full Saturday, maybe you could go grocery shopping or make that trip to Target one day after work instead? As you know, I don't get home until almost 7:30 (although I do get a full weekend every week), and if I know I have a lot to do, I will just go to the store on my way home. Target at 7:30 on Thursday is usually not that bad!

    Little changes like that are what help to keep me sane when my social schedule starts to have a case of the crazies. :)

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    1. Yes, well, we do have to laugh at our circumstances sometimes in order to keep ourselves sane. ;)

      I like your idea of running an errand or two after work on those busy weekends. However, the one hiccup I can see is that since I go to my sister's on Friday evening, I work Thursday evening, and go to either a meeting or yoga on Wednesday, I'd have to run said errands on Tuesday. This is okay if it's Target or something like that, but a run to the grocery that early in the week won't really help me since I'd have to return during the weekend anyway. (I don't do buy more than a week ahead, as it's just the two of us.)

      But going forward, I'll check out my schedule and see how/if I can fold this into my routine. Thanks!

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    2. I agree, Tuesday is much too soon for grocery shopping! Maybe a Thursday morning would work, if you could just get the basics to get you through to Monday or Tuesday when you can go again and get enough to hold you to the next Saturday. Not that this makes sense usually, but maybe for when you know you'll have a Saturday that will throw off your whole schedule.

      I'm glad to have added a seed for an idea to your routine. I feel honored!! :)

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