Try-This Tuesday: Gaining Control Of Your Time

Since the launch of this blog, and even prior to that when I began coaching a friend in journal writing, I have heard expressions like “I hope I can find time to do these tasks”, “I wish I had the time to make a list”, and “I’ll have to see if I can schedule it in.”  Well, here’s a fact:  if you want to do something, you can.  If you want to find the time, you can.  I’m not saying it’s easy or that it’s not work.  I’m just saying it’s do-able.  The first step is having the courage to say you are willing to do it, along with the work that it entails.

I work full-time, mostly from home.  My work week is Monday – Sunday (because really, what parent has a day “off”?) and it consists of the following:

  • Being a mother to a 4 year old girl and a 1.5 year old boy – this includes everything from daily living care to appointments to activities to providing entertainment and learning opportunities etc.
  • Being a speech therapist to a small caseload of clients who I see from my home office.
  • Being a writer – I have 3 blog-babies as I call them (The Artist’s Loft, The Finer Things in Life and of course, Let ME Out!!), I recently snagged my first freelance writing gig, I practice my craft through exercises and by entering contests and I check in with my Self regularly through my journal.
  • Being a volunteer event host and fundraiser for Pandora’s Collective – I host a monthly writing series, write grant applications and fundraise for our annual festival.

I also really value my family and friends and spend a good deal of my time maintaining these relationships.

Your week is equally demanding and you wear just as many, if not more, hats.  No matter what we do professionally and recreationally, finding time to sit down with our Self and check in or engage in personal development activities can be challenging!

Before we can go further then, we need to analyze where our time is going!  You have 1440 minutes in a day – how are you spending them?  Things change day to day and week to week, but on average, what does your typical weekday look like?  And your typical weekend day?

THIS WEEK’S TASK encourages you to sit down and chart an average weekday and an average weekend day – accounting for all 24 hours (so, yes, make a note of when you sleep!).  Add some more looseleaf paper to the binder you started last week with your list, or grab the notebook you are keeping all of your tasks in, and chart in whichever way is most comfortable.  Me, I prefer a good old-fashioned chart of two columns 1) time and 2) activity.  Other people may like plotting their days on a pie chart, a graph or incorporating their words within a doodle.  Use colour if you like!

Once you have the data in front of you, see where you can take small chunks of time out here and there.

 

OK, I can hear you asking me where you are supposed to find the time to do this activity!  Here are some suggestions I put together based on my own life.  If you have other suggestions or would like to share your personal tips on how you find some ME time, please share them here as a comment or contact me.  Thanks!

Here they are:

  1.  I wake up even 15 minutes earlier than I normally do – if I take 5 minutes to use the bathroom and drink a glass of water, I have 10 minutes to write!  This doesn’t throw my day off significantly and I’ve just started the day off doing something that’s just for ME!  However, as noted yesterday, I have children who are very light sleepers so sometimes this backfires on me and my day ends up starting earlier only so that I can take care of my two munchkins for an extra 15 minutes that day…so, really, I’m not counting on my mornings every time.
  2. When the kids have gone to bed at night, most nights, my husband and I have about 2 hours together before we’re ready for bed.  Of those 2 hours, half an hour to 45 minutes goes into cleaning/housekeeping/paying bills etc and the rest of the time we watch TV or talk.  I can take 15 minutes at least out of this time (especially the TV time) to write.
  3. The high school babysitter – what a great invention!  Cheap but quality childcare!  I have a high school girl (highly recommended to me by a trusted friend/mom) who comes over for 4 hours a week and plays with the kids.  She even feeds and waters them while I get time to work without a child hanging on to me.  Our babysitter has energy, creativity and a wonderful way with both kids.  They are happy and so am I.  The key for me is to make my writing a priority.  Writing is my passion but it is also my work.  I enjoy it so much that I used to feel guilty for “indulging” in it.  I used to feel bad that someone else is watching my kids while I have fun!  It is way too easy to justify getting everything else done (laundry, dishes, cooking) but I know that if I do that, at the end of the day I am annoyed that I didn’t give myself a chance to write.  NOBODY IN MY HOUSE WANTS ME TO BE ANNOYED!  So in order to not spend my babysitter time cooking, I make Wednesdays “easy-meal” night or I make enough dinner on Tuesdays so that we have leftovers the next day.
  4. Grandparent day!  Tuesdays are a piece of heaven for me when my dad comes over shortly after breakfast and stays through dinner.  In fact, Tuesdays are a weekday highlight for everyone involved, including my husband.  Yes, he is at work while my dad is watching the kids but he comes home to a happy wife which makes his workday just a little less stressful, too!  While my dad is here, I see a speech therapy client or two and do some of my non-profit work.  Tuesdays are also my prime writing day (Try-This Tuesday was strategically selected!)
  5. I send my husband out to play!  Specifically, to play soccer.  This happens 1-2 times a week, usually after dinner.  I love him to bits and value our time together which is why when he’s around I don’t always feel like spending hours in my studio.  BUT if he is out, and the kids are asleep…well, that’s a no-brainer!  I’m heading STRAIGHT for my studio!

So, looking at your data, can you skip a particular TV show to take a knitting class?  Can you limit your time playing video games so that you have an extra half hour at the end of the day to read a novel?  Maybe press snooze one less time and use those beautiful 9 minutes to sit in silence at the beginning of your day?

HAVE FUN WITH THIS!  This is not just a homework assignment – this is your time to be creative, learn about your Self and do something you don’t typically do!  And if you take the time to do it, you may benefit by finding more time during your typical week just for YOU!

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