My To Do List has been making threatening sounds at me all summer. It growls. It hisses. It occasionally laughs maniacally. Oh wait, that’s me. The list actually just sits there and looks menacing. But it does a really great job! I’m effectively menaced and stressed. Sometimes I even want to pull my hair. I have no idea what good it would do, but the urge is there.
I’m sure you understand. I’m positive you have a list of things that need doing today and only your two hands and 24 hours to do them with. I’ll even wager that every time you cross something off of your own silently threatening schedule two more things get added. I’ll go so far as to say that your “free time” is scheduled too. Am I right?
Then, there is the fact that I very rarely do one thing at a time. Take right now, for instance. Between the last paragraph and this one, I went to stir the spaghetti sauce I have on the stove, I loaded and started the dishwasher, and I dug out the recipe for cream of squash soup all while thinking about whether I am actually pro multi-tasking or think that too many irons in the fire lead to shoddy workmanship in the long run. I’ve decided that it’s a gray area. This is probably just self-preservation speaking. If I don’t multi-task, my list gets out of control. If I do too much at a time, I have to re-do too many things later.
For me, multi-tasking has a set of subconscious rules. I can join up to three activities that don’t require me to put much brain power into them with one actively thoughtful project. More than three and my brain pays too much attention into what my hands are doing so it gets distracted and the mental project suffers. I also require at least one physical activity going if I’m working on something that requires a lot of brain power. For some reason, if my hands aren’t busy my brain won’t stay on task. Most likely I’d be labeled ADD these days. Sometimes, I wish I had the “H” there too just so I could keep up!
This brings my wandering path back to today’s topic: Time Management. Some people, like my sister, are amazing at managing their time. They fit work needs, home needs, extra curricular activities, school requirements, etc. into their days without seeming to break a sweat. If you detect a hint of jealousy, I’m afraid you’re right. Then there are those who always seem frazzled no matter how few things are on their plate. I like to think that I fall somewhere in the middle and that my frazzled days are fewer than the days I’m holding my own in the battle to fit as much as possible into each 24 hours.
There are a lot of ways to manage your time. They range from strict hourly schedules to simply winging it and hoping for the best. None of them work for everyone, but all of them work incredibly well for the right people.
I manage my time by calendar and list. The calendar is there to keep track of days that I have vs. days that are spent before they even get here. It helps me see when I can tackle things around the house, and when I will need to work around outside activities. The calendar is the only thing that has kept my garden running smoothly this year because I can see at a glance when I will have time to can spaghetti sauce and when I will only be able to rush through freezing tomatoes. The list gives a general outline for my day and offers flexibility for my time. Some days the list is a typical To Do List, others it’s an Accomplishment List which works because it lets me see progress and encourages me to grow the lists length instead of cross things off. Usually these two things work pretty well for me. They don’t save me from chaotic days where the needs of others rush in, but they do help manage the normal ones.
So, how do you deal with the dreaded hour glass? What are your time management tips and tricks? Share them! Trust me, no matter how great someone is at juggling their day they can always use one more handy hint up their sleeve.
Being a homeschooling parent for 13 years and an independent author/illustrator makes a person learn quite a bit about a lot of things. Now it's time to pass it on!