Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Time to Tackle Time
I've always prided myself on being self-motivated. But lately, days seem to fly by, and I get to the end of too many of them with too many things still lingering on my to-do list and a nagging feeling that I haven't been working very hard at all.

I told my husband the other night that I had a new idea for organizing my time. He laughed and made a joke about how much extra time I have (yes, that was sarcasm). I told him I thought perhaps my goals were a tad too high. He laughed again.

Okay. So maybe I'm onto something.

When I retired nearly four years ago, I resolved not to think of myself as retired. I was barely 50, after all, and decades away from traditional retirement. Instead, I saw retirement as a reset button -- a chance to begin the second half of my life with the optimism of youth, if not the energy. I would write  and I would pursue the goals that had been pushed aside due to a life that was bursting at the seams, in part, due to a full time job that required more than full time hours to be done well.

And here I am, four years after turning in my retirement letter. Life is once again bursting at the seams. And this time, I can't blame my course load (one) or a full-time job (zero).

Apparently I'm more I love to be busy than I care to admit.

But the busyness wasn't always making me happy; often, it was leaving me frustrated. So I decided to view time the way I was advised to view my daughter's food intake when she was a toddler. Instead of looking at what she ate in a day, I looked at what she ate over the space of a week. Through the second lens, her diet always looked more balanced.

I pulled out a dollar store tablet I'd bought years ago and pressed it into service. I replaced the days of the week with the tasks that took up most of my time -- and some that should get a bigger share -- and resolved to keep track of where my time was going when it came to these categories.

It didn't take long at all to see that what I'd suspected was true. Blogging and class planning took the biggest bite out of my time, effectively edging out all the other tasks that made the list, not to mention the slew of others that didn't. And, though I didn't include it, household duties (cooking and laundry mostly) played their role in limiting my time as well.

So now comes the tricky part. Do I use this information to pat myself on the back and say, "See? You were doing more than you thought you were!" Or, do I need to make some hard decisions about how I spend my time?

I suspect it's the latter. Though I can't make a decision based on less than a week's worth of information (perhaps not every week looks like this), I need to look at this information and decide if this is how I want my time expenditures to look, and if not, what I plan to do differently. Some spaces should have less time dedicated to them. If I've got good systems in place, organizing should not take a lot of my time; nevertheless, I want to keep it on my list since staying organized is a priority. Social time is also missing from the list, but that omission was intentional. Unless I feel it's underrepresented, time spent with friends and family should arise naturally, not as part of a carefully balanced plan. Then again, if that's a good way to spend my time, perhaps I should give myself credit for it.

When it comes to commitments, how do you decide what to keep and what to cut? 

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