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Time Makes Me Cuckoo

by Shelly Tucker on September 26, 2007©

cuckoo.jpgTime makes me cuckoo. There is never enough time in my day to get everything done. Once in my life I was considered to be a very organized person. So much so, that I was asked to give seminars on the subject. Y’all get up off the floor and quit giggling!

OK, the truth is that the people who thought I was organized were other storytellers, and we are an “artsy-fartsy” bunch of folks who aren’t always thinking in our right mind brain. But, I was organized, and I lost it somewhere along the way.

If you had been a fly on the wall at my house in the last few months, you would have thought it was a natural disaster area. I have definitely looked like a good candidate for some federal assistance; it’s been the most disorganized mess you could imagine. Time has been my enemy. There just is never enough time to do all the things I “want” to do AND all the things I “should” do. Believe me, I’ve been wasting a lot of time feeling guilty about it.

juggle.jpgIn my defense, I have been trying to “juggle a lot of different balls.” I’ve had the Share A Square project, my storytelling business, my family, my house, my blog…. But, everybody else on God’s Green Earth is doing the same thing. Whether you are a high-powered executive or a stay at home Mom, whether you are an engineer or a day laborer, you all have a lot of different roles you play in your life. How are we supposed to keep all the balls in the air? How can we get all the things done that must be finished in a day? How do we make the most constructive use of our time?

I’ve been pondering those questions, and trying to remember the organizational tools that worked for me “back in the day.” I realized that there were things that I was no longer doing. They are things that seem obvious, but I had decided I didn’t have time to do them! That was my biggest mistake.

  • list.jpg The first thing I had stopped doing was making a list. It seemed like a waste of time. After all, I knew the things that had to be done. The time spent making a list seemed pointless. Wrong. A list is essential if I want to be effective in my use of time. Without a list, I can forget things. If I forget something important I get so upset that I waste more time in being agitated.

    My problem was that I always made my list in the morning, when I was “fresh.” However, I found myself tossing and turning all night worrying about what had to be done, so I wasn’t really very well rested in the morning. Now, I make my list at night before I go to bed. Somehow, it seems to help me rest easier knowing that I can plow right into the tasks the next morning.

    I have two kinds of lists. One is a master list where I write any task that needs doing (from getting the oil changed in my car to paying a bill to writing a thank you note). As I think of it, I jot it down. I use the master list each night to create my “to do” list of the chores that I can reasonably do in a day. The key word is “reasonably.” I have a tendency to expect too much of myself, so I write a humongous list and then am disappointed and deflated when I don’t get it all done. I have to remember to give myself the opportunity for success. I struggle with it, but I try to prioritize my tasks and list what I know I can do in my day.

  • sunrise.jpgAll of us have a “peak time” for productivity. I knew that morning is mine, but I was ignoring it. I get up before the sun. While the rest of you are snuggled under the covers waiting for the alarm clock to ring, I’m on my third cup of coffee. By mid-afternoon, my brain is mush. Anything that requires creativity or cognitive skill has to get done before noon. Instead, I was using the morning hours to crochet for Share A Square or to tidy the house. I’m trying hard to remember now to schedule the “thinking” projects in the morning, and the mindless tasks in the afternoon and evening. I’m much more productive that way.
  • dishwash.jpgNot too long ago, I wrote about my Mamaw’s “Kitchen Sink Philosophy.” Mamaw knew that if you “clean the kitchen as you go along, you can sit back and enjoy the meal.” She wasn’t just talking about “the kitchen.” Julie commented that she also uses that philosophy, but calls it “do a little as you go along, and the little never gets to be too much.” Whatever you call it, do it!

    I had gotten into the habit of not putting things away. If I didn’t finish a task, I left the tools necessary for it out where I could see them the next day. I didn’t want to forget them. It doesn’t take long to get “buried” that way. When there is a mess everywhere, I waste a lot of time looking for the things I need. Instead, now I clean up as I go along, and put the task on my list so I won’t forget. I can work much better if I’m not flustered by clutter.

  • My Mamaw also said that if you have a huge task in front of you, “Take a bite out of it every day.” She knew that you have to work steadily toward a goal. That’s especially important if you have multiple tasks. I try to schedule time on my daily list for each of my projects, so that I can feel I’m making progress toward my goals. Even a few minutes of time makes a difference.
  • I don’t know about you, but there are some tasks that I just don’t like to do. They might only take a few minutes of my time, but I procrastinate. That’s when I pull out my timer and use my “Rule of 10.” If it’s a job I hate, I only have to work on it for 10 minutes, then I can switch tasks and do something more pleasant. Although this doesn’t work for everything, I often find that if I have a timer going I play “beat the clock.” I work faster and more efficiently.
  • Finally, I remember a quote from a Jimmy Buffett song, “Breathe in, breathe out, move on.” I try to rest easy at the end of the day knowing I did what I could.
  • It’s been amazing to me to find that doing these six simple things has helped me get my train a little bit more on track.

  • Make a master list and a daily “to-do” list of all my tasks.
  • Utilize my peak time.
  • Clean up as I go.
  • Take a “bite” out of a task every day.
  • Use a timer if I must.
  • Breathe in, breathe out, move on.
  • Maybe one day people will think I’m organized again? Probably not, but maybe I’ll get organized enough to quit whining about it.

    [This post was written for Inspiration Bit's Group Writing Project: Time Management. Many people are writing posts on this topic, so check out the site to see everyone's tips on managing time. If you hurry, maybe you can write a post and add your own tips! I bet you have some, too!]
    These are the folks who participated:

    1. All For Time and Time For All: The 10 Commandments of Time Management by Simonne

    2. Lessons in Time Management by Em Dy
    3. Guru Natalie weighs in on Time Management by Natalie
    4. 9 Reasons to Wake Up Early by Y.Graf
    5. Time Management For Bloggers and Photographers by Brian
    6. Manage time by sorting your blog comments in 6 ways by Bes
    7. My Troubles With Time Management by Ronald
    8. It’s URGENT, Urgent I say… but is it? by Marques
    9. Time Management: Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff by Jenny Mcb
    10. Time Management – Don’t put Everything off until later by TeaMouse
    11. 8 Work At Home Time Management Strategies by Char
    12. Time, Time, Time by WG
    13. Thoughts On Managing A Precious Resource by Ajay
    14. Time Management – tackling K2
    15. Time Management Tips for Using Email
    16. Stress Can Be Good by Lauren Mari
    17. Secrets To Successful Time Management by Gleb Reys
    18. 3 simple time management tips by Carey
    19. How I manage time between blogging and studies by Shankar
    20. Better living through sticky notes by Lisa
    21. How I Manage My Time by Keith
    22. 6 Essential Time Management Strategies by Randa
    23. Time Management: Managing Large Multi-User Projects by Jennifer
    24. A Routine Shall Set You Free by Brooke
    25. Supercharge Your Job Search by Saving Time by Jacob
    26. Time Makes Me Cuckoo by Shelley
    27. 11 Time Management Tips – How I manage Work and Blog by Ashish
    28. Simple Tips for Managing Time by Pearl
    29. Strategies for Effective Time Management by Janie
    30. Time management: the un-techniques by Peter
    31. dIstressed or dEstressed? by Em Dy
    32. Freelancing And Time Management by Tara
    33. Internet Is The Devil In Disguise by Vivien

    { 6 comments }

    Marcia September 26, 2007 at 9:50 am

    You are right, those are all proven… I used an alarm clock that tied into my itunes to remind me to get off the computer for 15 minutes every hour… but I would be in the middle of something and either snooze it or listen to the song play over and over and over… and so on. My eyes are paying for my ability to ignore the alarm… So, today, in honor of you, grin… I am going to walk away from the computer and do something. Right now… I can stop reading and typing. I can… I can go put the cookies in the cabinet, I can sort my knitting supplies and pack up what I don’t have time to do. I can do one other thing on my list… I can… watch, I am hitting the submit key and walking away from the computer… PS. check your email, please. Off to actually read the lists. (PS – the idea to put the stuff up rather than leaving it out, is one I am NOW adopting, I have so many unfinished projects out, I can’t find any of them…

    It is hard, even if you know what you are supposed to do to stay organized, isn’t it? With you moving, I don’t know how you do it. KEEPING things put away is MY biggest problem. I hope you enjoy your day away from the computer!~skt

    Robin September 26, 2007 at 10:16 am

    That is frighteningly organized, and if you happen to have caught my blog this week you’ll know how much that is lacking in my life right now.

    Girl, I know exactly what you mean, and I don’t even have little kids to chase after! Hang on. It’ll get better.~skt

    Comedy Plus September 26, 2007 at 12:28 pm

    Don’t forget to smell a rose or two along the way. Have a great day. :)

    Thanks, Sandee. I need that reminder! You have a good one, too~skt

    Jamie September 26, 2007 at 5:11 pm

    Those were great hints. The one that helps me most is don’t pick something up unless you are ready to handle it to completion. So often we find ourselves picking things up, putting them down, picking up and thinking about it … end result useless movement without an unfinished task.

    I do that a LOT. But, if I wait until I have time to complete a task, I’ll never get to it. That’s why I do 10 minute chunks. I guess we have to do whatever works, and since we are all different…we attack tasks in different ways.~skt

    Julie Pippert September 28, 2007 at 9:21 am

    Morning is my time too and the frustrating thing is too much asks for time in the morning…so I know this well! And lists, oh yeah, lists. I need my lists. :)

    Julie
    Using My Words

    Don’t know what I’d do without my lists, Julie. The problem is when I can’t find them! Ack! So, how do you get through those busy mornings?~skt

    Jacob Share October 4, 2007 at 3:27 pm

    Thanks for putting up all the links.

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