Do you ever wonder where your day goes? You know that you have worked and worked around the house all day, never even stopping to sit down… but when you look back at the end of the day do you wonder where all of the time went and why you feel that you have nothing to show for it? I know that I feel that way sometimes! So in my quest to try to fit more into my day, and get “more stuff done”… I spent some time tracking what I did all day… and this is what I found:
We never give ourselves credit for the millions of little things that we do- because they aren’t on our to-do list!
We clean up the breakfast dishes, start a load of laundry, give the dog a bath, put away the 5000 lego pieces left on the kids bedroom floor, fold the laundry, check email- all before 11am. Yet, that doesn’t feel like we really got anything done, does it? That was just “cleaning up”, right? And then we glance over to that long list of things that we need to do, and we sigh and wonder “How did it get to be 11am already, and I’ve done nothing on this list?” Well, it’s certainly not like we were sitting around on the couch watching TV and eating bon-bons!
It’s because we don’t think of cleaning up the kitchen, doing laundry, and picking up after the kids as something for our to-do list- so we never really carve out time for it on our schedule- we just try to “fit it in”.
Media has a way of sucking us in… and we end up spending more time in this area than we intended!
We allow ourselves to lose track of time when working on the computer- reading blogs, checking Facebook, seeing what’s going on in Twitter-land. One post/ status update/ tweet leads to another, and another. Or sometimes it is watching those DVR’d Oprah shows- you clicked through all of the commercials, so you try to squeeze in just one more show. And then suddenly we look up and realize an hour or two has gone by and feel guilty about it, and panicked about what we didn’t accomplish during that time.
The problem here is NOT that we spent time on the computer or watching Oprah- the problem is… we didn’t approach it intentionally. We didn’t create some time in our schedule to do these things, and then stick within the time we set aside for that computer / TV time- and that is what creates the guilt.
So how do we live more intentionally?
1. Start with a blank schedule-
Figure out all of the open times during the day that you have available to “do stuff”. For me, that is 8:30am-3:00pm, when the kids are in school, and then perhaps a few hours on the weekend when I can get a few things done while the kids are playing or at a sports practice. I do not plan any evening hours into this schedule… that’s not to say that I don’t get things done in the evening- but I try not to schedule them. That way I have time set aside to be unintentional- to read more blogs if I care to, to read a book if I’d like, or to watch a little mindless TV!
My blank schedule:
2. Start plugging in all of the things that you need to do during the week:
Be sure to include all of the things that take up your time, but don’t necessarily make the “to do list”. Here are some ideas on what to include:
- Writing (if you are a blogger)
- Exercise (yes, this should have been first on the list!)
- Time to run errands- grocery shopping, Target, etc
- Time to read and respond to email
- Time to read blogs, catch up on Facebook and Twitter
- Time to plan for the upcoming week (this is key, and I will be talking about this tomorrow!)
- Time for hobbies
- Time to work on projects (or larger items on your to-do list)
3. Now realize that there is no “perfect week” like this when all of these time frames will truly be available to you!
You’ll have doctor’s appointment for you, the kids, or the dog. You’ll want to get your hair cut. A child will stay home sick from school or there will be a teacher’s conference day. It is safe to day that no week will actually look like this! But then here’s the reality… in order to take care of these other things- stuff needs to come off of your list! Maybe the laundry just has to pile up until the next laundry day. Maybe you don’t get time for your hobby or to work on the to-do list.
Think of the schedule as the best possible scenario- and then prepare to be flexible!
4. As best you can, try spending a week living within the time boundaries that you assigned to this schedule
And then make adjustments to where you felt you didn’t give yourself enough time, and decide what needs to come off of your list (no, not exercise!). Did living more intentionally help you to accomplish more of the things that you wanted to do?
In tomorrow’s post, I am going to talk about the art of developing a weekly plan- how to take this schedule of intention, combine it with your appointments, as well as tackle some of what is on that endless to-do list!