I’ve admitted it before, and I’m revisiting it again! I, Ellie Mack am an habitual time waster. I was clean for about six weeks. My last time-wasting spell was at 7 a.m. this morning. It was only supposed to be for ten minutes while the computer came up and ran systems scan. I thought I could handle it, just a couple of rounds of Bejeweled. I could so beat my last high score! *SIGH*
Two hours later, my work hadn’t even been started, nor had I written a word on my books or even this blog. Apparently, I”m not the only one that suffers from time management problems. Check out this article: The Top 10 Time Wasters . It’s epidemic!
Of the ten listed in this article, I would have to say the first one is my worst problem. Lack of planning, prioritising and focus. I work from home in my day job, and of course for my writing as well. It allows a latitude of freedom that is great, yet for the undisciplined (guilty here) it can be a mine field.
If I don’t make a plan, prioritize my list, and focus on what I”m doing I will get nothing accomplished. Working in that frantic pace of “hurry up so I can mark at least one thing off my list before 6 p.m.” gets the adrenaline flowing, but it’s not a good way to work all the time.
My friend Cathy Brockman asked me to help her with time management, because I’m a list maker, and a prioritizing person, planning my projects. Lean in real close here and I’ll tell you a secret. *Glances left and right, to see who’s listening* The reason I do those things is because I SUCK at time management!
NO, seriously I do! My undisciplined creative nature is like a child running wild in a candy store wanting more and more sugar to feed the monster! Sometimes creative can be code for lazy, don’t wanna do it!
All you creatives out there, I know the lies you tell yourselves. (Yes RCGale, I’m borrowing your term, ’cause it’s good!) The justifications you make for hours on Facebook for “research” purposes or connecting , and building relations because I do it too. Watching a ‘Game of Thrones’ Marathon isn’t research any more than 6 hours of Red Dwarf or Doctor Who. It’s entertainment to sooth our creative side into thinking we need to think about that next scene or chapter.
Face it, we’re just being lazy and procrastinating! Number 2 on the list by the way! Not only could I teach y’all a thing or two about procrastination, I married the King of procrastination. Even I get impatient with his procrastinating!
While masterfully avoiding responsibilities, and procrastinating the work part of my work, there are these little surprises that I’ve learned to account for called interruptions. (Right, number 3 on the list!) Here’s the thing, when you waste your time through the first and second on the list and number 3 pops up, it’s easy to go into panic mode! The built-in ease in the schedule has been consumed my reading every blog that every one of your friends post, playing Facebook games because you get points if you play every day, playing other games because you’re addicted to games, and using research time for entertaining yourself, an interruption can become a true crisis.
Jump to number 6, crisis management, and fire fighting. Danger Will Rogers! Panic mode because you’re having to spend your time putting out the unforeseen disaster: power is out, unexpected visitors, family emergencies, and countless other crisis moments. It’s one thing to have a “close to deadline” crunch time, it’s quite another to operate in panic mode. It’s like trying to fix that leaky faucet and suddenly the faucet breaks spraying water everywhere at 75 lbs of pressure, flooding the bathroom, soaking through the floor and dripping through to the basement below, which happens to be right on top of the home theatre system, which shorts out all your electronics and starts an electrical fire. Now you have to call the plumber and the firemen and the electrician!
Sound extreme? It was! King procrastinator was kicking himself for not addressing the small leak earlier when his electronics were lost! A little planning and preventative maintenance can avoid true disasters.
Then of course you throw in the next one – lack of delegation. (We’re back up to number 4 keep up!) I’m a writer, who am I going to delegate anything to, hmm? Of course when I try to delegate household responsibility to the teens, it meets with complete resistance. ( I really think they should learn the Borg’s mantra “resistance is futile”. ) They will be assimilated into the collective hive of my order!
5 and 7 I think you can see the points in those for yourself. Number 8: Not saying NO! Yeah, um . . as much as I’d like to just skip this one it’s a big problem for me. I’ve voiced my frustrations in the view others seem to have that all I do is sit at home and play games (Yes, I feel guilty when I do!) and eat bon-bons. I’ve yet to have a bon-bon! They think since I don’t go out of the house to a ‘real job’, then I am available to do their stuff!
Although I resent that attitude, it really comes down to me. People will treat you like you allow them to treat you. Also, if they can get you to do their stuff, their stuff gets finished and they feel good. Meanwhile, you get further behind and frustrated because you haven’t completed your own stuff. They are delegating by getting you to do stuff for them, so you can either say NO or be caught in the loop of unfinished personal goals forever.
Practice with me now : NO! Now didn’t that feel good? Practice it some more, maybe even in the mirror. Before too long you’ll actually be able to say it to your spouse, the significant other, your children (it’s good for them to hear it sometimes) and eventually your BFF.
Number 9, we’ll address completely in future posts. I happen to have a difference of opinion here. A certain amount of “mess” is good. A sterile environment is inhibiting, but there’s also a point where you can’t do your work without shuffling stacks of paper. Really, look for further exposition on this in The Perfect Mess”, a future post. (shaking head, shuffling papers off desk to get to screen.)
And finally number 10, Not taking enough time for yourself. I have issues with this. I have issues with my husbands view on this. A trip to see his grandmother, taken with his mother, spending half our time in a nursing home is NOT a family vacation. Time off from work spent doing household repairs because you’ve put them off until it’s a must do crisis is NOT a vacation. Attending a seminar for 3 days, staying in a hotel does NOT make a vacation.
Saving up all your vacation days to roll over the maximum amount in the event of layoff may provide a decent lump sum upon separation, but really is it worth the cost of strained relations within your family? Count the cost always!
Spending every second inside the theme park until closing time when everyone is obviously tired, hot, and frustrated because they just want some down time, and a dip in the pool is NOT a vacation and borders on justification for torture.
A little time off once in a while, some down time is a needed rest. God himself ordained one day of rest every seven days, who am I to argue with that? Besides, time off becomes incentive to manage your time effectively the other six days. It gives you a goal to work towards. I could get into the whole reward/punishment thing here, but I think you are intelligent enough to figure out your own personal balance.
What about you? Do you struggle with time management? Are you trying to fit ten days worth of work into six days, then beating yourself up because ‘the list’ is never completed? Do you allow yourself downtime and vacations? Are you able to form the word NO with your mouth? Remember all work and no play makes Johnny a dull boy! Or a scary one.
Write on my friends, write on!