Time Management: The Starting Gate

How do you find the time to do all the things you want & need to do? Oh, and work a 9-5 job at the same time?

I have been trying to figure this out for several years now and I think I might be getting close to figuring it out. Or not.

I usually make my daily to do lists in the mornings, when I am fresh and thing I can take on the world. Sometime around 2:00 I stare at the clock and think all I really want to do when I get home is sit in my comfies and stare mindlessly at the t.v.. No mind bending television, nothing I have to think about. And that is usually what happens. I sit and play on the internet and watch a lot of programming that doesn’t require my brain to really process much (hockey, Dallas, Grey’s Anatomy…you get the picture). Then around 9:30, when I am thinking about being completely done for the day and thinking about the next I am so disappointed because I got nothing done. My to do list sits there mocking me, with no checks by any task other than “eat dinner”. It’s a vicious cycle that carries through to the weekend.

I can hear my mother telling me, “the less you do, the less you want to do”. She has echoed that sentiment my entire life and I always say “I know.” And I go about doing less and less.

The time has come that I need to do more. And more on top of that. I can’t continue to sit and wish things to get done. I can’t wish for more free time, because when I get free time, I nap or I tweet. Both are fine, but they are not how I want to spend my time. Well they are, but I don’t have that luxury, at least not anymore.

I am trying something new this week. A sort of rigid schedule. I have mapped out my “after hours” time to try and get done all the stuff I WANT to get done and that includes all I NEED to get done. They go hand and hand. Not to worry, I have included some much needed relaxation time.

My relaxation time is scheduled immediately upon getting home. Get it out of the way, let the day go and focus on the rest of “my” time.  After this is dinner, because that is sort of how we roll at our house. We like to get it over with so that we can enjoy what is remaining in the day.

I have figured that 15 minutes or so after dinner is good to let food kind of settle, then I plan on getting in some exercise time. I can do this AND something from my fun list of things at the same time. Fun things are watching youtube videos or reading a magazine. I hope that by including something “fun” will make it a little easier to get that exercise in each day.

I should mention that exercise will actually vary by day as sometimes I have another activity that starts around the dinner hour and if you have read me for a while, you should know that the other activity is Penguins hockey! I figure exercise is always going to be there and really doesn’t care where it gets scheduled, as long as it gets scheduled. So some days will be 5:30, some 8:30. The important thing is to get some done every day (or at least 3-4 days per week).

After exercise one of the most important things is school. I am a couple of months behind, but am trying really hard to catch up. I will not meet my expected exam date, but I am aiming to have it done by the end of May. The section I am working on now is very detail oriented and can only be done while sitting in front of my computer. So, there is no taking a book to bed to read and take notes. I have dedicated an hour at least twice per work week and unlimited time on the weekends.

After exercise and school, the rest is just fun for me stuff. Knitting, reading, television, cleaning, doing my nails. Stuff that I WANT to do, but it’s not the end of the world if I don’t get to it. But I still want it on my schedule and I still want to make the time to do it.

I am hoping that being a bit more rigid will help get me into a rhythm. It is not meant to last forever, it is meant to be a tool to get me into a good habit of doing more. There are days that are going to be lazy days. I am not jaded enough to think that I am going to make the most of every minute of my day. And it is a test. This may work, it may not. I just know that after two months of accomplishing nothing, I have to try whatever I can to fix the habit of doing less.

I can buy the best planning books and software. I can have fifty planners. None of it does any good if I don’t actually do the stuff that I write down.

Do you get everything done you want? Do you have a system that works? Are you overly ambitious when planning your day? How do you stay on target? Let me know in the comments. I am always looking for ideas.


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