Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Managing your life and your time

I would love to tell you that I'm just having a rough time with blogging lately, but in all honestly, I'm having a rough time with everything in life! I'm not sure why - I'm not sure when it started.. I just have been off and it's been virtually impossible for me to feel caught up.

The truth is, there will never be a time when life runs 100% smoothly. There are many parts and pieces to everyone's life, and sometimes it's hard to manage all of them. This past summer I found that I was having a lot of problems with managing all these aspects of my life and I was feeling stress constantly with TIME. I always thought I was horrible with time and that I could never manage my time, but that's because I didn't know how. Since then, I've learned several tricks to manage time and lately - I've been slacking on them. Thus, I feel like things aren't getting done, I feel like out of control and that's making me feel a little stressed.

Everyone's life has some main categories of focus and everyone's focus is different. Here are MY main categories that I make time for (in no particular order other than family being the top priority):

1. Family (Matt and Lexi)
2. Friends/Social (this includes blogging and spark!)
3. Exercise
4. Eating well (cooking, shopping, planning)
5. Work
6. Keeping a clean house (cleaning, laundry, dishes)
7. Relaxing
8. Financial (budgeting, paying bills, planning)
9. And soon, school!

So at any given time, I don't feel like I'm managing one of these areas well. Right now, I feel like I've been slacking on family, blogging and exercise. Matt and I have had opposite schedules lately and it's been rough. I've been swamped at work, which is where I usually blog so the blog has been pushed aside. I realized this is a problem today because people have been bugging me about posting my 5K recap! As with exercise, I have been sticking to my plan of strength and yoga and doing a great job, but my cardio is slacking. Things have been coming up and I've been pushing exercise off to the side and that's NOT okay. So as I pick back up the exercise, I feel another area of focus start to slip away and I slack there. I'm not feeling very great about all of this lately! 

I have two tools that I've used before, but haven't been 100% successful for me. I've got to find a way to get these things working for me!

One trick I have is to utilize a weekly goals sheet. This is a sheet with rows on the left side for big categories in life. Across the top in columns are the days of the week. Each week, you sit down with this sheet and fill out one thing you will do (and on which day) to maintain that aspect of your life. As you complete the tasks, you highlight them (so you can see where your strong focuses are) and over time you can look back and see where you are lacking. The sheet I use has these categories:

1. Social
2. Financial
3. Task/Chore
4. Work/Career
5. Self care
6. Health
7. Spiritual
8. Marital (Relationship)

I've filled out this sheet, week after week and I have not ONCE crossed off everything. One thing that I've realized (since I started writing this blog! I love epiphanies), is that my life doesn't always fit into these neat little categories. I'm not a spiritual person by nature, so maybe instead of focusing on a spiritual thing to do, I'll plan my blogging. Instead of just writing down "quality time" (something I always do) in the relationship row, I'll plan out a date for us. My life is a series of choices I make about what I want to do and I can't feel like I "should" be doing other things because that's the norm. This will be the first change I make.

Second, I have a weekly routine that I've built and try to follow each week. This routine is broken down into 15 minute blocks (because I'm THAT OCD) and so everything that I need to do in a week has a time and day. I have flex time built into the routine so that I can move things around or just have a spontaneous night and not have to worry about anything. The first step in me doing this was to write down the things I have to do and the things I want to do, and make time for them all. Things that I have to do, but never really would do, involved stuff like dusting, cleaning my mirrors, vacuuming, etc. I grew up in a very messy family and it's been a personal mission of my adult life to have a clean house as often as I can. I never want to relive not being able to invite people over because our house was such a mess. But since I'm not a cleaner by habit yet, I have to make a conscious effort to clean. The things that I want to do, but never make time for, involved reading, making cards, taking time to clean my car. The routine gives me the time and ability to tackle the big stressors in my life and make time for them each week. Each week as I maintain these stressors, they never build up and hence it never stresses me out!

This is such a great tool, in theory. But I've found as I put it in practice, that I got discouraged pretty often. I mostly get discouraged because I feel like I'm constantly busy. But I have realized that I didn't put enough time to relax into my routine. I also was a big overachiever about certain tasks. I wrote down that I wanted to read for 30 minutes before bed. In theory, that sounds like a great idea and a great way to relax! But what if I wanted to watch TV one night and I missed reading? Missing the things on my routine was giving me stress and ultimately after a few months of using it, I threw it out the window. I haven't even looked at that routine in a solid month. I've got to go back and revamp this. Some things I will not do every single day, like reading. Some things I won't do every single week, like making cards. Ultimately this routine is going to give me the lifestyle I want and it's going to eliminate all the struggles between the areas of focus.

The main focus of getting back into these habits and utilizing these tools is so I can maintain my sanity come January 19th. I'm taking 16 hours in the spring on top of working 40 hours a week and I KNOW that if I feel stress right now about these areas of my life, I'm going to have a mental breakdown probably on January 20th. So right now is time for me to buckle down and to make my weekly goals, to re-do my routine and stick with these things every day. And if I can achieve this, I will no longer have to come on here apologizing to all my readers, with my tail between my legs, because I've been a bad blogger. I can tell you right now - blogging is a low priority for me and therefore, it's not going to happen every day like some bloggers can do. But I'm okay with that.

I can remember in college when I worked as a waitress, my boss told me one day the importance of the girls that could only work 2 days a week and gave away their other shifts versus girls like me who worked every day and picked up shifts on my off days. He told me that having a balance between the people whose job was a low priority and the people whose job was a high priority made the restaurant and the scheduling work more efficiently. You have to have both groups so that you always have enough people on the schedule. That's how I see bloggers. Instead of comparing myself to the super bloggers that blog multiple times per day and show you their every meal, I will just resign myself to the bloggers who blog when they can and have no set way of blogging and I'll become the best blogger in that category that I can. I'm tired of feeling like I should be apologizing to everyone!  

I'll be working on revamping these tools over the next few days and come Monday, it's on! Anyone want to join me on this mission?

(All this being said, I will try to make some time to upload pictures to my home computer and do a 5K recap sometime soon. I AM sorry about that because people are apparently waiting on my pictures. Whoops.)

1 comment:

  1. I feel you. I work a full time job and I am going back to school in the spring. (I am an Insurance Sales Producer now and soon, a simultaneous Psych major.) I am all about organization and OCDness. If you have any other useful tips just throw them my way!!