6 November 2008

Time management

We had 45 mm of rain (just under 2 inches) yesterday. Here are some of our chooks drinking the rain caught on their wire fence.

You are more likely to build the life you want for yourself if you use everything you have at hand. One of the things we don't always think of as an asset is the time we have available to us every day. Time is intangible, sometimes we forget it's one of our treasures. One of the many things I had to learn to give me the full measure of each day was time management. I have to know that the time available to me each day is used productively.

It's too easy to sit down with a good book or my knitting, it's too easy to read blogs for hours and it's too difficult to recover from it. My simple life is about a mindful rhythm of work that bubbles along at an easy pace, it's about consistency of purpose and it's about focus and getting my jobs done. In a nutshell, it's about time management and if I keep to my plan I know that everything I have to do, as well as those things I want to do, will be done.

I work harder in my home now than at any other time in my life. There are chores to be done here that in past times would have been done by others – I, like many others, bought convenience and freed my time to work for money to pay for it. I've seen the light now – I know that I can still have all I need and want in my home if I do the work for it – and to fit it all in the time each day affords, I need to manage my time effectively.

The vegetable garden, next to the chook house, from the other side of the backyard.

Here are a few things that I do that might work for you too:

I have goals. Every morning when I rise, I know what I want to do that day. I used to write it all down but now, with the experience of so many days and the rhythm of my work built into my days, I know what and when I will do my work. But this is one of the things you can do to organise yourself - write a list of what we need to do tomorrow. Write your list in the order you will do your tasks, or the most important tasks first, but we flexible enough to change it if it doesn't all go to plan.

This is a difficult one to develop. I started doing this when I was much younger and my boys were in primary school. Then, I was working full time and studying for a degree, as well as being a mother and a wife. I discovered that if I rose early I had a few hours of time when I was alone to study or write. I still do this but now it's the time I write my blog - so what I want to do doesn't impact on what I have to do.

Having your meals organised will help you relax enough for your other tasks. You'll know what you'll be preparing for dinner that night and have all the ingredients waiting for you. No last minute panic, no rushing to the store to buy something that is missing.

I believe children benefit a lot if they grow up knowing they contribute in a practical way to the welfare of their home. From an early age, give them tasks, within the limits of their age and ability, that help with the overall running of the house and teach them how to look after themselves in the process. They can start off putting their dirty clothes in the laundry hamper, picking up toys and feeding the cat, and progress to more involved tasks as they mature.

My days are made up of housework but for those of you who work outside the home as well, get into the habit of doing a few tasks each day. You might clean the bathroom, wash a load of laundry every morning, or vacuum the family room. Whatever it is you can manage during the week, it will keep your home in order and give you more time on the weekend to spend with the family.

Turn off the TV, walk away from the computer, say no to the neighbour who always pops in for morning coffee. Say no to whatever temps you away from today's list.

Saying no to time wasters will free up time for yourself. It will give you time with your family or to spend on sewing, or a spare 30 minutes to sit alone with your thoughts and a cuppa.

Stockpiling groceries has turned my weekly trip to the supermarket into one that I do maybe once a month. Shopping once a month instead of weekly will free up quite a few hours for other things you need or want to do.

Doing a few extra things at night will free up time the following morning. Most families are in a rush in the morning - if you can do a quick tidy up, make tomorrow's lunches, put on a load of laundry or pick out clothes to be worn the next day before you go to bed, you'll free up time the following morning.

The chook house from the other side of the yard.

We all have different demands on our time but one thing is common to us all, if you can manage your time effectively, delegate and make the deliberate choices that your own life requires of you, you will live well and have enough time for your family and for those things you want to do. I have no doubt that many of you have developed ways of managing your time to suit the life you live. I'd love to know what you're doing so please share if you can.

On the subject of time management, I received an email this morning from a reader who was very upset that I hadn't yet replied to her email sent a week ago. I haven't yet replied to emails sent three weeks ago, however most of you know that I try to reply to a few each day. I've been ill and then trying to catch up with my work, not to mention my book, and some things remain undone. I am sorry you all have to wait but I can only do what I can do. I'm taking the email address down again and hope that things settle down soon. And to that reader, I will reply to your email but there are others ahead of you.
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