11 November 2008

When mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy

I want to write a bit more about time management. It's an important part of living simply and if you get this right, you'll make your life easier.

If you've been reading here for a while you'll know I often write about finding a balance. For me, time management is the tool I use to find the balance between work and play. It's important to know that if you give yourself too much play time, you won't have the time to do the work you need to do and, of course, the reverse is true too - working through the day with no rest or time for yourself isn't healthy. You need to find the balance that suits you.

This is me at work yesterday. I had to take a photo for the local paper and this was one of the rejects.

My life is pretty easy and relaxed now that my boys have grown and moved away. Now it's just Hanno and I, and our chooks, dog and cat. But there was a time when I felt like I worked from sun up to sun down, plus some. Luckily I realised early on that I needed to look after myself too and I made sure that I always gave myself time each day to sit and relax or do something that enriched me. I made time available to myself, I didn't give it all to my family or my home. I gave the gift of time to myself because when mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy. And when I write mama, I mean papa too.

If you work day after day doing only for others, no matter how noble and useful that makes you feel, it will eventually weigh you down and you'll begin to resent it. It is very important for you to nurture your family, but it's also very important to nurture yourself as well. You have to find something to renew and enrich your spirit every day - that may be sewing, having a cuppa with a good book, prayers or meditation, having a nap, writing or painting, soaking in a hot bath with cucumber slices on your eyes, doing your nails, writing letters, taking the dog for a walk or knitting. Whatever it is must give you joy so you go to bed each night feeling you've done your best in your chosen work - be that at home or outside the home, and that you've given time to yourself to be you.

It doesn't have to take a lot of time, but if you use your time management skills, you'll be able to juggle your time to make available what you need. And this is something I found worked well for me - I told myself that I appreciated the time I had for myself. I actually said, sometimes aloud and sometimes silently, "this is good, you'll enjoy this", or "ahhh, I really need this time today, I'll make the most of it." Whatever it is that you say to yourself, say it so you mark your time as being separate. Acknowledge your enjoyment - it makes it more real.

While time management is a big subject, the steps towards managing your time are all small. Start off with your list of "to dos" for your day, make sure you have your time in there too and refer to the list in the previous time management post. Always remember we aren't managing our time so we are slaves to our work - we do it to work efficiently, to get our necessary work done and to give ourselves time to relax and do what we love. I can't tell you what it is you'll spend your free time on, only you know that, but I will tell you that if you give yourself that time to do something you love, it will make a significant difference in your life.

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