Friday, May 23, 2014
There's totally enough time
Awhile back I was running on the treadmill and listening to the Another Mother Runner podcast. The guest that day was Jill Farmer, author of "There's Not Enough Time… and Other Lies We Tell Ourselves." The basic gist I got from her was that her philosophy was less about how to do things faster to save time and more about changing the whole IDEA of time. And since I am a big proponent on changing one's perspective and definitions of things in order to make life saner/happier/better, this book sounded right up my alley. I checked my library and they didn't own it, so I went to Amazon and on a whim I bought the e-book right before I left for Ragnar. I read most of it in the van and then finished it back home. I was right, it was totally up my alley.
I'm not going to do a real book review here because I do book reviews over here and I'm not interested in being even remotely professional on this blog.
The biggest things I got from the book is that we like to make ourselves be busier than we are so that we can have excuses for not doing things, and so that we feel "important." I think the latter is the biggest culprit for those of us who take care of our kids all day and don't work anywhere else (yes, I still hate the SAHM label and avoid using it). If I can appear to be as crazy busy and frazzled as working moms than surely I must be doing something of value. You get the idea. I am guilty of putting so many things on my to do list that it's impossible to get it all done and then I wonder why I can't get it all done and knowing I can't get it all done I avoid starting anything and waste more time on Facebook and twitter because why start if you can't finish? (Sidenote: SkyWalker's favorite argument for not wanting to start his school projects is "I can't finish it in one day!" Apple. Tree). Farmer has some good tips for distinguishing what really belongs on your to do list, your calendar, and a 2 minute list. If you need to call the dentist it doesn't need to be on your to do list. It takes 2 minutes. She recommends your to do list be no more than 5 items and one way of whittling it down is to get all those 2 minute tasks off it. Redoing my to do list has been a major help. I printed up a new Monday-Sunday page with a separate section for 2 minute tasks and Bigger Projects. Every day I have dishes and laundry to do and put that under the appropriate day. I don't REALLY have to put dishes there because I know I have to do it, but I like crossing it off. Things like grocery shopping, particular cleaning, planting the garden are all on the to do list. Calling people, responding to birthday invitations, mailing things, are 2 minute tasks. On my Bigger Projects list I had things like clean off my craft table, pack up the baby toys, pull the girls too small clothes. Things that would take a while but I didn't know which day I would be able to get to them. Appointments and exercise go on the calendar.
I have gotten ALL of my bigger projects done this week. Sure, I have more, but all of the ones I listed, ones that have been in my mind and just not done and bugging me for months are ALL DONE. I've been planning on calling the dentist for MONTHS and just never got around to it. But seeing it on the 2 minute list and knowing it would be done in 2 minutes was good motivation. BOOM. Productivity.
Of course I haven't been running or exercising much this week so the true test will be when I ramp that up again.
The other big thing I got from the book was more philosophical. If you think there's not enough time, you will sabotage yourself. You'll be stressed and frazzled and make mistakes. I have taken wrong turns and missed my road so many times when I'm late for something. Or you're rushing and drop things and then have to stop and clean that up. Now, if you've given yourself 5 minutes to get to preschool and it takes 20, well, no, there's not enough time to get there in time. But if you chill out and just think hey, I've got plenty of time to get it done, you'll relax, make fewer mistakes and you'll be 15 minutes late instead of 25. Simply changing HOW you think can change how you react and that can indeed save you time.
Also, it's okay to take breaks--lots of them--and do whatever you want to do. Breaks are good. You don't have to be busy busy every second of the day. I always think that if I sit to read a book when there are dishes in the sink that I lose my credibility… but taking breaks even before all your work is done can help you get motivated to finish up.
I am a big believer in self fulfilling prophecies. If you think this day is going to suck, it will. If you think the universe is out to get you, it is. Thing negative, get negative. Think positive, get positive. This book takes that idea and applies it to time and productivity. If you're one of those people who think you can't get it all done (whatever it is) or that there just isn't enough time, you should read it. There are plenty of tips in there I haven't even mentioned.