Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Business of Making Time

“One always has time enough, if one will apply it well.” ~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

If you are like me, there are more things you enjoy doing than there are hours in a day to get them done…or so I thought until not too long ago.

With several projects on the burner, three children, a husband, and a family business, I always felt as if I was running circles around myself, and one day I told a friend that I wished days could be made of 48 hours each. Her answer to me was: “Days are actually longer than you think they are. Why don’t you try making a list of things you need to do and things you enjoy doing? Write beside each of them how long it takes to accomplish the task, and then calculate how many hours you are awake each day.”

After I hung up the phone, I thought of what my friend had said, and intrigued enough, I sat down with pen and paper in hand. I decided to not include the three hours after I first wake up, since I’m usually blogging and catching up with e-mail at that time; if I count hours from 9:30, which is approximately the time I get back home after dropping my daughter off at school, until 11:30 at night, there are almost exactly fourteen hours of waking time I can use.

So, I started writing down all the things I do on the average day, and those I would like to do, at least some days. If I dedicate an hour a day to housework, an hour each to dinner preparation and homework, two hours of writing, three hours of miscellaneous stuff, an hour to get the kids to bed, one for dinner and clean-up, and even an hour for the occasional nap, I only need eleven hours of my day to get everything done.

Eleven hours?? If I only need eleven hours a day to feel at peace with my conscience and get things accomplished – including those I enjoy - that means I have another three hours to play with…where had 180 minutes of my day been hiding all this time? I started getting excited at the prospect of having three hours a day I could read or do anything I like, so I really gave the new schedule some thought.

No spiteful goblin had ever come to steal the extra minutes; I was the one who had stolen them from myself. Talk about a wake-up call! How had I not noticed the problem before? It occurred to me then that I had been attaching minutes here and there by lingering and procrastinating. It was time to bring this outrage to an end.

I made myself a list broken down in three time blocks – morning, afternoon and evening, and I plugged the different tasks into the slots corresponding to the time of day I normally try to get those things accomplished. I couldn’t believe it! Even after getting everything on my list checked off, I was left with forty-five minutes of free time in the morning, thirty minutes in the evening, and an hour and a half in the afternoon.

Someone once told me that when you want to do something you have to make time for it. I strongly suspect now that this person had talked to my friend.