Wednesday, August 5, 2015

3 Ways to Protect Your Time

"How did it get so late so soon?"
-- Dr. Seuss
Do you ever wish you had 30 hours a day? Do you postpone favorite activities because you are overwhelmed with chores or obligations? Are your days burdened with to-do lists and guilt trips?"


"How we spend out days is, of course, how we spend our lives."
--Annie Dillard, American author

It's tempting to assume that productive people have more time and/or trouble-free lives. But an assumption like that only wastes more time--and solves nothing. When I was a young wife and mom, I knew that I wanted to write, but I had limited time. Over the years, I learned how to squeeze more out of each day. Sometimes my methods weren't popular, setting off little revolutions in my household, but I found time to write 10 books, spend time with my family, work on a blog, and remodel houses.

If you blog about food, DIY projects, or interior design, you could probably use a few extra daylight hours. It takes supreme organization and physical stamina to create blog posts that involve recipes, painting furniture, hanging art, weeding a garden--not to mention taking step-by-step photos. You want to share projects that might help others, but blogging is such a visual medium, the pressure is always on to stage everything and take bigger and better photographs. A tablescaper or food blogger may need days to gather props. At some point, you may become exhausted, frustrated, or burned-out. You need just a smidgen more time. But where to find it?
The time is already there; the trick is learning how to protect it.

3 Ways to Protect Your Time
1. Disconnect
2. Define
3. Discard

1. Disconnect
Unplug from the world. How much time do you spend online? Talking on the phone? Or doing post-mortems of your own life: "Eeek, why did I say such and such?" "Did I hurt Cousin It's feelings when I told the truth about its hair style?" 
While you are working, unplug the phone, turn off your computer, put a "Do Not Disturb" sign on your door. (I was fond of a "Shhh, Baby's Sleeping!" sign.) Depending on your nature and obligations, this may be easy or difficult. Also, you can piss people off. It takes courage to disconnect. Many women are hard-wired to be nurturing. Many of us would rather eat a bowl of worms that hurt someone's feelings. But self-nurturing is the kindest thing you can do for yourself and others. We're more content if we make time for the things we enjoy. You may want to start with baby steps: put your phone on airplane mode for 1 hour a day. If the sky doesn't fall, bump up the time.


2. Define
In order to protect your time, it's important to define the activities that are important to you and need protecting. Make a list of the things you love. Then you can make room for them and eliminate time wasters (see #3--Discard). It's helpful to understand your goals, too. What do you want from your blog? Where do you hope to be in 5 years? What matters to you, truly matters? Which activities will possibly help you achieve your goals? And which of these activities do you love? Don't forget to define daily activities that recharge your batteries. Do you love to sit in your garden space? Curl up in an overstuffed chair with a good book? Are you happy when you're baking a layer cake? Poking in a vintage shop?


3. Discard
I saved the most difficult for last: letting go of events, objects, people, and emotions that eat up your time--and your mental energy. 
Make a list of the activities that you no longer enjoy, then cut them loose. Ditto for interesting activities that cause too much stress. (If you're ambivalent about discarding an event, define a simple boundary. Limit your involvement, then see how you feel. Remember, baby steps.)
Donate a household object that has become a time suck. 
Learn to say no. Say "yes" very, very rarely. 
Avoid negative thinking patterns. This is a huge time-eater.
By its nature, the act of "discarding" can ruffle feathers. Sometimes it's easier to hold on than to let go. Do you really want more time? Are you cluttering your days to avoid meeting goals? Are you afraid you'll be perceived as selfish or mean? 
Discard your guilt. This is your one and only life. Don't feel guilty for living it.






"Spend the afternoon. You can't take it with you."
--Annie Dillard

10 comments:

  1. Lovely post Michael! I definitely need to do better with time management! Baby steps...thanks for the tips.

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  2. Ah guilt, that old nasty friend that manages to jump in, uninvited, when one wishes to have some time alone. Don't I know you. Thanks ML, I need this post. I shall promptly make a Do Not Disturb sign and place it by my chair on the screened porch every time I take the time to read in the afternoon instead of prepping dinner or writing a blog post.
    Sam

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  3. Thank you so much for this post Michael Lee

    It's just what I needed to be reminded about- letting go of events, people, guilt, and stuff that eat up your time--and your mental energy.

    It' never easy, but necessary. Great post

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  4. Very very wise words. Thank you for making me think.

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  5. Thank you, Michael Lee! You don't know how much I needed to read this today. I'm going to try to do some of these things. I seem to waste so much time doing nothing, well, on the computer. I'm bad about that! Gotta make a change.
    Be a sweetie,
    Shelia ;)

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  6. I allow a couple of pockets of time, most days, for blogging. I try to do as much as I can, but don't guilt myself about it anymore. That's reading even more than posting. :)

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  7. Enjoyed your interpretation of each of the three time management rules, especially discard. Say "yes" very, very rarely changes that negative connotation into positive terms and appeals to the eat a bowl of worms rather than hurt feelings side of my personality. Good advice!

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  8. Very valuable words, Michael Lee, I've never thought about the phrase "spend" your time until now...Time is valuable, you shouldn't spend it on tasks or people you don't like, just like you wouldn't spend money on clothes you don't like...I love the "Say yes, very rarely" and the discarding senseless guilt. Thank you, I'm keeping this handy~
    Jenna

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  9. Your words of wisdom resonate so well in this post, Michael Lee. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us. Your Mimi would be proud!

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  10. Great advice. I'm getting a little better at time management, but have a long way to go. Thank you for linking up at #HomeMattersParty Hope to see you back again!

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