Category Archives: Time Management

Those nights when counting sheep is just not cutting it…

I have suffered from insomnia for most of my life.  Possibly for all of my life actually, but since the first time I can remember, there are some nights when I wake up at a silly hour of the night/early morning and that is it for sleeping.  It doesn’t seem to matter when I go to bed either… I will ALWAYS wake up at 3am.  Sometimes I am lucky enough to go right back to sleep, and other times… ummm… not so much.

insomnia

I have tried all the remedies.  Every single one of them.  Valerian, Lavendar, Ylang Ylang and variations of those in oils, sprays, embrocations and even pills.  I have stopped drinking caffeine in the afternoon.  I have had a bath, a milky drink, a cold bedroom to sleep in… all sorts of things.  They tend to work for a week and then we are back into the old ways of sleeping and waking and not sleeping again.

So, what can my “Home Remedies from a Country Doctor” recommend?  Some of their advice is really good common sense.  For example, if you to bed and haven’t fallen asleep in 20 minutes, then get up and go and do something else.   Read a book, have a wander around the house, watch some TV, do some knitting or whatever it is that relaxes you.  When you feel sleepy again, head back to bed.  If you just lie in bed waiting for sleep to arrive, it reinforces the insomnia patterns in the brain, and that is no good for anyone.

If you have had really bad sleep the night before, how do you manage it?  I tend to keep to my routine, get up at the normal time and then self medicate with caffeine for the rest of the day. Apparently, this is the right course of action (though perhaps with less caffeine involved!).  Staying in bed to try and “make up” the lost sleep will just train your body to go to sleep late and to get up late.

clock watching

Another tip is to remove all the clocks from the bedroom, especially those glowing ones that you can see across the room.  If you are lying awake, it is tempting to clock watch and clock watching leads to anxiety and anxiety leads to lack of sleep.  It is a vicious circle.  So, put the alarm clock in the Hall.  It will also have the benefit that you will guarantee that you HAVE to get up when the alarm goes and there won’t be much chance of using the snooze button.

Getting up and at them is supposed to be a good cure for insomnia – exercise is good for sleeping, but make sure you do it at least 3 hours BEFORE bed.  A great work out will give you an adrenalin buzz and that won’t help with going to dreamland.  Another great tip is to do something boring before bed.  Don’t study, or pay bills – do a jigsaw, read a book, listen to wind down music.  It will get you into the sleeping vibe.

a wee dram

If you thought that having a wee dram of something alcoholic was the key to a sleep filled night… ummm… sorry.  It’s not.  It will actually disrupt your sleep.  And the same with Nicotine – give up on the e-cigs or cigarettes before bed.  It is a stimulant and will disrupt the sleep patterns not help it.  But, you can eat some turkey or have a glass of milk before bed.  Both turkey and milk contain tryptophan which is a chemical that causes drowsiness.  Which might explain all the snores after Christmas Dinner!

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Trying to fit it all in…

Seriously, if this year needed a subtitle, like they do in the movies, this would be the one for me.

fitting it all in

I am in something of a reflective mood today, after I attended the funeral of a friend’s Father yesterday.  I went to support my friend, and I was so proud of how she held herself together and dealt with the raw emotion that goes along with these sorts of occasions.  Having been there myself, not so long ago, I know how useful it is to have people to lean on.  But as with every funeral, it makes me think about things.

One of the things I was thinking about yesterday and today is how frantically (even maniacally) busy I am.  I have no idea how I had the time to go to work.  I am a full time homemaker and even now I don’t always get to all of the jobs that I want to get to. I dread to think what the place would look like if I was out of the house 10 plus hours per day with a commute on top.  The garden would be a wilderness and the dust bunnies in the house would be unionising and militating for self rule!

housekeeping

As it is, I haven’t managed to get a duster or a vacuum around the place in three weeks (but to be fair, I was out of the country for 10 days!) and I feel like such a slattern.  I am doing a deep clean in every room today, in the vain hope that keeping on top of it will be easier thereafter.  Yeah… I am not hopeful about that either.  Also, the fact we have a meeting with our new Adoption Social Worker tomorrow morning is also rather a motivating factor.  “Yes, this is how tidy the house will never ever be again once a child arrives in our lives”

I have told myself off, and I am attempting to cut myself some slack, but it is really hard.  I set such high standards for myself, and I get cross with myself (and whoever is standing close by, to be fair) when I can’t reach them.  Perfectionism is a total b*tch. But practically speaking, is keeping the house clean the most important thing?  No, not really.  Keeping it hygienic is different from keeping it perfect.  It is hygienic.  No one is going to contract a communicable disease when coming into this house.  You might get cat and dog fur all over you, but in this house, that is how we accessorise!  I have a plaque somewhere that says “Welcome to our home – clean enough to be healthy, dirty enough to be fun”.  That is what I am aiming for.

As I go around the house getting into some fairly mucky corners, I am thinking that I need to reassess my priorities.  I don’t think I actually have a set of them at the moment.  Everything is at the top of the list, and that is not a sustainable way to be.  In fact, as I have been uncomfortably close to having a total meltdown this week, I can tell that sustainability is out of the window and running down the path screaming.  Somehow I need to reassert some control over everything that I need/want to achieve.  I can feel a big old list coming on.

priorites

Any reader of this blog will know that I love a good list.  But having one is just the first step.  Then you need to prioritise the list.  No point having a list of stuff which is all a priority because then you look at it and go all clammy and sweaty palmed and think “EEP! Where do I start!”.  So, you need a system.  When I was at work and dealing with competing priorities from every which way, I used a simple ABC method.  A’s were the things I needed to do.  The ones where the ONLY person who COULD do them was me.  The ones with a time limitation that was measured in microns, or at the very most hours.  B’s were the jobs that it would be nice to get to.  The jobs that would make people smile a little bit, or the one’s that would make my job a little easier if they were out of the way.  C’s were the jobs which I would get to eventually, but no one one would holler about if I left them.  Or the ones I could delegate to someone else.

Transferring that system to the house then…  A’s would be the stuff that makes the place safe; B’s would be the tasks I might have put off for a while but once they are done life will be a little better;  C’s would the bits which can stay on the list until someone says “A dust bunny actually talked to me”.  (I am thinking painting.  I hate painting.)

I wonder if I can extend that system to the garden as well?

I am no superwoman!

I love social media.  And I think I might be ever so slightly addicted to Facebook.  I have been on it for 7 or 8 years now, and there is not a day that goes by when I don’t post a status update on my personal account.  I love the interaction I get with my friends and my family in far flung parts of the world, and I often learn a thing or two.  I also love the support and assistance that you get from people when things get tough.  I will never forget the outpouring of love that my family and I received when my Father died suddenly.  Thinking of it now, brings tears to my eyes.

facebook

One thing that I do a lot on my status updates is post about what I want to do get done during the day.  It is rather like having a to do list, that keeps me accountable because other people are reading it.  I often write about everything I want to get done, and sometimes I post the ta da list…all the things I have got done.  One comment which is often made on these occasions is “Wow.  You have done loads.  You must be superwoman.”

 

I find this perplexing.  I am not superwoman.  I am just doing the stuff that needs to be done.  I see a job, I do it.  I see a job, I postpone it tomorrow and then I do it.  I would assume that this is what human beings have been doing every day since we crawled from the primordial ooze.  For as long as history has kept track, people have needed to multi-task, working, growing food, cooking the food, having the babies, raising the babies, making clothes, etc.  I once read a social history of women in the Middle Ages, and the fact that their life looked a lot like mine made me smile and take comfort that if they could do it without the benefits of modern technology, then with all the labour saving devices I have at my disposal, my life is an absolute cake walk!

labour saving tech

But all these comments on my facebook statuses have made me think a little bit.  How do I do all these jobs?  How do I manage to stay on top of everything?  There is a dual process.  I have written before about lists.  I love them.  My lists have lists.  I have master lists and minor lists.  Love them. LOVE them, LOVE THEM!  But it doesn’t stop there.

 

I also spend some time imagining the jobs that I know need to be done, getting done.  So, for example, last night I knew that I was going to have to do an emergency load of laundry after the cats were sick on the counterpane on our bed.  (Thanks Kitties.  Just.  Thanks.) So, I lay in bed, thinking about how I was going to fit it in this morning.  I imagined me going downstairs with an armful of washing and putting it in our lovely washing machine, then going back to the top of stairs to feed the cats.  I also imagined myself doing all the other jobs I had on my to do list.   Guess what?  That is JUST how it worked this morning.  And I have loads of energy left to do the other things that I know need doing and weren’t really on my list for today.  Like writing this blog.  (Sorry… but at least I remembered!! 🙂 )

imagination

So, unless Imagination is classed as a superpower, I am not superwoman.  I am just a human being, doing what needs to be done.

Managing your time when you are at home…

There were lots of things that have changed now we have moved house.  Most of them I was expecting.  The animals behaviour changed quite a bit, the hoover seems to over heat if you clean more than three rooms at a time, there is a lot more dust because it is an older building.  But some of the things that are different have surprised me.  The biggest of these is the fact that all my personal time management skills seem to have taken an extended holiday!

time

I am not even sure why this is.  It might be that it is the excitement of living in this lovely house, or it could be that there is just a mountain of jobs to do in the house, or it could just be that I am a teensy bit overwhelmed with it all at the moment.  Whatever the reason, I need to sort myself out and sharpish.

 

There are lots of theories of time management.  If you read any management textbook they will talk about prioritising to do lists.  That is okay for people who can see that they give themselves too much to do.  But if they are anything like me, I give myself loads to do and get annoyed with myself when I don’t achieve it, even though the to do list would have made Superman weep.  The management books also talk about  delegating things to others.  Well, for most of the day I am the only person in the house.  Although the dog would like to help me, her lack of opposable thumbs is a bit of a problem.  I am pretty sure the cats would tell me where to get off, so, I am left with the fact that all of the jobs need me to do them.

to do list

I always have a to do list.  Sometimes it actually fits on one page.  I usually put the most important things at the top and try to attack them first, using the great “Eat that Frog” principle dreamt up by Brian Tracy.  Seriously, if you haven’t read this book, pick it up and have a go now.  It is a really good book, and contains some great anti-procrastination advice.   Basically, he suggests that instead of ruminating on those big jobs that scare you and you think will take far too long, you just get on and do them and you will find that they actually don’t take nearly as long as you fear.

 

I did that yesterday with the three big jobs I actually managed to get done.  Unfortunately, it left sundry smaller jobs undone because the big nasty three had taken up all my energy.  So, what to do about them?

flylady

Well, today, I am going to attempt to use the power of the 15 minutes.  Flylady, an online organisation and home cleaning guru, states that you can do anything for 15 minutes.  I know from previous experience that this is true.  So, today, I am going to set the kitchen timer for 15 minutes and see what I can get done from those silly little jobs which have to be done, but which I have been skillfully avoiding.

 

What have you got on your to do list today?  Will the 15 minutes trick work for you too?

Time flies. Actually, I think it runs away and hides.

In this modern world, most people are overwhelmed and under resourced.  So many competing priorities for our time, it has become our scarcest resource.

time management

In my own life, with the responsibility for running the house, progressing through adoption, redecorating with a view to moving, family and friends to stay in touch with, garden to make productive and Church commitments; sometimes you just want to run away and hide.  I can’t help feeling that Time Management is a life skill we simply cannot afford to be without.

 

Of course talking about Time Management is actually a misnomer.   You can’t manage it – you can only manage the events in your life in relation to time.  How you use the time in 1 day (1,440 minutes, if you are interested) is entirely up to you.

 

This is where Life Coaching comes in.  Life Coaching is about helping people find a way to fulfil all their goals and aspirations, helping them break through any self imposed blockages and obstacles they may have put in place.  It is about the present and the future and about getting to a place you know you want to go.

 

In my research for this post, I found an article online.  https://www.fcs.uga.edu/ext/pubs/time_management.pdf has 10 strategies to manage those 1,440 minutes in the day, and I will briefly touch on them here.

time log

The first thing you have to do is know how you spend your time.  Keeping a time log is a good way.  Find out what types of things use up most of your time.  When are you more productive? Where is most of your time devoted?  Once these areas are identified, do you really want to keep doing them?  If not, then take the power away from the time thieves and get rid of them in some way.  More about that later.

Important vs urgent

You need to set your priorities.  The first thing is to learn the distinction between important and urgent.  Go through your inevitable to do list (I bet it has a field of gravity all by itself!) and decide what is important and urgent and do those things.  Everything else, is negotiable.

diary

Use a planning tool.  I love lists and I love my calendar and diary, but if you have your smartphone about your person all the time, check out some of the amazing free apps that you can use to management your time.  Use whatever work for you.  For me, if it isn’t on a list, it doesn’t exist!

 

Get organized.  Sounds easy, but I know it isn’t.  The key to it is to get rid of clutter.  You can’t organise clutter, so work through each room in your house, or your desk at work and use 3 boxes.  Keep, Give Away and Toss.  Everything gets sorted into these three boxes.  Then put the stuff you want to keep away appropriately and give away or throw out everything else.  Remember to file in an easily understandable system.

 

Schedule your time appropriately.  Make sure you do your most challenging tasks when you are alert, or when you have the most energy.  Remember also to only schedule about 75% of your time each day.  The other 25% needs to be reserved for creative activities like planning, dreaming, praying, thinking and reading.  Or Knitting.

 

Don’t think you have to do everything yourself.  Delegate some tasks to other people.  Even if it is “Taking the Bins out”, or “Drying the Dishes”.  Anything that takes the pressure off you.

nike

Stop Procrastinating.  In the words of a famous sports manufacturer – Just do it.  Generally, the task you are procrastinating about will take a lot less time that you though it would is you just did it and stopped fretting about it.  I also like to use the 15 minute rule.  You can do anything for 15 minutes.  So, tell yourself you are going to do the most horrible job, but only spend 15 minutes on it, and you will probably find it will only take 15 minutes to get it done.  Or, if it doesn’t, after 15 minutes you are so absorbed, that you just keep going until it is done.

 

Managing external time wasters is vital to Time Management.  These are things like telephone calls, unexpected visitors, meetings, email and the computer in general and family obligations.  There are so many different ways to manage these, it could be a blog post all on its own.  But the first step in all of these is the simple “No”.  Or rather “I am really sorry, I can’t right at the moment…”  It is hard to do, but essential.

 

Contrary to popular belief, multi-tasking is NOT the key to successful time management.  Do one thing at once.  Concentrate on what is in front of you and do not hop from one thing to another.  If you do, all you will achieve is half finished bits and pieces and nothing actually completed.  If you require proof of this, you should see my craft box.  Full of half finished projects.  I really need to sit down and tackle these.

stay healthy

And finally, stay healthy.  When you have good energy levels, you will be able to manage things much better.  Relax, keep yourself fit, reward yourself for managing your time properly.  Though perhaps stay away from the ice cream!