Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Time Management - What I Know For Sure

Make Time to Appreciate Unexpected Treasures. 
(It mattered to this one.)
Tonight I'll meet with the local members of The Women's Art Works Alliance. Thai food is on the menu, and we'll also discuss the results of six weeks or so of tracking our daily activities and the manner in which we spend our time. It's been an interesting exercise for me, and it's also been enlightening. It's made me more aware of the demands on my schedule and the excuses that I sometimes make, especially to myself.

As a result of this endeavor, here's what I've learned...
  1. Physically recording my daily activities is a challenge for me. Time-card-follow-through is not one of my strong suits!
  2. I expect too much of myself. My daily to do list would require superhuman strength and speed for completion. I'm good; but on some level my expectations as they're contained on these lists set me up for daily failure.
  3. I chronically underestimate the time that it takes me to do most everything. I suspect that my optimistic nature works against me in this regard. "Of course I can do it!", and the time that I expect *it* to take is generally 50% or more less than the time that it actually takes to perform the task.
  4. I'm officially the queen of "Just One More Thing"; in fact, this will be the title of my unwritten autobiography, and it may also be the inscription on my tombstone. Even on the rare occasions that my schedule is running on time, I seem to self-sabotage my efforts with my obsessive need to try to cram "just one more thing" into every spare moment of my life. Inevitably my "just one more thing" takes longer than expected (See #2), and the rest of my day's schedule is derailed as a result.
  5. There's been no daily routine to my schedule. "Routine" seems to have gone out the window after I left Artist Alley. My need for more time in the studio was one of the main reasons behind my decision to close the gallery, and since then my life has been filled with a variety of unpredictable family happenings that have precluded this from happening.
  6. My life is too unpredictable to have a routine to my schedule This is one of the excuses that I've been making to myself, and I'm choosing to no longer accept it.
  7. My life as it is now is what it is. Some days, the label of "Controlled Chaos" is actually a generous one; but it's my life, and I love every crazy, chaotic, unpredictable minute of it.
  8. Unpredictability isn't the exception in my world; it's the rule, and I need to develop new ways to productively manage my time given this reality. I know that I need to develop flexible routines amidst the chaos, and I'm happy to say that I'm making progress in this regard.

A recent week of business and bliss in the Outer Banks provided a much needed reflective period for me, and it helped me to clarify my plans for the future. A few of the more practical practices that I recently put into place follow:
  • I start each day at o'dark-thirty over coffee with my husband.
  • I dedicate one early morning hour daily to decluttering in the studio.
  • I spend time on phone calls in the morning and evening.
  • I limit my email and Internet use to a half hour or so in the morning and another at the end of the day...more for the pure pleasure of it as time allows.
  • I resist the urge to check voice mail, email, and Facebook throughout the day.
  • I'm enjoying social media again. I love the connection that it provides, and I'm balancing this with the time that it takes from my real in-person life.
  • I begin each day with some type of physical activity. Our local pool opens tomorrow, and I'm more excited than words can describe.  In no small part, this excitement has been heightened because my first ankle injury of 2012 occurred over Memorial Day Weekend, and I spent the entire summer pool-free in a boot.

Perhaps even more important than the practical realizations and changes brought about by this time management study, are the reminders of many heartfelt things that I already knew for sure.  A few of these follow:
  • Chaos is my friend, and I suspect it's a fundamental part of my nature.
  • My life is richer because of the presence of my family and friends.
  • I'm blessed by a loving left-brained husband who sees the goodness in me at times when I'm challenged to find it in myself. 
  • I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be at this point in my life.

For all of this and more, I'm eternally grateful.

Penny Arrowood discovering and sharing
the magic of Ocracoke.


  1. Oh, my! I see myself in this! The funny thing is---I used to be in so control of so much. I blamed it all on menopause---and finally realizing that I do not have to be the most productive person there is and I can take time for myself and stop the commitments.

  2. Oh, Jeanne!!! You brought such a smile to my face with your comment. From the outside looking in, when it comes to organization and time management, I want to grow up to be just like you! :-)