I’m starting a new series on the blog called Things I’m Learning, featuring some real life lessons (and real life fails) on different subjects. The first topic up: time management.
I have never been good at relaxing. Even on vacation, you’ll never find me sitting still for more than an hour. I’ll feel like I’m missing out on something. Why spend hundreds and thousands of dollars to go on vacation if you’re not going to make the most of it and see every thing you possibly can!? (This is where Andrew sighs and rolls his eyes at me as he tries to nap on the beach while I try to schedule the rest of our itinerary for maximum sightseeing.)
This struggle I have with relaxing is probably part of the reason I tend to feel too busy most of the time. Overbooking happens partially because I don’t like telling people no, but it also is a way for me to feel like I’m getting and making the most out of everything. I can handle one more shoot. No, Caitlin, you can’t. Sure, we can squeeze in dinner that night even though I’m supposed to be editing. Caitlin, you are already behind. Yes, I would love to give away my last free Saturday to help you out! STOP IT, CAITLIN. It snowballs ever so quickly. The things I’m agreeing to aren’t bad, but when I agree to too many and sacrifice my time with the Lord, with Andrew, with family, with my bathtub and own peace of mind…that’s when it becomes a problem. Running myself haggard doesn’t help anyone out in the long run.
These days, I have a whole new respect and adoration for free time, because it’s been so rare this year. It’s my own fault, but all that to say…I’m learning. I’m learning how to gently (or awkwardly) say no to people and how to purposefully and practically schedule time to relax. Even if my definition of relaxing is cleaning my whole house or catching up on work by editing for five straight hours, it’s worth scheduling some “me” time to make sure I don’t haphazardly book anything else.
Here are some ways I’m learning to stay productive while still having time for the occasional nap. ;)
1. Schedule time to relax.
Literally write “me time” in your planner or calendar. In pen. Schedule a block of time to step back and reevaluate everything, and don’t let yourself book anything else in that time frame. Take a bath. Read a book. Catch up on work or clean your whole house if you feel like it. Or for the love of all things, take a blessed nap! You deserve it, and it’ll make you return to work more energized.
2. Knock out those To Do lists.
Is list-making considered a hobby? It is to me. And is there any greater satisfaction than crossing everything off of a To Do list?! I’ve found the best strategy for me is to get all the hard stuff done first. Save the easy tasks for the end of the day when you’re half asleep and reaching for your 7th Hershey’s kiss to stay productive. OR sometimes I like to barrel through my To Do list in the morning like a charging bull and finish every single task so I can have more free time later in the day. Figure out what works for you.
3. Say no more often.
I’m still learning how to do this as a people pleaser. I hate turning people down, but it’s necessary sometimes. I’ve never had someone truly hate me for saying no to something I just couldn’t handle (as far as I know), and it’s good to keep that in mind when I feel guilty. Own up to it, don’t dance around it, and don’t commit when you shouldn’t and then flake. Just say, “I’m sorry, I’ve got too much going on right now.” Typically, most people tell me they completely understand and wish me well! It’s never as bad as I imagine in my head.
4. Avoid distractions.
I don’t have a huge problem avoiding Facebook and Twitter when I’m getting work done, but I tend to let other distractions run wild. For example, I’ll be in the middle of an editing groove when suddenly I’ll remember I have a bill coming up the next week, and I need to write a reminder in my planner. While writing that in my planner, I’ll notice I haven’t yet checked off the box next to “vacuum.” I’ll be on my way to quickly go vacuum when I’ll see myself in the mirror and realize I haven’t showered yet. Before I get a shower, I have to clean the bathroom counter. It’s filthy. After I throw away the wipes I used, I see that the trash can is full, and I remember I need to make a list of things I’d like Andrew to help me with when he gets home. Before I make that list, I see dishes on the table and have to run the dishwasher. Then I inevitably realize how hungry I am and pour myself a bowl of goldfish. I return to my computer and snack while I edit and completely forget about the twelve other things I wanted to accomplish. THIS is the essence of working at home. Sometimes I have to suck it up and finish one task at a time before letting myself become distracted by all the other tasks. Learn to focus and persevere through the ADD. It’s annoying, but it works.
5. Give yourself some grace.
Unexpected things are always going to happen, and you can’t (to my chagrin) always plan for them. Give yourself a break, and don’t expect your schedule to run perfectly every single day. You won’t always check off every box, and that’s ok. God gives us grace. Let’s give ourselves a little too.
Here. Have some free printables to help your motivation. ;)
May the time management odds be ever in your favor. ;)
Happy Friday, loves!