“The art of Time Management.” *Gong Bang* Sounds like some lost form of martial arts only know to the ghosts of some outcast ninja from Feudal Japan. Got time to read this post? Sure you don’t! So, why are you here? Today’s adults and parents have no time for anything. NO TIME. Let’s list out some of the possible things you may be involved in. Full time job, school (undergrad, graduate, or doctorate), parenting, keeping your marriage alive, trying to write that book you’ve always talked about writing, trying to find a new job, trying to learn new skills, trying to take up new hobbies, trying to keep up with old hobbies, trying to maintain relationships with your extended family, trying to maintain relationships with your in-laws, building and nurturing your network of friends and professional relationships, keeping up with your reading list, keeping up with your movie watching list, keeping up with your professional development, chores, chores, and bills, and finances. Everything else. I’ve been trying to find the time to re-string my guitar for over a year now. Poor guitar.
How do you get things done?
Prioritize. Plan. Procrastinate.
Prioritization will get you ahead. You are not going to be able to do everything at once. So, you’re going to have to pick a few key things to focus on. For some of us, that means forgoing as much sleep or exercise as we used to get. Now, I’m not saying you should forgo exercise. Especially if you know you need it. You should prioritize your needs first. For example, as much as I would like to think that I don’t need sleep- and often times I go with less than seven hours, my body has begun forcing me to stay asleep for eight hours. I’ll unwillingly sleep through all my alarms until I get it. There are some days I can wake up after only 4 hours, and oh, how I wish I could go on only 4 hours of sleep. But this is a need that I need to work into my schedule.
Do your chores. For God’s sake, take out the garbage, and wash some clothes. Clean out that darn cat litter box, and give the dog a bath. Give yourself one while you’re at it. These are priorities. Get them out of the way. No need to procrastinate on these items.
Use an agenda book, a calendar notebook, or an electronic calendar to set reminders and important dates. I prefer to use Google Calendar. This is easier said than done. There are so many things that I’d like to put into my calendar.
I wish it would look like this: 4am get up, 4:10 Make Coffee, 4:15 Read, 5:00am Write, 7am Shower get ready for Work, 7:30am Kiss the Wife and Kid and leave for work, 7:30-9am sit in traffic, 9-5 Work, 5-630 sit in more traffic, 630-800 change, visit with family, eat dinner. 8-9, do homework or read, 9pm go to bed.
Instead it looks more like this: Stumble out of bed at 745am and yell “Shit.” Toss myself in the shower and out the door by 815am. Explain to boss that sitting in hour and a half of traffic made you late at like 915am. Work from 9-5pm. Sit in traffic til 6:30pm, then told that you need to meet your wife at so and so’s house for dinner, then told you need to pick up groceries, and finally get home by 915pm. Then by the time you’ve cleaned up, gotten the kid(s) ready for bed, and gotten yourself ready for bed, it’s 10 or 1015pm. Then lay in bed reading for 20-30 minutes until you kind of fall asleep. Then woken up at 11pm, 1 or 2 am by a hungry crying yet precious baby, and then woken again by your alarm at 4am. Snoozing it while still half asleep.
SO! To reiterate. Put IMPORTANT DATES ONLY in your calendar. These include deadlines, holidays, birthdays, events you have to attend, and things of that nature. Leave out the small tasks like brushing your teeth.
This is a great strategy to use SOMETIMES. You have to be careful with this one, because it can cause problems when used for the wrong situation. For example, you probably wouldn’t want to put off building that rocket ship for NASA, if that’s the sort of thing you’re into. You probably don’t want to wait nine months to tell that guy you’re pregnant with his baby. You would, however, might want to procrastinate on a college paper until a couple of weeks before it’s due. You will feel highly motivated to complete it if there is a deadline looming. Also, if you’re the type of person who does well under pressure, then this might be a great way to get you results.
When working in theatre and music, there was always a pressure from the deadline. If you weren’t fully prepared by showtime, you were screwed. In the countless productions I have been a part of, there was never one that was cancelled because we weren’t ready. Somehow, it always came together in the end.
Matt Stone and Trey Parker talked about the use of deadlines when writing when they visited NYU on the television show mtvU.
You’re going to have to be flexible with your schedule and with life. Because you never know what life will throw at you, a wreck blocking all lanes of traffic, a hurricane, a job change, a loss of a job, a baby, a change in plans. No matter what it is- be ready to accept the change, and move forward. If you don’t get to get up and jog or write or whatever, then try again the next day. Keep trying, keep adjusting. And live life.
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