November 1, 2012

When "Daily Life" Takes Over Your Life

I have not posted anything to this blog in over a month. Not because I don't want to, and not because I don't have things to say and share. I'd like to say that I haven't posted anything because I just haven't had time. But, let's be honest, people far busier than me manage to fit blog posting into their daily or weekly schedules. And I've somehow managed to find time to wander pinterest and watch a few dvr'ed shows and read my current book. So why "can't" I find time to do a few of the things that I currently deem important...namely, writing on this blog, working out, and some fun, creative projects?

My best guess? My "daily life" has taken over my "Big L" Life. (And maybe a little dose of general malaise.)

And the psychologist in me would also venture that my "real life" (aka "errand-running, task-accomplishing Mommy") trumps my "fantasy life" (aka "my pinterest life") when the cards are down and I'm out of energy.

Poo! (Or as Pooh would say, "Oh bother!")

In many ways, this is both necessary and okay. It is necessary that the dishwasher get emptied and the laundry and the grocery shopping get done. The kids need to be fed three meals a day and the dog needs to be walked. And I'd say it's pretty important that I shower on a regular basis. All that "stuff" needs to get done, that's true. And, at the same time, it is not necessary that my house be immaculate or perfectly decorated, or that every meal I make be gourmet, or that every day be crammed with amazing learning activities for the kids. But there are things that are important to me that are falling through the cracks these days and I need to figure out how to stem those leaks.

It would appear that somehow my time management issues have become life management issues. And I have to believe that this is a pretty common issue, especially for moms. It's hard to talk work-life balance when your life is your work. When I traded in consulting for full-time mama management, that line I used to draw between work and home disappeared, and suddenly managing my time and getting it all in seemed to get harder. When there were clear delineations between when, where and how I spent my time, it seemed to be easier to organize the things I wanted and needed to do within those separate worlds. Now it's just a gigantic, jumbled mess.

I am told that this issue will get a bit easier as my kids get a little older. Which is great. Except that it doesn't help me today. So how do I find the time to do it all, maintain my sanity, and still get some sleep?

I don't know.

But here's what I'm going to try first...I'm going to apply my old work management skills to my new mama management life.

Let's start with a goal. My goal is to find the time on a daily basis for three activities: Exercise, Writing, and Creative Projects.

So I sat down with my calendar and looked for times throughout each day of the week, given our typical commitments, when I could squeeze a little time in for these important tasks. And here's what I found: I have four possible windows to fit in additional activities. 1) In the morning before the kids are up (ewww!), 2) In the morning either right after breakfast with both kids around or after preschool drop-off with just one kid (really, this time only works for exercising), 3) In the afternoon during nap/quiet time, and 4) In the evening after the kids go to bed.

These little windows of time are typically lost to random activities like emailing, pinteresting, little to-do list items, running errands (in the morning), watching TV with my hubby (in the evenings), and, in the case of the morning before the kids are up, that pesky little necessity we call sleep.

What I really want are large blocks of time throughout the day to accomplish all the things I want to do...kind of like my old work calendar: 8-9am Meeting, 9-10am Project Work, 10-11am Meeting, 11-12pm Phone Calls, etc. But life with kids is too messy for that. And that's a good thing in so many ways...but I just need a good freakin' workout time that I can stick to so I can get healthy again, dammit!!


So, what I think must be the key for me is to find and use these smaller windows of time each day to my best advantage by adding a little "work-like" structure to my day. To really focus those times on the things that are important to me, rather than letting them be taken over by daily life minutia. Schedule it (and stick to it), like I used to at work. I mean, I never used to skip a scheduled meeting because I got lost in emailing or cleaning out my desk. So why do I let it happen now? I can empty the dishwasher while the kids are playing. I can set aside specific times each day for emailing. And I can pick one or two days a week for errand running. Because this stuff, my stuff, is important. It's important to me and I am important. Of course my kids are always first in my heart, but that doesn't mean that I have to be last on my to-do list.

Here's my first pass at a schedule: Early morning- writing; Mid-morning- exercise; Afternoon- creative projects; Evening- stop-gap for whatever didn't get done at its earlier allotted time. If that schedule doesn't work, then I'll put 'em in a jar, shake 'em up and try another set-up. (Because let's be honest, the early morning time slot is gonna be tough for me!) ...Kick-off on Monday!

I apologise if I've just bored you to tears with too much detailed information about my schedule, but my hope is that by writing this out somewhere it will help me adopt this new plan. And, I hope that it makes you think about your own schedule and the things you'd like to be fitting into it...maybe there's a little room for something you'd like to be doing more of.

So that's the plan. Of course the big question is, can I do it??? They say it takes at least two weeks to create a new habit. So let's give it two weeks and see how it goes. My goal is to not over-schedule myself while still fitting in all that I want to. And so the experiment begins...

I'll keep you posted. (Though if you start seeing regular posts from me again, you can assume that I'm at least having some success with it.)

Until next time, go find some time in that crazy schedule of yours to do some things that bring you joy!