A schedule isn't a moral good in itself. It is a tool for accomplishing a purpose. Like any other tool, I needed to know what I wanted to build before I could decide what tool would help me do it. When it got down to the essentials, what I wanted from my schedule was (1) to have the decision-making done beforehand. Decision fatigue was sucking me dry. I needed to know exactly what was next, so I could put my energy towards actually doing it; and (2) to still have the flexibility to deal with unexpected situations. It’s important to me that I can drop everything to help a friend, or that I can see that my kids are wiped out and what we really need to do today is go swimming with friends.
Where are you now?
The next step for me was to do a Time Evaluation. Sounds fancy, huh? Actually, I just tried to consciously observe how I normally spent my time. Did I do a good job deciding what needed to be done? How much was used for the task I had planned on doing? Where did I use my time well? What caused me to waste it? How much time did it take for me to transition from one task to another? How about my kids? What did we actually DO all day? I might bristle if my husband asked that last question, but it was one that I needed to ask myself. If you like to write stuff down, you might keep a time journal. (That wasn’t going to happen for me. Ahem.) A few days of paying attention made my problem areas surprisingly clear to me.
- Transitions - I wasted a lot of time looking at a To Do list (when I had one), and trying to decide what to do next.
- Distraction - Even when I knew what to do next, I often got distracted by something that needed put away or cleaned, a project that looked more appealing, or whatever thought happened to pop into my head at the moment. Things that needed to be done by a particular time were being dropped because I got distracted by something that could have waited.
- I have kids. They aren’t so good with transitions either, especially starting chores and school time. If I’m not ready to help them get started, they get distracted by something more interesting and I have to start the rounding up process all over again.
- The internet. ‘Nuff said, right?
Once you have an honest evaluation done, it's time to get to the good part... daydreaming about what you do want!
So how about you? Have you ever tracked your time? What did you learn from it?