Adventures in Time Management

I brought my family to Central Florida to temporarily live with my parents for a lot of reasons. One big reason was for day to day help with remote schooling my kids. It looks like this move is going to pay off in a big way. Last weekend all four adults gathered around a whiteboard at the kitchen table and divided up tasks and areas of responsibility and made a detailed schedule. It turns out much of the tension the adults felt around discipline with the kids, for example, had to do with us getting on the same page. Getting organized never felt so good.

In the same vein, I needed to get organized about how I was spending my time, free time, and otherwise. It’s incredible how hard this has been for me to do on my own. Sometimes it feels like different projects and things are rattling around in my head and difficult to pin down and tame. I asked my mom to help me, and she walked me through taking inventory of my time in terms of available hours/week and to factor in all the different things I have going on and how much time each item might take. For example, virtual school is going to eat up 35 hours per week, from my 112-hour allotment per week. After doing some more internet research on this, I found this blog post (with a downloadable spreadsheet!), and this article on allotting free time.

I know. This sounds neurotic. This sort of inventory doesn’t work for everyone, but I have found it helpful to look at all the different things I have to do, and the things I want to do and see how it all shakes out. It makes me feel good to notice that, yes, I will be able to do X, and for Y and Z that there is no time for, I get to be a grown-up and scratch it off the list. Yay.

Early in my deployment last year, I called my sister because I was stressed out about all the different things that were getting thrown at me. One thing I learned about myself is that when I get an avalanche of information, my instinct is to shut down. This is not great. I had to get over it and begin processing and making sense of things. My sister, who is a pediatrician, told me something wise. “There’s always time to think,” she said. This was enlightening. It was her synthesis from experience during residency and beyond, caring for sick kids, and sometimes needing to perform in life or death situations. So in making my time management spreadsheet, I have kept in mind intentionally allowing for ‘time to think.’ It’s hard. My instinct is to maximize all my time. To fill it all up with another sport for Nick or another writing project (in truth, I have low-balled how much time I need for domestic chores). But, I will give myself Time To Think/down-time/ whatever, so I can avoid living an ‘all over the place’ life and give myself room to live better, not like a crazy person.

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