Thursday, July 29, 2010

Taking the Time to Make Time

I have been thinking a lot lately about my schedule and how I am going to get it all done, including a little time for me. I have sort of been freaking out, because my schedule is going to be picking up a lot here soon- not a bad thing, I know, and I am not complaining. I am actually really excited as well as very anxious. I have been a stay-at-home mom for four years, slowly growing my fitness business as my daughter becomes more independent. She will be in five day a week preschool come this Fall, so I have filled in those preschool hours with my Moms In Motion classes and Buddy Training clients. This will be the biggest increase in work load I have taken on since giving birth to my sweet baby girl. As you can see, time has been on my mind, and the timing could not have been more perfect for me to have come across the wonderfully insightful article entitled, Space for Change: Time Planning for a Better, Happier You written by Kay Cross, Med in the IDEA Fitness Journal (a professional fitness publication I subscribe to). I would like to share some of what I learned. Even though the article is geared to my profession, I think the basic concepts apply to all of us no matter our vocation, age, or stage in our lives. I also feel that if we can take control of our schedules, we'll be happier and healthier!

The concepts from the article that resonate most with me are first, learning to realize the difference between “managing” a schedule and “planning” a schedule. Second, is the idea of conceiving of our schedule as a reflection of the space we want to make for the things that are of utmost importance to us- viewing the schedule as an extension of ourselves. When sitting down to make a schedule, we make sure that the schedule accurately and satisfyingly reflects our values.

Kay Cross asks us to visualize and plan our time from a new perspective. Rather than, “managing” our time and everything that needs to be squeezed into the day...and... filling the calendar with what is expected... . She suggests, ...we can make space for the people and things we want- by planning for that space. She asks that when we plan our schedules, that we think of creating space with our time- time as space to be organized and filled to our desires. So, instead of cramming that space with a million and one things, let's sit down and think of what is important to us and prioritize from there. “Managing” is about “shuffling” and “juggling.” Planning on the other hand, is about thinking through what we really want and putting that first. Planning is about choosing. By sitting down and taking the time, to make time to think through the types of space we need and how we can plan to achieve that space, we will have a greater sense of happiness and satisfaction. The idea is to be able to say at the end the day, “Wow, that was a good day!”

So, how do we accurately and satisfactorily plan our time? Well, Mrs. Cross, proposes using the Four R's: Responsibilities, Roles, Relationships and Renewal. Let's take them one by one.

Responsibilities- the essential things we need to take care of regularly to fulfill our obligations. You know, the boring day-to-day activities such as showing up for work, doing the dishes, cleaning, ironing, cooking, buying groceries, taking the kids to school and so on. Also, include any “work from home” or “own your own business” responsibilities under this category. Mrs. Cross suggests creating a schedule of when things need to be done and follow it. If you start to fall behind on basic responsibilities, then it's time for a change. For me, I always fall behind on house cleaning, but it is not the highest priority on my list, nor my husbands (at least not to my knowledge). The joke in my family is, “Mama is cleaning up. Someone must be coming over!” We could hire help, or divide tasks up amongst the family. However, in our household, as long as I have things put away, we can live with a little dust for awhile. On the other hand, eating home cooked meals as a family together, is important to us. I need to make sure the refrigerator and pantry are stocked and I have meals planned. This is an area I should improve upon. Instead of doing so many last minute/frazzled/meal improvisations which makes no one happy, I can prepare meals my family will eat and in a calm manner, making everyone happy!

Roles- are your titles: wife, husband, housekeeper/cook, book-keeper, business owner, friend, mother, etc. Mrs. Cross, proposes limiting ourselves to no more than six or seven roles. She recommends, first, writing a short mission statement for each role (for example, “housekeeper/cook: keep the house reasonably clean and picked up on a weekly basis, and plan and cook nutritious meals 4-5 nights per week”). Second, score your self for each role (10 being “great at reaching that goal”). Next create specific goals for each role (for example: plan menus on Sunday, buy groceries Monday, clean on Saturday). Finally, use these goals to plan your week.

Relationships- are the people we love and want to spend time with, i.e. kids, husband, partner, parents, friends. They are the most important part of our lives. Mrs. Cross suggests making a list of the ten people most important to us and making a quick evaluation of the quality of that relationship. Then, make it a priority to spend time with those people. Depending on the quality of the relationship, it could be daily, weekly, monthly.

Renewal- taking care of ourselves. This is the part (along with relationships) I am afraid of losing the most- time for myself (and others). I think me time is the one area most of us tend to let fall to the wayside. Mrs. Cross thinks so too. She thinks it is critical to set aside time for our four areas of need: physical, social/emotional, mental, spiritual. She explains that making space for our own needs is crucial if we are going to thrive. I tend to agree with her.

There are a couple of things I know about myself, I am a crammer- I try to cram it all in, hardly giving myself time to breathe. I try to be everything to everybody, and that is just a ridiculous notion. I need to learn to let go. If I do less and do it well rather than doing more and doing a so so job, I think at the end of the day I can say, “That was a great day!” Currently, at the end of the day, I am totally exhausted, my mind is pretty much mush, and that is before my schedule/space is going to become cozier. That is why I have made it a point to sit down and follow Mrs. Cross's advice. I am going to reevaluate how I spend my time- fill my space. I am, also, going to ensure I fill my space with the things that most accurately reflect my values. It important to me that I fulfill my responsibilities and roles. It is even more important to me that I keep-up with the people I love (relationships) and do the things that make me feel good (renewal)- exercise, reading and travel. I hope you found this helpful, and that you too will take the time, to make time. Be active. Be healthy. Be happy!

No comments: