Business experts agree (in general) that Time Management is a necessary skill to develop to be successful, but is it really Time Management or is it… Priority Management?
As a scientist and–surprisingly enough–fiction author, I spend an ungodly amount of time asking “what if” questions.
You might say that I ask myself those questions to spark my creativity, but the truth is I ask those questions to better understand WTF I’m doing and how to do it better (or finally finish the damn thing I’m working on to (feed my check the box habit and) move onto the next project).
Which is why it should come as no shock that I stumbled across two pictures on Creative Commons (Pixabay) about Time Management that made me think… which one of these illustrates how I feel about the topic?
Honestly, I’m not certain either of them do.
But I will say that each picture does present a different time management topic.
I mean, the first one looks like someone sitting around waiting for the clock to run out or sitting on their butt while time slips out from underneath them–literally.
Whereas the second one shows a person who is definitely aware that time is ticking (pouring down on them), but are they really in charge of the flow of time around them? Are they really managing their time?
When in doubt, see Ellie Mae go seek a quote… from the experts.
I can’t say enough about that quote. It speaks to me in ways that make sense–and justifies the insane number of to-do lists floating around my office.
Because it’s true.
I can’t manage Time.
I can only manage ME and what I do.
Which really sucks, for me, because I’ve got a lot of things that I actually NEED to do.
Like this blogpost. And the laundry. The dishes. The grocery store run. Gas the truck. Pay the bills. Walk the dog. Feed the kid. Change the litter box. Write that scene that’s been nagging me. Get to bed by 1900 (7PM) to get up for work at 0400. And more… so much more that my (paper) plate is melting under the strain of it all.
But I get it done. Every day.
How do I get it done?
By knowing WHAT I have to do and WHEN I have to do it.
Sounds easy–and it is–when you have practiced doing it for
Which I have been. Because I’m a single mom. Have been one since the kid was 11-months old. Not bitter about it, just stating facts.
For the (vast) majority of the kid’s life (yep, she’s 16 now), I haven’t had family living near enough to me to be of help on the daily routine. So when shit happens…
Like that time when the fuel pump went on my previous truck and I was stranded on the side of the road
That other time when I got a flat tire on my way back to work (after dropping the kid off at school) then found out the ex-husband had removed the jack from the truck before he deployed overseas (why, I don’t know)
The morning I went to drop the kid off at the baby sitter’s house and found out the baby sitter had passed away shortly after I left her house the previous evening when I’d showed up to pick up the kid…
Yeah, so when big–potentially “life survival” impacting–shit like THAT happens, I have to be able to cope with it. Then adapt to overcome. (which is why I’m a card carrying AAA+ Roadside Assistance member and made sure I knew (back when I needed to know) all available local drop in daycare providers and their rates and hours)
But what about the smaller things in life that pop up?
You know, the small things that you don’t expect but then happen anyway?
For example… how many moms out there have ever encountered being down, sick with the flu at the same time as your baby? Can you just call in and say, sorry, baby doll, I’m too sick to make sure your 11-month old body stays hydrated while this flu works itself out of your system?
Or how about… hey home owners association, I’m sorry I didn’t get to mowing the lawn down to the prerequisite 3 inches, because I was too busy working to put food on the table and feed my angry-hungry baby.
Or how about… hey kid, sorry about the lack of food in the pantry. No, it’s not a money thing, but a new diet we’re trying out called mama didn’t have enough time to run by the grocery store before bath and bed time. (Oh yeah, social services loves that one.)
Or how about… hey reader, I’m so sorry I didn’t get that book out, because I was too busy working 80+hours this week at the day job to think… let alone sleep, eat, and interact with my kid?
Hell no, you can’t bail on responsibilities like that.
And no matter how much I’d love to preach otherwise-people don’t give a shit whether or not you’re sick, tired or unable to do the things you’ve committed to do.
They want what they want, when they
need want it, and they expect you to live up to the commitment you made by doing the things you agreed to do.
Like being a damn good mom,
a damn good neighbor,
a damn good employee,
a damn good professional author.
Which is great to know and plan for, but in truth sucks to be me…
because it means that my overachieving (tired as hell) self has to make a series of to-do lists with due dates that get prioritized into routines, rituals, and/or rules that I need in order to freaking survive.
To give you an idea of what I’m talking about, here’s a rule I went out of my way never to break (or ignore)… when the kid was younger and in after school programs… dinner was set at 5:30PM. Period.
Because the angry-hungry baby routine would start at 5:45PM and if that happened then no homework, no bath, no going to bed on time, no nothing kept us, me, and our lives on schedule.
Another rule… grocery shopping was done (back in the day) in short bursts in between leaving the day job and picking up the kid from after school. Now, it’s done by ordering online and picking up on my way home from work.
Because it’s efficient, saves me time, and doesn’t interrupt the evening routine and disrupt our schedules.
Another rule… daily to-do lists get written before starting any new endeavor. This includes cleaning house (primarily on Saturday mornings), writing blogs, working the day job.
Because it’s efficient, keeps me on track, and saves me from having brain blank moments where I’m wondering what the heck I’m supposed to be doing.
Because yes–I’ll admit it–I suck at changing gears from one project to another especially when each project is vastly different in nature and requires I use a different part of my brain, language, or voice.
Like writing a tech report then switching to writing a scene.
Because nothing says hot wild, romantic monkey sex like…
Insert Rod A into Cog B, then gently agitate at a specific speed and angle until release criteria are achieved.
Oh yeah. That’s hot. Yet oddly disturbing when it shows up in tech reports–repeatedly, with much emphasis, and (dare I say) vigor.
So is it any wonder that at the beginning of every year, month, week, and/or day, I make a
Master Action Plan?
Or a to-do list of items organized under large topics then assign each of those tasks a priority and due date.
Nope, it’s not a surprise. Not at all. Because it’s the only way I can kept my sanity (which is highly over rated) and actually get things done. Then feed my one true vice in this world…
Checking To-Do Items of My List
OMG, checking things off my list is like… a mental orgasm I can enjoy without getting naked, sweaty (maybe, depends on the task), and prepping a morning after (get the hell out) speech.
It’s freaking AWESOME!
And the cheapest form of entertainment a single mom can buy while trying to keep her world afloat and her dreams (and reputation) intact.
Oh and that reputation? It never fails to get a boost by sharing the accomplishments with those people who “have everything and aren’t even aware of how good they have it”. Because they get shocked, amazed, then downright awed that I… super busy single mama accomplished all of that while still putting one foot in front of the other determined to achieve my dream. My ultimate goal.
(My ultimate goal: To not break and live to see another day so I can achieve my dream.)
So yes, when we achieve our daily goals, we get benefits from it.
We get a reputation.
A good one.
One that says we’re dedicated and a hard worker.
That we’re someone who can be counted on in times of crisis.
You know what kind of crisis I’m talking about… like that one morning when there weren’t any books available to read and instead I had to “make do” and clean the house?
Who in their right mind would rather clean the house than read a damn good book?
No, seriously, I want to know who honestly would rather do that then read about a sexy hot adventure with a hunky alpha who knows how to execute a simple lab protocol that requires a Rod and a Cog?
Not me, says the author of this post who also happens to be a Serial Reader who reads (on average) abut 8-10 new books each week. 8-10, folks. I read 8-10 new books each week. And I love to read books in a series. L-O-V-E reading them and getting my Happily Ever After fix satisfied.
Okaaaay, and now that I’ve resorted to begging… it’s time to wrap things up and pop the question I’ve been dying to ask since I started this rambling post…
What type of author do you want to be?
One who can be counted on to deliver new content on a regular basis or one who gets to it when she can?
I’m hoping you chose to be the latter and not the former, because nothing says I care (about you the READER) and please come read more of my books as much as writing and putting out new content on a regular, consistent (dependable) basis.
Or as my new BrainyQuote BFF says it…
And on that note–I’m out. Take care and happy task list checking off!