Saturday, December 16, 2017

Time or Time Management Redux

Y no posts?

A few years ago, I lamented that I didn't have a time management problem, I had a time problem. That was the truth then. My schedule was dictated to me and I did not have much time available to manage. Now, I am firmly on the other side. I have loads of unstructured time and do a terrible job managing it.

You have probably heard of the four categories a task can fall into: Urgent and Important, Urgent But Not Important, Important But Not Urgent, and Neither Urgent Nor Important. I live most of my life in the Urgent and Important category. I am full-up on Urgent and Important. Tasks get ignored until they fall into Urgent and Important. It is not because I do it on purpose. It is because my calendar is filled with backlogged and new entries in the Urgent and Important category. Grocery shopping, school planning, bills, taxes, curriculum choices, doctor appointments, church, children's activities, combing hair for lice. My day is full of tasks that can't be ignored for another minute, as was the day before and the day before, stretching back as far as I can remember. Even when physically unable, as during pregnancy, there are tasks I should have been doing and I fall further and further behind. Tasks that I really want to do, but I cannot seem to get ahead of the curve.

If you have been around me for any length of time, you know the ongoing house purge is usually at the top of my list of tasks to complete, but sadly it falls into the Important But Not Urgent category. This is the category that haunts me.  Blogging and exercise live here too. Christmas shopping goes here. I theoretically have time for all these things, but it keeps not happening. One of my top priorities when I quit my job was to totally purge and organize my house. It is amazing to me, and not in a good way, that over two years later, the job is only partially done. Like maybe almost a third, partially done.

Earlier this week, a friend on FB linked an article explaining the difference between a maker's schedule and a manager's schedule. It gives excellent insight into why my schedule and my goals are so incongruent. The life of a stay-at-home, homeschooling mother of a newborn is essentially a manager's life. I am managing people all day long. Constant questions and interruptions and redirections define my day.

     <The hour of band practice is finished. Insert interruption here>

The problem is that for a manager's life to run smoothly, it needs an organizational structure on which to hang. The act of creating that structure requires some amount of time as a maker. My ability to procure enough maker's time to make the week flow properly is limited. I rarely get enough time to make the school checklists and make a grocery list and make a meal plan and pay the bills and write out a general to-do list, which are the bare minimum requirements for a smooth week. If I pay the bills, I am probably not making the school lists. If I make the school lists, I am probably not making a meal plan. We have been shopping by emergency for months. My last to-do list was written when Ella was three weeks old. No, I haven't finished it all yet.

     <Time for supper. Band concert tonight. Insert interruption here>

     <It's now Saturday>

My ability to procure enough maker's time to reorganize the house so we aren't flying from one crisis to another has proven nigh impossible.

     <Oh wait. The baby decided to fill her diaper. Hold on.>

     <Baby changed and nursed and napping. 30 minutes have elapsed.>

The litany of reasons why I have not been able to get maker's time to purge and organized the house is long and would be comical if it weren't depressing. Shall we list a few? We shall, if only for my catharsis. 

     <Baby is fussing. I am ignoring. Shhh, Baby. Shhhh. Oh good. Sleep again.>

At first I thought I could homeschool in the morning and clean in the afternoon. You may stop laughing now. Then I thought I could clean over Christmas break. That time just happened to exactly coincide with Dave beginning a seven day a week work schedule and I had to take over cooking and shopping. So.

Then I thought I could clean over the summer after the spring semester was over, but Marian picked up the delightful habit as a 2.5yo of vacating the house whenever an exit was unguarded. Yes, she could unlock the doors. Yes, she could remove the childproof door handle things. No, I didn't install hooks out of her reach. No, she didn't care to watch the TV. I could not work on any project without someone keeping an active eye on Marian. Finding someone to do that on any kind of a regular basis turned out to be impossible. Why? I don't really know. I am still processing my feelings about all that and trying hard not to be angry about it. (I might be angry about it.) 

Then the school year began again and I thought I could do school four days a week and clean on the fifth day. I still needed someone to take Marian. I spent three months having this conversation:

"Do you think you could take Marian one day a week?"
"Absolutely. I'd be happy to do that."
"What day would be best for you?"
"I'm not sure. Let me check my calendar. I'll get back to you."
"Can you take her on Fridays?"
"I don't know. Let me check my calendar. I'll get back to you."

Over and over and over.

I cannot begin to explain my frustration. The unwillingness of people in helping me out here is amazing. Again, amazing not a good way. If I had known, I might have investigated non-family help or, heck, put her in daycare for a month. But it is what it is.

It was at this point we decided to try for another baby. I knew pregnancy would delay my housekeeping plans, but I decided a baby was more important than a clean house. We conceived immediately. Then I was sick. For months, I was sick. Homeschooling was a joke more than an activity. Then I got pregnancy related anemia. Then the children got redacted lice. Then homeschooling started up again. Then I had a baby. Then I had a newborn. I still think it was the right choice, but that clean house would be awfully nice too.

So now I live in acceptance that time for a maker's project is probably not going to happen over Christmas--that's a lie. I am positive it will work out this time, right?--or during the school year. I think longingly about the upcoming summer now that Marian is no longer insane about randomly running away--I've given up on finding a babysitter--and Ella won't be mobile yet.

To me, the takeaway idea from the concepts of manager and maker schedules is realizing that it really isn't my personal failure that has prevented me from doing all I had hoped. I live almost exclusively in a manager's schedule and do not get enough maker's time to make the week run smoothly, much less to delve into large scale projects. This inability to cram maker projects into a manager's time schedule is not evidence of my being a freak for needing more time. My time requirements for these big creative projects aren't all that out of whack.

I still want more maker's time, but I will resist the notion that the time is optional and, if I were more efficient, I should be able to work in spite of not getting the time. I will stop feeling bad about accomplishing exactly nothing maker related when I only have one free hour. 

How do you carve out enough maker time? I need to figure this out.

     <Dave says lunch is ready and he is waiting on me. I probably should have showered. I chose to write instead. Baby will probably be awake after I eat. I don't really have time to reread and edit. :/ > 

NB: The unrelenting schedule has prevented me from sitting down to plan what to buy for Christmas and then actually order all of it. But don't worry, it is fast moving into the Urgent category.