I wasn’t sure what to share this month (I already have next month and the next month picked out, because, hello PLANNER season! I LOVE planners and cannot wait to share my love with you), but I wasn’t quite sure what this month had in store (other than Fall things and Pumpkin Coffee, and just a general sense of wanting to enjoy life). Then I started to notice something-
I didn’t post on the first Monday of the month, because it was Labor Day. My rule this year, that I’ve done a pretty good job sticking to, is that I don’t work on days when my husband is off of work. Period. (I try to stick to that on the weekend as well, but every now and then I have to break that rule). It’s also worked out nicely, because those days usually end up being days that my older children are home from school as well and so we are actually able to do family things as, well, a family. It took me awhile to be ok with not having to work all the time and not feeling guilty about it, but it has been a wonderful change and I don’t feel like all I do is work anymore. This was one of those planned and given Holidays, there is no mail, no bank runs, and no school. It’s in the calendar and we all know it is coming, and occasionally plan to go out of town, or in this instance, make the most of sales and finally arrange to have enough seating for our entire family in the living room……
A couple of days later, I was getting ready to sit down to do some work. Since Monday was a Holiday, I had a bit more on my to do list than normal, the kids were slogging through the school, and I really just wanted to get my tasks accomplished. But then, a sweet little voice from a little boy with a fever asked me to read him a story, and then another and another. So I did, he fell asleep, and I was able to get my to do list (and then the next day’s list!) done. If I had played the just a minute game with him, that probably would not have been the case.
Time is precious, and we never seem to have enough of it. Whether it is the time that our littles are little, or the knitting time we have to work on projects we want to work on, we always have something negative to say about time. Yet, have you noticed that some tasks take you way longer than others, or that some days it is taking you three hours to complete something instead of the one hour you planned for, but you are all caught up on IG posts from the last week, your Facebook is now all updated, and you’ve managed to chat on your favorite group site and now more about some internet lady we’ll call Brenda then you even know about your neighbor, yep….. Distractions.
When you are working with limited time, the key is to make sure that you are giving 110% to the task at hand. My little boy was able to take comfort in his storytime, to the point that he was ready for a nap, because I gave my time to him, without distractions. I wasn’t checking my phone, or working on some other task, I was giving him my full, undivided attention. Same thing if I sit down to write. I know that somedays that means I only have 20 minutes to work on that particular project that day, and so, I only have my writing tab open. I don’t even open my internet browser, or pretend to just check my email real quick (I even mute my phone so I have no distractions!) Amazingly, I can get a huge chunk of work done in just 20 minutes because I have given it my FULL attention. I use the same principle when I am doing school in the morning. That way my children know that they are important, that I am giving them my full attention and that I am invested in their learning. They reciprocate by listening, paying attention and engaging in the lesson (usually…..the milage on this can vary, and especially with littles, having some sort of activity can help them focus better). I can tell immediately if I’ve been distracted or looking at my phone while reading a lesson, as soon as I ask a question, no one is ready to talk to me and I end up having to re-read the whole thing……that doesn’t do a lot to help that time situation.
I have found that just putting my phone on the counter, turning the volume down (or muting it if I need to) works for me. There are apps that will turn off certain features of your phone for certain time spans, if that is something that is helpful to you. You have to decide for yourself have strong your will power is, and how you can best keep yourself from being distracted (and if you are resistant to putting your phone down, or not having access to it for 2 hours, you might want to look into them!) If you really want to challenge yourself in this area, I suggest reading Hands Free Mama: A Guide to Putting Down the Phone, Burning the To-Do List, and Letting Go of Perfection to Grasp What Really Matters!, by Rachel Macy Stafford. (Learning how to focus on just one task at a time has been a tremendous help for me, and I am definitely going to write about it more later, so definitely let me know if that is something you are interested in! I’m actually thinking about how it might be fun to do a book club and read through this book together and discuss it, so let me know if you are interested, ok?)
There are times that I do have to tell my children that I can help them in just a moment, or that I will be happy to help them with something right after I have finished a task, such as, I can read to you right after I start the dishwasher. Usually that request goes without a hitch. They are happy to wait just a minute, and they trust that I will get with them just as soon as I can. I’ve found that only works if I actually sit down to play the game, or read the book, or follow through with whatever I’ve promised in “just a minute”. If I try to add one more thing to my list and make the time longer, then it’s an entirely different story. Somehow it seems that with the rise of social media, we have forgotten that we can take “just a minute” or even a couple of minutes before we respond to something. Once you realize that no one is expecting you to sit in front of your computer or your phone 24/7, it’s a wonderful freedom to know that you can do all your follow up during your follow up scheduled time, and it will all be ok (I mean, seriously, have you ever had to call a physician after hours, on a holiday? I think it is like 2-4 hours they give to get back with you, and generally they don’t, you have to call at least twice!, and if it is an emergency, they direct you to the ER!), just because someone commented on your post, or sent you an email, you don’t have to reply to it right then. You can get to it in just a minute, without the fear of a toddler sized tantrum! (And helpful hint here, if the item that you are replying to was negative at all in nature, I have found it extremely beneficial to follow the 24 hour rule- don’t even think about typing a reply until 24 hours after you’ve read the initial email, it goes so much better that way).
We can be our biggest enemies when it comes to our productivity and time management. Keep a record, just for a day, of how much time you are spending on your phone (and yes, those I am just checking my email for 5 quick seconds counts because I guarantee those 5 seconds turn into 15 minutes very quickly!). If you can ask others to give you just a minute, it is not going to hurt anyone if you have them wait just a minute (or several minutes!) for you to answer their email. And if you are interested in doing a book club with me, let me know, ok? I think it could be fun, and who knows, we might become more productive along the way!
Until next month (and I cannot wait to talk planners with you!)