Time Management – Or the Lack Thereof

As I said yesterday, I’m on a cleaning kick.  Sort of.  Put it this way – I’m in the mood to clean.  I’m not always.  Or for very long.  But it needs to be done, and now that I’ve armed myself with all sorts of good-smelling, inexpensive but effective homemade cleaning supplies, I’m kind of raring to go.

Thing is, I’m raring to go about a lot of different things.  Sewing.  Revamping this blog (a long overdue project).  Making more cheese.  Cleaning out the house so it’s not so cluttered.  Planning a yard sale for whenever yard sale season officially begins.  (I’m thinking that will coincide with slightly warmer Saturday mornings.)  Making more stuff for my Etsy shops.  Cooking and baking more interesting stuff for this blog.  Working in the gardens. 

And, of course, in and around that there’s normal daily life.  Husband.  Kids.  Pets.  Dishes.  Laundry.  Meals.  Work.  Exercise.  (Which needs to move farther up the list.  Perhaps right after Pets.  I figure breathing things should come first.)

Anyway, I have all these things I either should do or want to do, or a combination of both.

And I’ll tell you right now, flat out:  I’m terrible at staying organized.

I’m great at organizing – planning, allotting time, scheduling.  All that stuff.  It’s fun.  It’s like putting puzzles together.

Tangent:  We used to do a lot of puzzles when I was a kid.  The big, several-thousand-piece variety.  We had a few that were Norman Rockwell prints – those were probably my favorites.  My dad had a love/hate relationship with the puzzles.  They were addictive.  They lure you in and then snap the shackles around your brain and it’s so hard to walk away without looking for just one more piece, the little piece with the corner of that brick wall and the three leaves together on a tree branch. 

Anyway, that’s the fun part.  The easy part.

It’s the doing it part that gets me.

Or, rather, the hard part for me is just doing a little bit at a time.  Spending, say, half an hour on such-and-such a project each day.

I’m more of a stay-up-all-night-in-order-to-finish-it-in-one-fell-swoop kind of girl.

Have been for as long as I can remember. 

I remember staying up very late working on a model of a bald eagle that I made out of construction paper and crumpled newspaper for the stuffing.  For some reason the eagle’s body and wings were purple.  I have absolutely no idea why, unless I happened to be out of brown, and since it was past my bedtime, it was also a bit late to get one of my parents to bring me to Woolworth’s for more paper.

I used to write English papers pretty much the night before they were due.  I rarely wrote rough drafts.  I just cranked out the final copy and kept my fingers crossed.

Unfortunately for me, crossing my fingers seemed to work just fine for a long time.

I remember staying up all night to finish a baby quilt I was making for a friend (Hi Betsy!).  Going to the shower the next day was a trip to bizarro land, because I was so tired that everything and everyone seemed distorted in every way.  But the quilt was pretty, and I figured that was all that mattered.

But life is different now, and I don’t have the freedom to stay up all night working on projects on any kind of a regular basis because

1.  I need to sleep, actually.  Go figure.

2.  I have family to feed and clothe and pay attention to and shepherd here and there.

3.  I have to work sometimes.  Outside the house.  I am not permitted to show up in my jammies and pink fuzzy slippers, slurping from a big mug of coffee, either. 

4.  It doesn’t work, long-term.

Now, my husband is kind of totally the opposite.

In a few ways.

I, like a lot of people, multi-task all the time.  And most of the time that works just fine – and I don’t feel like I have a choice anyway.  I have to do dishes while the laundry is in the wash and I’m making sure the kids get ready for school and posting photos to a blog post and scribbling a grocery list – otherwise I wouldn’t get anything done.

My husband multitasks somewhat when he’s teaching his chorus students, but it’s different – all the tasks he’s multi-ing are related.  Coordinating altos, sopranos, and whatever the boys are (their voices differ from one grade to the next), plus listening for phrasing, watching mouth shape, listening for off notes, and words pronounced incorrectly – it’s all part of the same big picture.

And he will say he doesn’t multi-task.  He focuses on one thing at a time.  He is really, really good at it.  When he was in grad school, he would practice guitar anywhere from five to eight hours a day.  That’s focus. 

And so there’s that. 

He’s also (probably for the same reason) really good at doing a little bit of something each day in order to complete a project.  That’s why he’s in charge of gardening.  He doesn’t expect to plant the seeds in the morning and then feed, water, weed, prune, encourage, and harvest the final product the next morning.  He tackles one step the first day.  Then another one the next day.  And another one the next day. 

He’s working on a creative project right now, too.  And he works on it a little each day.  And then he puts it down and does something else.  He doesn’t go without food or sleep just so it can be DONE by tomorrow.

He probably sleeps better than I do.

I know, because I wake up at weird hours of the night thinking of things I should do or forgot to do or want to do or better hurry up and do…and while my thoughts swirl I listen to his slow, peaceful breathing.


I’m just curious.

Are you a one-fell-swoop sort of person, or a little-bit-every-day sort?

Are you organized?  A procrastinator?  Single-project or multi-tasker?

If you are organized, how do you STAY that way?

If you aren’t organized, how do you stay sane?

Sloppy, disorganized, sleep minds want to know.

3 thoughts on “Time Management – Or the Lack Thereof

  1. I am very organized. I love a good list!

    I fight a natural tendency to procrastinate. Both at work and at home, I will use “carrots” to motivate myself (no working on the scrapbook until the bathrooms are clean, etc). There aren’t always enough (or the right) carrots, though. This weekend I intended to put the tax paperwork away, which includes bundling up last year’s for long-term storage and purging the files at the same time. Maybe because it’s so many steps, it’s easy for me to keep putting off. Maybe this Friday when I’m off work…

    When I’m working on a project I really enjoy, I have to be very careful not to go into obsession mode. I have been known to skip my morning workout in order to wrap a birthday gift that doesn’t need to be ready for a week. LOL

    I value my sleep, though, so I don’t tend to be the type to stay up all night with a good book or working on a project.

    The balance can be hard to achieve and is an ongoing project in itself!

  2. I’m an organized multi-tasker I guess… at work I have X-up files. Monthly and weekly. I can answer two phones (one on each ear) at the same time, text my boss and email the staff, sign off for the UPS man and the armored car pick-up while answering questions from the nurse and counselor. Then when I come home I need a good list. I use my NOTES app in my iphone and organize my outings in order by which store/stop is closest and the rest follow behind in order to form a big circle… I never back track. I also use an app called ShopperLite, that I can make lists for all the stores I need to shop at. When it comes to projects, I’m rather disorganized at first and after knitting for over 10 years I know not to admit to a deadline or I’ll jinx myself and have to rip out half of a project. It’s just finished when it’s finished.

  3. I tend to think of myself as being disorganised, but then I apparently manage to give the impression of being efficient although I really can’t see how that’s possible. Weird.

    Recently I’ve been making notes of when I last did something, and I find that really helpful. The jobs I dislike tend to drop off my radar otherwise!

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