I want to piggyback off Angela’s post from last week because I really like what she wrote about and I think it’s important. The two of us have very different schedules and yet I believe that budgeting our time is equally important to us both! For example, I know that I’m a little bit of a procrastinator when it comes to some things, so if I’m honest with myself and know that I will be easily distracted before or during my completion of a task, that makes me able to schedule my time more accurately. I tend to be optimistic right before leaving work or on the train home: I’m going to go home, do laundry, fold it, put it away, cook dinner from scratch, get some work done, etc. And then when I finally trudge through the door about an hour later, I’ve overwhelmed myself to the point where I don’t do anything.

It is so important to be realistic about your own expectations for yourself for the day, week, and month ahead if you plan your tasks. Am I really going to accomplish a long to-do list at work only to go home and accomplish another long to-do list? Probably not. That doesn’t mean that I can’t accomplish some of those items on my list during the week and complete the tasks over the course of a few days, though! Personally, the time that I feel the least productive and driven is the second I walk in the door from work. I don’t know if it’s because I’m finally home and I can relax or what, but I know that when I come home all I can do is make dinner and eat it. And really, that’s fair–I am allowed to feel a bit drained and to need some alone time after my day. Being honest with myself about how I know I’m going to feel will help me decide what I can accomplish later in the evening.

I’m glad that Angela wrote about her schedule, making time for her own personal projects, and how it’s okay to take the time to figure out a schedule that works best for her. It’s so true! If we can’t be honest with ourselves about we spend our time, how can we possibly plan anything?

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I’ve been working full-time for almost five months now and the biggest change is getting used to working full-time. When you’ve been working part-time for most of your adult life, not having weekdays where you can have most of the day off is a big change. Not that I mind the steady work as I am more financially secure. The second issue is finding a schedule that leaves me feeling satisfied and fulfilled. I’ve learned that if I can wake up each morning around 11, I have about six hours to do (mostly) everything I want. Unlike a 9-5, tasks are done before work instead of after. (Which isn’t too different from before, except I have fewer hours in the day now.) This routine includes exercise, chores, running errands, and getting appointments out of the way.

However, I’ve noticed in recent weeks I’ve been feeling burned out and little personal projects go by the wayside. Personal writing, personal branding, and home improvement projects are taking the biggest hit. The desire to do these projects haven’t diminished, but the will do to them has been lacking. Now that I’ve figured out what my ideal day and week should be, I’ve been slowly adding these activities back into my schedule. I’ve also included a schedule for days dedicated to free time activities (gaming) and others related to productivity. Now I just need to set my schedule to account for distractions, appointments, and events that quickly tend to eat up time.

For the most part, I’m seeing a steady decline in frustration and an uptick in productivity.

 

How do you manage your weekday free time?

Appointment Book by Suzanne Carey of Flickr

Appointment Book by Suzanne Carey of Flickr

I took Friday and yesterday off and it was glorious! Unfortunately, it was back to reality this morning with a hefty email inbox. After I did my initial triage to make sure that nothing was on fire (I joke but sometimes I get emails that make it sound like the world is ending!), I decided to tackle tasks that I didn’t really want to do right away head-on. It made a huge difference.

A lot of the time, I’m fine with complete time-consuming, challenging tasks first because it feel so good to finish them and have lighter tasks for the rest of the day. I do tend to put off tasks that require involving a lot of people and a lot of communication, especially when I’m trying to get my bearings after a day or two off. This morning, I decided that wasn’t going to happen. And you know what? Everything turned out fine–I received responses quickly and they required little to no follow-up on my part.

Sometimes, I believe I unconsciously make a big deal out of a task that does not require a lot of stress. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately because I believe that I consistently internalize a lot of my stress and I wonder how much of it is unwarranted. It really is not a big deal to send out an email or two with questions to several people first thing in the morning–sometimes, it actually is easier than waiting until later in the day. And if I had waited, I probably would have had it hanging over my head and maybe causing me a little extra anxiety that is completely useless.

I want to pledge, right here and now, to stop putting off tasks just because I don’t feel like it right at that moment. I have to stop punishing myself because, in effect, that’s what I’m doing by layering on all this extra stress.

What about you? Do you find yourself procrastinating for no reason at work or school? Do you feel better just getting something done instead of putting it off?

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I recently listened to a segment from WYNC’s On The Media about the importance of boredom and not relying on your smartphone too much. While I probably won’t be replicating the experiment of forgoing my smartphone for a week and allowing in full boredom, the idea had some appeal to me. At times I find myself frustrated with how much I rely on my phone when I’m bored, or I just use it as an excuse to procrastinate. I’m not even sure when it stopped becoming a tool and became a siren call that I find myself heeding every single day. The notifications designed to make people interact with their phone can become overwhelming. I often find myself turning many of those notifications off.

I’ve also slowly started doing away with using my phone in bed immediately after waking up. I find that so much time is easily wasted browsing social media and not contributing to my own growth, or any plans that I had for the day. Although I’ve just started this practice, it already feels good to do something else in the morning, such as getting immediately out of bed and walking the dog, or exercising. If I don’t keep careful track of my time, it can become easy to waste an entire day.

The hardest habit to break will be reaching for my smartphone when I’m bored or just feeling frustrated. I’m positive that like most people, I pick up my phone from 60 to 100 times per day. I’d like to make each reach of my phone more productive so that time isn’t wasted. In short, I’d like to turn my smartphone back into the tool it was meant to be, instead of a time sink.

 

Have you ever felt like you spend way too much unproductive time on your smartphone? How did you remedy the problem?

Smartphone by Karlis Dambrans of Flickr

Smartphone by Karlis Dambrans of Flickr

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