I seem to be getting more and more “how do you do it all” questions lately. I think we’re all looking for the magic secret ingredient that will suddenly make our super-long to-do list possible. It seems like others are doing more and we feel inadequate.
Here’s the secret you knew all along: I’m not doing as much as you probably think I am. My to do list is always longer than I can accomplish. I feel the pressure of things left undone. I feel inadequate to what’s on my plate a lot of the time.
I also know that’s a misperception and bad attitude more than a true state.
Different people also have different energy levels and different operating modes. We don’t do ourselves or our families any favors when we compare ourselves to others. We each need to think about who we are, how we function, and how to arrange life in light of those realities.
I am a doer. Having projects makes me happy. I need projects to balance out the daily hum-drum because for me a regular daily routine is draining but a challenging project is invigorating.
So, I will share my weekly time budget – a strategy I recommend in both Simplified Organization: Learning to Love What Must Be Done and Work the Plan – but I also think it’s important for each of us to look at what kind of a person we are rather than compare ourselves to others. Put some time into whatever you find life-giving and invigorating so you can have a replenished self to pour into the other parts of your life that require more out of you.
I think a weekly time budget is a useful exercise because we have different responsibilities and plates to keep spinning, but if we don’t budget time to take care of those things, we’ll always feel behind and like we are making judgment calls we shouldn’t have to make. A prime example of this for me last year was grocery shopping.
Groceries have to be procured, but I didn’t have a place for it on the plan. I thought I had enough margin built in for it to just happen whenever it needed to happen. I did have margin built in. But grocery shopping is rather essential and regular, and so needed a regular and reserved spot in the plan. Just as with a money budget, when I wasn’t reserving any time for grocery shopping, it always felt like I was skimping and scraping to make it happen rather than doing the right thing at the right time.
So, here’s my time budget, with all it’s color-coding detail:
Sunday is not on the time budget at all because it is a day of rest – for church, rest, and fellowship with friends.
- pink is personal or down time
- purple is online & writing time (productive online time, that is)
- orange is school time
- green is housework, errands, & meals
- blue is margin, for hanging out or for doing what needs to be done
I’m not afraid to leave off blog posting, skip a monthly newsletter, not do this that or the other thing that was on the plan because I didn’t have the time for it. I am ok with overplanning and then reprioritizing on the fly. I rather like having the options to work from and picking and choosing.
If having something on the plan that you can’t get to stresses you out, you’re going to prefer a different set up and more culling of the list from the outset. I’m ok with deleting on the fly as well as checking off the box.
Having time blocks reserved for school allows me to shut off the mental ticker that likes to think up blog post ideas or things I might try online, having time blocks for housework makes me realize that it’s only a short bit of time I have to focus on it rather than letting it grow to be something that takes all day.
I find a weekly time budget to be a very helpful exercise, a way to wrap my mind around my responsibilities and how they fit together.