Posts Tagged ‘time management’

Why do I work like this?

In May 2016 on May 4, 2016 at 1:18 pm


Sarah: Last week I ran a marathon and juggled burning batons.

Not literally in my running shoes plus fuel and matches of course, but it felt just as massive.

I had taken on a huge writing job for a new client, and it coincided with the second week of school holidays during which I had previously scheduled multiple allied health appointments for me and my kids.

Looking back, I’m amazed it actually got done. With early wake-ups and late nights and very high levels of screens and ignoring healthy cooking and being cranky with my children and pet, somehow it happened. A typical day looked like this:

5.30am –> awake and sitting at computer

7.30am –> love and breakfast for kids

8am –> load of washing on, then walk dog

8.30am –> more work for me, kids play and fight and play

10am –> hang out washing, dash to dentist

12pm –> buy and eat sushi for lunch, play at the park on the way home

1pm –> more work for me, kids on screens

3pm –> yell at kids to get off screens and do something active, they walk dog

4pm –> hair appointments

5pm –> more work for me, kids on screens with intermittent yelling

6pm –> take kids and dog to the local oval for a run and kick of the ball

7pm –> OMG what is for dinner?

8pm –> more work (husband cleans kitchen, plays with kids, gets them into bed)

10pm –> yes, still working

11pm –> suppose I’d better sleep

Why do I do this to myself? Why not just say no to the client, or delay the work, or opt for a simpler life with more sleep and lower income?

I love being busy and am at my most efficient and effective when I have a lot on. But every now and again I wonder if this is not the best way to operate. Things would be a lot simpler if I got a fixed job, walked away from the house to a set office, used more Out of Hours School Care and babysitters, ate takeaway and threw the clothes in the drier every day.

But then yesterday — as I took a deep breath and hid in the laundry and actually found pairs of matching clean socks — I listened to Radio National’s Life Matters program. In this episode, guests of host Cassie McCullagh were Professor Ross Anderson and Associate Professor Susan Bartlett of McGill University in Montreal. Speaking on the risks of heart disease and joint problems, Professor Anderson said:

Individuals who sit for prolonged periods of time, without interruption, are at greater risk.

A lot of Australians commute to work passively, in a car.

Most of us sit behind a desk or at a computer for the entire morning, and in many cases we don’t get up to take a break.

We sit at the cafeteria eating lunch passively, and then we go back to work and back home in our cars.

This is not the way I work. I suppose that’s good.

I also wonder if I would be as efficient if I knew I had endless hours in each day to dedicate to my writing tasks. Even today, when deadlines are less pressing, I can feel myself drifting off, thinking too much, checking out clothing online, seeing what everyone’s up to on Facebook.

Snatched windows of time in-between physical tasks forces me to focus and deliver. And it helps me lose my inner smart-arse.

Now excuse me, the dog needs a run. And so do I.

PS. I’ve written previously about the need to sit less in several posts: Sitting and standing, Making a stand, and The walking meeting

[image thanks to Ky:]


Let me check my diary

In October 2015 on October 15, 2015 at 7:57 pm


Sarah: My career does not depend on my looks.

And yet here I am at the salon again, paying through the nose for my grey hairs to be hidden. 

I’m not an Olympic athlete.

And yet I seem to be at the physiotherapist and podiatrist an awful lot lately. 

Oh my goodness, this is why old people retire.

‘Cause they’ve got so many bodily maintenance appointments it’s simply not feasible to work anymore. 

Seriously though, I’m running out of patience on this hair thing.

Time travel

In February 2014 on March 1, 2014 at 9:19 am


Sarah: Kirsti’s post of yesterday has me thinking. Thinking about how a changing perception of time has influenced my life.

I look back to the days when I was a student. I worked very hard, a had extra jobs on the side and I did lots of exercise. And yet I had a sense of time freedom I did not appreciate at the time. I set the agenda and I moved it as required. I controlled my time (at least it felt that way).

Baby number 1 threw me big time, so to speak. I was the boss no longer; even when he slept it was as though he was an alarm clock which could go off any minute. I hovered terribly, waiting for and even trying to predict the inevitable ‘buzzer’. What a waste of time! So silly!

I also found it difficult having no sense of weekdays and weekends. Each day involved milk, poo and washing. No matter what. I didn’t have the sense to create a structure which loosely matched that of my working partner so that a regular but changing pattern over 7 days emerged.

Two further babies improved my approach a hell of a lot, but even so I still grappled with time issues. As an example: free time became a gift, something so rare and so exciting that I’d rush about and try and achieve too many things in a small window. Far from being relaxing, my free time became a flurry of everything and nothing. Again, so silly!

Kindy and school gave us some routine, and a sense of being part of the grown-up world again. We had a daily and a weekly timeframe. I loved it. With that sense of structure, I became more efficient, more effective and happier.

My kids are now of an age where sporting and other commitments are starting to creep up and up. Not only do we have school as a daily fixture in time, but other things as well. Four week days out of five, after the 9-3 school period, we leap in the car and head off to a second or even third venue.

My little one is in his final year of pre-school before he too will join the 5-days-a-week commitment to education.

I actually like being busy, and I love the kids to be broadly educated and doing lots of sport. But I’m determined to avoid that the sense of RUSH RUSH RUSH which can inevitable creep in. We’re lucky enough to live near our school, and many of our activities. This has been deliberate, not just in choosing where to live but also in which activities to sign up for. For example, we chose not to follow most school friends to a footy club 6 kms away, but instead registered at the very local one 1 km away. It doesn’t sound like much of a difference, but I know that when we’re in the car fighting 4-5pm traffic, that’s 5 kms fewer that I will spend swearing and hollering at the clock.

We walk to school on as many days as I can get my act together. Although it can be a scramble to leave the house a good 10 minutes earlier than if we drive, once we start walking it’s as though we enter a warp. Time stands still.  No matter how many cars are queued to turn left onto the main road, we always assume the same pace. We know how long the walk takes, and accept it as a given. That’s pretty precious.

And sometimes, we feed our neighbour’s chooks on the way home. This also relates to time, sort of like a flashback. It makes me think of my grandfather, and the days when everyone had a few birds hanging about to eat the vege scraps and produce eggs.

A different time.