For as long as I can remember, I have kept lists. There is a running ‘To Do’ list on my iPad, assigning tasks to each day. Checking off things as I complete them gives me a sense of accomplishment. Still, it’s difficult not to dwell on those things that I did not do. No matter how productive I am, there’s always some guilt or regret.
Simply, there are not enough hours in the day to do all of the things I want to do – and to do them well. If I could somehow extend the day by two hours, it would help. And, to whom should I address my petition for adding an extra day to the end of the week? I even have a name for it: Thursday, Friday, Babsday.
Wouldn’t it be great to have a whole extra day, when we could catch up on all those things we meant to do, but just didn’t have time? Imagine eight days a week – Just like the Beatles’ song! You could finally finish that book you’ve been meaning to read. Or maybe you’d reschedule that lunch with a friend you had to blow off. Plant a tree. Wash the windows. Catch a ballgame. The possibilities are endless!
But alas, Babsday is only a fantasy. Reality says we have to get it all done in seven days. I’ve been talking to busy, creative people and reading up on theories of increasing productivity. I’ve learned that lists are good. Multi-tasking is bad. I’ve decided to tweak my approach to productivity, based on what I’ve learned. Here are some things you might try, too!
- Lists: Keep a list of tasks that will be repeated either daily or several times a week. For example, writing a blog, practicing music lessons, walking/exercise.
Make a separate list for longer-term goals and projects, like putting things aside for the church yard sale and sorting through old photos. Review the lists every morning, as you plan the day ahead.
2. Determine what time of day you might be most productive and try to complete a big chore. I love my retired mornings, when I relax with my coffee, read eMail, catch up on social media. Then, I write this blog. But sometimes, it goes on for a couple of hours. Not good. Morning is optimal for most people. I need to limit my coffee time or complete something before I sit down with the iPad.
By the same token, recognize your ‘low’ time of day and take a break. Chances are that whatever you force yourself to do will leave you feeling frustrated and inadequate, anyway, so don’t fight it.
3. Limit electronic use: Oh boy. Am I guilty of this! How many times do I tell myself that I’m just going to check my messages, only to become distracted and let an hour pass by? I’m going to check less and, when I do, set a timer.
4. Television: Actually, I don’t watch all that much. I am out almost every night during the week. When I come home, however, I usually relax in front of the boob-tube for a bit while simultaneously playing ‘Words With Friends’ or browsing Pinterest. Instead, I’m going to try using this time for researching or outlining the next day’s blog. (This will save time in the morning). You might try folding laundry while watching television. Or pay bills – Most of what’s on is pretty mindless, anyway. Use the time wisely – This is one time when I feel multitasking is good!
5. Set aside chunks of time for you: I can get my other writing done by assigning an afternoon for just that. Sometimes, I need to get away from the house – somewhere I won’t be interrupted by the dog needing to go out or the phone ringing (or the laundry). If I choose the day/time and write it in my calendar, I’m more likely to keep the commitment to myself.
In any given week, I have a lot of balls in the air. Ultimately, some of them get dropped. Usually, that’s okay. When it’s not, I need to do a better job of prioritizing. Eating healthy takes a lot of time and energy: Planning meals, shopping for fresh ingredients and preparing food. That’s a priority. Cleaning the house – Not so much. My various creative endeavors all take extra effort, too: Fiddle practice, writing, dance class, photography. I could really use Babsday for some of that! But, for now, I’ll have to find a way to do without it!