Monday, June 25, 2012

The Name of the Game is Scheduling

Now don't start moaning and groaning.  Believe me, I understand the pain the word "schedule" can cause.  I've always been one of those people who likes to do things when I'm in the mood...or when I absolutely can't put them off any longer.  In fact, I still have some winter clothes to put away, but since I'm asleep most of the time when I'm in my bedroom, I'm only reminded twice a day.

The thing is, I've had to learn to at least rough out an idea of when I need to do things.  Book deadlines can do that, forcing a more non-conformist into something resembling a pretzel if the lesson isn't learned early.

But writing isn't the only thing in our lives that we sometimes need to fit into a schedule.  With four girls, leaving doing laundry until clean clothes were needed would have been a disaster.  Although my house wasn't always visitor-ready, there were times when I followed a stringent schedule.  Looking back, that schedule wasn't such a bad idea.

Schedules aren't just for getting things done.  They're also for giving us more time to enjoy the things in life we might otherwise not have time for...because we're doing those have-to and need-to things we didn't get done.  That usually happens because we've found some super ways to waste time.  Ouch!

According to ADHD experts, who really know a lot about being a space cadet or having trouble staying on task, there small things we can do to make our lives go a little more smoothly.  Those small things can quickly become our best time savers.
  • Do you forget appointments or that you need to be somewhere?  Or do you lose track of time in the morning, causing you to have to rush or be late to work?  Set an alarm!  It's easy to get involved in something else so much that we lose track of time.  My daughters will be happy to share memories of the times that I was late picking them up from school.  Now that they're grown, there are the grandkids, and although the school is only a couple of minutes away, I need to get there early.  I also am easily distracted, so I've set an alarm on my phone for five minutes before I need to leave, allow myself one "snooze," and then I'm out the door on time.
  • Are you feeling overwhelmed about a task?  Set a timer.  Oh, yeah, this one works.  There are times that the thought of having to sit and write X number of pages just makes me want to crawl in a corner.  I've learned that if I set a timer for ten minutes and actually start putting words on paper--whether they're good or not--by the time that timer goes off, I'm actually getting into a rhythm and don't want to stop.  On those occasions when that doesn't happen, at least I accomplished a little.  Eventually and in a much shorter period of time, I'll get it done.
  • Is a big project--or even the thought of it--getting you down?  Break the project into smaller, more manageable goals.  Not only does this help make things easier to accomplish, the accomplishment itself can help keep you going.  A book isn't written in one day.  Even if you tried it, you'd find that life is going to demand your attention.  Even meals will need to be prepared/purchased and eaten.  A few pages a day, four or five days a week will do the trick and not take huge chunks of your time.  The trick is remembering that if you write 1 page a day without fail, in a year you'll have a 365 page novel.  And don't forget to reward yourself when each step--maybe a chapter?--is reached!
  • Do you walk out of the house, forgetting the car keys, your cell phone or other important items?  That means using precious time to look for what's missing.  Instead, designate a spot near the door for the things you know you'll need.  I finally solved my problem of losing my keys.  I bought a coiled plastic chain that I've attached to my purse and the other has a hook for my keys.  It can tuck into my purse, and it's also long enough to reach the ignition when my purse is next to me on the seat.  Another plus is not worrying about locking my keys in the car.  It's much harder to miss my purse than it is to miss pulling the keys out of the ignition.  Oh, and I love purses with pockets--on the outside and inside--giving everything its own place.
  • Do you lose track of time while playing games online, spending time on Facebook or Twitter or even reading blogs?  There's no reason to give up the things you enjoy, only because you've let those things take over your life and your time.  All you need to remember is "moderation in all things" and to set a timer or alarm.
  • Are you overwhelmed by all the mundane tasks that are leaving you no room for others?  Ask for help.  Kids, husbands, roommates, anyone who resides with you or even near you is prime for being helpful.  Sometimes all that's need is to ask.  Other times it might require a little training time. Whether is kids folding laundry or hubby sharing cooking duty, there's always something that someone can help with that will free up a bit of your time.
Don't have a clue how to create a schedule?  Check out some online tips and tricks for created a schedule to suit your lifestyle, below, or do a search for others.
Remember, it may take some adjustments and extra time to find exactly what works best for you.  Even then, nothing is set in stone.  You can adjust your schedule whenever you feel it's needed or when major life changes demand it.  Just don't give up too early, if you feel overwhelmed and have over-scheduled yourself.  That's when a step back and reassessment is needed.

Thanks to for some ideas on the tips used in this blog post!

Moderation in all things. - Andria Terence, Roman comic dramatist (185 BC - 159 BC) 

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