Monday, August 10, 2009

Ignoring time

I really appreciated seeing this post this morning about not focusing so much on the clock. I have a real tendency to do this, scheduling every minute of every day. Today, for example, Geeky Boy and I had to go to the high school to rework his schedule, so I started my planning from there. I decided I would go to the high school at 10, followed by a trip to the grocery store, lunch, cleaning, and then a trip to the pool, exercising either there or when I got home. I planned free time in the hour before dinner, dinner, and then just open time. Sounds oppressive, doesn't it? The other thing that happened was that I didn't wake early enough so a few things I wanted to get done on a writing project didn't happen until just now. And, though I should be cleaning, that's not happening now because I wanted to post this and read a few other blogs, which is not quite leisure, not quite work. So, you see, my schedule is easily disrupted and then I feel bad about not getting things done, etc. Bleh.

Jonathan Mead (author of the above post) echoes this sentiment:

Trying to constantly manage and monitor my time has only led me to greater anxiety, and always feeling like I’ve not “done enough.” I’m always thinking about how I could have “spent that time more wisely.” But the purpose of life is to enjoy it, is it not? So can’t we perform highly without the anxiety of counting every minute?
He makes a lot of good recommendations for being productive without feeling pressed for time. My favorite is having a theme for the month. Although I didn't quite consciously think about it, my theme for this month is about getting organized and eliminating clutter. I wanted to be prepared for the new school year with a house that's more streamlined and with everything in its rightful place. I think the idea is that, while I might schedule time for cleaning, if that's the theme, then when I have the time and motivation during each day, I can tackle a cleaning project.

Next month, I'm going to tackle exercise, something I've struggled with forever. I really hate structured exercise--going to the gym, being in an exercise class (except for yoga; I like yoga classes)--but it's not like I'm a total lump. I don't mind walking instead of driving places. I'll play soccer or tennis with the kids. I like gardening. Generally, moving around on occasion, even every day, is not something I'm opposed to. But it's extremely easy for me to make excuses. It's too hot, too cold, too wet. I have this that or the other that I need to do. I'd rather read, play games, watch tv. You know the drill. So I'm going to make some effort now, but really focus next month on moving at least a little every day.

The exercise thing is partly why I'm not as fond of Mead's advice to follow your rhythms. That's easy enough for me to do with intellectual activity, but inertia keeps me from doing physical things that I find unpleasant. And that's where I think a schedule can help. And I suspect some people find the same is true of other kinds of work. Certainly people can schedule those activities for times when they know they're more motivated, but they might have to semi force themselves to at least getting started.

I'm trying, then, to find a good flow for myself where I feel productive, but don't feel anxious. Easier said than done, but I'm giving it a whirl.