If you’ve ever googled the number of songs related to time (and I have) you can find more than a thousand. Preoccupation with time seems pretty standard, and it’s certainly true of me. For a long time (ha!), I’ve tried to develop some means of time management that will work for me. One of the phrases I’ve hoped to eliminate from my vocabulary is “I don’t have time to…” because it makes me flinch inwardly every time I hear myself say it.
There are probably as many books written about time as there are songs, but I don’t have time to…
Here, loosely, are my current time management guidelines to try to meet my own and other people’s expectations.
- The joy of saying no. Just no. Not “no I don’t have time,” “no I wish I could, but,” or any other qualifiers. Just NO. This saves mountains of time and frustration to everyone, even though people don’t like being told no. It’s an honest response and it’s better than stringing people along while they wait for something I’m never going to do.
- The hope inherent in saying “we’ll see.” This means I’m inclined to want to do what is being asked, but I genuinely don’t know if I can. It’s the only answer I can offer. It’s not the same as the parental “we’ll see” which means “when hell freezes over, kid.”
- “I’ll try” means just that. I will try, but I can’t make any promises. If it’s something you need a definite commitment to, you’ll probably want to ask someone else.
- “I can try to do this by” is stronger because I’m providing a self-imposed deadline. If you need it sooner, you’ll probably want to ask someone else.
- “I will do this when I can” is a definite yes, but I have to balance my work life and my personal life with what you’re asking. I work pretty insane hours, and I feel like when I’m not working, my family, friends, and dogs are high priority and then there’s my own need for down time. Whether it’s thirty minutes of Netflix or the joy of reading, I need to lose myself in these sometimes to thrive and recharge. However, what you’re asking is not a burden and that’s why I’m saying yes even though I can’t commit to a due date.
- “I will do this by” is an answer basically given to those who pay me. I’m careful about what I commit to because I do have an employer with definite expectations of me, and that employer comes first with regard to paid work. My volunteer job turned into a part time job, and that part time job turned into a full time job, and that full time job can require work from me in increments anywhere from six AM to after midnight, and while working an 18 hour day is rare now, in between those two and three hour increments, I have commitments to my family and my household.
Also, sometimes I just do nothing but stare at the sky and try not to think that the world has lost its damn mind.