Thursday, December 22, 2005

Time Management

Continuing the theme of the last few days, let's talk a bit more about utilizing time. But first a review. Everyone has the same number of hours per day. A gifted few weren't blessed with a few hours more, nor were the rest of us denied a full allotment of time. We each decide how to fill those hours. Well, sometimes parts of it are decided for us, but basically we pick and choose how our days will play out. We can organize our days to utilize our time to its best advantage. We can even learn to become more productive by capturing bits and pieces of time in between the major events. This, of course, depends on life playing out in the best case scenario.

But even the best laid plans go awry. Illness comes to visit. The changing seasons put extra demands on us. An unexpected (but not unwanted) phone call puts us behind. Life intervenes. Do we throw up our hands in defeat or are there ways around this as well?

Years ago, my brother shared with me something he told his young son: We can have anything we want; we just can't have everything we want. In this case, he was referring to things that cost money, but I've often thought what good advice this is about things that cost time as well. The lesson and reality he wished to show his son was that you need to decide what is most important to you and then figure out what it will take to achieve it. It will undoubtedly mean sacrifice and might take time to attain, but you can make it happen. In essence, this is setting a goal and focusing all your efforts towards reaching it.

Scaling this down a bit, this attitude can be helpful in negotiating those times when there really aren't enough hours in a day. Life has intervened and we must deal with the interruption. The holidays are such a perfect example of this. All I really wanted to do was work on my sewing projects, but I also wanted to send out Christmas cards, with personal notes on most. It was those notes that was slowing me down. I couldn't seem to fit them into the normal routine of my day. Something had to give temporarily, and I begrudgingly decided to put a part of my morning ritual on hold. Now, I've already told you how I prefer to ease into the morning. That easing includes leisurely sipping coffee while reading for 30 - 45 minutes. I can't emphasize enough how tied I've become to my routines and how much I hate to have them upset. But it was obvious that if the cards were to be written, and I wanted to continue to sew, I'd have to sacrifice something. The relaxing reading would be replaced by writing on my cards.

As you can imagine, writing those notes to faraway friends and family first thing in the morning was actually a very pleasant way to start my day. The reading material would still be there when I returned to my old routine. I'd really sacrificed nothing.

It got me thinking about the bigger issue of my creative journey as well. Too often I just want it to happen without having to upset my routines or work hard or give anything up. I'm thinking now that if I seriously want my quilting to be more than a pleasant diversion, I need to face up to the reality that I can have anything I want, just not everything I want. And I might just discover that the sacrifices I choose to make towards that goal really aren't so terrible after all.

1 comment:

Omega said...

These past two posts have been thought-provoking, and I find the image of the pebbles in a bowl a delightful one. Also the having anything, but not everything is something to mull over.

It is true that we can get so comfortable in routine - and in some ways it can feel counter intuitive to break that routine. Routine can help us achieve so much more than a chaotic approach. However, I do think that we need to shake ourselves up from time to time by asking - as you say - what our priorities are and why.

I remember an article years ago by Katherine Whitehorn in the Observer newspaper here in the UK where she was talking about putting off jobs she found tedious. Her friend said that it often took more time to sigh and moan about doing the chore than actually carrying it out. So, with that in mind I try to set myself a reward of a coffee, or reading an article in a newly arrived magazine, or somesuch, and just get on with the chore.

Good luck with however you want to develop.