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April 29, 2011

Here we are with the Merry go round group, eleven women who take a look at one topic, seeing it in her own way. This month it’s time management or how we juggle our time.

Time management is one of the hardest aspects of working at home. It’s just too easy to get overwhelmed by the many tasks, familial, business, creating, etc. that need doing and freeze. Or to get lost in an activity and realize that the whole day has slipped by leaving some essential things unaccomplished. So much to do, the clock is ticking and the to do list seems to be getting longer, instead of shorter.

I suppose everyone sees time differently. I see the day as an opportunity to make something, and spend some time with my family. But for me, the term “time management” pulls up the image of something needing to be rounded up, lassoed, and tamed.

Can something so elusive as time be “managed”? Well, at least we have to try.

Before telling you what works for me as far as time management goes, I’ll tell you about the two problems I have; you may have the same ones.

The first is that I love to daydream, scheme and plan. I need time to just mull ideas over, draw diagrams, sketch, etc. I must schedule it in, give it a ‘slot’, lest it take over, preventing me from actually creating and producing anything.

The other is my feeling of panic when anything unexpected comes up, throwing off my carefully planned schedule. This week, we lost internet service for a couple of days, and I had to spend some time on the phone with technicians. On Tuesday, I actually calculated, with tears in my eyes, how much production time I had lost. Am I obsessed?

So here’s what I do to keep on track and feel productive and inspired, not overwhelmed:

• Consider fixed activities: daily (meals and laundry for example), weekly (part-time job at eight hours per week, shopping, taking my son to soccer), yearly (vacation in the US), and even once-in-a-while activities, (housework is in this category for me!)

• Working around those fixed activities, schedule different types of business or creative work each week: production, marketing, photography, writing descriptions, accounting, classes or coaching sessions.

• I highlight priorities, those which absolutely must get done by a certain time, in my day planner. Yes, I still use old fashioned pen and ink on paper for my schedule.

• Write my priority ‘to-dos’ in the evening for the next day. In the morning, I know what I must get done that day.

• Block out interruptions that can throw me off track: I don’t answer the phone when I’m working unless it’s my kids or hubby; turn off the computer; ignore housework (I’m getting real good at this one!)

• Allow enough time for dreaming, drawing, getting inspiration, like the artist’s date in Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way. There’s nothing like watching a film on Saturday night with the kids while coloring and sketching, going to one of my favorite museums in the afternoon, every so often, or spending a few weeks in the USA to get some fresh ideas and inspiration.

• Don’t work at night, after dinner (we eat around 8:30pm here), except in exceptional circumstances, like writing this blog post!

• I try not to kick myself too hard if I don’t get everything done. I just move it over to the next day and highlight it!

I don’t know if I’ve “tamed” time and I hope it hasn’t “tamed” me instead. At any rate, I am creating stuff, getting it out in the world and having fun along the way.

Don’t forget to check out what the other members of the group have to say, and maybe pick up some tips yourself! We’re managing our time in different time zones, so if their post isn’t up yet, please check back later!

Monika at Red2White
Ruth at Birdland Creations
Kim at Vilt a la Kim
Sara at Crafts of Texture
Mariana at Florcita
Agathe at Le Bar du Vent
Mitsy at ArtMind
Jen at Painted Fish Studio
Samantha at Vintage is for Lovers
Bethany at Dirksen Dabbles

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