Two days ago in an attempt to organize my chaos, I made a schedule of where my hours go in a week. Needless to say, I was shocked, dismayed and disappointed at how my weekly schedule of have-tos illuminated in multi-colored blockiness how little free time I actually did have.
Shocking revelation #1
I work at 40-hour week. You’d think I’d know how many hours I work, but I am a self-employed medical transcriptionist who sets her own hours and never really bothered to keep track. Now, I know. I’m full-time. I lost 5 hours I thought I had.
Shocking revelation #2
I couldn’t figure out where to fit in family time…the whole reason I work at home was to be here with my family, and I couldn’t figure out a time to create memories as a family where everyone was home. Yes, the most special moment between individual members are often not planned and just happen, but how do you have those great family “do you remember” reminisces if you never actually find time to have an adventure together (adventure don’t have to be complicated…just trying the new pie place down the block is an adventure).
Shocking revelation #3
Where the heck was MY time? Where was my meditating, blogging, learning, reading and dreaming time going to fit in?
These were the top three of my revelations. There were many more. I know there are many others who work 40 hours and manage a family, but I’ve never been very great at multitasking or living life without a fair amount of margin to handle gracefully the unexpected.
However on the flip side, there was a positive effect to the construction of my calendar. I began to be aware of how I spent my most valuable resource of time and asked myself how I could spend it more wisely.
I noted how much time I wasted taking “breaks” during my work and also when I was transitioning from one task to the other how often I would pull out my phone and surf Facebook. Surfing once or twice a day would not be an issue, rather a well-deserved coffee break, but my conscience knew it was more than that…quite a bit more. With sadness, Facebook on my phone got the boot. I could still check it on computer, but it was a little less accessible. I also banned myself from “breaks” during work and instead allotted myself a firm schedule.
Errand Day. One afternoon to run errands requested of me by my family. No little last-minute trips to pick up vegan bread, get a hair cut or drop into the hardware store. This felt very freeing as I was feeling somewhat resentful of all the last minute requests and times that by 5 people and a multitude of pets, and you spend a lot of time running errands.
Cook only on my dinner night. In our family of five, we have managed to divide the cooking duties over the week and assign everyone a dinner night. Helps so much, but often as not, I would find myself cooking the two spare days, as well as helping people out during their meal times (people pleaser!). I’m getting tough now. I’m cooking the same number of nights as everyone else. Everyone is perfectly capable of finishing up leftovers or whipping themselves up something simple on those two spare nights. Today I had a 20-minute nap with the dogs while my son cooked. Blissful!
Just those three inspirations have freed up a significant amount of time, and I have figured out how to fit in some time almost each day for me and for my loved ones. There is still tweaking to do. I haven’t figured out the social life thing yet, but Rome wasn’t built in a day and my calendar won’t be either; however, right now Rome seems the easier build.
I highly recommend the process of charting your time every now and then. Setting work hours firmly has helped free my brain from having to think about work beyond those allotted times and has brought me back to a place of prioritizing what’s important in this season in my life.