Monday, May 31, 2010


Post by Jenny
Lately I’ve noticed that I’m pretty good about budgeting my money when I shop, but I’m a spendthrift with my time. I wander, I become distracted (oooh, clearance!), I forget things and have to backtrack, and then backtrack again. Before I notice, thirty minutes have passed, and I’m still only half-finished.

I recently had a long list of errands and did not want to spend an entire day completing them, so I decided to apply The Pomodoro Technique. (Read my previous Pomodoro posts here and here.) My goal was to spend twenty-five minutes or less at every stop. Those of you with smart phones can no doubt avail yourselves of any number of fun timer apps, but my phone is pretty basic (think: Flintstones), so it served as my clock only.

In what amounted to a shop-it-off aerobic workout, I completed seven errands in less than three hours. Considering that two of my stops were at the biggest time-sucking black holes in my life (Target and Sam’s Club), I think I did pretty well—though the manic gleam in my eyes no doubt alarmed everyone who crossed my path .

So, you may ask, why does time management—whether it’s the Pomodoro or Cricket McRae's hourglass—matter to a stay-at-home mom/writer who, in theory, should have time to spare? In my perfect world, it wouldn’t matter. Every activity would require the exact amount of time I wished to spend on it. No child would come down with strep throat or need to make a clay sculpture of an eastern lowland gorilla before school the next day. Dogs would be incapable of vomiting. There would be no Dr. Phil. (That’s right, I said it.) Yes, that world would certainly afford me more time to write. I’d just have less to write about.

Time is tricky for me because it is both fixed and subjective. It flows steadily (sometimes relentlessly) along in a predictable, measurable fashion, but it also rushes, it eddies, it stagnates. Frankly, I doubt I’ll ever truly master the art of time management. But even if I can’t manage time, I can respect it, so that whenever—through dumb luck or careful planning—I have a few extra minutes at my disposal, I won’t dispose of them. I’ll put my butt in the chair, and I’ll write.

What are your time-stealers, and how do you combat them?


Linda L. Henk said...

I tend to stare out my office window and watch the neighbors and the traffic. I'm also one that lets things pile up until it all becomes clutter. Then time flies by while I search for things and don't find them.

Combatting these things that steal time: I clean like crazy, I follow goals, I'm successful for awhile until some part of me loosens up, becomes lackadaisical and rebels. Then I start the cycle all over again. Oh, I also spend time with my dictionary looking up spellings of words like lackadaisical.

Kerrie said...

I suffer from SOS-Shiny Object Syndrome-so there are many things that suck my time, it just depends on what is the shiniest at the time.

Patricia Stoltey said...

Before it was Twitter and Facebook and blogging. I've cut back on time spent there, but am now combating errands. Lots of errands. Like trips to the library when I already have books stacked all over the house. There's always something.

Lexie M said...

I was able to use Pomodoro for finishing up my packing before moving. I'd fill one box and it didn't seem as if I'd made a dent in those items I had saved to the last. Becming discouraged and exhausted, I was also losing focus.

I sat my kitchen timer for 20 minutes and worked as fast as I could without overthinking which box each item should go in. I used the touch it once, pack it rule.

When the timer went off, I would set it again for 5 minutes and read. The focused packing and resting break gave me what I needed to finish.

Now for the unpacking. Better use the same rule, it's too easy to just sit and look at it.

Cricket McRae said...

I'm afraid my time sucks are the home crafting and cooking things that I love and write about. I justify them by the very fact that I write about them. But let's face it: Eating a breakfast of homemade yogurt and homemade granola with berries I picked is satisfying, but not remotely necessary.

Kerrie, I love the idea of SOS. Well, maybe not love it so much as relate to it...
Hearth Cricket

Jenny S. said...

Pat is right...there's always something. Sometimes it's shiny, sometimes it's clutter, sometimes it's an errand, or a box that needs to be packed. But I firmly believe we all should make time for delicious homemade food. Especially (in my case) if it's prepared by someone else :-)

Share a Post