Many years ago when I knew everything about life and took so very much about it for granted the office manager sent me to a time management seminar. This was before marriage and children so, needless to say, there was a vast amount of time available to manage.
Those were the days when I was convinced my employer owed me at least one sick day a month. Mental health day, I called it. So I could sleep in, wander about the house in pajamas, lounge on the couch and catch up on the day time shows.
It never occurred to me I already had several hours each day to go where I wanted and do what I felt like. That was the way it was supposed to be, right?
There was one concept I remember from the seminar that actually made a difference to me then and still does. If you are constantly interrupted by other people and you are the person they need to talk to before they can see anyone else, that isn’t an interruption: it’s your job. Just as much as the papers on your desk.
Yes, this was in the day when we did everything on paper first, in handwriting, with pens and then we typed it up. On a typewriter. Pause while those under the age of 40 ask the grown-ups what a typewriter was.
Fast forward a few years…no, a few more…there, that’s about right. Married and 2 delightful daughters. The novelty of spending several days in a row never getting out of pajamas has definitely worn off. The only dramatic moment on daytime tv involves Mr. Rogers waiting for Mr. McFeely’s Speedy Delivery.
The project goals became getting all the way into the bathroom before the phone rang or a battle royal erupted between the girls and the dog over a headless barbie. It was a new type of time management and accepting the interruptions were still part of the job. Most days the interruptions were all there was to the day. Deal with it or, well, there was no ‘or’.
Now I’ve graduated to the nearly empty nest stage. My time is once again my own; I can schedule everything to suit new projects, attain new goals. This is the theory. The reality is it’s harder than it looks to build a routine from the ground up.
I schedule one thing and then realize I’ve let freedom run rampant through my best intentions once again. I can finally do all those things I wanted to do for the last 5 years but couldn’t. It’s intoxicating. And, like most intoxicants, leads to remorse the next day. I should have spent an hour doing…I could have put another load of laundry in…oh crap, we’re out of….
So at this point it isn’t the time that needs management, it’s me. I guess the words on a calendar only have the substance I give them. They’ll be real when I believe enough in myself to make them real.