Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Rebel Without a Clock

Well, it was just so fortunate to find an image of a James Dean clock! Talk about synchronicity!

I'd like to take some time to talk about time...

For years, I was a rebel without a "Clock" or watch. Or really, without a routine. Clocks, watches, routines, all that stuff was just 'the 'man' keepin' me down." I'll show them. (I'm not sure who "them" is. Uh, who them are? Wow, that's a tricky one.)

I did feel that I was "rebelling" against something by not having routines. That I somehow was exerting my independence and freedom by doing this. Right...

Exerting my freedom to be always late for things...

Exerting my independence to make others wait for me...

Exerting my freedom and independence never to have enough time to do what I really wanted to do. Gee that's ironic. My rebellion against constructed time was keeping me from doing things?

Now, please remember, I am not perfect now. But I have changed some of my ways, my attitudes and my way of seeing things. My perceptions of time and routine. It's unfortunate that the word routine sounds so, well, routine. Like mundane.

A routine life does not sound like an exciting one.

But that's the thing. Life does not have to be routine or mundane. There are mundane things in life that need to be taken care of. And once they are....then let the excitement commence!

(And you can always interject some excitement even into the mundane, right? Try grocery shopping in a prom dress or watering the lawn in a ballet tutu. And of course you can always vacuum au natural--just keep the curtains closed or you might find getting thrown in the pokey part of your new routine!)

So, what are the mundane things in life?

Well, the usual suspects that keep us going: food and shelter. Grocery shopping, food preparation and keeping the housework up. (Keeping the housework up is not quite as important as feeding yourself, let's just get that straight. Food is first.)

Yes, you need to support your fun stuff by building a firm foundation. If you are fed, you have energy to do laundry. If you have clean clothes, you can get dressed and go to work to earn money to feed yourself. If you can earn money you can afford that roof over your head and the food in your tummy. Yes, it's quite the connected circle.

Now while I try, I know I can't solve all organizing issues in one blog. I just want to get you moving in a direction. Even if it's just to change your perception of something.

Let's take meal planning.

I have found that if some external structure is imposed on me, I do very well at meal planning and grocery shopping. If some scheduled activity lands me near the grocery store, then that's my day to do grocery shopping. When my DD was a just a toddler, the library held story-time on Wednesdays. Lovely, since the grocery store was just down the block. Wednesday became my grocery day. I cursed the library when they stopped story-time for the summer. (Damn those under-funded public institutions!) Yes, we did still manage to eat in the summer, but I had to look for another time structure.

Fast forward to when DD is in ballet class, held even closer to the grocery store, and she is now old enough to be left at class. Woo-hoo, a whole 45 minutes to run and do the grocery shopping! (Or nap in the car if really needed...)

What this structure does is remind me that, yes, I should do the meal planning the day or evening before, or at least while I am eating breakfast that morning. I sit with my giant family calendar and check our activities for each day that week and gauge my potential for crankiness each evening. (Should I have a frozen Amy's pizza at the ready or will I have the strength for a full-on stir-fry?) At my fingertips I have my grocery list ready as I mentally (or physically) check my pantry for the needed items. I use the "All Out Of" notepad from Knock Knock, which includes a section for vegetarian items. This is a great magnetic notepad I stick on the fridge. DH can check off things as he runs out (Yeah, it happens once in awhile. The theory is nice.) and I can too.
The wonderful thing about shopping once a week is that I am not tempted to shop more often and therefore waste more time and spend more money. If I know that I am shopping on Monday and we run out of peanut butter on Friday, then, heck, we just try and make it through the weekend without peanut butter, use up something else that is probably about to go bad in the fridge and spend that time doing something more fun. Like napping.

Summer always presents a problem since the lovely structure and routine of the school year is delightfully out of whack. I'm realizing (I am determined to not let summers get the best of me) that I need to re-evaluate the routine every week or every-other week.

Just a little forethought.

A little.

If I don't do a little forethought a week or two at a time, I have to think all the more each and every day and every hour of that silly day. But if the important stuff is planned and on the calendar, then I don't have too think so often. And that's the whole point. Not having to think so much about the mundane things. And having time (and brain power) to think about the fun or creative stuff.

Or take a nap.

That'll show them.

Watch for future blogs about the importance of getting enough sleep. :)

Friday, June 20, 2008

Just say "No!"

Well, actually, don't just say "No!" Say it with style...

Many of my clients have time management issues. Sometimes it's from difficulty with managing the concept of time, but often it's because they have filled their schedules by saying "yes" too many times to too many people.

ADDitude Magazine (a magazine devoted to adults and families living with AD/HD) recently ran a sidebar called "12 Clever Ways to Decline," written by Ramona Creel of Onlineorganizing.com. I'll add my cleverness at the bottom.

12 Clever Ways to Decline

1. I'm in the middle of several projects.
2. I'm not comfortable with that.
3. I'm not taking on any new responsibilities.
4. I'm not the most qualified person for the job.
5. I do not enjoy that kind of work.
6. I do not have any more room in my calendar.
7. I hate to split my attention among projects.
8. I know you will do a wonderful job yourself.
9. I need to leave some free time for myself.
10. I would rather help out with another task.
11. I have no experience with that.
12. I have another commitment.

Personally, I'm a little leery of #10 and #11. Only use #10 if you really want another task, and you're not trying to get out of doing something. And with #11, the other person can too easily come back with "So this is how you would get some experience." That's been used on me! For me, #11 is only good for things like flying an airplane, surgery of any kind, higher math and giving hair cuts.

Here are my additions:

13. Let me check my calendar and get back with you.
This gives you time to decide which "no" you are going to use. You also get to confirm for yourself that your calendar is full. Make sure you have filled your calendar. You know you can fill your calendar with things like "Bubble bath: 6 pm," "Nap: 2-4 pm," "Wash the dog: 11-12 pm," "Play computer solitaire: 7 am -3 pm." I'm serious, be sure to schedule all the fun things you like to do. (Well maybe computer solitaire for 8 hours is a bit extreme.) But it helps you avoid the next excuse...

14. Oh, the last time I did that they had to call the fire department.
Now this is a very specific excuse. Feel free to substitute a more appropriate agency–paramedics, police, park rangers, health inspector, social services, the IRS, Coast Guard, National Guard, Marines etc. Yes, this one does border on the "little white lie." (I hope.) But it gets the other party to say no, not you!

So, if you think you would have trouble using any of these, I suggest practicing. Take the ones you like, put them in your own words, stand in front of a mirror and repeat them until they roll off your tongue. Call it a fire drill if you like. When the time comes to use one, it will be right there for you, sound natural (do give a short pause first and look like you are mentally checking your calendar) and get the job done. The job is to avoid a job you don't have time for or just don't want to do.

It's been nice "No-ing you!"