Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Next Steps

Step 2 proposed in Elizabeth Fenner’s article “More Free Time” (Real Simple, July 2008, pgs. 147-152) is: See what you can give up. The author admits that this is the hard part but she also says that “Devoting more time to what you love can help you get more done overall.” Neil Fiore, psychologist, exercise coach and author of The New Habit (Penguin Group, 2007) says, “Research shows that to be productive and creative, you must make time for recreation and relaxation. Trying to skimp on them hurts your motivation and often leads you to procrastinate.” Elizabeth Fenner adds, “being a little selfish will keep you from becoming resentful, burned out, or cranky.” She suggests you find ways to free up time by looking at your diary and determining 1) What you can delegate – household chores to your spouse or children or give junior staff at work assignments that will challenge them; 2) What can you outsource – housecleaning, lawn and garden care, laundry and cut back on some luxury expenses to be able to afford these services – your time is more valuable; 3) What can you do less well (at least sometimes) – when something you are working on is good enough, stop; 4) What distractions can I limit, if not eliminate - don't constantly checking your email while you are at work, give your PDA a rest when you are home and curtail your television watching only to the shows you love and then turning off the set. “You will get more psychological benefits from choosing other forms of fun.”

Step 3 of the program to free up more free time in your life for fun, according to Fenner, is to re-schedule your schedule. Decide what you want to spend your time doing and put time for those activities into your schedule as “non-negotiable” commitments. Then you can make up the rest of your schedule insuring that you have the time to do what you want. Just like the axiom that you will full up the space that you occupy with possessions, no matter how much space you have; you will fill up your time in the same way. Consider how much you can get done in a day when you want to leave work early or when you have to get out of the house for a doctor’s appointment. Contrary to some of the suggestions we have had about lists of tasks, Fenner challenges you to create your to-do list on a 3 x 5 index card, writing only the things you can accomplish in a day (3-5 is doable). Make sure that at least one item from your wish list is scheduled (in ink) during your week. Schedule a quick and brainless task first to get something out of the way which will start you off feeling accomplished and then put your most onerous task second. That way you will get it over with early. Challenge the validity of the list by trying to cross something off – sometimes that is all it takes! Gina Trapani from makes a weekly schedule and evaluates it on a weekly basis saving the time that it would take to do this daily.

If only this were all easy...I will share her concluding thoughts in tomorrow's posting. Hope to see you all tonight at our September Clutter Club meeting at the library at 7:00.

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