In launching this year’s theme for my life, this week I’m intentionally focusing on how I spend my time—or more specifically, how I waste my time. I’m hyper-analyzing my day, minute by minute. Kind of a pain, I know. It’s tedious, for sure. It feels a lot like a diet.
You know how when you first make a decision to eat healthy, and there are obvious foods to eliminate from the get-go? Fast food, soft drinks, Krispy Kremes, stuff like that? What? You don’t know you should eliminate those? Have I lost you in this analogy already?
Anyway, once you give up the obvious, the pounds melt off your hips like butter. You’d think you’ve discovered the key to everlasting weight loss.
Your new habits become routine, and, lo, your body adjusts. Eventually, you stop losing weight—you reach the dreaded plateau. That’s where you scratch your head and go, “This has been working all along, I didn’t change a single thing. What am I doing wrong?” Now, it’s time to look deeper, more intently at your diet—the things sabotaging your efforts are no longer quite as obvious.
Maybe you start a food log. Maybe you begin to count calories. Maybe you measure portions. Maybe you read more about the nutrient content of your most beloved foods. Maybe you experiment with eliminating foods that aren’t terrible but aren’t wonderful either, like bread or cheese or red meat. You pull in the reins even tighter. You’re on a mission.
Some people struggle with food. Me? I struggle with time.
Managing time well has been an on-going battle for me, for as long as I can remember. On and on in the pages of my journals, I call out to God asking Him to help me “get it all done,” and “make the most of my day,” and “set the right priorities.” It’s not just a trite prayer, either. It’s the cry of my heart. Because, mostly, I feel like I can’t quite get a handle on it. Sure, I go through seasons where I simplify and feel like I conquered it—shoot, I even teach Bible Studies on it! But inevitably, I encounter a disturbance in the force, and I’m right back to struggling again.
Therefore, I’m declaring a Time Diet. And the first thing to go is Facebook.
Ah, Facebook. Who could have imagined 10 years ago, something like Facebook would take over our lives? Mark Zuckerberg, that’s who.
I don’t play Farmville or anything like that, but I do love to read my news feed, and I love to leave comments and banter with my friends and family. I know that’s not terrible, but sometimes it’s not wonderful either. Time slips away mysteriously, especially since I check Facebook multiple times a day on both my computer AND my phone. It could potentially suck HOURS out of my day—and it has. Not every day, but it’s the only obvious time-sucker I can immediately identify. So, for this week (and maybe more!), I have called a Facebook Fast.
Here are some things I noticed since being on my Time Diet/Facebook Fast
1. I am easily distracted. I’ll start folding a load of laundry and remember I didn’t unload the dishwasher, so I’ll go over to do it. Then, I’ll wonder if anyone commented on my last blog post or Facebook status and I’ll walk over to the computer to check. Then, I’ll think about a song I want to listen to while I’m folding laundry and/or unloading the dishwasher, and click over from e-mails to I-Tunes to play it. Then I-Tunes locks up and I spend an hour trying to figure out what is happening.
On and on and on, day after day. All of that hopping around is wasting a ton of time and making me feel very unproductive. No wonder the days get away from me.
2. Wouldn’t you know, the week I’m off Facebook, I’ve come up with some of the FUNNIEST status ideas. Like this one: “Some kids sneak around to do drugs. My kids sneak around to do soda.” Of course, you’d have to know I forbid soda in the house. And that my kids guzzle it like Buddy the Elf when given the opportunity. Okay, if I have to explain it, it probably isn’t that funny. Never mind.
3. When I don’t manage time well, I forget things. Like the fact that Rebekah is scheduled to get braces this week. That would have been a good thing to remember. I didn’t even have it written on the calendar, and I made the appointment six months ago. Thank God for the “confirm your appointment” message on my answering machine.
4. Even without Facebook, the computer and all-things technological are major time-suckers in my life. I know the computer and my cell phone are good things. I use them for good, productive and godly purposes every single day. But I find myself spending a lot of time trying to figure stuff out.
Sunday, I made a 1 ½ minute promo video for an upcoming speaking engagement, and it took me about 8 hours (!), start to finish, plus additional e-mail discussion time with the sweet ladies who requested it. No lie.
Not to mention, my computer is almost out of memory space, and I’ve spent hours trying to figure out how to clear some. I’ve deleted multiple files, some of which I have no clue what they are or what they do. I-Tunes hasn’t worked properly on my computer for months, so every time I try to sync one of the 6-or-so household I-pods, everything locks up, thus, forcing me to sit there in all my electronic glory restoring and restarting (and using the spiritual fruit of Self Control to resist dashing all-things electronic against the wall and my blond head right along with them.)
I don’t even know what the heck I’m doing half the time—and I waste HOURS doing it. Come to think of it, perhaps I deleted some files that are necessary for I-Tunes to run properly.
Technology is here to stay, so, short of hiring a full time Tech Dude, I don’t really know what to do with this one. I’m open to suggestions.
5. I don’t spend enough time playing with, reading to or engaging my kids. I just don’t. And I don’t like it. I haven’t taken my almost teen-aged Rebekah out for a Starbucks/shopping date in months. I don’t even remember the last time I just hung out with Elijah. Unless by “hung out” I mean helping him with homework or driving him to a Taekwondo lesson.
Last year, I set aside most Thursday mornings to have “Girl Time” with Elliana. I’d take her to her dance lesson, then we’d go to lunch or go to a park or have a play date with a friend or walk around Costco and eat free samples. She still talks about it. Sometimes we pass a certain restaurant and she’ll yell, “Mommy! Remember when we had girl time there and I ordered the mac and cheese?” Then, I had the bright idea to enroll her in a third day of Mother’s Day Out instead of dance this Fall, and voila: the end of Girl Time.
I can come up with all kinds of excuses and tell myself she’s having a blast with her friends (she is) and I’m getting more writing done (I am. Sort of. Wait, am I? And do I even care? Is this what I should focus on right now?) But the truth is, I don’t spend time with her like I should—especially considering I’m a stay-at-home mom and she is a preschooler for only seven more months.
If I accomplish one thing through this emphasis on Time in 2012, I want it to be that I did a better job of cherishing the time with my kids. I can see after only a few days that God has a lot of work to do on me and my time…
Do you struggle with time management? Have you ever taken a break from a time-sucking activity (TV maybe?) What did you learn about yourself? And finally, can anyone tell me how to free up some space on my computer or why-oh-why I cannot get on the I-Tunes Store or sync an I-Pod to save my life????????????? If you are local, I will totally PAY YOU to come fix my computer. Please oh please oh please.