ticking analog clock

Using My Time Wisely: 168 Hours (pt. 1)

This is a two-part blog post where I invite you to join me in two very different perspectives on how to use our time wisely. Part 1 (this post) is inspired by the book 168 hours and I focus on taking a critical look at how I actually spend my time. Part 2 will focus on what it looks like for my family to take a weekly Sabbath, taking inspiration from the book Sacred Rhythms.

I have always been a planner and organizer. I like to schedule my time and know in advance what I am doing for the day ahead. I don’t like to feel like I’m wasting my time. I get delight from achieving tasks, big or small.

I have been struggling for a long time with how to most efficiently use my time. No matter how meticulously I plan out my day, I can never seem to get it all done.

What is “it” you may ask? Well, I have my “must-do’s,” like working, taking care of my son, eating, sleeping, etc. And then I have my list of “I’d love to do these things if I had time” – if you’re familiar with The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, you may have seen this chart:

Time quadrant (7 Habits of Highly Effective People)

I find that I spend the majority of my time in Quadrants I and III, which are all the urgent tasks. Some urgent tasks are important, like taking care of my son or going to doctor’s appointments – but some are less important, and ultimately are just distractions (aka. checking email too often, taking phone calls, busywork, etc.)

Quadrant II is the “dream” quadrant. It’s all those things you want to make time for that easily get pushed to the side for the more urgent stuff. It takes intentionality and planning to live in Quadrant II.

For me, Quadrant II contains things like travel, exercise, writing, reading for fun, spiritual development, and relationships. These are certainly important, but if I don’t take time to do them, there are no immediate or terrible consequences.

Since having a child, (who is now 5 years old), I have found that I have to pick and choose which Quadrant II tasks to focus on. (Which really bothers me because I always felt like if I could just solve the time puzzle and schedule everything perfectly, I’d be able to do it all!) I have never been able to successfully do all my favorite Quad II tasks, I can usually manage to juggle about 3 at a time.

When exercise becomes a focus for me, I find it harder to make time to write. When I make writing a priority, (which usually means waking up early to do so), I find I’m too tired to workout. I’ve tried so many combinations and schedules, but have never figured out how to get all the plates spinning at the same time.

So I accepted defeat and just assumed that it couldn’t all be done, or at least couldn’t all be done well.

Then, I came across this book: 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think

Read More »

Back to School! Graduate School, That is…

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(Monday)

I began writing this on the evening of January 15th, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and tomorrow is officially my first day of graduate school (again!) I had a semi-small freak out moment earlier today when I logged into my TWU account and saw that my professor had opened up his class online – I started reading the syllabus and looking at my assignments for the semester… I think it really hit me today that I really am going to be a student again after 8 and 1/2 years being out of school!

This blog is all (*well, mostly all) about how I am managing my anxiety – about how I am being intentional on working through my anxiety issues and recognizing and addressing problems before they get out of control. Any sort of change or life transition brings its own stress and anxieties on some level – some changes we choose and others are thrown at us whether we like it or not. Going back to graduate school was a choice I made, fully knowing that it was going to be hard and bring about a certain amount of anxiety.

So, why would I choose to do this?  I definitely am already “busy” enough – I have a husband, an 18 month old son, I work full-time, I am very involved in other activities at my church and at home… Maybe the “why” isn’t so much of a question as “HOW?” How am I planning on adding anything else to my schedule? How can I be the mother/wife/employee/friend/individual that I want to be when any of those just by themselves can feel overwhelming?

We’ll get to the HOW in a minute – to go back to the WHY is much simpler: after accepting my new job in August, part of the deal was that I would go back to school to get my degree in Library Science. I am beyond grateful for the opportunity to do this and extremely excited! I knew up front before accepting the job that this was coming, and I chose to do it. (Challenge Accepted!) I also love the feeling of accomplishing something – I really value being able to work hard at something and succeed – and I love learning, and I love reading and libraries… so the “WHYs” all kind of makes sense really!

Going back to the HOW though – yeah, I’m still taking this one day at at time. I feel like the busier I get, the more purposeful I am with my time, out of necessity. So, my planners – (plural) – are my best friends, and I am definitely working on remembering what is most important to me and what I may not have time to do as much of. People always say they don’t have time to do things – I think this is not always the case for me. I generally find time to do the things that are really important to me – or the things that are really urgent and cannot be ignored.

I’m honestly not as worried about the planning/prioritizing aspect, I’m good at that sort of thing, and I love planning! What I do want to keep tabs on is navigating my stress and anxiety through all of my responsibilities – knowing that I’m going to undertake the challenge of graduate school for the next two years means that I need to really get serious about doing things to keep my mental health in check.

Blogging is part of that – it holds me accountable to you people (thank you, by the way!) and it also allows me time to really self-reflect on how I’m doing. In my other post I mentioned that I’m taking some time each day to do some meditating and listen to positive affirmations, which I already feel like are helping me a lot.

So, I haven’t technically started grad school yet, and I’ll keep you posted on how it’s going. I anticipate many ups and downs along the way – so if I go off the radar for a bit, you’ll know I may be in a bit of a “down” phase.

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(Saturday)

Today is January 20th, I’ve finished my first week of school! Here’s the week in review – I wrote a short journal entry each day this week that may be interesting for some to read. My first week of working towards my library science degree is done!

Monday

1 day before school “officially” starts. I log into my account and see that one of my professors has opened his class on Blackboard. I start reading all of his instructions, try to figure out how to navigate this system, begin reading over the syllabus and various attachments… and that nostalgic feeling of being completely overwhelmed on the first day of classes all comes rushing back to me! Went to Walmart and bought my “school supplies” which consisted of a folder, monthly planner, and 2-subject notebook. Excited and nervous about tomorrow!

Tuesday

Lots of feelings today! Took my “first day at school” picture, because that’s what you do (obviously!) I wrote down all of my assignments and due dates for the next few months in my planner. I notice that someone has already starting posting in some of the discussion boards online – I start to worry that maybe I’m already behind… Is it possible there’s another person more over-achiever-y than me? I have a feeling the real discipline of online classes is not doing the work, it’s being able to not do ALL the work the first day your classes open – knowing that you have more to do, but knowing you can only do so much – taking it one day at a time.

Wednesday

The initial shock of being a student is fading a bit – I submitted my first assignment online! (Afterwards I found out I didn’t use the proper naming schematic that the professor wants us to use, so I resubmitted it… hoping that’s not a big fail!)

Thursday

Had my first “synchronous session” as it is called, a live online session with my professor and classmates. I need to give a shout-out to to Dr. Elkins at TWU – he is a hoot! I’m looking forward to “attending” his classes via Blackboard this semester!

Friday

I took the night off from doing anything school-related. Dean and I went out to celebrate my birthday since on my actual birthday I had my first synchronous session online. We had a nice dinner and went shopping at the mall – woo-hoo!

Saturday

Starting to realize how soon Tuesday the 23rd will be here – the day my first assignments are due! Small amounts of anxiety building up again today… it’s time to get down to business!

*Keep watch for continued updates on grad school! Have a great weekend!