I don’t believe in making resolutions, New Year’s or otherwise. So many people make them and break them, myself included. When that happens, people feel bad about themselves. Since I don’t like being told what to do, and I prefer to feel good about myself, I would rather make a list of what I would like to do or need to do. It is called setting goals. It is very satisfying when you can cross something off of your list. Also, the control freak in me loves it as it means that everything I do or don’t do is down to me. It is empowering to be in control of one’s own destiny. I don’t end up feeling bad about not having crossed something off of my list as it usually means that I either haven’t got to that thing yet or it really isn’t that important to me at that time.
After the break up of my last marriage, I must have had about five lists going at once. There was so much to deal with. Writing lists put everything into perspective. I felt great crossing things off of the lists. I was motivated and accomplished my goals in the time-frame I set for myself. The reason I was successful in accomplishing my goals, was because I didn’t set tasks for myself that were not achievable. I also had a lot of free time available to me to achieve those goals. It took me six months to do what I had to do while still looking after my three children.
Soon after that, the lists changed. Instead of lists of personal goals, the lists became to-do lists at work. Because I had dealt with my damage control, my personal goals shrunk as I immersed myself in my work and earned a living. I took a break on achieving personal goals. I think I had only two things on my list; one was to learn how to dance Salsa, and the other was to save some money. Both of these things were relatively easy to achieve. Learning Salsa led to learning Argentine Tango and my social life took a turn for the better. I managed to save some money. My life wasn’t without issues, but it was considerably better than it had been. I was happy with the status quo.
Eventually I got out of the habit of making lists except for the odd shopping list. I became complacent. I didn’t start making lists again until I was made redundant in 2008. I realise now that the lists arose out of a crisis. When things were going well, the lists stopped. A new list was started when I sold my house and another one started when I bought my new house. I haven’t crossed everything off of my new house list as that is still ongoing, but I do feel good about what I have done so far. I have completed what I set out to do in the time frame I allowed myself. I know that the rest of the work will be complete by the end of next summer, which is just over the year that I gave myself to complete the work. 🙂
Now I am faced with another challenge. What am I supposed to do with all of my free time now that things are on hold with my house? I have found myself wasting a lot of time (at least that is what it has felt like to me) over the last couple of weeks, which is something I feel a little bit guilty about. If thinking about what to do with my time is wasting time, then some people might not think that my time has been wasted and I try not to give myself too much a hard time about it. I haven’t been very motivated to do much of anything. I don’t have a routine, but then I haven’t really had one for the last year. Scheduling builders and arranging for quotes gave me something to look forward to, like getting up and going to work. I had a very busy summer. I like having free time, but I also like to have a bit of a routine. So, until I find full-time and meaningful employment, it looks as if I am going to have to give myself a routine and write out a schedule.
Some of you may think I am mad to give myself a schedule, but there is a method behind the madness. The schedule is merely another type of list. In this case, I will outline a structure for my day in order to complete tasks. When the children were small, I used to have a schedule on the back of the kitchen door. The schedule was there partly for the Nanny and partly for the children, so they knew what they had to do and what time frame to do it in. Although I had times set for certain things, it was really only a guideline. As long as the children were up, dressed, had breakfast, brushed their teeth, and had all of their school things to hand by the time they had to be out the front door to go to school, it really didn’t matter to me what time or what order they did things. As long as they were ready for bed at a certain time, I didn’t care what time they had their bath. On weekends we didn’t live by a schedule. Eventually, we stopped using the schedule, the reason being that the children had already got into the habits that I wanted out of them. When we reminisce about the schedule, they deride me and poo-poo it. I just laugh as I got the result I needed at the time, after all, I was on my own with three young children to look after. 🙂
Scheduling one’s time is not as daft as it may seem. Many busy executives live by a schedule that their assistants set up for them. They know exactly who they are going to see, what it will be about, and for how long. If they know ahead of time what they are going to do, it usually makes them more effective at their jobs. Some people like to have every hour accounted for. Some like having a free hour or two. Most people work according to some type of schedule, even if it is just knowing what hours you have to be at work.
I haven’t been doing very well with my time management lately, so I will need to make a list of things I want to do in the week and set aside time to do them. I find it easier to get up and be more productive when the weather is lovely and sunny. With these short days and dark mornings, I need to give myself that extra push. This will mean setting the alarm and getting up early! The goal is to treat the day like a normal working day, but my work is stuff that I like to do, want to do, or need to do. For instance, I still need to get some quotes for things on the house for next spring. I want to practice my Spanish a bit more. I want to start learning Hungarian and use the books and CDs I bought for that. I want to learn more about Photoshop Elements. I want to write more about my family. I want to go outside with my camera for at least an hour or two each day. I need to reduce the time I spend on unproductive things on the computer and internet. There is a lot I would like to do, but I haven’t been doing them because I get sidetracked with other things. If I am already in a routine, it will be easier for me when I eventually get back to earning a living.
The great thing about making a list or a schedule is that it can always be changed or updated. If after a few weeks or months you haven’t crossed anything off of your list you can review it and try to work out if your goals are reasonable or try to find different ways to accomplish them. You can always move things around on your schedule if you find you are better at some things in the morning than in the afternoon. All that being said, I think I better get started with my list and set the alarm!