This week has required me to use a lot of my time management skills. I felt like I needed to be more mindful of my time and energy than some other weeks have required. That said, these strategies have made things go relatively smoothly, and left some space for good stuff too.
First, the conditions. My husband was out of the country for several days (he left Monday night, though I should stress that he worked from home Monday, and had dinner with everyone before taking off for the airport, so he wasn’t completely absent the whole week). We had three kids in three different camps, as described in an earlier post. Two camps started at 9, thus meaning the logistics required two drivers. Plus, even with staggered end times, it would have been a lot for one person to do all week (and it would have meant a lot of car time for the 2-year-old). So G (nanny) and I split it most of the time. We wanted to fit in some karate classes too. The 5-year-old goes back and forth about whether she cares, and it’s a bit much after a full day of camp for her, but the 10-year-old loves it, so we try to honor that interest.
I had a lot of different projects going on with work that required keeping track of much stuff. I’d agreed to write a reported article on something, so there was interview coordination. I traveled to Washington DC Wednesday night to give a speech Thursday morning. I was keynoting the closing ceremonies for a large internship program in the city. While I have the core of a graduation speech memorized, I had to do a different first half than the commencement address I gave in May (different people, different program, so of course). So I wound up practicing the speech probably 8 times this week before I gave it. I’m glad I did that. It meant I could mostly be off script and the speech went well. BUT it did require fitting in 8 practice runs! I’m giving a speech next week on time management that will also entail running a small group session. Everyone in the session wound up keeping track of their time (vs. the 4 or so that often do!) so I needed to build in time to study everyone’s logs to design an appropriate discussion. This blog and my monthly and weekly newsletters (do you subscribe?) are self-directed, so those are what they are, though in my general push to build platform, I do need to stick with them. And potentially some other forms of connecting with readers — more on that later! But that does require research and finding contractors and such.
A personal project: My parents are celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary next month and I wanted to pull together a photo book of highlights from their marriage. My mom did the bulk of the work of finding photos but I designed and wrote the book. According to my logs, I spent 4.5 hours on this.
I was also trying to read a lot of business parables as part of another (far in the future) project.
Anyway! Lots of pieces. So here’s what I did. In order to keep running every day, while not cutting my already-cut-up work time more, I ran in the morning. On Monday when my husband was here, I ran early (6:40-7:20). On Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday, I ran from about 8-8:30 (or from 7:55 – 8:30 — G knows me well and always gets here early, and I let her leave early. This is the way Upholders roll…). On Thursday morning I ran in the hotel gym. When I was home, I’d get the kids up and fed by 8 a.m., and encourage them to start dressing. If I was home by 8:35, I could quick change clothes and then help kids with shoes and bags and get the ones I was taking into the car.
Mornings really are a great time to get stuff done. It was nice knowing my run was done and I didn’t have to deal with it later.
I planned the week quite extensively. Last week, I made a full map of when everything would happen. Normally, I set my priorities for the week, and potentially plan out Monday, but I don’t tend to schedule everything. Last week I did. So Monday, I blocked out time to practice my speech a certain number of times, to send emails and do the calls for my article, and to create my parents’ anniversary book. Tuesday, I designated a time for processing all the logs for my session next week, and for finishing the anniversary book, plus some other things.
I was generally pretty good about matching energy levels with tasks, though there were some fails. I planned to write my article on the train home from DC on Thursday. However — and I know this about myself — I generally can’t muster much mental energy after speeches. I am on on on for them, and then I want to be off. This was even more the case when I found myself with an hour to kill in the train station, with a Martina McBride free concert (!) and the sudden desire to have a beer at lunch. I managed to hack through a rough draft during the first half hour on the train, but then I wisely put the darn thing away and just read (Team of Rivals! 310 pages in, 440 to go…) I picked up the article again this morning and saw that while some of it was fine, the introduction made no sense whatsoever. So I had to rewrite it anyway. Lesson learned.
On some other stuff, I got ahead of the game when I had more energy. For instance, I planned to write my newsletter on the train to DC on Wednesday, but I had some time Tuesday night and elected to do a draft then.
I was very good about bed time. The 2-year-old’s wake-ups are highly variable. This morning he was up at 5:30. That’s why I go to bed at 10:30. Of course, some days he sleeps later. Then I get extra sleep, or if I pop up (which, if I consistently go to bed at 10:30, happens around 6 a.m.) then I read — not the worst thing in the world to get some extra me time.
I built in email catch-up times to get back to when I was current, and to keep constant email answering from taking over my life.
I also reminded myself yesterday that Friday is not actually the end of the week. I nudged my husband to talk through our weekend plans so we actually have some tentative weekend plans, including a date night if all goes well. It does all fit! Hurrah! Now I just need to get through two end-of-week camp shows…
Photo: Still-life with planner notes for week.