Forever bemoaning the fact i never seem to have enough time to do all the things i really want to. Always feeling like i’m chasing my tail and never making progress with my self imposed to-do list, i took the advice of David Carter the author of the self help book ‘The Breakthrough’ where he suggests if you want to really see a difference in your output try correcting your current course by 5%. In other words making small changes can end up totalling big ones. Which ties in for me with the one liner Albert Einestein allegedly said when doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result, his definition of insanity. They may have a point, time to think differently I thought.
I am at home with my children most of the time and often the mundane monotonous toll of housewifery can sap the life out of the most ardent focused neat freak like myself. I have to keep busy to achieve my equilibrium but sometimes being busy, isn’t the same as being smart.
And lately, i don’t feel like I’ve been smart with my time. So i listed out all the things i need to do alongside the things i want to do alongside the things i actually do. It was a great exercise in time management and i saw a number of things i could do differently and should do differently which could quite rightly produce different results in me and my life.
First up was the amount of time i spent on social media sites, then quantifying the sheer daily depth of an Ocean in News content I devour & am bombarded with, emails, home & life admin, household chores, activities and time spent with children and time spent with husband and finally the things i like to do, for myself (i’d like to caveat this list is in no particular order, most especially order of priority!)
I noticed the things i placed importance on weren’t all that important as it turns out. Social media for one. It’s incredible being able to keep up with the thread of your ‘friends’ lives with a ‘quick’ dip into Facebook over a coffee break, giving minimal effort in exchange for a daily spot in others lives you care about. A quick ‘like’ to a photo or shout out to someone having a bad day. Takes two minutes to make a difference. It’s all good, infact it’s all great that we can stay so connected, its just being able to unconnect that i’m noticing i had problems with. Two minutes totalling too many minutes by the end of a day. My intermittent breaks were increasingly spent doing this and therein was my problem. It started eating into my downtime and became a means of procrastination to other things i need to and would like to find the time to do.
With this realisation i deleted the app from my Smartphone. Gone. I felt like i was in Facebook AA. It has been 3 hours since i last checked in……as i took the 12 steps to recovery and wondered all that i was missing out on as i did it. (Spoiler – not that much it would seem).
I then started making a list of other social media sites i use all too frequently, twitter and my one of choice Instagram. I needed to do the same and limit my usage again.
Once i took this liberating step i noticed it left a void of what to do when i did get intermittent breaks. I started to make lists of things i’d like to know more about and finding free online resources that offer these. This 5% course correction to my day was already reaping huge differences and ones which felt positive and for my own benefit.
What i’ve realised from this little experiment of mine is that I have more time than i realised to pursue the things that really matter to me. I’ve signed up to the Open University to begin a course which takes as little as 3 hours a week (at my own leisure, so once the kids are in bed) another evening course at the University of Canterbury and my writing projects have flourished and the biggest most important realisation is that when i am with my children i am a little more present and not on my phone and that is hugely important to me.
I also took the step of asking others how they manage their time on such sites. Most of my friends admitted they had to be careful how much time they gave themselves daily. Some got really smart with their settings and tweaked them so they saw exactly what they wanted to of chosen family & friends without getting side tracked by other distractions, maximising their online user efficiency. Others were so disciplined with their usage dedicating a certain point in their day; over breakfast, morning commute or whilst waiting for their dinner to cook to connect. Again all effective habits to keep the pendulum of moderation in check.
I have since rescinded my self imposed exile from my Social Media sites and discovered I don’t miss Facebook or Twitter as much as I thought I would. I am also using them responsibly, i missed knowing what my ‘Friends’ are up to and in this day and age to not use is just as inpractical as to use too much, with awareness of what i am using MY time with forever at the forefront of my mind.
I’ve found its good to do some personal house keeping and will do so again and again when I wonder why I can’t get the things important to me done, so I’m really pleased i took a 5% course correction.