Monday, November 23, 2009

Managing time

With another birth year celebrated this past weekend, I have been a bit introspective about life in general, my life specifically, and what I want for this coming year.

It's not for lack of subjects that I haven't written since Oct. 30. And it's really not even for lack of time. I'm examining time management -- what I do with the time I have every day, the same 24 hours we all have.

Back in my late 30s and 40s, I managed time rather well, between managing a household, a school age child, a job and half hour commute each way, chorus rehearsals, church meetings and rehearsals, grocery shopping, and the usual household stuff.

You do what you gotta do, I suppose, and mostly I think I did pretty well. Yes, I probably immersed myself in lots and lots of 'doing' but that's what was required at the time.

I don't seem to be as efficient these days. I know I spent more time than I should on the computer, poking around, reading blogs, writing a bit, researching, playing a stupid game or two. I still have the grocery shopping and assorted errands, and I help daughter #1 manage things that she has trouble with or is hesitant to do by herself.

My mother always seemed to have a clean house (of course we helped by cleaning our rooms without fail every Saturday, as well as other chores), things organized, cupboards and drawers that weren't jumbled, and still had time to play bridge, walk, and for many years, she was a teacher and still did all that. She and Daddy square-danced for years, attended church every Sunday where she worked in the library and he sang in the choir, had an active social life with a couple of groups.

So why are my cupboards and drawers jumbled, many with stray crumbs in the corners? Why is my office desk covered with papers and piles of source material for stories? There are two or three baskets full of magazines -- Cooking Light, Bon Appetit, Sunset -- that I am sure I'll go through one of these days. I have a box with old Christmas cards stashed under the desk, and my laundry basket always, ALWAYS has a dozen socks whose mates have gone on vacation -- but you can be assured that if I throw them away, I'll find the mate the next day.

My house is not dirty. I dust, vacuum, keep counters clean, and -- okay, I'll confess that sometimes I do leave dirty pots or dishes from a late evening dessert snack soaking in the sink overnight -- but I do try to keep the kitchen reasonably tidy. My bed is made every day, but there is always a stack of magazines on the floor and books on the table next to my side. We always have newspapers and magazines on the ottoman in the living room, although I try to put them in the recycling bin every night or at least straighten the stack.

Somehow I'd assumed that by the time I got to be this age that I'd be an excellent housekeeper and that it would all be effortless.

But it isn't. And I'm not.

The office is right now a catch-all for stuff I intend to sell on eBay, the aforementioned source materials and notebooks filled with interview notes, mail that needs shredding or answering, scraps of paper that have phone numbers or Web sites on them. I have a beautiful new workbench waiting to be assembled, but first I have to clean everything else up and rearrange my desk and computer station, and hopefully eliminate at least one or two pieces that are currently holding printers or files. I LIVE in the office most days. It's where the treadmill is, the computers, the photo equipment, the eBay goodies. But it's a mess.

It should have been cleaned by now, my inner critic says. I should manage myself better and not spend so much time reading stuff online or playing that stupid Facebook Bejeweled Blitz. I'm an ADULT, ferpetesake, an old one at that! I ought to know better. Priorities!

Sixty used to feel pretty old to me when I was in my 30s and 40s. Oh, I knew plenty of 60-somethings who were very active and had a really good time with life, and they seemed to have life pretty well figured out. Yeah, issues sometimes threw curveballs at them, but overall, life was good.

And I guess that's where I am. Overall, life is good. Yes, I need to work on time managment and getting the office cleaned up and crumbs out of my silverware drawers. But what I also know is that life is short. Spending time writing notes to a friend who is sick is more important. Reading something that inspires me and makes me smile is important. Walking on that treadmill and watching a tv show on while I do it is important. Being there for my daughter is important, and being there for my husband is important. Taking care of me is really important, even if papers clutter the desk.

Meanwhile, I'd sure love to ask my mother how she did it, why she managed her time the way she did, and what she'd change if she could. I wonder if she felt like she had it all together when she was my age. I wonder what age she felt inside when she was in her 60s. I wonder if she liked her life the way it was.

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