Sheri’s Rants # 41: Organizing around Summer

Posted on August 1, 2010 by

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I remember when summer meant that life slowed down.  I remember lazy days of lounging, summer reading, sun-soaking, iced tea, BBQ’s, and long visits with relatives and friends.  Seems like my life has sped up in the summer the last few years!  Summer now feels like a busy time – bustling to get from here to there, meeting deadlines, fitting in socialization, and tasks piling up to get done by fall.  I am consciously slowing down right now.  Below are the basic time-enhancing skills I use when I think to slow down:

1.  BACK-TIME. This is basically thinking backward.  If you know you have to be at work at 9, calculate how long the drive, then how long to prep to leave home, then how long to exercise and prep food, and then back to what time to get up in the morning so you can do all of that and get to work by 9.  With back-timing, you can work into your highly prized self care.

2.  PLAN & PREP. Get things ready in advance.  Look at your week and identify what needs to happen, when.  Get your clothes ready for the next day (I pack the gym bag the night before), have your food prepped, cook extra when you cook so food prep is easier, do any shopping, etc.  Beforehand planning makes the days much easier.  As Bill Phillips said:  “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail”.  Sure enough.

3.  REFUSE TO BE IN A HURRY. Slow down.  Do you really need that third cup of coffee so you can speed on adrenaline for a few more hours?  Drop your stress levels by moving a little slower.  Take a few very deep, long slow breaths when you catch yourself ‘spinning’.  I ask myself, what will happen if this takes longer?  Usually, no one is going to suffer!

4.  PUT IMPORTANT THINGS FIRST. Make a list of what you ‘gotta do’ that day.  Then number them, 1 being the most important.  Check them off your list as you go.  Stay the course you have mapped out!

5.  GIVE UP BEING TOO BUSY. We are in a culture that values being ‘too busy’.  Leashed to our phones, we rush from this to that rarely truly attending to what we are doing.  A networking maven I know posted a twitter last week that said “If you’re not busy, you’re missing out!”  I strongly disagree.  A lot of ‘being busy’ can be about addiction to busyness, looking important or being a martyr.  Slow down.  Try it. (TIP:  if you schedule your time, and every hour is filled, you’re too busy.)

6.  PUT YOU ON THE SCHEDULE FIRST. When you’re back-timing, remember that your self care is the number one priority!

7.  END YOUR WORKDAY.  I stop answering emails and phone calls after 5 pm.  Courtney has a rule that she doesn’t return calls/emails on the weekend.  Samantha doesn’t do anything digital on Sundays.  I take intermittent computer-free days, and times that I leave the Crackberry behind.   I never carry my Crackberry when I’m on ‘me time’.  Set your boundaries and keep them.  SANITY IS EVERYTHING and your time is valuable!

When you plan your time, you can make space for relationships.  Part of my resolve to slow this summer down includes side trips in the RV to spend time, real time!, with family that I haven’t ‘had time’ for in a couple years.  I’m spending days in places with no internet access – just lots of trees.  I’m enjoying campfires.  Instead of rushing through the Farmer’s Market, I’m meandering through the aisles and making discoveries.  I’m taking the time to breathe, to look people in the eye and truly listen.  I’m reading novels.  Playing with my dogs.  Drinking less coffee.  Taking more naps…

Life is good.

Posted in: Sheri's Rants