Saturday, November 17, 2007

Time Compression

I have this theory. It's kinda mathy... and I'm not mathy, so bear with me. It's a theory on me and being busy. Ok, maybe it's more sciencey. But I'm reading A Short History on Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson and it's affecting my brain.

We all have a certain amount of time in the day. 24 hours. That time is at a certain level of density depending on what you are doing. The sleeping hours are kind of spongy, not really dense... just there to recharge and re-energize.

Then we get up.

If we go to outside employment, then we start to pack more STUFF into time. We have to get all the work stuff done at work, during those 8 hours we are there. It can be intense, it can spill over. If it spills over it starts to take up space in those other hours, making them more dense, less relaxing.

So we work hard at keeping work stuff at work.

It can be the same if we work at home with kids. Tell me there's no difference between the hour of time right after the baby wakes up and the hour of nap time. That hour of nap time is so densely packed that time actually moves faster... really, it so does.

Sometimes, for people like me, packing more STUFF into your day actually makes you a more effective person. When I'm at work I'm really effective. I check things off lists, I manage issues, I return phone calls so fast people are astounded. It's not because I'm THAT GOOD, it's because I have to be that good because this is the time for WORK. To be successful, I need to keep the work stuff in the work time.

With my writing career, I chip and carve out time during the rest of my non-work, non-sleeping hours. I schedule it in. I plan for dense periods of time. Currently, I'm in list mode. I have made a list of blog posts to do during nap time and I am doing it by sheer will. The baby is sleeping, the boy is playing.

I give myself a mental "let's do this sh**!" and pour a cup of coffee and get going.

The key to scheduling ON time into your day is to schedule some OFF time. I had some off time already this morning. I made pancakes and sang the pancake making song with the kids. I read Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb eleventy times while sitting on the kitchen floor. I made up a new song about my daughter's love for milk.

Last night during my OFF time, I played with my son and took some blackmail video footage. (That's a Facebook link... you may have to be a 'friend' to view it....)

Or I watch TV with my husband. If there's anyone I need to schedule in OFF time with, it's Major Man. He's doing a big share of the childcare while I am at work, and as soon as I get home, he goes to work! So sometimes the only time we have together is from 9-11 pm or until I'm too tired to stay up. Often you'll find us both on our laptops at the kitchen table, sharing our down time with some work time...

I think it's up to each of us to determine what kind of person we are. Do we do better with scheduled time or not? With one too many jobs to do, or the exact right amount, or just enough time to utter the words "I'm a little bored right now"?

So what do you do? Do you over- or under-schedule?


Carolyn Erickson said...

Both! Writing and reading about writing used to be my downtime. Now it's my "up" time. It's so confusing that I'll often wonder whether I'm working or playing at any given moment.

Play time with dd used to be my "work." Now that she goes to school all day, it's more of a treat.

So with all this transitioning, I really don't know how to schedule myself. I have realized, however, that one thing that hampers my productivity is too much multi-tasking. It's easy to end up with 32 things unfinished, all pressing down on my brain, when if I had just locked into one task, I could mark it off my list.

But I'm learning!

Elena said...

I can't agree with this more. It's true! the more stuff that is crammed into a day...the faster that day goes, until finally you wake up on Saturday morning and say, "S*@& is it REALLY Saturday? I swear, it was JUST Monday!"
I can't keep track of the days, time moves so quickly. it seems that everything is 'up' time, between writing for fun, writing for work, being with kids, shuttling kids to and fro, homework with kids, oh right...the husband can be demanding, house work, volunteer work...what is 'down' time again?

Linda Sherwood said...

Let's see... Just today I worked as a face to face tutor, a college teacher, I went grocery shopping, I helped three children with homework,a and I cooked dinner. I will soon leave home to be a reporter, and I will end the night by doing online tutoring. That is four official jobs plus all of the family stuff -- in one day. Yes, I definitely over schedule.