This week one of the foxes asked whether or not we watch the clock, and the answer for me is an unequivocal YES!
I think this is less of an issue for me now that I’m not working full-time and don’t have young children to cart around. Twenty years ago, my life revolved around schedules—I taught full-time and directed the church youth choir, and had two young daughters who were busy with music lessons, sports, and church activities. My husband worked the early-early shift (he left for work at 3 am and returned at 1 pm), so he wasn’t able to help with anything except events that happened right after school. I hate to be late, and I hate to be unprepared, so I spent a lot of my late evenings planning and preparing for the next day.
I remember planning on doing all sorts of things during the weekend or on vacation days (cleaning, sewing, reading, running errands), but then I’d either oversleep, or my children would need transportation at the last minute and my ambitious plans would be pushed aside. The day would end and I would wonder where all my free time went. But on snow days, when I had an UNEXPECTED day off, I would get a lot accomplished. I think it’s because by the time I found out we didn’t have school I was already up and dressed, so I just downed my morning coffee and got to work crossing items off my “to-do” list.
As my daughters became drivers and were able to get themselves where they needed to be, my responsibility decreased and I was able to concentrate more on my own schedule. My retirement in 2005 brought the stress level down even more.
Curiously, the less I had on my schedule, the less I was able to handle even the few commitments I had. A few years after I retired, I realized that even though I wrote doctor appointments and other scheduled meetings on my calendar, I often showed up late or even forgot to attend. Once, I signed up and paid to go to a scrapbooking weekend and forgot to go!
It was around this time that I decided to start learning to speak Japanese. I got permission to do audit the Japanese language classes at our local university and started going to class four days a week, sitting with students thirty-five years younger than me. In between classes I did all the homework and studied for all the tests. If I’d taken the classes for credit I would have been a C student, because I just didn’t have the time to study until I knew the material well enough. Or maybe it’s because I’m older and new things are hard to learn. Still, I did manage to learn enough to communicate in writing with my cousins who don’t speak English. AND there was a surprising bonus—having more things to do each day meant I had to plan my days better, and that resulted in my getting things done more efficiently and on time. So apparently, the busier I am, the more I get done. Hmm.
It’s taken a while, but I think I’ve reached a nice balance between scheduled time and time for things I enjoy. If I’m late getting somewhere, it’s because something awful happened, or because I forgot where I put my glasses and couldn’t drive. I like to plan to arrive early, which gives me a cushion if there’s a traffic issue. I don’t like to waste time, so I write down things I need to do as soon as I think of them (I’ve always got a pad of paper handy) and places I need to go, and try to get all my running down in one trip per day.
And now that I’m finished with this post, I can go on to the next thing on my list!