As I get older, I realize more and more the value of time. I also realize this is a very limited quantity for me, it is getting more precious each day, and it is one of the more valuable assets I have. Time with my wife, time with my kids and my extended family is precious. Time for hobbies, work, and more is difficult to come by. Well, not work. I have to work, but it gets in the way of things at times.
I’ve been learning to take time off from a busy life and enjoy the lack of trying to use that time. I find myself looking at email or checking some work item less and less on weekends and holidays. At least, I avoid working if I’ve had a productive week. Quite a bit of my work is independent and can be asynchronous with others. I might spend time during the week on something personal and then make-up that time on weekends. Often that’s the case when I am called to be the emergency ranch worker if someone else isn’t available.
In trying to efficiently use time, I find myself often trying to think ahead and work on things well in advance of deadlines. I can procrastinate as much as others, but I tend to look forward a week or two all the time. This helps me avoid last-minute crunches, though sometimes I find myself stressed about multiple things that are due next week and the week after. I still have time management issues and stress, it’s just not for something due today or tomorrow.
Like everyone else, I’m human. Despite my best intentions, I don’t always use time wisely. I find my moods vary throughout the month. My energy can peak or wane. My focus can be strong or weak. I’m fallible, and that in and of itself can bother me and affect my efforts. I know time is valuable, so when I haven’t had a productive day or gotten enough done, that can carry over into the next day. It might even carry over into my evening and distract me from personal things.
As I try to be better at managing time, I am learning a few techniques. First, if I am productive, I usually lean into this. I can be very productive in a short time, so when I am in the zone and focused, I work hard. Even if this impacts something else. I might skip the gym one day, not cook dinner, and work late because when I am efficient with my time. When this happens, I’ve also learned to forgive myself for not following my plan. Sometimes my plans fall apart, even when I am the one that is often in control of the creation and execution of the daily plan.
I’ve also learned to move away from difficult creative tasks. Whether that’s writing or assembling some code, when I don’t feel like doing that work, I move on to something else. Often administrative things, catching up on meeting recordings, or other somewhat low-focus tasks keep me using time wisely, even if less efficiently. At least I’m getting something done.
Finally, I am lucky in that I can abandon work some days. Not any day, but sometimes things fall apart, and I accept that. I’ll handle something in my personal life, or go do something fun. I know this means I will need to make up the work, and let my wife know that my schedule has shifted, but it’s a way of remembering that time is valuable everywhere.
Both for work and in my personal life. If I need to work on a Saturday, then I need to be sure I can recapture that time away from work somewhere else.
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