What I Do and Don’t Make Time For

posted by Andrea | 03/29/2012

Last week I talked about how we {myself included} often complain about “not having enough time for______” when really, we just aren’t MAKING enough time.

And based on the number of {positive} emails and comments I received, I think the post resonated with many of you!

It’s hard to admit that we might not be managing our time in the most appropriate ways — but it’s even harder {at least for me} to figure out just how we SHOULD be allocating the 24 hours we get each day.

Seriously, wouldn’t life be so much easier if we could just have a few extra hours!

Anyway… I like to think that I’m pretty good at managing my time, being productive, getting things done, etc. etc. However as much as I might try, I can’t do it all. I have to make choices every day about what I will and will not spend my time on. Sometimes, they’re easy choices; other times, they’re not. Many times I make wise choices, but other times I don’t. It’s all just a balancing act I suppose.

So since a few of you asked, here’s a short list of things I do and don’t MAKE time for…

What I DO Make Time For

Family:

Dave and I are pretty close with both of our families, and now that we have Nora, we can’t even go a week without spending time with each of our parents and whatever siblings happen to be around.

I realize that not everyone has the luxury of family living close by — and we really do enjoy this time {and their help!}

We also make plenty of time to do things with our extended family members {grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles, etc.} and love getting the whole gang together for holidays and other fun occasions.

Clutter Control:

I know that some of you might say that an organized home isn’t important… but it is for me! {hopefully this doesn’t make me sound like a horrible person with no priorities.}

I’ve always been very aware of my surroundings and I literally can’t function if there is clutter everywhere. I’m much more productive if my home is picked up, organized, clutter free, and when everything is “in it’s place”.

Now, this doesn’t mean I spend all day making sure my house looks perfect. It just means that I spend about 15 minutes every night cleaning out the dishwasher, picking up the toys, taking out the trash, clearing off my desk, defrosting food for tomorrow’s meals, etc.

Meal Planning / Clipping Coupons:

I know that spending a couple hours each week planning our meals and clipping coupons will save me SO much money, SO much time, and SO much stress. I can get in and out of the grocery store in record time and I never have the pressure of wondering “what’s for dinner” at 4:30!

Plus, you know me — I just love saving money and getting the deals, so I always make time for meal planning and clipping coupons each week.

Blogging / Business:

I saved the best for last! Yes, I spend a large amount of time on my blog and my business — but it’s my job. I love doing what I do — and I make money doing it!

Yes, it takes time away from my family — but so does watching TV and zoning out to Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. {and I don’t make time for those activities} so I don’t feel that bad.

I’m also fortunate enough that I can do my work whenever it’s convenient for me {while Nora’s sleeping, when Dave is home, nights, weekends, etc.} which is probably the only reason I can make it all work!

 

What I DON’T Make Time For

Cleaning:

This might sound contradictory to what I said about organizing above — but cleaning and organizing are VERY different. My house is almost always neat, tidy, picked-up, and organized. I always know where everything is and we can find whatever we need, whenever we need it.

However, my house is not necessarily always “clean”. I don’t always dust, vacuum, or sweep my floors as much as I should; I don’t always wash the sheets or clean the shower as often as I should, and the kitchen is never as clean as I’d like it to be… but I’m OK with that!

The crazy thing is that I actually really like to clean {and I love a clean house}. However, I’m just not willing to make the time to have a spotlessly clean house at this point. I’ve even hired a college girl to do some of my cleaning and play with Nora one day a week {best decision ever!}

Gourmet Meals:

If you’ve paid attention to any of my weekly meal plans, you’ll quickly notice that I’m not into fancy, gourmet meals! I do cook a lot from scratch, but I also do a lot of “baking from a box” when I’m short on time.

I know I could spend a lot more time preparing organic, 100% from scratch meals — but as long as we’re eating healthy, nutritious meals and have plenty of snacks for school lunches, I’m happy!

Social Media:

Yes, I’m quite active on Facebook — both for Simple Organized Living and for my own personal page — but I honestly don’t do much with any other forms of social media.

I feel like my time on Facebook is well spent because it’s a way to connect with family and friends, share pictures of Nora, and grow my business {all of which are important to me and things I choose to make time for}

However, I could go weeks without checking Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, or any of the other number of social media resources out there. Yes, they are valuable; yes, I probably should be doing more with them; but right now, I’m not willing to make the time.

Volunteering:

OK, so before you start thinking I’m the most horrible person ever, let me just assure you that for the past 6 years of my life, I was on more committees, attended more meetings, and was involved in more non-profit organizations than almost anyone I know!

And now I’m taking a break! 

I’m still on one committee at church and Dave and I still help out with a few things at school — but other than that, I don’t make a whole lot of time for volunteer work right now.

Extra Curricular Activities:

I’m honestly not sure how to word this one — I thought about saying “I don’t make time for FUN” but that’s not exactly correct!! I still make time for fun, just not in the way I used to…

Life with a baby is just so much easier if we are home, so while it might be fun to go out for dessert, we might opt for Culver’s ice-cream via the drive-through window instead. While Dave might just want to go for a run, he might opt to walk with a stroller instead. While it might be fun to go to a blogging event, basketball game, or any number of events, it’s just easier to stay home and spend time together {which actually can be pretty fun if Nora isn’t too crabby!}

 

Obviously, I could add many things to both lists, but at this point in my life, these are a few of the things I am {and am not} willing to MAKE time for — which just goes to show that it really IS all about the choices we make.

I could choose to make more time for volunteering or extra curricular activities, but then I’d also have to be willing to  spend less time with family or on my blog. I could choose to make more time to clean my house, but then I might not have the time I want for meal planning or organizing.

Until someone figures out a way to add hours to my day, I will continue to make choices every day… and so will you! 

What would be on your lists?

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13 comments

  1. paulette

    03/29/2012

    Sounds like you make wise choices, Andrea. Our lives have seasons, and you’ve just started the season of motherhood and that changes everything. One day, your work as a full-time mother will change and you’ll make different choices. Keep up the good work and thank you so much for sharing with us! You continue to be an inspiration. p.s. – and thanks for letting us know that you can’t do it all. Sometimes we readers forget that….

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  2. Jennifer

    03/29/2012

    Time management is not my strong suit. I’ve been feeling really overwhelmed trying to “do it all” lately (between work, planning my wedding, church activities, and daily tasks), and I was honestly really getting discourage thinking I had no time free-time. Then yesterday I used this tool on Real Simple that breaks down your time into a pie chart (http://lifestyle.timeinc.net/realsimple/womenandtime/chart_create.jsp). I actually have more time than I thought. I also read a quote that essentially said you will fill whatever amount of time you set aside for a task. So if you set an hour aside for writing a note, it will take an hour.

    So really it’s not there isn’t enough time, I’m just not using it wisely and making priorities. Thanks for all of the time management advice. I also work from home and it is really making me be more productive both at work and at home.

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  3. Beth

    03/29/2012

    I also make time for organizing and picking up. I have never embraced the idea of letting the housework go while the kids are little. I just can’t relax and feel comfortable in a cluttered, messy home. But I am teaching my 5 and 2 year olds to help put toys away and we have routines of where things like backpacks and coats go when we come in the door. These things help to free up MY time to spend playing or reading with them. I know my 5 year old is starting to understand that the quicker we get the picking up and “chores” done, the quicker we get to playing together. Makes me feel better not only to be keeping my house tidy, but also to be teaching my kids responsibility.

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  4. Thrifty Military Mommy

    03/29/2012

    I used to make most of my time for cleaning my house, but I’m no longer putting in so much time like you. I’m happy to hear I’m not the only one doing this because I often feel guilty when things aren’t spotless.

    I also don’t volunteer that much. The world tries to make me feel bad for this, but I know that God has charged me with taking care of my kids and teaching them His ways. That’s a HUGE task I DON’T want to fail on and volunteering is just gonna have to be on the back burner for a while (at least until the kids are older and can better take care of themselves).

    Thanks so much for sharing all of this :)

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  5. sarah

    03/29/2012

    Whether your super organized, running on a tight schedule, have your finger in many extra activities or being creative in one way or another in my humble opinion whatever I do its intentional. Choosing to ignore the house to snuggle with kiddos, choosing to spend a few extra late night mins picking up, preparing for the next day, whatever it is, it is always a choice that we can make.

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  6. Kim

    03/29/2012

    I hope that NO ONE is expecting you to do volunteer work at this “season” of your life. Pouring your time and energy into raising this precious baby girl is a fabulously worthy use of time that benefits all of society! If anyone bugs you about it, just send them to me. :)

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    Luba Reply:

    For sure, Kim! I am newly married and don’t volunteer really outside helping a few relatives and at the church.

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  7. Vivian

    03/30/2012

    While agree with most of your points but there is one that I do not agree with. Cooking from a box. Anything pre-packaged will cost you in two very important ways.
    1. They are not cheaper. I can make a taco seasoning mix from my own spices cheaper at a fraction of the cost of any packaged mix out there.
    2. In the long run your health is at stake. The fillers will kill you. On one will pay attention to your health better than yourself. That person on the line producing that boxed dinner is not going to care if there is a health issue at stake. The corporation that profits from this boxed food does not care and will reap profits until some one gets sick and they are forced to clean up their act. It has been proven time and time again with health scares from processed food manufactures.

    I will take the extra time to create from scratch. Believe it or not there are many recipes that are just as quick and easy as those from the box. Additionally, home made from scratch tastes better and are healthier. I can make a cake and brownies from scratch faster than any box mix out there. I have many simple go to meals that are tastier and faster than Kraft dinner or Hamburger helper. Meatless meals are often simpler and cheaper besides heart healthier to make than our traditional meat and potatoe meals.

    Do not get me wrong, your site is great but this is an area I do not think any one should cut corners on. Keep up the good work.

    And remember, we do not want to create another burden for our children. The waste of resources used to create these boxed conveniences are not eco friendly.

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  8. Amy

    03/30/2012

    Your list is great! When I became a stay at home mom, I thought I would be able to “make time” for volunteering at my daughter’s school. While it worked for a while, I felt that there were other things at home that I needed to make time for that would benefit my daugter and my family alot more. I can still go have lunch at school with her if time allows. While I’m home by myself during the day I make time to exercise, meal plan, clip coupons, search the web for great recipes and tips just to name a few. That’s of course beside the normal everyday chores like laundry, straighteneing up. :) Believe me, I’d so much rather be chillin’ with the family instead of doing chores when they are home, so making time for certain things while hubby’s at work and the kiddo is at school is a great strategy! :)

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  9. Rebecca

    05/14/2012

    Years ago when I was a new mom and quite neurotic about having a clean house, I was at my Sister-in-laws house during a visit to see family. It was driving me nuts to stay there because there was stuff EVERYWHERE. The counters were crumby, the mail was in piles, dishes were left in the sink, and there were piles of clean laundry to be folded. I was trying hard not to go and clean up after everyone, so as not to offend, but it was really bugging me. I vividly remember being in the kitchen after lunch and wondering if my sil would be offended if I started cleaning, and I noticed her in the living room with her baby. She was on the couch and playing with the baby and they were laughing and having a grand time. It hit me that she was choosing the better part with her time. Her children are happy, smart, compassionate, and creative. Since then, I have tried to remember her example and take the time for the things that are most important in my life, which at this stage is my kids. I can’t let my house go too much, but paying attention to my kids is more important at times than my dirty dishes!

    Thanks for your post, I think it is important for us to make a conscious effort to identify what we feel is important in our lives and do those things. And to also remember, our priorities are going to be different from someone else’s!

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  10. sara

    06/15/2012

    I have the worst A.D.D. and it always effects every part of my life.Thought out my life I have bought every book on anything that has to do with time management, clutter, organizing, structure,cleaning, budgeting and the list just grows and grows!! And I’m still late for everything, there is more clutter, and I’m more disorganized b/c of all the books I got to help me learn how to deal with all these issues. Now I’m 30 years old and married to the love of my life, that happens to have a “little bit” of O.C.D. and my A.D.D. drives him and I very crazy. Oh, we also have two wonderful girls they are 5 years old and 4 mouths, I stopped training horse to stay home with my girls. And my A.D.D. is getting worse. I have to find a way to over come this. I would love to be normal for once. I don’t have a clue on what to start on because I am so overwhelmed. PLEASE HELP!!
    Thanks,
    Sara

    [Reply]

    Kathy Mader Reply:

    Sara, I have a lot of the same problems. Once in a while when I am able to force myself to clean a closet or something, it’s such a good feeling. But I can’t make myself stay ahead of the game on a regular basis unless I tell myself the following: One thing at a time, done well, is a good plan. This is some old proverb or something. Another good one is an English proverb, The difference between a good housekeeper and a great one is one hour a day. However, it’s so true that if I tell myself to just do one thing and do it, then tell myself to do another thing and do it, no matter how small the task, it uplifts me and I seriously do start to see progress. This will feed into more and more success and better feelings about your ability to actually get things done.

    So for example, if you need to mail a package, tell yourself, Set the gift and card on the table. Done. Retrieve the mailing box, mailing tape, address, pen. Done. Go gather the wrapping paper, Scotch tape, scissors, ribbon. Done. Now sit at the table and write the card. Wrap the gift. Stick it in the box and tape it up and address it. Go mail it. I actually did all this yesterday, even though I was kind of dreading it. I think the whole process, including driving to the post office took a half hour. But it felt so good to get that gift off in the mail in a reasonable amount of consolidated time without dragging it out until kingdom come in tiny, fragmented, intermittent stages, which is the worst feeling and nothing ever gets finished and stuff is strewn all over the house.

    You can apply this same strategy to any cleaning or organizing project. I have been happily surprised to learn that most things we dread and procrastinate really take far less time than we figured. Just do one thing a day like this and see if it helps. You will be thrilled as small things accumulate and in one week you will have achieved far more than you thought possible. And think if you had let the week go by doing the usual “nothing.” It’s all a work in progress and it may sound laborious to tell yourself each little move to make, but trust me, it truly works. Good luck!

    P.S. Don’t be discouraged, say, if you don’t have all the mailing supplies or cleaning supplies. Just tell yourself to get your keys, get in the car and go get what you need. Then resume your project. Also, don’t forget to put things away as soon as you are finished using them. And remember, ONE THING AT A TIME, DONE WELL, IS A GOOD PLAN.

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  11. Heather @ My Overflowing Cup

    06/19/2014

    I’m in agreement with you on most of this, especially the cleaning, gourmet meals, and family time. You should never feel bad about the volunteering (or lack of) at this point in your life. This is your season to raise your kids. Trust me, it will be over before you know it and then you will have plenty of years to volunteer your time. I know I’ve said this before, but I really like your outlook on how you don’t even try to do it all and you’re okay with it. It’s a real encouragement to me. Thanks!

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