My friend and fellow writer, Kathy Bailey, offered to be my guest blogger this week so I could spend time on what’s important to me right now: Visiting my husband in the hospital. Thank you, Kathy.
Readers, even as you chuckle and enjoy Kathy’s post, you may recognize yourself.
Time Management, I loved you. I loved being efficient, making more than one thing happen at once, and the elusive “being productive.” I LOVED balancing my checkbook in the doctor’s waiting room and folding laundry during a phone call. I relished using every bit of time, like my ancestors used every bit of scrap fabric in a quilt. Well, actually, my people knitted afghans, but I feel a kinship with quilters anyway. Nothing went to waste.
And that’s how it was with you, Time Management. We were a good fit. But now it’s time to break up.
The most I ever remember doing was four things at once: nursing my baby, supervising my toddler in the tub, drying laundry (the dryer was located in the bathroom) and reading my Bible for devotions. I prided myself on being able to do, well, a lot of things. I had two children under three, no money, and my husband was a full-time church pastor. If I didn’t “do,” it resulted in disaster.
I carried this into the rest of my adult life. Why not sew on Girl Scout badges during the district convention, or read a magazine during the movie previews? Didn’t everybody?
Hey, why NOT do paperwork while my mother lay dying in a hospital room? I was there if she needed me.
I was brought up short–but only barely–when a friend from my old neighborhood came to visit me in my new house. I welcomed her, we made tea in the teapot she brought me for a housewarming gift, and then we settled down for a talk. But I couldn’t just “talk.” I brought out some mending, and stitched merrily away until she asked, “Am I keeping you from something?”
That one changed me, at least as far as multitasking with other people went. I realized how rude that must have seemed, and now, when I have company, I have company. But I continued to juggle projects in private, and to justify it.
I wish my wake-up call had been something less mundane and more spiritual. But I didn’t come to my time-management senses until I hung a purple Nine West bag too near the stove and then proceeded to turn on the WRONG burner, thus scorching a pan beyond use and setting fire to the purse. I don’t remember how many things I was doing that day or what they were. I just knew I had to change.
I’m well out of the active-parenting stage, and I don’t have the time demands pulling on me that I had as a young mother. I do a lot, I have a lot done to me, but it can all be done in sequence. I have no little ones or medium-ones tugging on me, nobody’s bleeding, nobody needs me to feed them or wash their faces or hold them till they sleep.
But I’m thinking even young mothers, or dads, don’t need to time-manage as aggressively as I once did. Children need our attention, and I’m prouder now of the time I did spend with my children than the time I spent “accomplishing” things. Especially since I can’t remember what those “important” things were.
Will I still fold laundry while on a long phone call, or address Christmas cards in front of the television? Most likely. And I’ll probably still haul around a “project bag” for waiting rooms. It is as heavy as the weights at the gym, and I don’t have to pay for it.
But more and more, it’s impressed on me that some things are too precious, or fragile, for double-duty. They deserve my full attention. Friends, my five-year-old great-niece, my husband, church. (I once made out a Christmas list during a sermon.) And for safety’s sake, anything with an open flame.
And if I had my parents back, I would just sit and look at them for one last time. Without “managing” my own time, because there will never be enough of it.
Time management, we had a good run, but it’s over. I don’t, well, have time for you any more.
- What’s YOUR worst multitasking blunder, and when did you realize you were doing too much?
- And what’s your best time management tip?
Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. ~ Psalm 90:12 (NIV)
Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. ~ Ephesians 5:15-17 (NIV)
MORE ABOUT KATHY: Kathy was a reporter/editor with 35 years, primarily in the nonfiction genre. She’s worked for Seacoast Media Group, the New Hampshire Union Leader, and the former New Hampshire ToDo magazine. She’s interested in everything from food to education to business. During her Seacoast Media Group years, she wrote a weekly personal experience column. She recently covered Londonderry for Nutfield Publishing before moving to their Derry paper, the Nutfield News.
Read more of Kathy’s posts on LinkedIn.