My husband is the balanced partner in our relationship; I am the all-or-nothing one. He can start a project knowing full-well there is no way for him to finish it, and he is perfectly content with that knowledge. (And he works on one project at a time.) He stops for regularly spaced meals, even taking the time to actually cook. He takes water breaks and answers his phone should it ring in the middle of his enterprise. In other words, he paces himself so he still has enough energy at the end of the day to enjoy a long soak in the tub and brush his teeth before slipping into bed and getting a good night’s sleep. It is mind-boggling.
I’ve tried it his way, but it doesn’t work for me. My way of doing things is making a to do list of everything I plan to accomplish between today and the end of my life, taking into consideration that I plan to live to be a hundred. The problem is that most of the items take hours, days, or weeks, maybe even months, so there are never very many checks on my list. Nothing mind-boggling here.
Recently, I have been researching how to fit everything in so I can whittle down my list each day. What I am learning is sure to be life-changing. Instead of writing my list the way I normally do, the time-management geniuses suggest breaking each task down into 10, 15, 30, and 45-minute intervals. It works like this: Say you need to clean your home, break it down into manageable chunks of time, set the timer for the allotted interval, and get moving. Once the timer goes off, you are finished. It is then time to set the timer for the next item on the list. And on you go until your list is red check-marked like a failing final exam paper. I am so ready for this.
Our budget is a little anemic right now and sitting down to solidify one on which we both agree will take hours I don’t want to spend. But I read an article by a well-known financial wizard who promised we could put our finances in order in only ten minutes a day. Sounds reasonable.
Getting my body back into shape, erasing cellulite, strengthening my abs, and turning my bat wings into toned arms will take hours in the gym. Several well-toned exercise gurus have plans for each of these maladies that only take 20 minutes a day. If I stick to their regimens, in 21 days I will have my dream body with no bat wings to be found. Bam! I can do that.
One of my goals is to write books. Okay, my real goal is to write best-selling books and become the better-looking, female version of Stephen King. However, the hours necessary to accomplish such a monumental task overwhelm me, so my goal is still in the planning stages. Web-surfing to the rescue. I am promised that I can pen a best-seller in only 45 minutes a day. Who knew? Forty-five minutes aren’t overwhelming; 45 minutes are doable. New York Times Best-seller List here I come.
In just 10 minutes a day, I can assemble emergency survival kits for my family. In 10 more minutes, I can make homemade laundry detergent. It will only take 20 minutes to dip dozens of emergency candles. In 30 minutes a day, I can landscape my yard and cultivate a lush garden. Allot another 30 minutes to create yummy menus so I will always know what’s for dinner.
A 15-minute mani-pedi ensures I am always ready to extend my hand in friendship and put my best foot forward. I can erase crow’s feet and wrinkles with a 20-minute moisturizing avocado mask, and while I’m at it, I can multi-task and nourish my lovely locks with warm olive oil.
By rising 30 minutes earlier than usual, I can bring peace to my soul with mindful meditation and yoga. Fifteen minutes earlier still, and I can wash my windows before the sun comes up to avoid unsightly streaks. Imagine seeing the first rays of sunlight through spot-free, streak-free windows.
I take my list and set my timer for 10 minutes. Away I go. I slather avocado on my face and apply olive oil to my hair and start on the budget. The timer goes off and I smile because my face and hair are half-way to their youthful best. I set the timer for 20 minutes and start on the cellulite issue. Problem is there isn’t time to rinse my face and hair. With green face and oily hair, I set the timer for the next 10-minute interval.
Another 10 minutes, and I have logged my day in my journal. The next 20 minutes is spent beginning the organization of boxes of photos. I get the kitchen mopped and the dishwasher emptied during the following 15-minute interval.
Ten minutes here, thirty minutes there, twenty minutes now and again, an occasional 45 minutes – I am winning the time management war. I don’t finish much, but I check those intervals off of my list, one right after the other.
The day has been productive, and I am definitely ready for a good night’s sleep so I can begin my 10-15-30-45-minute ritual bright and early. I finally rinse my face and hair. There is a greenish tint on my skin, and my hair smells like a tossed salad, but it will be worth it when I get ready for the day tomorrow. I brush my teeth, put on my nightgown, and climb into bed. I reach over to set the alarm on my phone. “That can’t be,” I mutter. “How can that be?”
It is time to get up and wash my windows. Somewhere in the excitement of making check marks, I must have miscalculated the actual number of minutes there are in a day. I lay on my back thinking and remember seeing something in my Google-searching about being able to become a mathematical genius in only 30 minutes a day. Maybe I should have tackled that one before making my list.