Reclaiming My Lost Hours

As regular readers of my blog may know, I’m always on a quest for personal improvement. Some experiments take well (I had a standing desk at work for about 2 years; unfortunately, I’ve found I don’t write fiction nearly as well standing, so I sit down at home); some work for a little while (various types of productivity lists); and some never come to fruition (there are still bags of dirt and potting buckets on my front porch). But, hey, we all fall short of the glory of God, right? And you never know what will or won’t work until you try.

So, in that vein (as opposed to in that vane or vain), I’m trying a new experiment: a schedule. I will admit that I have never been one to stick to a schedule unless I was compelled to by outside forces (i.e. school or work). Some people do really well if they have a lot of structure in their lives. I am not typically one of those people.

My mother made a schedule for me when I was a kid to keep me from lollygagging around (aka mucking about, for my British peeps)—you may be shocked to learn that I spend a lot of time daydreaming!—and said schedule crashed and burned spectacularly; I’m not even sure if I made it through an entire day on schedule, much less an entire week.

However, I have noticed lately that I have too little structure in my life. I think this is probably a common complaint among the unemployed, the retired, some self-employed people, and homemakers. When you’re working (or in school), most of your day has structure and routine—whether you like it or not. But when you find yourself without that external structure, you can quickly be set adrift.

I recently came to the realization that, despite the fact that I’m home every day, and could be spending at least 8 hours of every day doing something productive, I have been, in actuality, squandering the vast majority of my time.

So, for the past few days, I’ve been trying to keep myself to a schedule. Something I learned from making lists (and Scott H. Young) is to keep things simple; I don’t want to micromanage my time. Also, the more structured/complicated I make something, the quicker it falls apart when I hit a bump in the road. (And that’s not just me:  diets and exercise regimens that are too complicated/time-consuming are also hard to stick to.)

I asked myself: what do I want to accomplish? And I came up with the following things:

  1. Exercise (remember my long-ago resolution to get that started again?)
  2. Cleaning (I want this to be a daily habit, not something that I have to do in marathon sessions)
  3. Learn a language (I’ve been wanting to learn Hebrew, but given my current unemployment issue, I’ve decided that learning Spanish will be more beneficial at the moment)
  4. Work on my writing (which includes time for blogging, non-fiction work, and online interaction/research/marketing)

Add to this time to eat, sleep, and look for a job, and I have a full day.

So how does my day shake out at present?

8:00 – 8:30: Get up and get dressed.
8:30 – 9:00: Exercise
9:00 – 9:30: Send out resumes/ job hunt
9:30 – 10:00: Breakfast and personal internet time (e-mail, Facebook)
10:30 – 12:30: Clean and study Spanish (I actually alternate these two tasks, doing 15 minutes of one, then switching and doing 15 minutes of the other. That keeps the cleaning from becoming too tiring and the learning from being too boring.)
12:30 – 1:30: Lunch and personal internet time or play game or read
1:30 – 5:00: Writing (although I’m experimenting with breaking this down into one hour to blog, one hour to work on my non-fiction, then an hour and a half to work on my book(s); I want to get better about blogging, even if I’m on sucky dial-up, and I need to carve out some time for my non-fiction pursuits, because, ultimately, they help promote my name.)
5:00 – 7:00: Dinner (This either gives me time to fix it and eat it, or eat it and watch a movie, which my husband and I often do.)
7:00 – Midnight: Misc. (While this can include crafting, reading, watching a movie, etc., I really want to spend most of this time working on my fiction.)

More on how it’s been working out for me tomorrow.