(I'm including some photos from the past few years. These are just images of things that I am grateful for, I suppose)
I'm one of those people who gets stressed out when I feel I'm not being productive or getting enough done. I know I need to just cool it sometimes and relax (Matt is great about helping me do this), but one of the best things I've found to help myself feel like I'm accomplishing things and create free time is to learn to manage my time efficiently. Mind you, I'm not an expert at this, but I've found some things that work for me, and I'd like to share them in the hopes that they work for others too:
- When you've got a spare few minutes before you need to leave the house or while you're waiting for a friend to show up for an outing, do some small chore to kill time. Take a few dirty dishes from the table to the sink, pick up a few clothes off the floor and put them away, or dust the mantlepiece. It's amazing how far just two minutes can go toward getting something done.
- If you have a job like mine, with occasional time where you don't have any work to do, check with your supervisor to see if you can bring a project like knitting or embroidery or studying to do at your desk during quiet moments. Or use that time to pay your bills online, make your grocery list, or write your blog : )
- I find that doing errands on my midday break frees up my evening time for household chores or doing fun things with friends or going for an evening hike with Matt. I eat lunch at my desk while I'm working, which frees me up to bike to the library or walk to the store or bank on my break. When I do this, I not only get some quick errands out of the way, but I get some exercise and fresh air, which is very nice if you work in an office and/or end up sitting for most of the day.
(Pumpkins and gourds from Sauvie Island)
- If exercise is one of the things you have trouble finding time for, consider the possibility of commuting to work at least in part on foot or by bike, or find another way to work exercise into your routine. I have never been able to motivate myself to exercise simply for the sake of exercise, but if I can bike to and from work, then I get home knowing that I've already had my exercise for the day and don't have to worry about finding time for it elsewhere. When it's built in and is my mode of transport, I don't really have a choice about it and it becomes routine and enjoyable. If walking or biking to work isn't feasible for you, or you don't work outside the home, you can decide that you will bike whenever you go to a certain friend's house, or to the farmer's market every weekend. In addition to helping with your physical and mental health, you will be traveling in a way that is friendly to the environment, and saving lots of money along the way!
(Pressing cider at Mom & Dad's, two summers ago)
- Do errands or shopping on the way home from work, or on only one day of the week. I do almost all my grocery shopping on my way home, so that once I'm home for the evening, that is taken care of and I don't have to go back out on a separate trip. If you don't work or if this isn't possible for you, think about setting aside one day of the week and save up all your errands for that day. Instead of interrupting every day with a trip or two to the store or bank or wherever, you will have it all out of the way and know that the rest of your time is free for other activities.
(Thanksgiving Dinner, 2007, at my apartment at the time)