Make Time Productive

In the Nashville Tennessean (Saturday, September 21, 2013), there was an article on making time productive by Mridu Parikh.

I didn’t have time to read it when I saw it, so I set it aside to read later.

Two weeks have passed and, to be honest, I’ve not read it yet even though it lies 2 feet from me, open wide and inviting me to invest time in saving time.

Okay, okay…give me a minute and I’ll look at it.

I started to read her intro, but got bogged down…my fault, not the writer’s.  I want quick answers that will save me time.

Here are the high points offered in the article.

  • Getting the most done each day comes down to making choices.
  • Step No. 1: Take a goal inventory
  • Step No. 2: Keep a time log
  • Step No. 3: Purge!

I hesitated a bit when I typed “Keep a time log.”  Why?  Keeping a time log takes extra time and extra time is one thing I don’t have an abundance of these days.

So, I took a moment to read that one section.  Here’s what she says.

  • Evaluate how you’re spending your time and days.
  • Keep a diary of everything you do for one week to determine how you’re really spending your hours.
  • Look for time that could be used more wisely.
  • How many hours were you on Facebook or surfing the Web?
  • How many hours did you spend on things that were not related to your top four priorities?

Hmm…that spoke to me.

And, it tells me that I need to invest the time and start at the beginning of the article and see what’s said about goal inventory and purging.

Perhaps you would like to read it, too.  You can here.

To learn more about organization, visit Life is Organized.

I set up a Google calendar on my gmail months ago. I’ve begun using it to account for my time and to keep myself accountable. It’s amazing the time it takes….

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Telling Time

In Mom’s house there are 87+ clocks – alarm, wrist, wall, digital, atomic, pocket, coo coo, chiming, antique – you name it, she probably has it (with the exception of a Grandfather clock, but she does have her grandfather’s).

When the time changes twice a year – from Standard Time to Daylight Savings Time and back again to Standard Time – time changes at Mom’s house, too.

When she and Dad were in better healthy, they changed the time on every clock in their house twice a year – at least the ones that kept time.  The clocks that didn’t keep time marked the last second they did and those of us familiar with where those clocks were knew not to count on them for telling time.

As the burden to change time grew heavier with age, they decided to change only those clocks they relied on and those that announced the time audibly with chimes or coo coos.

  • three in their bedroom (two alarm and one wall)
  • one in the spare bedroom
  • four in the kitchen
  • two in the bathroom
  • one in the half bath
  • five in the living room
  • two in the dining room (or was it three?)
  • one in the washroom
  • four in the den
  • their wristwatches
  • one in the car

That’s still a lot of clocks – and in the number above, I’ve not counted clocks on appliances, TVs, VCR/DVD players, etc.

And to those of us who visited only a couple of times a year, it could be confusing.  One tends to trust a clock to portray the correct time.  An hour off one way or the other can make life interesting – and frustrating. Add to that the fact that we were in a different time zone and our cell phones didn’t always change time as quickly as we needed them to…we didn’t know which clock to trust.

After Dad’s death last year, we moved near Mom a month or so before time fell back to Standard Time. Mom decided to change only those clocks that SHE depended on.

  • one in their bedroom
  • two in the kitchen
  • one in the bathroom
  • one in the living room
  • her wristwatch

The problem was, during the two months I had stayed with Mom after Dad’s death, and the month (or so) after our move here, I became dependent on several clocks that she apparently was NOT dependent upon.

Mom said the clocks she chose not to change reflect the correct time at some point during the year so it’s a simple task of remembering which show Standard Time and which show Daylight Savings Time.

Ha!

No longer moving between time zones, I came to trust my cell phone for time keeping and dismissed the guess-the-time game with clocks at her house.

Except for last week.

I was visiting Mom and it seemed time was moving slowly. The clock on the table beside me chimed and I dismissed the count – I’d ceased counting chimes months ago…too confusing trying to remember if this clock chimed true time or not.

The clock on the living room wall indicated 6 pm plus a few minutes. I commented to Mom that it was yet early and I was surprised…seemed I’d been there far longer than the time showed.

She asked which clock I was keeping time with and I pointed to the one on the wall – one I had become accustomed to using before time sprang forward. She, in turn, pointed to the small clock atop her TV.

It was after 7 pm and quickly moving toward half past.

A quick check of my cell phone revealed the joke was on me and that old habits die hard.

Did I change the time on the clock on the living room wall to reflect the current time?

No.

When time falls back to Standard in the Fall, it will keep the proper time until time changes again next Spring.  I’ll just remember to treat it like those that chime: ignore it and the time it offers me.

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.  Fool me three times and I’ll take your batteries out.

Double Time

I grew up in a family that was time conscious.  Every minute counted.

And, we counted every minute.

We were on time, at the right time, in time, with time to spare.

Every time.

My parents’ house contains a collection of over 89 clocks – all types, sizes, shapes.  I know because I took time to count them.

I married into a family that was…more relaxed where time was concerned.

An adjustment for me, to be certain, but one I’ve grown accustomed to and have become comfortable with – for the most part.

My house has no visible clocks apart from the small digital alarm clocks in the bedroom (his and hers) and the tiny keepers of time in the lower right corner of our computer screens.

Oh, yes – I forgot.  The VCR/DVD player has one as well, but we don’t use it.  And, the coffee pot and microwave…but they blink 00.

Ah, and our cell phones reveal the time if we disturb them.

I look around me, wondering what other clocks hide from my thoughts – silently counting minutes, keeping time, without my notice or consideration.

I’m time conscious.  I have to be in order to accomplish goals and be present for things important to me and others.  At set times, certain things happen in my day.

I also choose to forget the time. Sometimes it’s important NOT to know what time it is – like when you want to sleep in, or you’re enjoying friends/family, or you need to unwind and relax. Sometimes, some things and some ones are more important than some timely appointment.

Keeping time keeps you wound tightly.  When I was a child the clocks and watches (interesting name for clocks we wear on our arms) we had required winding if they were to keep the time/be accurate.  On a daily basis, we would wind them.  If we forgot, the clock/watch stopped.  Time marched on, but time was no longer marked by it.

Time waits for no one.

Having said all that, I now come to the point of this piece.

My mother, who takes off her watch only to bathe, noticed that I no longer wear a watch.  I assured her all was well – my cell phone is always with me and if I bother it, the time is revealed.

I also assured her that I have a watch.  She inquired as to why I don’t wear it.  I gave several reasons.

  • I’m not into watches
  • I don’t want to
  • it bothers me
  • I can feel it
  • gets in my way
  • I might lose it
  • battery died
  • my cell phone is enough
  • it’s not necessary
  • I’m not much on jewelry
  • can’t see it without my glasses
  • I might break it
  • it will get wet
  • it’s not that important to me

Apparently keeping time on one’s forearm is important to her – she offered to purchase a cheap one for me.  I assured her I have one (actually more than one).

“Then why don’t you wear it?” she asked. “You should wear a watch so you always have the time.”

“Battery died and I was too sorry to get another.  I’ll get one when we next go shopping,” I said, thinking that would close the matter.

When we next visited Wal-mart she gravitated to the jewelry department.  “Pick out one of these watches and I’ll buy it for you.”

Time has a way of erasing some memories – this I know as I pick up speed heading down the backside of 50 – but she had not forgotten.

I suggested a new battery for my old forearm clock and ticked away the seconds before she responded.

I counted 2.

“That old watch? she asked. It might not even work. I’ll get you a new watch.  Which of these do you want?”

I argued but she gave me that look…the one she gave me time and time again when I was a child.  You know the look your mother gave you…. It meant shut up and do what I say or else.

If I was going to watch time pass on my forearm, I wanted a light weight time piece that did wasn’t a burden and that looked like it was happy to keep time while I ignored it. I found one for under $8. She was pleased.

I wear the watch every time she and I go somewhere, and often when I visit her.  Do I look at / tell time by the watch?  Rarely.  Apparently it’s enough that I keep time. I’m not required to tell time.

My daughter, while looking in the contraption I call a jewelry box for a necklace to wear, came across my old watch and asked me why I never wear it.  I offered her the same list above and added one

  • Mom bought me this one

She thought it a shame that I have such a pretty watch and never wear it (what good is a watch if it’s not marking time?) and offered to purchase a battery.

I countered, “It’s old and probably doesn’t even work – it would be a waste to buy a battery if the watch won’t work.”

Daughter is kin to her grandmother.  “I’ll get you a battery for it,” said she.

And, she did.

And, she put the battery into my old watch.

Now I have two watches…

And, I have a dilemma – which watch do I wear and when? Truth is, well…see the first entry in the list above.

So, I resolved things the easiest way.

I wear both.  One on each wrist.

After all, if one clock is good, two must be better.

The more time conscious I am, the more productive I will be. Right?

Perhaps.

Perhaps not. Now, I have to take time to return to the bedroom to get the watches, take time to put on the watches, take time to push them up when I wash my hands, take time to take them off….

It seems the watches cost me more time than they save me.

I showed my mom both wrists, the other day, and laughingly told her that I’m keeping double time.

She said I should be able to really get things done now.

And, I probably could if I didn’t waste so much time fiddling with and watching these markers of time.