Monday Dare: Time management for idiots

Every week, I challenge myself to a Monday Dare. Click on the link if you’d like to see the complete list of Monday Dares or learn more about its origin.

This week: Set realistic daily goals. Learn to manage my time.

I never invested in a homework planner during my years as an unwilling participant in the public school system. I just kept assignments and deadlines in my head or on scraps of paper I found at the bottom of my never-clean backpack. This wasn’t a perfect system, but I had to make a difficult choice at the beginning of every school year- spend two or three dollars on a planner or use that money to buy one of those retractable 4-color ballpoint pens. With just a flick of my fingernail, I could switch from red to green. I’m stunned I even gave this any thought. Young Elizabeth was obviously very stupid.

Because of these early decisions to choose flair over function, I didn’t learn how to manage my time properly. While all the other kids were flipping open their planners and saying things like, “I can meet from 4:18 to 5:23 tonight to work on the cell model,” I just casually rooted through the margins of any stray papers laying next to me and replied, “Yeah, sure, I don’t got nothin’ written down it seems,” while focusing on how many color changes I could click through before jamming the barrel opening of my pen. I don’t want to brag or anything, but my record is 63 changes in 60 seconds. I might post a video later to show you.

I don’t record daily goals or appointments on scraps anymore. I’ve upgraded to note cards. Each day gets its own note card. I just write a bunch of shit on each card without taking into account the priority of each item or the duration of time it might take to complete the task.

At the end of each day, I feel like a failure because I never get through my entire To-Do list. My solution is to transfer everything I didn’t accomplish that day to the next day’s card. Around 9:57 every evening, I can be found hunched over my desk, editing my note cards and saying FUCK THIS SHIT loudly, over and over again.

I looked into getting one of those fancy Franklin Covey planners recently and decided against it. I drove down to a Franklin Covey store and learned a few things. 1. Those bitches are really expensive. 2. They are called “planning systems,” and you can’t just go in there and buy a planner. You “get” to customize a “planning system” binder to “suit your needs.” 3. Those bitches are really expensive. 4. Those bitches are really expensive.

Things hit rock bottom last night when Cal walked into my office with a stern-but-in-a-gentle-way expression.

Cal: Mommy, we need to have a talk.

Me: About? (Please Jesus, don’t let it be about boys, sex, drugs, or why her slice of pie is missing.)

Cal: Your time management skills. You don’t have any.

Me: Do you want to talk about boys instead?

Cal: PAY ATTENTION. For the next three days, I want you to write down how you spend every minute of your day. When I get home from my field trip, we can talk about setting realistic goals and how you’re wasting your time.

Me: Are you trying to punish me for something?

Because I’m an excellent parent, I will be following my daughter’s request for the next three days and writing down exactly how I spend my time. On a note card. Perhaps she’ll reveal some gems later this week. I will buy her a 4-color pen as a “thank you.”

Best time management tips? Do you use a planner? Paper or digital?

P.S. I’m sorry I’ve been such an asshole about replying to your blog comments lately. September was a crazy month, and I, um, had some time management issues. I’ll be going through this week and responding. Thanks for taking the time to leave comments. I know it’s an extra step to do it, and I really appreciate you for it. They are a motherfucking joy to read.

P.P.S. Stacy W., Natalie Figueira, and Elizabeth Barnes, please email me at flourishinprogress at gmail dot com with your mailing address so I can send you Gretchen Rubin’s Happier at Home.

P.P.P.S. I’m part of the Expressing Motherhood show in Los Angeles. Four shows down, four to go! If you live in the area, come by. Please email me to let me know, because I’d love to buy you a glass of wine and bore you with my awkward conversation skills. Stay in the loop by “Liking” the Flourish in Progress Facebook page for pictures/updates/thug life thoughts on the show.
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