Monday, 26 March 2012

Taking Control of my Time

Recently I've felt a bit bullied and squashed by my schedule. This is utterly ridiculous as really, I don't teach that many classes. What I've been doing, is not paying attention to how I'm really using my time. If at the end of the day I feel I haven't done what I set out to do, I feel fed up and annoyed with myself. The past few days I've been paying attention and already it's paying dividends.

The main problem- the internet. I use the internet for keeping in touch with family and friends, reading the newspapers and blogs as well as for researching and planning my lessons. If I sit down with a vague plan of what I need to do, I'm all too easily sidetracked by something else and soon some quick lesson planning time has included a few emails, some off-topic reading and looking at friends baby photos. When my time's up I look at my bare lesson plan and feel ashamed of my procrastination. Sound familiar? I'm not surprised, we all do it and it's really hard not to.

Starting this week, I'm getting strict with myself in order to have more time to slow down. I am imposing a one hour internet limit on myself per day which can be broken down into smaller sections. Yesterday it worked like a dream, I still had time to check my emails and read for pleasure but also time for other pursuits. I managed to plan today's lesson ahead of time so that I feel relaxed and ready to teach it, avoiding any last minute panics. Mid-morning, instead of continuing to procrastinate, I had some quality time with J and L as I had finished my tasks for the morning. Last night, we watched a film and I still had time for some yoga before bed. Bliss.

I am also taking control of my Chinese lessons. Learning Chinese is really important to me at the moment. J's language is at a much higher level than mine and I feel bad that he has to deal with the brunt of the daily interactions and negotiations with other people. Also, for me personally, I want to be able to make Chinese friends and help the boys to do so too. The problem? Chinese is really difficult, the tones baffle me and I have to really work hard to make any progress. I started learning 8 years ago so this isn't just initial teething troubles. Up until now, I've been having 5 lessons a week. Last Tuesday, after 3 and a half hours of intensive Chinese including 90 minutes of constant repetition of one passage, I returned home exhausted and in tears. I decided then that if it was making me that unhappy, it had to change. J is a bit of a language learning guru (he's currently learning Vietnamese through the medium of Chinese to give you an idea of how keen he is!), and he's currently devising me some new ways to learn and I'm very grateful. I'll still go to some lessons but not as many. The next day, instead of rushing to yet another class only to have to hurry back for school pick-up, I stayed home and J and I made dumplings. I felt centred and happy. We were making something together, learning new skills and spending time just the two of us.

Making time for the things that make us happy means that we have to be strict with the other aspects of our life. Watching time in order to slow down sounds like a contradiction but really it isn't. I am happiest when I have time to write, read, do yoga, cook, spend time with my husband and children and also when I just do nothing at all, just sit and think or walk. I also thrive when I've had a good night's sleep. By making more time in my week for the important things I'll have more energy to enjoy everything I do.

How strict are you with your time? I'd love to know.


  1. I couldn't agree more but I seem to be in the midst of doing exactly the opposite of what you suggest. Aarghh!
    I was good for a while there but I've now become very rubbish at managing my time and I need to make a change to that. Ironically enough I think being self employed makes this worse for me. In theory I'm in charge of my own time but it's very hard to keep it balanced and to say 'no'.

    I need to slow down and prioritise. Thanks for the read and the thought provocation xx

    1. Ah Ingrid, but you make it look easy to achieve so much! I'd love to be self employed but I'm sure I would struggle too.
      Thanks very much for reading and commenting and good luck with all your projects! x