Time-Management Tips for Seriously Busy People

We are in the first few days of February 2020, and I haven’t blogged since November of 2019! But that doesn’t really surprise me. I know that I haven’t been writing simply because I haven’t been making the time for it, or committing to getting a blog out on the same day each way, or operating with a “done is better than perfect” mentality, and several other things. Now that the hustle and bustle of the holidays are over, the rush of joining a new board and board-related travel has slowed, and now that my students have completed the performance we began preparing for several months ago, I am ready to start focusing on creating again, which will require me to manage my time in a different way.

I’m writing this post in the wee hours of the morning, after awakening from a… power nap? I decided write this because I’m currently in a great position with work, business, and life, and I’m working hard to manage all the responsibilities that currently take up my time so that each day feels better and less overwhelming.

Here is a little background: I left my full-time job as a classroom teacher back in May of 2019. This was probably about 9 months later than I should have left teaching full-time, but I didn’t want to pass up my chance at finally being a kindergarten teacher. (Previously, I had only taught second grade.) And, for the record, I absolutely loved being a kindergarten teacher. Also for the record: I don’t love having a full-time job with no flexibility. Many people don’t understand this about me, and I’m not one to over-explain things to the masses (I leave my over-explaining to my students and loved ones). But I’ll say this: With every fiber of my being, I am a creative and an entrepreneur. My mind is buzzing with ways to create the things that I love dozens of times per day (I would say “hundreds of times,” but I have to leave room for all of the anxious thoughts that interrupt the creative thoughts….). I love doing things on my own terms. I’m highly motivated by a sense of responsibility. Little fulfills me more in life than generating income from original thoughts and ideas that I have put into the the universe–whether that’s a new business venture, curriculum for a dance program, a podcast, music playlists for dance studio owners, a social media marketing plan, or even a blog. With that said, again: loved teaching, but felt extremely stifled (see also: unhappy, confined, controlled, cranky, unfulfilled, like I was living the wrong life, etc.) by the 9:00 to 5:00 way of living.

Today, I am working as a full-time entrepreneur with many, many projects in the works. Those projects include running two dance education organizations (Dance Daze, Inc. and Dance Daze in Schools), managing a recently-born digital marketing agency (SociallySaumirah.com), hosting a podcast (The Happy Dance Podcast), and designing digital courses and printable resources for early-career dance educators and dance business owners on my platform DanceEdStartup.com. Additionally, I’m a brand new board member for a statewide dance education organization, a third-year doctoral student trying to hone in a research topic that combines dance educator preparation, the psychology of learning, and experiential learning theory, a committed dog mom (as in: my two rescue dogs have their own strollers, their own overnight bags, and about six dog beds between them), a partner, and a bonus mom. Oh, and I also have a couple of part-time gigs, to financially support the part of me that loves foreign cars and frequent travel.

What’s my point? My point is that I have very little time in my days and weeks. So I’m working on working smarter so that I can play harder.

Here are some of the tips I’m currently applying in my own life so that I can effectively manage my time and get everything (read: most things) on my to-do list done each day of the week and feel productive and successful:

TIP #1 – WRITE EVERYTHING DOWN: If I don’t write it down as you’re telling me something, I’m probably going to forget it. I have to put everything on both of my wall calendars (found in my kitchen and living room), in the Google Calendar on my iPhone, on my To-Do List in my iPhone Notes, and in my $3 daily planner from Target so that I don’t forget it. Additionally, I recently started re-using a free website and cell phone app called GetBusy.com specifically to help me manage projects at one of my part-time gigs. (I also use Buffer.com to manage my social media postings for my digital marketing agency; I use GroupMe to communicate with staff for one of my part-time jobs; and I use Slack to communicate with my doctoral cohort.)

TIP #2 – IF YOU FEEL THE URGE TO DO IT, DO IT: This might seem counter-intuitive to productivity. But let me explain. If we’re being completely honest, I don’t write everything down. (My mom says I should write down even the smallest things, but, what can I say? I’m still living on the edge in some ways.) For example: I don’t write down that I need to do the dishes or walk my dogs or take out the trash and recycling. For me, seeing dishes piling up or broken down boxes shoved in the corner is typically aversive enough for me to handle those situations so that they’re not just sitting there, unresolved, for more than a day or two. However, I have to give into the “urges” to take out my trash, or else I have this really annoying feeling in the back of my mind while trying to work on other things. So, in short: Clean when you feel like cleaning because it might relieve some stress and allow you to focus more on your actual work.

TIP #3: DO SPECIFIC WORK ON SPECIFIC DAYS: The idea of taking out the trash and recycling makes me think of how much clarity it gives me to know that I have to do certain things on certain days! Then they’re done! Probably since my days as a young graduate student at Pacific, when I was renting a room in a house in Stockton, CA, I believe I’ve always put out the trash bin on trash day–even if the bin wasn’t full. Even if there was only one bag in the bin, the trash went out. Even if there was almost no reason to put out the trash, I put out the trash bin because it ensured that it got done! It ensured that I didn’t have to take time out on another day to check all the waste bins inside of the house, fill up the large bin outside, possibly cause the outside bin to overflow, then have to re-think my entire trash-taking-out strategy. I’m still working this schedule of doing certain things on certain days out in my life (because, really, it is quite possible that I have too many things going on to only work on certain things on certain days… but if there’s a question, then there’s room for an experiment!). However, the idea of reserving certain tasks for certain days is one that I think might better help me manage my current schedule.

TIP #4: STOP WITH THE GUILT TRIPS, ALREADY: I’m actively working on not allowing myself to focus on the things that I’m not getting done each day or each week and to focus on being happy with what I have accomplished. I’m entirely aware of how easily people who live for feeling successful and productive and who run on high speed most of the time, like I do, can easily forget to acknowledge all that we have done and focus on what we have not done. This generally causes us to feel completely terrible internally, while the world wonders what our problem is. So, again, I’m working on re-framing my thoughts around my ideas of success and achievement so that I can focus more on what I have done and actively feel good about this. Which leads my to my final tip for this blog….

TIP #5: CELEBRATE EVERY WIN BECASE YOU EARNED IT, HONEY! I’m not sure what the exact formula is that “works” for me, but I know that at the end of some days I feel absolutely great about all that I’ve done. Other days, this is not so much the case. So, again, I don’t have this down to an exact science yet, but I do know that I love relishing in the thought that I’ve used the hours in the day that has just passed as effectively as possible to move me closer toward attaining my goals and toward living my ideal life. So I’m trying to feel like that more.

That’s all I have for now, friends. Let’s chat again soon!

 

But, what’s a hobby?

Okay, so the title of this blog might seem a bit ridiculous to some people. But, in the same way that I’ve always hated answering questions about what kinds of music I like (and, yes, I’m saving those juicy deets for another blog),  I’ve always hated answering the questions “What are your hobbies?” or “What do you like to do for fun?”

I strongly dislike answering questions about my hobbies because, quite frankly, it makes me feel like I’m not doing anything with my life. But, of course, anyone who knows me (or maybe even you, because you’re reading my blog, maybe follow me online, or at least know that blogging is a THING that takes time and effort) knows that I’m always, always working on something. And when I’m not working on something directly, I’m making plans for how to complete a project.

Still though, I can’t help but wonder if all the somethings I do are legitimate hobbies. I mean, really, what’s a hobby?! (I just feel like I’m a hard-working, type-A, ambitious, relentless hustler!)

Google tells me that a hobby is “an activity done regularly in one’s leisure time for pleasure.” Wikepedia tells me that a hobby is “a regular activity done for enjoyment, typically during one’s leisure time, not professionally and not for pay. Hobbies include collecting themed items and objects, engaging in creative and artistic pursuits, playing sports, or pursuing other amusements.”

Okay, so then there’s me. I spend my waking hours doing only things that give me pleasure in some way. I explained this in Episode #7 of The Happy Dance Podcast. I honestly feel like every single thing in my daily life (when I have complete control over my time) I’m doing either because it makes me instantly happy or because I believe it will make me long-term happy.

So, let’s take this blog for instance. Is blogging a “HOBBY?” Or am I working as I type these words? Sure, writing is fun for me. Writing is something I enjoy. It gives me great pleasure to craft words, communicate ideas, perhaps spark new insights, and maybe even engage in the occasional online conversation with a fellow blogger/digital-entrepreneur type. But, I’m also working. I’m also creating content. I’m also trying to build an audience. I’m also keeping this blog up-to-date as part of a carefully planned mini-project that is as part of a larger business-growth plan of mine.

And, while I suppose I’m not a professional blogger (I can tell you right now: I’m not making a dime directly from this blog….), I definitely spend some of my time reading about how to become a better blogger or writer.

I’m in no way a professional podcaster, but I’m constantly consuming information about how to manage, grow, and monetize a podcast.

In fact, I’ve gotten paid for many activities (e.g., posting sponsored tweets, editing resumes, managing social media accounts, etc.) that I’ve never considered my professions.

So, are these things hobbies? Simply because I’m not getting paid any big bucks to do them? Because, personally, I view everything on which I regularly spend my time as sort of a low-key startup.

I mean, as I recently said in my Instastories: In the age of influencers, isn’t any hobby a potential business? Isn’t any leisure activity a potential means of income?

When people are getting paid to make sounds into expensive microphones, the possibilities are endless, right?

So, all of the above to say this: I’m not sure where the line blurs or the boundary ends between doing something strictly for fun or doing something because it’s fun and because it could potentially make some financial income.

Maybe I don’t know what a hobby is. Or maybe I’m so wonderfully fortunate because I am spending a large portion of my life doing the things that I love, so much to the point that my work feels like fun and leisurely activities. Or maybe I’m living with such a high functioning level of anxiety that I can’t even tell that I’m a workaholic with restless mind syndrome who has to literally schedule in social activities, otherwise I’ll forget to make friends or to talk to humans IRL.

Maybe I’m super ahead of my time and the word hobby should be eliminated from our vocabulary.

Maybe the word “hobby” is only relevant for people who haven’t found the magical blend of taking every single opportunity as a learning experience, being a student of life, observing human behavior, and using what they observe to better govern themselves and their daily decisions.

Maybe we need to expand the definition of hobby to include a space for us internet entrepreneurs, nay, born hustlers who are living each day casually mixing what we love with making money and making the world better.

Until next time, I’ll be working on my hobbies (or hardly working???)!