As a proud Maritimer, the colloquial expression that is the title of this blog is one that has held meaning for me for most of my adult life. I am a busy person – one look at my calendar would verify that. I am not asking for sympathy, I enjoy being busy and would not be happy any other way.
At the same time, being busy can also mean feeling rushed – or hurried. What I have learned over the years is that when I allow my calendar and busy-ness to overwhelm me and make me feel stressed, I accomplish less and get behind on projects. Thus, “the hurrieder I go, the behinder I get”.
Friends and colleagues often ask me how I maintain the pace and get so much done. For me, I have 10 “commandments” for balancing my busy life:
- If it needs to happen, put it on the calendar. So, whether I need to write a proposal or simply pick up dry cleaning, the time allotted to the task is on the calendar.
- Everything takes time. The simplest tasks often take the longest to complete. For example, my partner, Carol and I went to have some printing done. We expected the job to take about a half an hour but it was an hour and half later when the task was completed.
- Allow time between appointments. There are several reasons for this – see commandment 2. Also, it is a good practice to have some flexibility to enable a meeting with someone else to go over, just a bit and for you to write your notes about one thing before you move on to the next thing.
- Travel takes time. This commandment is important for two reasons, it can take 30 minutes to travel just a few blocks in this city, so putting travel time on you calendar when you have appointments that are geographically dispersed ensures you don’t jam yourself up.
- Log it and forget it. If there are recurring things I need to do, I put them in my calendar. Whether its paying my bills, remembering birthdays or vacation dates, if I put the dates in my calendar, I can forget about remembering the dates and time because I can always look them up.
- When the time has come to do something, I try very hard to be “in the moment” and give whatever it is my full focus. Dividing my attention or worrying about the next thing only means it takes me longer to complete the task.
- Be flexible. If everything that needs to happen is on my calendar, it is easier to make decisions about dates/time that can be flexed to accommodate unplanned opportunities.
- Treat yourself for a job well done. I have a number of hobbies and like most people I would rather pursue them than work. So when I have a lot to accomplish in a day, I try to treat myself with a bit of time on a hobby when a task is complete. For example, after I finish posting this blog, I plan to spend a bit of time reading a book.
- Commit to your calendar. When I deviate from my calendar, I find myself stressed because I am not getting things done. One of the appointments I often move or forget is getting to the gym to work out. When I don’t go, I feel guilty and I know it is not good for me. I t also upsets me when people who make a date with me forget (the worst) are incredibly late or cancel at the last minute.
- Write a To Do list. With all the calendaring I do, you might wonder why this is necessary. I find a To Do list written at the end or beginning of each day helps me to solidify my goals for the day and force me to think about how I will spend my time. I try to identify the three things that must be done each day and the rest are either “shoulds”or “coulds”. Knowing what I have on my plate helps me stay focused and concentrate on each task, knowing that I have plans in place to address what needs to be done.
The consequence – at least for me – for breaking a commandment are the feelings of stress and guilt I have for not getting things done and therefore feeling hurried and behind. None of it pleasant!