Wednesday, November 18, 2009

What Would YOU Do With All Your Extra Time?

Now that my book trip to Chicago is over, it's time to get serious about a couple of important endeavors. No, no, no, I don't mean cutting off my questionable long hair and losing five pounds. I don't mean resolving my insomnia by developing a Tylenol PM habit. I don't mean having a third baby, going back to work, or training for a marathon. I don't even mean preparing for the holidays. (Side note: our family is neither traveling for nor having company visit for Thanksgiving. Relatedly, I have not yet purchased nor thought about a turkey or any other Thanksgiving-dinner groceries.)

No, no, I'm talking about a.) obtaining all my continuing education credits for my psychologist license, and b.) writing that book proposal. Both of which involve prodigious amounts of time.

I recently found a special deal where I can take a boatload of home-study professional psychology courses from my computer, all on sale for a limited time. If I work really hard at it, I could possibly obtain all--or nearly all--my required credits for one low price, between now and next November. But it will require me to sit in front of the laptop for hours each week reading tedious course materials and taking tests on things like "Clinical Aspects of Traumatic Brain Injury" and "Methamphetamine Addiction."

Much more exciting, I still have this book idea I'm dying to work on, plus a reference book about writing book proposals lent to me by my awesome writer friend Lori, who is patiently waiting for me to WRITE THE BOOK PROPOSAL ALREADY. (This woman is a superstar who had TWO books published during the same month earlier this year, people. TWO.)

How to find time for these things, people? My children aren't in school all day yet, and they don't nap anymore. I don't have any "free" chunks of time during the day long enough to get anything like this done. Most evenings, I try to turn out the light by 8:30 so that, given my early alarm clock, my husband's snoring, my toddler's periodic night awakening, and my subsequent insomnia, I can stand a reasonable chance of getting seven or so hours of sleep. Weekends, I'm usually trying to balance a bit of relaxation with family activities and the normal household chores.

Argh! Does it ever end, this desperate quest for "free" time for personal pursuits, professional goals, or hobbies? Are there ever enough hours in the day?

Here's how the considerations have played themselves out in my mind so far: Give up running? No. Give up watching "Glee"? No. Sleep less to stay up late and work? No. Give up writing this blog? No. Give up Facebook? Sigh.

Yeah. You get where this is going. While there are some things I'm not willing to relinquish, I suppose it's true that I "waste" an awful lot of time surfing my favorite sites online, keeping up with Facebook friends, reading and the best mommy-blogs, skimming Babble essays and FameCrawler, checking out the latest headlines at the New York Times website. What would my life be like without all that screen time? Probably a lot less "busy" and perhaps a lot more meaningful.

Maybe I'd even get my license credits done and my book proposal written in record time. Maybe it's time for an experiment.


Lori said...

Wow, thanks for the compliment and the name check, but DUDE, come on-- the only reason I get books written is because I don't have kids. Your book proposal (and book) will totally get done in good time, perhaps when those small people in your house don't need you 24/ 7. Give yourself a break, lady! Should I send you some People magazines? :)

Mnmom said...

I hear you. And childcare isn't an answer when you don't have 8$ per hour to spare for a HS girl, or $10+ an hour for a college kid.

You may not like this answer, but wait. Wait. The kids DO grow older and your time for such pursuits does increase.

But can your licensure requirements wait? Maybe you could put the book proposal into mini little goals? I know you've heard it before: yes, we can have it all but not at the same time.

And stop watching GLEE?!?? Have you LOST YOUR MIND????

Donna said...

Oh goodness, I hear you. Especially on the snoring husband. And the waking children. Except at my house, it's the neighbor's kid who shrieks (not cries) for at least 45 minutes at least twice a night - who wakes me up, and also wakes up my daughter (whose room isn't even on that side of the house!) thereby keeping me up because I, like you, am not one who can fall asleep quickly after being woken. Good god, the resulting sleep deprivation!

I know you have prioritized everything and everything that gets done right now is of the highest priority and can't give. *sigh*

The way I (try to) do it is to prioritize my priorities knowing I won't be able to do everything on my priority list. Some might argue that it means I'm being half-assed about some things, but I haven't found better way to make it work. So, I'd rather keep my bathroom and kitchen spic-and-span and rotate other chores that need to be done that are still on the priority list but not as high as cleanliness of the house (like letting the laundry pile up).

What I wouldn't give for more hours in a day! Or to be a person who needs less sleep than I do!

Due to my husband's job, we often have weeks where he isn't home until the kids are in bed which means I am 'single parenting' for the week. To prepare for those times, I like to cook most of the meals for the week ahead of time. I find that it saves me time in total. (Example: on Sunday I spend 3 hours cooking 5-6 meals which can be frozen for later in the week and would have taken me more than the 3 hours total over the course of the week because you can prep for multiple meals at once.) You wouldn't need to take it to this extreme, but perhaps you could cook more than one meal so you have a day where you 'just' need to heat up dinner and you could use that time for your CEs or your book propsal.

(BTW, I say go for the deal on the CEs. I hate that CEs are so damn expensive!!)

As for online time, online is often the easiest (or only!) way to keep in touch with some friends. We're all so busy that trying to find time that works to get together can be difficult and then gets put off over and over until you find you never see your friends anymore. Being online means that each person can write when s/he has time and you can still keep in touch. In my life (and with time zones complicating things further), it's a necessity for my social sanity. As for the reading you do online, consider it keeping up with what's going on. How can you write a book if you don't know what your audience wants? (And in a perfect world, you'd be able to use that reading for your CEs!) Meaningful is only as you define it for your present life.

Sorry for the long comment!

Donna said...

One more thing... Does Lori have kids? Have you asked her how she does it?

Shan said...

Funny you should ask, Donna. Lori does not have children, and commented about that on Facebook where I linked to this blog post. She says that is the THE reason she has been able to do things like this--she's childless! I also get a kick out of your innocent question of whether Lori has kids, b/c it's an ongoing joke between the two of us: she's terrified of having them, and she loves to read my blog and scare herself further. ;)

Shan said...

Oops--sorry you all--Lori had left that comment HERE but I had accidentally forgotten to moderate it. I've added it now. Donna, read on to see what Lori has to say! :)

Shan said...

Or, rather, read above. Lori's comment is the first one.

Donna said...

If Lori had kids (especially small ones!) and was still able to crank out two books in a month, I'd have to bow down and kiss her feet.

Do you remember in your pre-child life feeling like you didn't have enough time to do what you wanted to do? (That is, if you remember your pre-child life. ha ha!) Imagine if we could go back in time and tell our pre-child selves, "You think you're busy? You have NO idea."

p.s. I'm glad Lori commented here and not on FB. I kind of hate FB and would be reluctant to have to go there and here to keep up with the comments!

Mom and Kiddo said...

I hear you! My google reader is the biggest time suck ever. I like to pretend it is a time saver because I don't have to visit all the blogs to read them. But you know how I could really save some time? Throw out the computer.