Unless you count the obsessive speed with which I can power through two seasons of Sherlock in one weekend (in addition to a full social calendar, a movie and six episode of House of Cards), I can’t really boast “efficient” and “productive” as two words consistently high on the list for how I spend my personal time.
For instance, continuing my Italian education has been a goal of mine since college. My old textbook and verb tense flash cards taunt me from my bedroom bookshelf, but somehow seem to require far too much effort to actually pick up when the time to do so presents itself. The next How I Met Your Mother episode on the other hand? My Netflix’s placeholder at the end of Season 6 speaks for itself.
But with a glass of Turkish wine in hand and the glowing Bosphorous Bridge in the distance, I turned to my roommate during our trip and told her I knew what my next Big Goal is…making time for getting back to really learning Italian. Now, I’m fully aware the likelihood of me knowing Italian in Texas isn’t exactly going to break down language barriers anytime soon. For me, it’s more about the personal achievement and the satisfaction of *finally* following through. And if planning another trip to Italy becomes the ultimate reward for my efforts…well I think I can live with that.
Most people have way more free time than they think they do (according to Fast Company) and I’m guilty, too. These three words (also from Fast Company – are you picking up on my other obsession?) have gone a long way in inspiring me to re-evaluate how I spend my time and how I can make more of it or just feel like I do: Protect, Delegate, Automate.
- Protect your time. My parents always told me as I rushed out the door breakfast, make-up bag and shoes in hand that I don’t give myself enough time for anything I do, resulting in over-scheduling and chronic late arrivals. After experiencing a pathological amount of “really bad traffic,” I had to admit that maybe there’s a tiny bit of validity to their observation. While all this running about is great for calorie burning, saying no every now and then and allocating more time for everything can go a long way in building in both more free time and more energy to make the most of that time. Another Fast Company article held advice from a CEO who never schedules meetings or plans to do any work on Fridays, therefore building in plenty of availability for when things pop up or get shifted. Interessante.
- Delegate. I place a lot of responsibility on myself in the form of personal tasks, work and guilt, which don’t always need to be mine to take. Asking myself, “Do I really need to be doing that or can someone else excel at it, handle it or learn from it?” has gone a long way in helping my work team to succeed, my stress to subside, my trust in others to grow and finally, my to do list to shrink along with the time spent thinking about it.
- Automate. What do you do often that can be streamlined to free up actual time and/or mental time? For me, this means setting up automatic bill payments, text reminders about non-automatic payments, email rules, calendar reminders on my phone for everything from taking out the trash to replying to an email…I think you get the idea.
Now all that’s left is to finally do it! I think I’m going to commit to one Italian session a week through the end of the year…that’s only 10, which is totally do-able. Google searching “learn Italian for free” has led to a few helpful resources, and of course, I always have those trusty flash cards waiting patiently.
So I was going to write today on how I’ve been such a terrible blogger this last week and completely unmotivated. I simply couldn’t think of anything to write about. And about how having a clean car and a freshly organized closet makes me feel more put together and like an adult. But then I read Sarah’s post.
We write a lot about careers here at Finding Tiffanys so it’s no secret that Sarah and I are very career focused people. I found her article from Forbes “Why we need to take 20-somethings seriously” to be so comforting, albeit very intimidating [and encouraged my continued focus on the age old question, what’s the next step in my career?]. But again, comforting. Here’s why. When I graduated college I had no yearning to explore the world. I wanted to start my career. Although I made a big misstep post college, I was still looking to get on track. The prospect of starting out on a career in advertising was so exciting to me, and it still is. However free spirited friends caused me to have this feeling that something was wrong with me. And that I would wake up one day when I’m 35 (this is the age I assume I’ll have it together by) and regret not living.
But I’ve since learned that this whimsical “living” doesn’t have to have an exact definition. My version of living might not be the same as yours. There’s nothing wrong with geting a high from working hard in front of a computer 9-5. And that you can’t plan your life or make rules of “I’ll never do…” Life simply doesn’t happen that way. Did I imagine that I would have to live at home working at Starbucks for a few months to restart my career track? Hell to the no. But now I look back at that time as a great experience. One where I met some amazing people, made good friends, got to know my parents again and started drinking my coffee black (one hipster point for me, yeah!). The stories I hear of people at the ripe of age of 30 who quit their job and started traveling the world instead, sound amazing. And sometimes I think that I wish I had that kind of yearning to explore. But I don’t. At least not right now.
Basically what I am trying to get at is that this article reminded me that no life plan is right for everyone nor will your plan remain static. So when I also read articles like “How I Became a 21-Year-Old Business Executive,” my instant reaction is to deem myself lazy and undeserving of the position I so dearly want. But then I remind myself to pause and think about it. This girl graduated college early, but hey, I loved college. I mean really loved it. Even now I wouldn’t have given that up to graduate early and to load up on the business courses. I wouldn’t trade that experience, the friendships, or meeting Sam Bradford for anything.
With all that said, I am currently undergoing a panic of “what am I doing next and where am I doing it,” as I enjoy doing every so often. Because by “currently” we’re talking about everyday since I walked across that graduation stage. So I am reminding myself to take a deep breathe. Nothing needs to be laid out or planned. As a person who changed their major like Lindsay Lohan changes rehab clinics, I can say that I’ve made dozens upon dozens of plans for my life. And have stuck to none of them. Yet, here I am. Living in a great apartment, with a boyfriend I love, a dog who has the face to get away with anything and a career that I look forward to building (oh, and did I mention the clean car and organized closet?). All you can do is work your ass off, impress your coworkers and keep striving for better. To me, this is living. At least until I change my mind that is. 😉