“If you leave everything to the last minute… it only takes a minute.” Said the hare (probably) to himself, as he rolled over on his soft tuft of grass and enjoyed a few more moments of rest.
This Christmas season, if you find yourself maybe a little upset, maybe a little disappointed, probably a whole lot manic, cut yourself some slack. After all, you knew this would happen. You had 12 months to improve on last year’s performance, and you didn’t.
With the absolute landslide of options available online (and in print, and ceaselessly tumbling from the mouths of recent adherents, and and and) for you to learn how to optimise time, maximise efficiency, hack your schedule and multiply your hours (and if you’re a woman, you’d better still be keeping it tight, but that’s a whole other post), how are we still pressed for time?
It’s a question worth repeating:
Alexa, where does my time go?
Also, Alexa, while I’ve got you, open my shopping list as I have some things to add.
Oh, and please schedule a dentist appointment for the 5th, move my weekly meeting on Tuesday up one hour, and set a daily reminder that I’m on carpool duty for the next month. And please play some calming music.
Does Alexa handle all of it? It’s a genuine question, I honestly don’t know. Though I’m hardly a luddite—I’ve had a smartphone for FIVE years. Five!—I still refuse Alexa entry into my home. But you get the gist of what I’m saying: we’re busy.
So I actually decided that it’s high time I take a good hard look into the zeitgeist and see what some popular time-optimisation
placebos (whoops!) strategies are.
Upon first glance, I see a little gem called ‘time-batching’. This one I like, though it’s possible (likely) that it’s because the name itself conjures warm, fragrant, and vaguely cookie-shaped memories.
I’ll summarise it (I’m already saving time! I’m a natural!):
Save up all your similar tasks and do them at the same time.
Got emails to delete every day? Save ’em up and can ’em all on a Friday.
Eat 3 times a day, 7 days a week? Eat your 21 meals on Friday afternoon and spend all weekend sleeping it off, like a lion. Pro tip: this goes great with batching your weekly sleep, as well.
This one isn’t relevant for everyone, but the parents out there can put a week’s worth of clothes on their kids and just go pulling off the sticky outer layer nightly. Note that this is not ideal batching as the removal is still done piecemeal but it beats having to waste those extra seconds rooting around in their dresser drawer every morning, desperately hoping you’ve washed both socks in a pair.
Find yourself going to the shops a bit too often? Make a list (novel!) and do one big shop once a week. Honestly great advice. Unironically. I have done this for years. As a matter of fact, I’m considering launching a line of pads of paper that are stuck together at the top allowing you to write what you need and take it with you to the store, leaving the next piece fresh for the next week. I’ll probably put cutesy little sayings on top to motivate, like “every day is a new opportunity,” “either smile or cry, but don’t leave the house with the face you have now,” or “if money is tight, try leaving something personal of yours at the store as an exchange!”
So that’s time-batching.
And that’s where I stopped.
Do you know why? Because I realised there were an awful lot of Christmas-themed advertisements on the sites I visited (normal, as it’s now after Labour Day, but it’s really ramped up lately) and that there’s a lot (100%) of my Christmas shopping still to do.
This is actually excellent news for me, as despite my (almost) deep dive into the culture of efficiency and responsibility, the years (and untold numbers of seasonal deadlines) have taught me one core and unwavering truth about myself: I need a little pressure to really get things done.
And I bet I’m not alone. A well-thought-out strategy is worth its weight in gold, but there are those of you out there who need a little cortisol to light a fire under you.
Who else will have a beautifully organised week with built-in time for exercise, social catch-ups, and even coffees drunk while lingering enigmatically at the window, watching neighbours receive packages… only to find they have squandered their precious ‘ample time’ and find themselves instead frantically pounding away at a project with a coffee drip permanently affixed to their veins, high-volume choral music crashing around inside their brain while the clock ticks mercilessly on?
I like to think of it as my own special version of time-batching: save everything to the last possible moment, and do it all at once!
If you find yourself in the same camp, console yourself with this one often-missed piece of the tortoise and hare mythology: slow and steady wins the day. But the hare gets to take a nap… and still finishes the race.
So here’s to the procrastinations, the wait-and-sees, the “it’s on my list”s, and the plum forgots.
And in this silly season, this entire month of ‘night before the deadline’ energy, know you’re not alone.
And if you have any writing projects that still need to get finished along with the already long list of things waiting your attention…. delegation is always an option. Contact me here.
Happy holidays, to the whole assorted nut bunch.