08 November, 2012

It was time to say "no"

Today I've been tail up, head down, editing articles for our next issue of Japan Harvest. It's been fun, actually. Especially editing my favourite kind of article: a first person story. The story needed quite a bit of tightening, but it was fun. The kind of thing I usually have to do to my own work. But it was nice to come at it without knowing all the extra details that can cloud your own story writing, and help make this missionaries testimony shine brighter.

But to get this time I've faced a challenge. I had to say no to a party. My job is based at home, on the computer. It is not meeting-driven. So, when I have a clear day on the calendar, a day free of other commitments, it doesn't necessarily mean that I'm free from work and free to say yes to anything I wish. In fact I shouldn't. It is when I say yes to a whole lot of little things that I start to fall apart.

At this time in the editing process (just after the submission deadline for a new issue) I feel stressed because I've imposed a deadline on others that they've met. If I'm not doing my best to work on editing their work, I'm being unfair to my writers. In this case, I've also got a tail-end deadline that is rolling up fast. Christmas. I want to have this magazine done and dusted before the Christmas break. It isn't going to happen, but I want to have as much of it done as I can.

But all of that probably isn't of huge interest to you. What is more relevant is the challenge of  organising your time. More so when you have a lot of freedom.

As I've worked on this magazine, I've had a prime view of different people's challenges with time management. Of course I usually see it when people have trouble with time management and are struggling with the deadlines. My observation is that different people struggle differently with time management, but most people have difficulties with it. At least two of my co-workers have difficulties without deadlines. I have to give them clear deadlines to help them work efficiently. I myself struggle more with shoving too much into a set period. I am too ambitious and frequently find myself with too many goals, or, as I said earlier, too many things that I've said "yes" to.

So, I need to learn to keep an eye on my calendar and think a bit more carefully about how much I try to shove into a day, or a week, or a month. Of course there are times when I don't have much control over that. But there is much I do have control over. Even if it is hard to do it, sometimes I do need to say no to a party.

So, you ask me, how do you organise your time? I don't know what works for you. Everyone is different. But for sure, do your best to get it under control before it starts to control you and the important things in life get crowded out.

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