Tetris is my game. I’m not sure if this is a brag or something I should be embarrassed about, but in college — the late ‘80s Tetris heyday — I was dorm champion. I still play it. In fact, I think the reason my fingers hurt a little right now is not from too much blog-typing, but from too much Tetris. Yikes!
It’s not really a surprise that a professional organizer is good at Tetris: heightened spatial awareness is one of the skills I bring to helping you organize your home. But when it comes to time management, loving Tetris is a definite deficit.
Clearly I need to set some strict boundaries on myself so I don’t waste all my time playing a silly game. Truthfully, I’m pretty productive and can limit the gaming to my downtime. That is, when I allow myself some downtime.
Because, as my husband correctly pointed out, the real problem I have is that I play my calendar like it’s a game of Tetris.
It does look fun and exciting to have a calendar that’s full. And sometimes it is. I love to be active and busy! But too often, a packed schedule leaves me feeling drained and exhausted. When I fill every chunk of my day, there’s none of the empty time my brain needs to relax, wander, and think creatively.
Some amount of busy-ness is to be expected when managing a home, multiple family members, and a business while also making time for exercise, hobbies, volunteering, and friends. But filling my days with back-to-back appointments is not healthy.
I’ll admit that I’m not yet great at making space in my schedule, but I’m improving. Here are the main concepts that are helping me get a handle on my schedule.
AWARENESS: Remember to say no to “just one more” thing.
Before scheduling anything, I remind myself that, even when presented with a tempting opportunity, I’m just not happy when I try to squeeze everything into my schedule.
I try to look at that extra appointment as if it were the “wafer-thin mint” from the Monty Python movie. You know, the one that made the guy explode at the end of his huge meal? Gross! But an effective visual to help me say no to overstuffing my calendar.
Block in NEGATIVE SPACE
In art, negative space is the area around and between the subjects of the image. Instead of leaving my calendar blank when I have free time around appointments, I block this negative space and label it “time off.” When I’m tempted to add something in that time block, seeing the words “time off” reminds me that I’m supposed to be having down time.
IMPORTANT before URGENT
In the Eisenhower Matrix, a tool for prioritizing tasks, there’s a tug between tasks that are important and those that are urgent. To make sure I get to the things that are important to me, whether or not they are urgent, I need to schedule them first so that my whole day or week isn’t taken over by putting out urgent fires.
I’m the first to admit that taming my calendar is a work in progress. As a person who likes to be busy and helpful to others, there are a lot of time temptations out there. But, little by little, I’m sculpting a sane schedule.
Talk to me!
Does your calendar look more like a game of Tetris or a Mondrian painting?
What type of appointment do you have the hardest time saying no to?
If you had some surprise down time today, what would you most like to do with it?
Talk to me! Join in the conversation by commenting below.