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Posts Tagged ‘Laura Vanderkam’

In last week’s blog post, I wrote about honoring the time on the schedule. This week, I want to piggyback on that post with a few thoughts from a recent episode of Before Breakfast with Laura Vanderkam. Personally, I love when I discover that one of the strategies that I am effectively using to become a better time manager is already incorporating another time management strategy, and I just did not have a name for it. Of course, knowing my tendency (Questioner) and learning more about myself every day helped me to incorporate that strategy.

Laura Vanderkam recommends establishing a daily “must win” and then win at it. She picked up this time management strategy from Ashley Whillans, an assistant professor at Harvard Business School. This strategy of focusing on a daily must win comes from her recently published book, Time Smart: How to Reclaim Your Time and Live a Happier Life. Basically, get clear on the task that MUST get done per day, commit to it, accomplish it, and win at it. This doesn’t mean that only one task will be completed on the scheduled day, but it does mean that scheduling a must do will help with getting more accomplished.

Imagine my delight while listening to this episode and discovering that by managing by task, I’m also managing my time and winning at it. This is exactly the approach that I have been taking each Sunday morning when I create my weekly schedule. Some days there is only one task/activity scheduled in the afternoon/evening because I know something will crop up. For example, two weeks in a row, my hubby stayed in Hammond and wanted me to come meet him for an early dinner. One afternoon, it was on a Tuesday when I had an improv hangout scheduled. Last week, it was on Wednesday when I have my weekly RCIA class. This feels like a double win when I can get more done than what I have scheduled for any given day. Believe me, dear reader, I am never without things I can do when my plans fall through or I find myself with extra time. I keep a running list of tasks, projects, or activities for when that free time presents itself. Also, extra time means more time to read or scrapbook if I choose to just relax instead.

Tips from Laura Vanderkam: Win at Your Daily Must Win

  • Manage by task and not time.
  • Create short to-do lists.
  • Identify immediate priority for the day.
  • Designate the day’s “must do” and commit to win it.

With immense pleasure, I have completed today’s “must win” by writing this blog post and publishing it for your enjoyment, dear reader. It is time for Andrew and I to visit one of my favorite places, Books-A-Million, where I hope to purchase a mocha latte and Stephen King’s newest publication Later. Enjoy the rest of your weekend which may be your daily “must win.” Happiness!

“Anyone can pack a schedule. I think it takes some real discipline and a sense of one’s value to say, ‘No, my time is valuable to me, and I am going to spend it on the highest-value activities that I have determined are important for me and the people I care about.’” ~ Laura Vanderkam

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Photo by Olya Kobruseva on Pexels.com

We are ten days into 2021, and I’m getting into the groove of the new year. Managing time is where my FOCUS is for the month of January. It is also the first item on my 21 for 2021 list. Since I struggle with time management, I am always open to trying new strategies to help me in this area. How can I be a better time manager? The first step is tracking my time to learn how I am actually spending my time. Beginning tomorrow, 11 January, I will track my time for one week to see exactly how I am spending my 168 hours. I have done this a few times since reading Laura Vanderkam’s book, 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think. It seems after tracking my time for a week or two, I can recommit myself to my goals and projects. I’m hoping it will help me focus on the four areas of my life (health, home, happiness-career, hobbies) that I want to improve this year.

According to Laura Vanderkam, there will be 8,760 hours in 2021. That’s a great deal of time to spend living a meaningful life over the course of the year. I hope you are off to a good start, dear reader. Enjoy the remainder of the weekend. Happiness!

“Time passes whether we think about how we’re spending it or not. So it’s very easy to spend time mindlessly. We also develop stories about our lives that may or may not be true. When we know where the time truly goes, we can make wise choices about it.” ~ Laura Vanderkam

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Banana BreadI spent a great deal of time in the kitchen this morning which is highly unusual for me since I despise cooking. I whipped up some French Toast for Andrew and me for breakfast. This is the first time that I have made French Toast using Brioche bread. The particular Brioche bread that I bought had cinnamon in it, so I did not need to add much cinnamon. I also added some vanilla extract this time. We both thought it tasted delicious. I also had some rather ripe bananas, so I decided to bake some banana bread. I know what you are thinking, dear reader…lots of carbs. Yep, and lots of comfort. Thankfully, I will not be cooking dinner this evening. My hubby plans to grill steaks for the three of us.

I have yet to create any kind of routine while being at home, and I think it is contributing to me being in some kind of funk. I’m not unhappy per se; I guess I feel kind of apathetic. I did NOT meditate once this week. Sadly, I have not made any more progress with Andrew’s Ireland scrapbook. On Thursday, I did receive an order from a company that sells grid paper for scrapbooking. The new paper will be a nice addition to my materials, and I’m hoping it will inspire me to get back to scrapbooking. Slowly but surely, I am making progress on the collection of short stories (Full Throttle) that I am reading by Joe Hill. They are terrific stories! Woefully, I am having trouble focusing on much of anything.

Fortunately, I am still walking daily with Levar Burton (skipped Saturday with Levar to finish listening to the latest episode of Office Ladies). It is a highlight of my day. This week I listened to five live episodes and episode #48. I enjoyed all six stories; however, “Driftglass” and “Mono No Aware” were my favorites.

  • LIVE! in Toronto: “Four Stations in His Circle” by Austin Clarke
  • LIVE! in Dallas: “In the City of Martyrs” by Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam
  • Live! in D.C.: “A Dark Night” by Edward P. Jones
  • LIVE! in New Jersey: “Driftglass” by Samuel R. Delany
  • LIVE! in Boston: “Mono No Aware” by Ken Liu
  • #48 “L’Aquilone du Estrellas (The Kite of the Stars)” by Dean Francis Alfar

I started listening to a new podcast that Laura Vanderkam launched on April 1st. It is called The New Corner Office by Laura Vanderkam. In each weekday morning episode, she offers strategies for working at home. It is a nice addition to her podcast, Before Breakfast with Laura Vanderkam.

White FlowersThis upcoming week is my spring break. It will last until April 13th with on-line school resuming on April 14th. Normally, my spring break begins on Good Friday and extends the week after Easter. However, when the Governor announced our first stay-at-home mandate that was going to end on April 13th, our school along with other schools in the Diocese of Baton Rouge decided to move spring break up a week. Now, we are mandated to stay at home until April 30th, but our spring break did not move back to its originally scheduled time. In the grand scheme of things, it is not a huge issue. However, my hubby took vacation the week we originally planned to be off. And, SLU is off, too. I guess the silver lining is that even though I will be working from home the week Andrew and Barry are off, we will still be home together.

Since I won’t have to focus on anything school-related for the next eight days, I really want to use the time to tackle some projects around the house. My house could thoroughly use some TLC. In truth, there is NO excuse for me not to be productive in the next few days. What have you been doing with your time, dear reader? Are you accomplishing anything, continuing to work, both, or are you also in a funk? Enjoy the remainder of today which also happens to be Palm Sunday. Happiness!

“Lord, we lift up your name. With hearts full of praise; Be exalted, O Lord my God! Hosanna in the highest!” ~ Carl Tuttle

 

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“Stay true to yourself, yet always be open to learn. Work hard, and never give up on your dreams, even when nobody else believes they can come true but you. These are not clichés but real tools you need no matter what you do in life to stay focused on your path.” ~ Phillip Sweet

Dream Big

Back in the summer of 2016, I read the book 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think by Laura Vanderkam. She included an exercise in her book that Caroline Ceniza-Levine uses in her workshops to help people to try and figure out “What do you want to be when you grow up?” The exercise is to create a “List of 100 Dreams” where you list 100 activities that you would like to experience throughout your lifetime. According to Ceniza-Levine, this is exercising the “passion muscle” (Vanderkam 42). You may discover after trying some of these activities that they are not quite right for how you want to live your life. And, that’s awesome! You can now use your time pursuing something else that is more worthwhile for you.

As a (mixed-style) multipotentialite questioner, this exercise was right up my alley. I have many interests, and I want to pursue creative endeavors. I separated my list into three categories like Laura Vanderkam: career, travel, and personal/family. I enjoyed creating my List of 100 Dreams which was #19 on my 19 for 2019. Take a look, dear reader (Kat’s List of 100 Dreams)!

 

In Other News:

#8 Read one book a month for self-improvement. This month I read Stretched Too Thin: How Working Moms Can Lose the Guilt, Work Smarter, and Thrive by Jessica N. Turner. I admit several times this past school year I felt stretched too thin. I purchased this book to get some fresh perspective on how to handle these seasons of busyness that can get overwhelming. Turner had some good suggestions on setting achievable goals, making self-care a priority, and developing solutions on managing your home. I admit that I did not take the time to complete all the exercises after each chapter which are devoted to different areas of your life. However, I did read through the questions and reflected on the ones that seemed more relatable to me and my circumstances. Self-care is definitely an area of my life that needs the most improvement. I feel that other areas in my life will benefit from self-care getting necessary attention.

Well, dear reader, another month has passed. Tomorrow begins a brand new month with new possibilities and opportunities. Dial into your passions and dream big. Happiness!

“Once you stop trying to be someone you are not and doing things that don’t align with your desires and/or your responsibilities, you are better able to thrive in your life.” ~ Jessica N. Turner

 

 

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Alas, dear reader, the 5th month of the year is in the bag. I’m looking forward to the next two months of the summer. I have scheduled a few routine doctors’ appointments. June promises to be engaging with an acting workshop on the first four Saturdays of the month, a local play, a concert in NOLA, and my annual scrapbook convention. In between all the social activities, I plan to spend time with friends and family, exercise, read, and knock out some of the items on my 19 for 2019 list. I’m blessed!

Speaking of my 19 for 2019 list, I have crossed off a couple of items.

#3 Get a colonoscopy. During spring break, I had my first colonoscopy. Four polyps were discovered, removed, and sent off for testing. My test results came back negative; however, my doctor wants me to get another colonoscopy in three years. Surprisingly, except for the SUPREP that I had to drink, the procedure was not bad at all. Next time, I will ask for a different prep because the SUPREP was disgusting, and I vomited the second dose. I strongly encourage everyone who turns 50 (unless you have family history that requires it earlier) to have this procedure done. My friend’s husband put it off until he was 59 and only did it because his father was recently diagnosed with colon cancer. His results came back cancerous and part of his colon had to be removed.

#14 Buy a new bed for master bedroom. Over the Memorial Day Weekend, Rooms To Go had a sale on beds, so my hubby and I took advantage of the sale and bought a new bed. Technically, we bought two beds. We purchased a Serta iComfort king with an adjustable base. However, with the recommendation of my BFF Shelly, we opted for each of us to have our own adjustable base to fit our own level of comfort. Therefore, our king bed is really two Twin X beds pushed together. And, no, neither one of us has fallen into the crack where the two beds meet. We still need to buy a headboard/footboard since our previous bed was a queen.

#8 Read one book a month for self-improvement. This month I read Off the Clock: Feel Less Busy While Getting More Done by Laura Vanderkam. As most of you know, I struggle with time management; therefore, any chance I get to pick up some good advice on this topic, I’m game. Vanderkam is all about tracking time Off the Clockwhich is extremely beneficial when you want to see how you are REALLY spending your time. We all (myself included) like to say we are busy; however, that is a story we like to tell even to ourselves. I found her “three versions of the self” interesting. She describes each version: “The anticipating self is wondering about, planning, and worrying about the future. The experiencing self is in the here and now. The remembering self thinks back to the past” (Vanderkam, 70). The anticipating self sets our intentions or goals while the remembering self reflects on the fruits of our labor. Our experiencing self follows through or falls through with plans, intentions, or goals depending on the circumstances or feelings in the present moment. My experiencing self gets in my way of taking action on a regular basis. It is pals with FEAR and PROCRASTINATION which has robbed me from realizing a few goals or pursuing a couple of dreams. This is my year to COMMIT, so in order to take more action and waste less time, I need to commit to listening less to my experiencing self, plan the task/event, and execute.

I have always loved the idea of a clean slate; the end of one month and the first day of the next month make me giddy with anticipation. I have many wonderful events planned in June, so I hope my experiencing self is up for some enjoyment and cuts ties with fear and procrastination. In addition, I need to commit to saying “I’m busy” or “I’m tired” less which will make my remembering self happier. Happiness!

“Whether I do anything today or not, eventually I will be on the other side of the next twenty-four hours. It can be filled with “nothing” (in this case, meaningless somethings), or it can be filled with something more intriguing.” ~ Laura Vanderkam, Off the Clock: Feel Less Busy While Getting More Done 

 

 

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Bird

a feathered friend on one of my walks this week

Three revelations last weekend prompted me to take action on the morning of July 1st. The first “aha” moment was Jessica N. Turner’s Facebook post on Saturday morning. Jessica writes a blog called The Mom Creative. She posted a selfie of herself on her morning walk as documentation of making no more excuses about taking care of herself. I found it inspiring.

The second lightbulb moment was admitting to you, dear reader, in my second quarterly review that I had not completed any of my remaining 13 items on my 18 for 2018 list which includes losing 18 pounds. Acknowledging to you in my last post that I am failing at this task made me feel uncomfortable.

The third revelation came in the guise of a TedTalk by Laura Vanderkam who writes about time management. After telling a story about a woman dealing with a busted hot water heater and the time she spent dealing with it, Laura made a few important points in her talk that resonated with me.

  • “Time is highly elastic.”
  • “Time will stretch to accommodate what we choose to put into it.”
  • “The key to time management is treating our priorities as the equivalent of that broken water heater.”
  • “I don’t have time,” often means “It’s not a priority.”

WalkSubsequently, I dragged my booty out of bed the next morning, took a selfie of myself making the commitment, and walked for an hour. After walking, I documented my starting weight at 158 pounds. I dug in a kitchen cabinet and pulled out my “pounds to go” and “pounds lost” containers. Diligently, I counted out 18 marbles, dropped them all in the “pounds to go” container, and sat both containers on my kitchen counter. This means that by 31 December 2018, I will need to weigh at least 140 pounds. There is no more “I don’t have time” because taking care of my health is important, and it is time for me to make my health a priority.

 

It has been one week, and I am proud to announce that I have walked every day this week. One day I even walked twice (morning and evening). In addition to walking, Andrew and I played tennis yesterday morning with my friends Pam and Kathryn. I also weighed in this morning. I have not lost any weight (still 158 pounds) and had not anticipated losing any since I am not keeping a food journal at this time. However, I did cut back on added sugar: no sodas, no honey in my green tea, no candy, or sweets…except on Friday at lunch (a slice of strawberry pie made its way into my belly). Although I am limiting processed foods, I am still eating carbs.  For now, I am focusing on moving every day and making my commitment to exercise. I MUST also increase my water intake. In a few weeks, I will set up my food journal and start tracking what I eat. Then, I’ll have to make the commitment to eating clean the majority of the time for the rest of my life. It will be incredibly hard because I enjoy food especially the foods that pack on the pounds.

Well, dear reader, it appears that you will be my accountability partner…again. I’ve successfully lost weight before; however, this time I not only need to lose the weight, but I also need to keep it off for the long term. Please feel free to “weigh in” with any words of wisdom or encouragement. Oh, and if you are struggling with making time for your priorities, check out Laura Vanderkam’s TedTalk which is less than 12 minutes. Happiness!

“Dripping water hollows out stone, not through force but through persistence.” ~ Ovid

 

 

 

 

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ClockI struggle with time management and hope 2018 will be the year I can tame the beast. Therefore, I decided to sign up for Laura Vanderkam’s  168 Hours Time Tracking Challenge which begins tomorrow, 08 January. Time tracking is #17 on my list of 18 for 2018. Vanderkam’s challenge is only for one week; however, I am planning to track for a few weeks to get a truer picture of how I spend my time.

Tomorrow will be my first day back at work and Andrew’s first day back at school. He has been off of school since 15 December, and I have been off of work since 21 December. Except for spending a few hours in my classroom during the holidays working on my classroom library, so Andrew and Claire could earn service hours, neither one of us have done any school work since we got out. For once in my teaching career, I took completely off during Christmas break. Honestly, I needed the brain break.

This first week back will be an unusual week for me because most of my 8th graders will be in Washington, D.C., and I will be chaperoning the Hammond trip for the 8th graders who stayed home. Consequently, my work schedule will not be typical. That is fine because I’m tracking all my time which includes my personal time. I feel like I spend too much time working; therefore, the main objective for tracking my time is to figure out how to carve out more personal time to achieve my goals for the future.

I’ll keep you posted on this challenge, dear reader. Have a blessed and productive week. Happiness!

“Time is the most valuable coin in your life. You and you alone will determine how that coin will be spent. Be careful that you do not let other people spend it for you.” ~ Carl Sandburg

 

 

 

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