My daughter went back to school this week. Yay! I have magically acquired 10 child-free hours a week in which to work. It’s like Christmas in September.
It’s not all fun and games, however–the new schedule requires adjustment. For one thing, we need to get up at 7 AM–not terribly early by most standards, but my body does not like it. I have always noticed a huge difference in how I feel just getting up at 8 versus 7. And I mean with the same number of hours of sleep. For example, I am much more awake with 6 hours of sleep (my usual) getting up at 8 than I am with 6 hours and getting up at 7. That’s just the way I am wired.
How I wake up is another factor. I am either A) jerked out of a deep sleep by my alarm, which I swear erodes years off my life, or B) awake around 6 AM and then never go back to sleep because I know I have to get up in an hour. Neither is ideal, and no doubt contributes to my tiredness during the day.
But the main adjustment I need to make is that I actually have more work time. So I need to actually WORK during that time. This first week, with this abundance of time, I find myself frittering my work time. I think, “Oh, I have plenty of time.” and then spend just a few more minutes online, or playing an extra game of Solitaire, or reading just one more chapter, or diverting time to another hobby (or sometimes even cleaning the house). And suddenly I find I have gotten no more work done with this extra time available than when I did not have it.
Now, we all need to have some leisure time to recharge, so spending a little of this extra time reading or on a hobby (or–gasp–sleeping!) can in the long run be a productive use of time, in that it keeps me from burning out. But to reach the goals I have set for myself this year, I need to buckle down and use 80% of this “found time” to forward my work. And I will.
Any time my work time fluctuates wildly, either getting more or getting less, it takes a week or so to adjust my mindset to match. So for this week, I am letting myself play a little, as long as my must-do work gets done. Next week the focus will return, and hopefully I will have adjusted to the sleep schedule as well.
10 child-free hours a week. You can conquer the world with that much free time.
How about you? Do you have trouble being productive when you suddenly have a great deal of free time?