One of the most difficult things for a small business owner is time management. There are only so many hours in the day. We can’t create any more than we already have so we have to make the best possible use of the 24 hours in each day. As a result, many of us frantically rush from morning to bedtime trying to get everything done. Those of us with families have to consider them as we schedule our daily personal and business activities.
My kids are grown now but I still have a husband who is an important part of my life. And, I like to spend time with my daughters and their familes, my mini dachshund Delilah, and of course, myself. I learned something a long time ago that might help some of you.
When I was a young mother, I thought my family was the most important thing in the world and they are. But a wise older mother, whose kids were much older than mine, told me something that made a big difference. She said that if I neglected “me” in order to provide all my family’s needs, that I was letting them down. If I became unavailable to them because I had not taken care of myself and my own needs, it would be hard for them to get along.
About this same time, my mother was dying from cancer in Florida. I was traveling as much as I possibly could from California to spend time with her while feeling guilty about leaving my two young daughters. My husband did the best he could while working at his own job and friends stepped in to help take up the slack. But they weren’t used to taking care of themselves. They had always had me to do it. Each time I returned, their hair would need washing and be full of tangles, their clothing supply was mostly dirty, and they were whining about not having anything “good to eat.” I was getting more and more stressed as I tried to get everything caught up and arranged ahead so that I could return to see my mother. The stress was beginning to take its toll.
And, then my friend reminded me of what she had told me earlier.
I listened and I learned from her. I taught my kids to do a lot of the “stuff” that I was doing for them. They learned to wash and dry their own clothes, pick up their own room and vacuum it, clean their bathroom, make their own lunches, and even how to prepare some simple meals.
After the trips to Florida were no longer necessary, I discovered that there was suddenly more time in each day. There was more time for “me”. I started going to bed a little earlier in the evening and getting up earlier in the morning–before they did. I used this quiet time to take the dog for a short walk while I thought about my plans for the day (some of my best ideas came during this time). I took my coffee out on the deck and read the paper or did my Bible lesson or both. Without all of the added cleaning and clothes washing that I had been doing for them, I had more time in the day.
This was when I first started writing.
We lived in an isolated little town of less than 5000 people with a tiny library and, of course, this was before the internet. I checked out books about writing and sat down for an hour or so each day and wrote. I had a few short articles published which encouraged me to write more. Through those child-raising years, I developed the techniques necessary to become a professional writer. This skill has served me well during the empty nest years on into the senior years.
But even more important, as a result of passing some of the responsibility on to my family instead of hoarding it all for myself, my daughters grew into responsible independent successful women.
There are lots of time-management skills, but this one change in my life was one of the most important one that I have learned. I’ll be sharing others in future posts.
What time management skills have you learned?