The Adventures Continue

Amaro's picture
This is Caleb, Jessamy, Amaro, Me, and Moz. Isn’t it gorgeous!

Today’s gorgeous picture was drawn by our friend Amaro who is just about to turn six. She and her mum Jessamy stayed with us for a couple of nights (just as I got back from LA) before heading off to Townsville. Their adventure is much bigger than mine and I pray that it all goes smoothly for them.

Amaro drew the picture of everyone in the house. The boys have pink trousers on and I have to say that it’s a pretty accurate representation of Caleb’s hair (on the left).

I’ve been home for a few days now and it’s taken me a little while to figure out what is going on in my head. In fact, I’m proud of figuring it out this early, but then I knew it was coming so maybe it’s taken me too long.

The thing is, I am now officially an entrepreneur. I no longer work for the university, not even two days a week. I am a small business owner. I work for myself.

The whole day is mine. The whole week is mine. I don’t have to go into uni anymore. I can organise the all my time as it suits me.

But that means there is no structure. No fixed appointments. No urgency to get things done today because tomorrow is taken up by work.

And it is easy to let things go. To get lazy. To convince myself that I am tired today and that it would be better to start on that job (whatever it is) tomorrow. To tell myself that I don’t feel like writing this morning and I’ll do it later.

Or to get stuck. To wonder whether I should work on the paid editing rather than the writing because it is paid work and therefore more important. Or whether I should work on the writing rather than the editing because it’s my body of work and therefore more important. And then to do neither of those things because it’s all so confusing that I don’t know where to start.

The fact is, none of the time is mine. It was given to me by God. And though I am no longer working for a business, I am not working for myself either. I am working for God.

Now is the time to put into practice all the wonderful time-management processes that I have been reading about for the past years. I can now figure out when my most creative time is, when it is better for me to do editing, when I need to work on the business side of things.

There is plenty to do. I just need to schedule it in. I need to get started. Try things. See if they work, and adjust if they don’t.

And not feel overwhelmed by the hugeness of having my dream come true.

I am so grateful for this opportunity and I am NOT going to let it pass me by.

I have a novel to finish, editing work to complete for customers, blogs to write, and plenty to learn.

It’s exciting times, folks! Bring it on!

 

P.S. I thought you might like to know that my tooth has been fixed with a filling and you really can’t tell that it was chipped at all. And my arm is feeling much better and nearly all the bruising from the fall has gone. I’m over the jetlag too and I’m borrowing Moz’s old phone until my new one comes in the mail.

I’m very much enjoying having my sister visit us here in Tasmania, and my brother is coming today as well for some proper family time. Life is good. Busy, but good.

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Saving your time

Pumpkin time

Saving money is really hard. I mean really saving money – for the future. Not for a holiday or for next week or for the next time that we run out and need to buy something, but for the long term future. It’s hard. I find it hard. But it’s necessary. It’s a good thing to do. It’s good stewardship, delayed gratification, healthy and wise.

In the same way, I need to put aside time to rejuvenate myself. This is time where I have nothing booked, time just to be. Time to invest in myself and my energy so that I have energy in the future.

It is difficult to block out time for this because it doesn’t have a label attached to it. It’s not exercise, or doing something for someone, or cleaning the house, or working. It’s rest time. Just rest.

It’s easy to eat into it – “Yes, I can do that – there’s nothing booked into my calendar.” Maybe there should be “Nothing” booked into your calendar so that you don’t book anything else in. I plan to do nothing. Just to be. To read, to think, to write in my journal, to go for a nice walk, to sleep.

It is investing in your future.

My husband Moz has found that this principle applies very well when it comes to sleep.

A few years ago you would have found me heading to bed at 9:30pm and Moz would be an hour or a bit longer behind me. I have to go to bed at 9:30pm – that’s when I turn into a pumpkin.

One evening a few years ago now, I came home from work, totally fruited, at about 7:45pm, and Moz heated up my dinner and served it to me on the couch (home made pizza – yum!) and at first I didn’t want to do anything but watch the box and chill out. But after a little blob time I was ready to surface and we both decided to turn off the box and connect with each other. We talked about the day – how his work went, how mine went, interesting things that happened, interesting things people said. Then we started talking about our plans for the future, little bits and pieces, lovely conversation.

Then, in the middle of conversation, DH looked at me, read my body language, looked at the clock and said, “Yep, it’s nine thirty. Pumpkin time.”

You see, I need a lot of sleep. About 9 1/2 hours a night does me beautifully. I am probably more of a morning person than an evening person but I’m not the kind of morning person who wakes at 5am refreshed and happy and ready to  start the day. No-siree-bob. I am the kind of morning person who wakes very slowly and becomes an intelligent being by drinking a cup of coffee in bed. I am so incredibly privileged to have a husband who is happy to get up in the morning and bring me a cup of coffee in bed. Perhaps it’s because I’m just totally useless without it.

Moz used to see me to bed once my brain stopped functioning and then he would stay up for around an hour, playing on his computer, learning things, reading articles, and then he would come to bed at 10:30-ish and – here’s the thing – try to immediately fall asleep so that he could get his 8 hours before the alarm went off in the morning.

Have you ever tried to immediately fall asleep? It adds a little stress to the scenario. Each ten minute interval that you’re not sleeping is a drama. You know that waiting ten minutes to get to sleep means you’ll want to wake up ten minutes after the alarm goes off next morning and you’ll therefore wake up groggy and grumpy.

When Moz was coming to bed at half past ten, woe betide me if I asked him to head back up stairs to turn the heat pump off, or to check if my phone was plugged in. He needed to fall asleep right then. Straight away.

A little while ago he decided that this was silly. Now, when pumpkin time hits and I go into the study to say goodnight, he says, “Is it bed time?” turns off his computer, and heads to bed too. We turn off the light early and he gets his eight hours. Actually, he’s worked out that he needs seven hours and fifty minutes sleep each night.

So he sleeps for seven hours and fifty minutes and wakes up naturally between 5:30 and 6 am. He gets up, heads to the study, and does the things that he would have done at night. He plays computer games, reads interesting articles, and learns things. At 6:45am when the alarm goes off he makes us a cuppa and brings it down to wake me up. He’s accomplished something already and he’s had a restful night’s sleep.

They used to say about daylight savings time that it’s daft to cut one inch off the top of the blanket and put it on the bottom and say that you have a longer blanket, but it looks like that very strategy has worked for Moz. He’s a happier, healthier person because he is investing his time in sleep.

I have another friend, Trish, who blocks out an entire month of every year to go on a retreat. She is a minister, and this is her way of investing in her growth and prayer life. She goes away, stops all of her commitments, and spends the month reading, writing, praying, retreating. It’s saving, investing in her future.

What do I do? I make sure that I don’t block up every time window in my schedule. I make sure that I am not out in the evenings more than twice a week and that Sunday evenings are kept free so that I can use to get my head together for the week ahead. And I only work four days a week. I give myself half a day to visit with people, and half a day to be by myself, to do whatever needs doing to rejuvenate. Sometimes that means writing, sometimes reading, sometimes I lie on the couch and watch TV, it’s time to invest in me.

I couldn’t always do that, of course. When you have small children there is not much chance of time alone. Sometimes life circumstances just do not allow the space that you need. But sometimes we bring it on ourselves – the busy-ness.

Is there something in your schedule that you can cut out to allow yourself some time just to be? Is there some time-savings that you need to make for your future?

The good book says, “Be still and know that I am God.” This time-savings idea has been good advice for a very long time. I highly recommend it.

This post is part of a series I am writing about what I have learned about saying no. I’d love to have you join me on this journey. If you want to make sure you never miss a post, you can sign up on WordPress and the post will be sent to your email address every week without fail.

You’ll notice some special art in this series. If you want to see more of it you can find the artist on instagram @deteor42

Budgeting your time

time money

In last week’s post I mentioned that my friend Sarah had given me excellent advice: “Time is like money”.

Sarah and I had both worked through an excellent budgeting book called The Complete Cheapskate by Mary Hunt and we both approach our money management in the same way. Mary suggests giving away at least 10%  first and then saving at least 10% for the future, then some money is put in a separate account for bills and such that you know are coming up, some put aside money to treat ourselves, and the rest spent on food etc. (She’s also very clear about getting out of debt as soon as is humanly possible).

Sarah was saying to me that, in the same way that I know I can’t give to every good cause, I can also not give my time to every worthwhile activity. I need to choose, and stand by my choice.

I have talked about giving away ten percent of my money to various excellent not-for-profit groups. I have had to think hard about where to give the money because I want it to go where it is doing a lot of good, and I don’t want to have to remake that decision every time I pass a stall in the street, or get a letter in the mail, or see a good cause on social media.

I have decided what I want to give to. It may not be the same decision as others have made for their money (I hope not – there are a lot of non-profits that need supporting). But it’s the list for me.

I need to approach my time the same way. First, I need to figure out how much time I am prepared to give away to other people’s important activities. At the moment, I am working four days a week and that limits the amount of time I am able to give. It cuts a massive chunk out of my time budget. (In the same way that the mortgage repayment cuts a chunk out of the money budget.)

Once I’ve figured out how much time I have to give – it might be two activities a fortnight, or three a month – then I can say yes to those activities within that budget that suit my personality. But once I’ve used up that time, then I need to say no.

I can’t say yes to all the worthwhile things that are happening, I don’t have that much time in my budget. Somehow I need to make a decision that’s in keeping with my personality and values and only say yes to a few things. Other people can make up the shortfall.

One recent activity where I had to say no was a Mothers Day high tea at church. It was run by our women’s ministry team and I felt especially pressured (by myself, not by anyone else) to say yes because I had led our church service the week before and had made the announcement about the high tea. It’s very hard to say, “Do come to this excellent activity” with any form of sincerity when you’re pretty sure you won’t be going yourself.

But I had had a huge week that week. I had led church, travelled to Launceston (about 3 hours away, depending on road works) and given two days of teaching at the university campus there, staying overnight to do so, and had a couple of coffee dates with various people as well as my normal workload. I knew I would be tired and I knew (as an introvert) that this high tea, while pleasant, would be exhausting. I decided not to go and removed the entry from my calendar.

I felt guilty – it was a great cause (Days for Girls was being supported by this event) and I also wanted to support the amazing women who make up our women’s ministry team, but my time budget was too stretched and I needed to be at home, pottering around, grocery shopping, washing things, reading books.

It turned out that one hundred and eighty women attended the high tea. They were in no way affected by me not going. I must have done a wonderful job of advertising it in the church notices! No, I’m kidding, it was nothing to do with me but it was a really excellent result.

It is just as stupid to blame myself for the success or failure of an activity due to my not turning up, as it would be to blame myself for a charity going under because my $40 a month was not going into their account. I cannot give my time to every worthwhile activity and I shouldn’t be trying. I need to budget time to give regularly, and save some time (and energy) up my sleeve for special occasions that might pop up.

One of the things I love to spend my time on is coffee with people. I love one-on-one time with people, deep conversation, time for encouragement, and I also love coffee. When I am with those who don’t drink coffee I allow them 🙂 to drink tea or hot chocolates. The choice of hot beverage is not really important, but the time is.

I like having coffee with people because coffee generally lasts an hour. Lunch can take up more than an hour – up to two hours even, and dinner is so open-ended it scares me, but coffee is a good short time when you can have a great conversation and then get back to whatever you’re doing.

If I could, I’d have a coffee with someone every day, but I’ve realised lately that even the one-hour coffee was putting a strain on my time budget, much the same way that buying your lunch every day can put a strain on your money budget. It all adds up.

I now limit my coffee time. I give a coffee to each of my parents every week, and I have allowed myself two more coffees each week but no more. This meant that when a friend came to me at church and asked if we could get together because she had something exciting to tell me, I had to put her off for three weeks. That felt really bad. (And it also meant that my husband found out the exciting thing before I did because it came up in a church meeting that he went to. He was very good and didn’t tell me anything, and it does show that there are consequences to our actions, but that’s by-the-by.) So yes, it felt bad to put her off, but it meant that when we did finally get together I was not exhausted, I was happy and eager to hear her news, and we had time to deeply share and pray about it, instead of me being rushed and needing to get back to work.

So yes, time is like money. We are responsible for using our time wisely, and giving it carefully. I haven’t even started on the issue of wasting it on TV of Facebook but I’m sure you’ve all heard that sermon preached before.

Have you thought about budgeting your time? What do you think about the idea of having an amount of time each week that is set aside to give away?

This post is part of a series I am writing about what I have learned about saying no. I’d love to have you join me on this journey. If you want to make sure you never miss a post, you can sign up on WordPress and the post will be sent to your email address every week without fail.

You’ll notice some special art in this series. If you want to see more of it you can find the artist on instagram @deteor42