We all have them. We all indulge in them. The problem becomes when they seem to take up all of our time. They are called Time Wasters, and even if we can justify them, they still cause us to lose valuable time in our day. Here are five of the ones I struggle with the most:
1) Disorganization – whether it’s cleaning house, baling hay or planting in your garden, not having everything you need right at hand is frustrating. Ever lose your car keys? Did your washing machine eat a sock? All of these things can make you crazy, and wreak havoc on your time. Before you start a project, try gathering all your supplies together. Cleaning house? Invest in a carry-all, and keep everything in it – including sponges, cloths and scrub brushes. Clean one room before moving to the next. I prefer to leave my floors until the very last, thereby only having to get the vacuum and mop out once. Find a set place to keep your keys and other small sundries, like basket near (but not right next to) the door you most frequently use. And before you do your wash, pin those socks together.
2) Half Finished Projects – I can’t tell you how many times we’ve started a project around here, only to have to leave in the middle of it for lack of supplies or because the cows have started to escape again. Rather than having them hang around our necks like an albatross, we strive to not schedule anything else until the work is done. And the work is never truly completed until the tools are put away. Although there are some projects that are too costly to complete all at once, we try to divide those into three or four stages, and then make sure we don’t spend the money allocated for them until it’s complete. With some projects, we don’t even start them until we’ve purchased at least 95% of the supplies. One month we may buy all the lumber, the next nails, screws and paint. Once that’s all accounted for, then we schedule the work.
3) Television/Computer – I am as guilty as the next person. There are times when all I want to do is watch a movie, and then the next thing I know, it has been two movies and an episode of NCIS. I’ve also been known to sit at the computer and play Candy Crush until almost an hour has passed. With my list of things to do, that is definitely not a good habit to get into. But all of us need some down time, and the old adage about ‘all work and no play…’ really is true. So, schedule your time wisely. If there is a must see movie on tv, then use it as a reward for getting all your work done. Limit yourself to only a few hours a week, and stick to it. In order to maintain my blog, I have to spend a lot of time writing. I usually use the early morning hours for that – it’s still too dark to start morning feedings, yet I’m already up, so I may as well make good use of the time.
4) Daydreaming – I am also very guilty about this. If I so much as walk outside, I am always seeing some improvement, some change, some new idea that I think would be perfect for the farm. I’ll stop and look around, then spend fifteen to twenty minutes walking around to see if it just might fit. By that time, Randy is tapping his boot on the ground, waiting for me to get to work. I honestly believe that time to daydream is important – just not when there is work to be done. Instead, eat your lunch outside on those lovely days, and indulge in the daydreams then. Or wait until after the work is done, and curl up on the couch with a pad of paper and a pencil, and dream on.
5) Too many ‘breaks’ – There are a lot of aspects of farm work that is hot, heavy or just plain dirty. There are times when we are both known to take more breaks than normal, especially in the heat of the summer. We need a drink of water. We need to rest our backs ‘just for a minute’. We need to stop and think this through a little better, or we have to go back to the barn for more barbed wire or fence staples. Or, even worse, I just have to stop and play with the cows for a minute, and the next thing you know I have a kitten crawling up my leg, begging for attention. By the time I pet all six cats, and given all 15 cows their candy, then I’ve wasted another fifteen minutes to half an hour. Breaks are okay – especially when you need to stay hydrated. But to the best of your ability, consider your work as any employer would. A five to ten minute break every hour or two, an hour for lunch, and quitting time at a reasonable hour. I would say 5:00, but around here that’s not always possible.
What are your biggest time wasters? Let us know how you combat them. After all, I would really appreciate the tips – those cows can be really demanding in wanting their fair share of candy!
p.s. Although Randy did let me use his photo for this post, he wanted to make it very clear – he isn’t wasting time here, he says fishing is really ‘therapy’.