Last night I returned home after a delightful dinner with my Hindu writer friend. Even though we're both a bit run down from work and from illness, it's good to be together.
It was fairly late for me when I got home at 8:00, only about an hour or so before my regular bedtime. After I got my gym bag together for morning and put my work clothes away, even less time remained.
I reached for the remote, my usual habit, even when my spouse is gone. But then I thought about this post of Kelli's and decided to reach for a book instead. I had planned to read Lucia Berlin's A Manual for Cleaning Ladies next, but it didn't really appeal to me the way I had anticipated. So I read the title story and moved along.
In honor of Kelli, who had inspired me to read instead of watching TV, I reread her book of poems, Letters from the Emily Dickinson Room--it was more of a treat than any TV show could ever be. And thus, fully nourished, I went to bed and drifted off to a peaceful sleep.
I recently finished Laura Vanderkam's I Know How She Does It, a time management book that explores the lives of working women earning $100,000 a year with at least one child under 18 living at home. Vanderkam had women keep time logs divided into 168 hours that we each have in any given week. Thus, she got some interesting insights and a more honest accounting of how we spend our lives. I found that her insights are probably valid for many of us, even if we're not in that higher earning group or have no children. So, below I'll use the pronoun "us," even if we're not all part of the sample. I don't earn that much from my primary job or have children, but found the insights useful.
She found that most of us aren't consistently working the hours that we would self-report. Most of us work 45-50 hours a week, not the 60-70 that we might report. And many of us have more flexibility during the work day than we might think. Again and again the book reminds us not to fritter away the kinds of time that I had last night--a stray 45 minutes here and there can really add up to more fulfillment in a week.
I'm already doing that, when I'm making conscious choices. The trick will be to maintain that conscious state more often--I suspect it's going to be a life long mission, at least as long as I am working full-time.
Here's the one other take-away I want to remember. Vanderkam encourages us not to worry about cleaning up our e-mail inboxes. I currently have no e-mail system that requires me to do that. At my last job, we could only get to a certain point before we had to weed and refile.
I feel this enormous guilt about the huge amount of e-mails that I haven't dealt with in all of my inboxes. I answer the ones that need answering right away, and the ones with important information that I know I need I put in my electronic files. That still leaves lots of e-mails which might be important or might not. I'm not like my spouse who deletes fiercely each time he reads e-mails. But I also get more e-mails than he does.
What would happen if we just accepted the pile of e-mails and didn't fret? I plan to find out.
And now, it's time to head for spin class. We're in a month of additional spin classes, so I'm spinning every weekday morning now. It will be interesting to see how I feel at the end of the month.
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