There’s One Thousand Four Hundred Forty Hours in My Day

Sometimes I wish there were that many, anyway.  24 hours never seems to be quite enough time to do everything I want to do.

Part of it is that I love everything I’m doing, and that is a good problem to have.  Part of it is that I commute a pretty long way to work, and public transportation is not an option.  But because I love my job so much, that’s okay. 

And part of it is that, honestly, I have really crappy automatic responses to stress.  They look something like this:

I look at what is coming up in the next few weeks, and I get overwhelmed.  (Actually, this was supposed to be a self-portrait of me cheering for the Chicago Bulls.  But really, it looks more like “Lauren freaking out with a fist of rage!” so go with it.)

Immediately upon coming home, I drop everything in my arms where ever I feel like it.  My “side” of the bedroom begins to look like this.  (I cannot believe I am posting this picture.)

Brilliant, right?  My to-do list is already overflowing, so I’ll just make a mess and let the laundry pile up.  So at this point, I just continue on a downward spiral.  I am frustrated and overwhelmed with the amount of work I already had, plus the additional work I created for myself.  My response is always the same.

Avoid, avoid, avoid. Sleep. Read other people’s blogs. Maybe update my own blog, though that borders on productive.  Watch Glee. Bake cookies.  Basically, anything that I shouldn’t do or don’t have time to do, I do.

It becomes nearly impossible to convince myself to swim, bike, run, clean my house… you know, do productive things.

I squeak by.  I get the work done that I have to do.  I am (mostly) able to convince myself to do my workouts.  Eventually… eventually… a weekend appears that is unexpectedly free.  I become inspired to tackle everything that I have left in disarray and the house sparkles and shines, the laundry is done, and I am all caught up.  I swear up and down that this will never, ever happen again.

It always does.

I’m working on it. 

In the meantime, here are some things that seem to help me at least go longer between these periods of “AHHH-OMG-HOW-IS-THERE-SO-MUCH-TO-DO?!”

  1. I make short to-do lists each day.  Sometimes I have a “master” to-do list going of everything that  I need to get done.  That list is far too overwhelming to look at on a daily basis, so each morning, I write down 3 – 5 things I want to accomplish that day.  If I get them all done, and still have energy, great!  I can always add more.  But this number is manageable without making me feel overwhelmed.
  2. I say “no.”  Sometimes I even say “no” to things I’d really like to do, because I just don’t have time to do them.  I will admit that this is a work in progress, but I’m learning to accept that I can’t do everything I want to do.  Doing a few things well is so much better than spreading yourself thin and doing a  mediocre job at a lot of things.
  3. I plan my day the night before.  I repeat my tasks to myself until I’m positive I believe them.  It’s sort of Rebecca Black-like.  “Tomorrow is Wednesday.  On Wednesday, I have work and Girls on the Run practice.  I have a bike workout.  I am going to work, eat dinner, coach Girls on the Run, and then come home and bike.  If I have downtime during work, I am going to write a blog post for Outside the Girl Box.  I need to work on an ad for Girls on the Run.” 
  4. Throughout the day, if I’m losing steam, sometimes I will add an incentive.  I bribe myself.  As I’m driving home from work, I might tell myself, “You are not going to sit down on the couch.  You’re going to go home and bike.  Then you can relax with a book before bed.”
  5. I focus on one thing at a time.  Multi-tasking just never works the way I want it to.
  6. Most importantly, I forgive myself.  I try to stop obsessing about the messy house or the fact that I let responsibilites pile up.  It happens.  Once it happens, all I can do is keep going.

What do you do to stay balanced?  How do you make sure you accomplish everything on your to-do list?  I’d love to hear more ideas!

And before I go… the song that inspired my title.  (Since I know not everyone is a Hanson fan.  Sad but true.)

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90 Comments

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90 responses to “There’s One Thousand Four Hundred Forty Hours in My Day

  1. Forgiving yourself … such an important step!

    Lately, I’ve been inundated by everything, as well as some big decisions (pertaining in part to my blog). So I can relate to feeling overwhelmed. I only wish I had as many hours in my day as your title references — wouldn’t that be nice?

    Great post for a busy Monday…

    :)

  2. Saw this post on WordPress’ homepage as a featured link and clicked over BECAUSE I’m a Hanson fan. :)

  3. HOLY. MOTHER. PROCRASTINATOR. I loved this post already (I struggle daily with the “Oh. The day’s already over and I’m nowhere near done” dilemma. And then. Then you had to go and win my 90’s-pop-lovin’ heart with that little diddy from Hanson. No shame in my game, I am a fan even when it’s socially unacceptable to be one :)

  4. What a fun and insightful post! Since I have bipolar disorder I don’t do stress well, so I, too, say “no” and plan ahead, when possible. Congrats on FP-ed. Hang on for the ride!
    Kathy

  5. Dude. Thanks for posting the bedroom picture, I feel SOOOOO much better!
    I get everything done (eventually) because I have a wife. She reminds me, writes me lists, asks politely, yells, begs, pleads, nags, screams and then delivers ultimatums. Ultimata. Ultimumbulii. Whatever. Anyway, it makes for a noisy house. But lists are cool. I also recommend the “Elephant Theory of Time management” because I think I invented it. Google it, because you might find the definition somewhere, and if you don’t I GUARANTEE you’ll find some weird stuff to fill up the spare time you don’t have.
    Congrats on being Freshly pressed!

    • Lauren

      Somewhere my mother is crying and my husband is hanging his head in shame because I posted that picture.

      • Nicole

        Your mother and husband can rest assured that your picture was posted for the greater good. I can actually sleep tonight knowing that there are others like me. :)) Thank you!

  6. Let it all out. That’s what I say and what else are blogs for?! You shouldn’t worry about posting ridiculous pictures. It’s only the internet. :)

  7. justacollegelife

    Yupp, agree with you. Went to bed last night thinking about the stuff I wanted/should do in the morning. Then was like screw it, just got back up and pulled an allnigher.

  8. lol! I loved your #3. It is positive, simple song!

  9. I find myself reciting that old Nike commercial like a mantra several hundred times a day “Just Do It”. When that doesn’t work, I bribe myself with food. (I can tell I’m being productive if my clothes are starting to get tight, heh), and beyond that I just succumb to the overload. Entropy for the win!

  10. Man, I hear you on this. I think it takes setting the intention in a clear positive manner and here’s the hard part… the part I have difficulty with is simply following through with the list and the intention. I’ve made lists so many times and set intentions, but often times it feels kind of daunting so I don’t take productive action steps in completing the intention.

    I just learned something here. Off to follow through and have discipline.

    Thanks for your post. :)

  11. theveryhungrybookworm

    I feel like we are kindred spirits. I truly wish my response to stress were to become super-productive. Instead, I stick my head in the sand and hope that it will all go away. Fortunately, strategies like lists (I’m like Rebecca Black as well I suppose) and rewards make it so I don’t live inside a tornado.

    Kudos to you for having the bravery to post that picture.

  12. hey,
    I too make to-do list everyday as sticky notes on my desktop but then those notes turn out to to-do-list-for-another-day and then for another day and it keeps on getting longer with things being added to it every day. I have read many books on how to avoid procrastination but I will remain this idiot all through my life i think. I hate myself for this…

  13. dijon2010

    Love this post, I could have written the exact same one myself! Great read, thanks for brightening my Monday :)

  14. You are one brave woman — a post of your SERIOUSLY messy bedroom and you in a bathing suit?

    I cleaned my apartment today because a photographer was to come from my local paper to take my picture and I could just imagine him thinking “She lives like that?!” Then he didn’t come — and the place is all tidy.

    I make a ton of lists. Then I try not to lose those lists.

    And HUGE congrats on your superwoman Illinois thing. You must be thrilled.

    • Lauren

      Yeah. It didn’t seem so brave when 0 people read this thing. ;) Still, the bathing suit photo doesn’t really bother me. It’s that room that is KILLING me! Ha.

  15. Great post! It’s all very familiar… ;D I’ve settled on basically the same strategies for getting things done; breaking things down into small and manageable tasks is definitely a big one, and giving myself that reward system as well. (You can watch Game of Thrones AFTER you clean up the disaster area that is your workspace, self. :D) Every once in awhile I catch a break, though… I had a lot of plans to run my dog and play with my horse yesterday, and it ended up being cold as hell and snowing all day, so I was stuck inside and finally got around to cleaning up the piles of years-old paperwork that I needed to get rid of. And as an added bonus, with all that paperwork I had plenty of fuel to keep the fire going in our woodstove and kept the house toasty warm all day. :D

  16. Gosh it feels good to see that I’m not the only one who doesn’t often get housework done!

  17. Love Hanson. Love your blog.

  18. Emily929

    Great post, and stellar advice. I never realized that there was a nugget of wisdom in Rebecca Black…good to know. :)

  19. You mean, there’s life beyond “Mmm Bop”?! Who knew…

  20. A day in the life of a mother! I think we all ‘try’ to get things done…it’s just too much work for one person to do! Thanks for sharing! :)

  21. I absolutely loved this post. I had posted something similar to this and the stigmas of never having enough time in one day, especially when your life feels like it revolves around work all of the time. It’s kind of like, “Well how can I get my writing done, go to the gym, cook, clean, read and catch up on my TV shows all in ONE night AND get a good night’s sleep too?” Don’t forget about the other responsibilities in life like bills, kids, family, your social life and oh yeah.. yourself perhaps.

    Being an adult is hard stuff and definitely having 24 hours in one day is all about time management no matter what kind of job or life you have. Kudos to your post and list-recommendations! I have to say, I tend to beat myself up if I haven’t gotten to something but after reading I’ll have to remind myself to forgive myself and to just say “no” even when it hurts to.

    Congrats on being FP!

  22. myblogject

    Great post! Having just had some seriously long bank holidays back to back I’m feeling totally relaxed. However, back at work tomorrow and I will be remembering your pointers!!

  23. This is pretty much a description of my life. Juggle, juggle, juggle, stuff to do…

  24. I very recently made a facebook status update along the lines of “why is it that having a jillion things to do leads one to believe that doing absolutely nothing is the appropriate action?”

    Well…because. Sometimes we just shut down. Cookies and Glee are common deterrents in my household as well. Forgiveness is key…there’s always tomorrow.

  25. Jules

    wow. i don’t know how you keep up with the schedule. i’m in college though so i guess it’s a little more of a struggle. procrastination is a my really good friend. but i will definitely try out your techniques!

  26. I had this eerie feeling as I read this… this is me.

  27. dolce far niente

    I am sitting in a bigger pile of clothes reading your blog !! hope that makes you feel better ;-)

  28. Leslie

    Ok, so I about to go to my blog’s dashboard when your title on the wordpress homepage more than caught my attention. :) Glad to know another fan – an unashamed one at that. I hope you get all your stuff done…listening to Hanson is always good cleaning music.

  29. Congrats on FP. Forgiving yourself is such an important step, thank you. We don’t have to be perfect and no one has to know our hardships- we have to keep trooping on. Okay, so we have all seen you bedroom :) The day you get FP. But it is a breath of fresh air to see that we are all human and many of us struggle with the same things. However, only few of us are brave enough to talk about it and embrace what makes us who we are. Even if it means imperfection.

    Keep on keeping on

  30. very entertaining! i can relate

  31. I love Hanson! Great song! Re: procrastinating…. well, I am a master of it…so much so I’m still doing it… I should be ironing currently, but there’s always tomorrow, isn’t there?….lol….Great tips on breaking my very bad habits by the way…

  32. I saw this article on WordPress’ front page and the only reason I clicked it is bc of the Hanson reference lol Solid choice!

  33. lifereconnected

    This is hilarious and you sound like a riot! I gave up writing ‘to do’ lists about a year ago – probably why I get so little done. Congrats on being Freshly Pressed -could say something witty about your clothes but I’ll resist!

  34. Haha.. well, the means I use to stay “balanced” and “on top of things,” is this: I never leave the house without making the bed first. That’s just indisputable. Secondly, I run water over dishes (especially the ones with lots of food-grime left on them/ pots and pans) immediately after using them so that, later on, when an opportunity presents itself and I’m able to wash them thoroughly, it’s easier. Three, hubby and I super clean the house on Sundays (vaccuming, sweeping, taking the trash to the huge receptacle in our apartment complex, cleaning the bathroom with sanitizer, etc). Four – and this is the most relieving, to me, because I needn’t do anything but assign the duties – I make, about twice weekly, the “daddy,do” list. Chris does whatever is listed when he arrives home from Panera (his work). :)

    Aun Aqui

  35. Pingback: Who do I have to pay to get more hours in my day? « Life Our Way

  36. realanonymousgirl2011

    OMG! We are so alike! I do all those things. I actually have post-its all over my desk and my paperwork as mini “to-do” lists. Because I’m at the point that if I don’t write it down I forget it! And I totally bribe myself as well. “Ok, just finish this laundry and go to the grocery store then when you’re done you can make a quick blog entry and read a few chapters out of that book that’s been sitting on your nightstand!” ha-ha! Great post!

  37. Admire your enthusiasm and sincerity:) Nice post!

  38. Campervan Diaries

    I can’t do time anymore. Everything just blurs in to one moment. I work in TV for a news channel, and all this week feels like it all happened in one day; a 30th birthday party, a Royal Wedding, an election and now all the Bin Laden stuff…

    The Hanson video has made my day (or, night. It’s 00:21 here). I listened to my Hanson album over and over. And when MP3 first became popular, it was the first album I converted and put onto my music player.

    Ah, the soundtrack to my high school years.

    PS. Your bedroom shot looks similar to my flat every now and then ;)

  39. Bravo for posting your bedroom photo… I understand how it can get that crazy busy…

  40. Chicago bulls fan, Hanson fan, blogger, maker of lists, procrastinator, and owner of a messy room/side of the bed area? We might be twins. Congrats on being freshly pressed!!

  41. Good tips! I think the hardest thing is saying no. There are always more projects or meetings or social events. It’s tough to actually focus on a few things and get those done first. Thanks for the post.

  42. Love the post! I also loved the picture of your bedroom, looks like my daughters! I have gotten to the point in my life that I know that I won’t let the stuff that absolutely has to get done not get done, and the other stuff will wait, ( laundry , shopping, cleaning, etc). I do hope for the cleaning fairy, but she has not ever come to my house!
    What you really need is a wife!

  43. Hello –

    I was 2 lines into reading your blog when I saw the chin of a woman screaming. I scrolled to see the full photo and first thought is the girl is screaming over sports (I thought hockey for a moment). I read and found out you’re a Bulls fan ^^^555!!!!! I like it. ;) It’s almost halftime in game 1 and they’re down by 6 now…no worries. D. Rose and company will dominate Atlanta and be set for a conference final showdown with either the Celtics or the Heat. GO BULLS!

    Your list is really all about prioritizing, taking it one step at a time, and going easy on yourself if you fail to complete a daily goal you had so wanted to complete when you woke up. Sometimes much easier said, than done.

    Go easy on yourself. Watch a Bulls game and let out some stress by SCREAMING for the good guys. Happy Monday evening to you. :)

  44. Oh God… this is what I’m trying to learn in my masters of health administration course and it makes me want to avoid and procrastinate even more when I look at how BAD I procrastinate and avoid!! It’s a VICIOUS circle. And I guess, bottom line, you have to be sick-to-death-of-it enough to do anything about it or either wait for crunch-time to kick in. This works well to get the adrenaline rushing! Mostly I figured out it’s because I find so many tasks meaningless, pointless and endlessly repetitive (you clean the house, you have to do it again next week or month, etc.) I want to do things ONE TIME and be DONE with it. Unfortunately, this strategy doesn’t work too well for everyday maintenance of life. Thanks for allowing me to peer into someone else’s life who “puts things off.” It’s such a relief to know there are others out here like us. :)

  45. Hey! I was just about to make a really similiar post about time..but certainly no photos of me but you are cute in your suit and your bedroom looks no worse than most of my house. I was going to post the contents of my purse which I dumped on the floor in frustration for not being able to find my keys. I cant post it though because i left the charger to the camera at work, and it wont download without it. Anyway I enjoyed reading the post and your tips – particulary 2, 5 and 6.
    Thanks for this.
    Best to you.
    ‘lu

  46. very entertaining! i can relate

  47. I must pick up my to-do list righ now!
    Sometimes, we know the deadline is approaching, but we just have the automatically-ignore-deadline system in our body.

  48. Thank you so much for posting that photo of your bedroom floor! It’s nice to know I’m not the only grown woman who can’t see the floor of her bedroom :)

  49. I think this post is both funny and serious. Great job!

    What I do is, like you, I make a short list every single day of what I think I can accomplish for the day. And well, I TRY to make sure that I finish all those listed in the short list before the day comes to a close. Else, I don’t sleep. Well, what a way for a healthy living, you might think (sarcastically). But i t works so I’m sticking with it. Haha!

  50. wow, this post was so perfect for me today! Today was just one of the overwhelming “I have so much to do and no time to do it” days. Great list, I’m gonna try it! BTW, congrats on FP! ;)

    -Tia

  51. lee

    Whenever I find myself overwelmed or extremely busy and needing more time I always make a point of staying away from technology. You would be suprized how much time it takes out of your day. Blogging, msn, facebook, txting, being on the computer are things that if avoided for a day or two will give you enough time to get more done than you could possibly think of.

  52. I certainly agree that forgiving yourself is important. I stuggle with that one and just get more steressed about what is left undone.
    Thanks for this post and most of all, for making me realise I am not the only one on the planet that is a procrastinator! It’s a curse, but we’ll get there!

  53. Aww :(
    I came here thinking I ‘ll pick up tips on HOW do you manage to get that many hours out of a day.
    And I realised that you are just struggling with thigns that I struggle with :)

    Brilliant post !

  54. So I can say you are a well organized and established person :-)

  55. Robert OBrien

    There was an executive who need help with time management so he called in a consultant and asked how he could better organize the time he had. The consultant gave him this idea and told him that after he had used it for a month he could send a check for what he thought was its value. The idea is as follows. The last thing you do each day is make a to do list and prioritize it. The first thing in the morning that you do is check the list and change the priorities if necessary. Then work on the most important thing on the list until it is finished. Then do the second and so forth. Do not worry if you do not complete the list by the end of the day you will have completed the most important tasks. When making the next days list move the undone tasks to the new list and prioritize it. The next day start again with #1. At the end of 30 days the executive sent the consultant a check for $10,000.00. I learned this back in the late sixties it has served me well. Hope this helps. Remember each day you are getting the most important tasks finished and that will give you a sense of accomplishment.

  56. Pingback: There’s One Thousand Four Hundred Forty Hours in My Day | Travel to Kedah

  57. I find that a routine helps. I don’t mean you have to routine everything, just a few simple things. eg. Pick a time (or there abouts) each week that you always vacuum. I find Google Calendar works well for things like that. Especially with SMS updates set.
    I also use http://mylists.creativitygames.net for daily tasks. You’ll notice there’s also a ‘Do Later’ list that helps keep things in order.

  58. What works for me is I have my to-do list of what I do every day and it’s written in a certain order. As the day goes along and I think I won’t have enough time to do it relaxed and focused I rearrange the order or make a decision that I’m going to spend less time on this today than usual. I don’t put more on this list than I can get to even on a busy day. Some of the things might be on the list for several months and other things will take their place later. The more tricky part is the space I set aside for “all the other stuff.” It could be that something there should be moved to the “regular, ongoing” list and then I’ll be more likely to get to them. As for procrastination, if there’s something I have to do and really don’t feel like doing for whatever reason, I have imagined the first time I jumped off the diving board and told myself “Just do it!” and sometimes that works.

  59. Just like you I wish we had more hours in a day! Sometimes with so many things I want to do, I’d rather not sleep! But my mom keeps bugging me that it’s not good for the health :D
    Anyway, thank you for this funny post :) It was nice to know that there is someone else in this world who feels the same way that I do at times :p

  60. I love this.

    My side of the bed looks exactly the same. And my husband’s, and the lounge, and the spare bedroom, and the bathroom. I needed this blog today. Thank you so much.

    Oh, and congratulations on being Freshly Pressed :)

    • Lauren

      I am thrilled to hear how many people are as messy as I am. Who knew that posting a picture of my disaster of a bedroom could bring out so many kindred spirits? :)

  61. I stop and smell the lilac blossoms. And one by one, I tackle ironing the baskets of unironed clothes. But I no longer waste my time feeling guilty. Please take care of yourself. Too much stress negatively changes our tissues, then our organs go into bankrupt.

  62. Meg

    Totally click on your post solely because I recognized the title as a Hanson lyric — and Hanson is awesome (and my favorite band!).

    Great suggestions on staying balanced in our harried world — I’m getting better about saying “no” to things I would really like to do, too, because I don’t have the time or energy for everything… and I have to learn to be more selective about my commitments. And I bribe myself, too; there’s an entire desk drawer full of sweet dedicated to the bribing system I have in place! It usually involves, “Okay, if you write this column/blog post/chapter of your novel, you can have a Peep.”

    And it’s worked well so far!

  63. Pingback: I must be a narcissist « nehadoshi1

  64. jessiepeace

    I write a to-do list now and again but it just gets more and more bigger everyday, I put on more than I cross off! :(
    Jessie.

  65. Most assuredly a G-R-E-A-T choice for Freshly Pressed!!! My closet in my office looks like you bedroom floor. Otherwise, I cannot get away with the stop, drop and roll on anymore….it’s been 18 years since I could walk in the house drop my stuff and not look baack at it until the next day! :) It’s okay though, I do feel better about not having the ‘clutter in in sight’, but I still have my “stash” of clutter. OInce a clutter junky, always a clutter junky.
    I am bad b/c when I start, like you, I get 5 or 6 projects going ans then have to tie them all up before the end of ‘catch up day’. That never works of course.
    Inverting my to-do list (when I make one) once a month helps to get things off the bottom of the list that tend to stay there. It is easy to let let “dust the fans & light fixtures” slide for a LONG time!
    Have a wonderful week!!! AmberLena

  66. Amen Sistah…we should be friends. I come home and drop my things in my room as well. I also have a long commute and love to do so many things!

  67. Lauren,

    Great post. Good tips on time and life management. For anyone interested in trying a simple, yet powerful planning tool, check out plannerpads.com. I used the planner pad for 4 years and then switched to a smart phone and since my office looks allot like your room, I am thinking of switching back !

  68. i think busy is a good moment to us, is just wonderful life. why so lazzy?

  69. thor27

    We need that many with the pace of this world. Give me a peek I added some recipes on mine at http://thor27.wordpress.com

  70. Well, since I’m never balanced, telling you how won’t be any point. Although I do have this one habit that people find weird, but let me tell you, it works. I ask my friends to remind me to do stuff. They don’t mind at all, in fact, now that it’s become a habit of mine, it’s become a habit of theirs too. Without me asking, they’ll be like, “I’ll remind you, don’t worry.”
    That’s how I keep myself in check. And if I’m way overdue on something I need to do, even with constant prompting by my pals, I’ll set a deadline for myself. I always have to stick to a deadline set by MYSELF, it’s a compulsion. So I end up finishing all of my work.
    Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed!

  71. http://beatbloodpressure.wordpress.com

    Thank you so much for the bed room picture. This takes a lot of guts and it makes me feel good – thank you! Your sport activities are truly inspiring.

    Have a great run

    Ginger

  72. I saw that pick of your side of the bed and almost fell out of my chair! Anti-productive, list makers! I’m so following you.

    I myself am working on a way to make these kinds of changes–1 month at a time. You can watch my progress starting in june– http://1habit30days.wordpress.com/

  73. Pingback: I Wish I Was Neat | Forward is a Pace

  74. Pingback: I’m Going to Be Neat. I Am. | Forward is a Pace

  75. Pingback: Clean My House in 20 Minutes a Day? Yes, Please! | Forward is a Pace

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