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Saturday, July 14, 2012

Frequently, clients ask me for time management hints...translation: Carlota, how can I take my daily routine of tedious, irritating tasks and make it either fun or somewhat less inclined to drive me to masturbatory thoughts of suicide? Well, good question. I'm self-employed, and I'm also a writer, so pretty much my entire life is forcing myself to do tedious things, to stop procrastinating, to uncurl myself out of the fetal position, and stop feeling sorry for myself and get. To. Work!
(Reminds me of a history professor I had in college, who had, taped above her desk, a note reading: "Writing is fun if you don't mind bleeding daily from your eyeballs." At the time, I thought she was a little, with hindsight, I think she was remarkably restrained.) It's not always pretty in the YentaBunker™.

But through great trial and effort and whining, I've had to become dramatically better at time management because: 1) I enjoy eating every day and 2) the better I can manage my time, the more fun I can have. Some of you are thinking, "....this? This is the big reveal? Fun?" Indeed. I'm not sure why we think it's so important for kids to have fun, to run around and be silly, while at the same time, adults are made to feel like career criminals for trying to bring any enjoyment into their lives. If I unplug, and, for example, go read in the park, I return to approximately 3 million texts and emails from clients saying, "Well, I wish I could have fun too...but some of us have to work." (Seriously? You want to take it there? I'm self-employed, bitches, so 3am is the same as 3pm for me: I work all the damn time. If I wanted someone's negative shit in my life, I'd be monogamous.)

Especially because adults cannot function well without fun. Our brains are not wired to work without stopping, our bodies aren't made to sit still for 8 or 10 hours a day. I'm not sure why we need all these studies telling us the deadly effects of sitting, full story of 11pm. You should know it's bad to work all the time, without breaks: think about how your body feels!

On the other hand, think about how much better you feel when you walk around, when you go to the gym, when you go out and dance have a good time. I'm up at 6am on a Saturday morning, after getting home at 3am, to hit the gym. Trust me: no me gusta! I'd rather sleep till noon, and then wake up to a young 1970s Martin Sheen rubbing my feet. But I know that once I get my (kvetching) self to the gym, and start working out...I shall feel ALIVE! (Okay, not as good as waking up next to an exhausted Channing Tatum, but you know, pretty good.)

So, since I'm self-employed, and spend a lot of time working alone, which is against every biological rule, I've had to become much better at time management so I can get more work done, spend less time alone and have fun, instead of losing the remaining bits and pieces of my mind. In short, I'm awake at 6am on Saturday am, with about 3 hours of sleep, in order to get the most irritating work out of the way, so I can then hit the gym, and have some fun. If I allowed myself to sleep in and do it "later", not much. Later=never=goddammit! No es bueno, as my Abuelita would have probably said, in between yelling at me to leave her alone, so she could watch her "Lucha Libre" in peace.

That being said, here's some quickie time management hints:

1. At the start of your work day, write out the three most important chores you will get done that day. Ideally, those will also be the 3 most irritating chores...that way when they're done, you'll feel a huge sense of relief, which in turn will motivate you to accomplish more. Leaving those chores for the next day, means you'll wake up already feeling under the gun. ( If your "must do" list is 10, you need to call me since that's insane and all it's going to make you do is hyperventilate and procrastinate and get nothing done, which will make the next day's list even longer, yes? Yes.)

2. Next, try and organize your day into blocks of time, say an hour, maximum each, with each block devoted to: making phone calls; answering emails; writing; etc. (Email especially needs to be set aside and done only in specific blocks each day otherwise you can waste 5 hours a day just responding to email.) That way, when you're writing or researching or whatever it is you people do, you can set the phone to go directly to voice mail and get some work done. Yes, this will take some discipline at first. You will have to train yourself to not start drooling like one of Pavlov's dogs upon receipt of emails, or phone calls...but once you do, you'll realize how efficient you can be! 

Want more hints? Email me @!

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