Thursday, June 9, 2011

Are You Making the Most of Your 24 Hours?

This is another article I wrote for the Women Within Newsletter. A little backstory: At the time, I was homeschool The Boy and Baby Gurl. Considering Baby Gurl is now entering the 5th grade and I homeschooled her during the Pre-K/K years, it'll give you an idea of how long ago this actually was. However, it's advice that bears repeating.

Don't say you don't have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.

- H. Jackson Brown



Everyone has 24 hours to complete whatever it is they feel they need to do. Granted, most of wish we had more, but the fact remains, that regardless, we have 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of nightlight (assuming you don’t live in Alaska, that is).

In order to make the most of our time, many of us get less than 8 hours of sleep and survive on mega doses of caffeine. If you’re one of these people, how’s it working for you?

If you’re like most of us, it’s not. You are merely going through the motions. Completing your to-do list. Not living. Existing.

Do you know that there is a better way? (Boy, do I sound like a television infomercial or what?!) But there really is a better way: natural alert tendencies—our biorhythms. The same ‘thing’ that wakes you a second before your alarm goes off is the same ‘thing’ that can help you make the most of your day.

Natural alert tendencies are when you are on your mental A game. I find that it’s usually when I’m not only most alert, but happiest. Are you a morning person? Do you ‘wake up’ around midmorning or do you find yourself surfing the net at midnight? Are you slating your schedule according to when you’re most alert? Probably not.

I’ll use The Boy and me as an example and you can plug yourself in where you see fit. Obviously, your schedule is different from ours, but the same basic elements apply:

The Boy and I start our day roughly at 7:30 in the morning. We both wake up to alarm clocks (obviously, our ‘thing’ doesn’t work very well!) After breakfast, clean up and showers, we usually hit our studies by 9 am. Through the course of our school day, we have to complete Bible, Spelling, Language Arts, Math and History. (Those are the main subject, there are several sub-subjects. For example ‘language arts’ include handwriting, English, US maps and reading). We are morning/mid morning people. We want to get our work done, over with, and out of the way so we can do the less mental straining tasks of chores and general free time. However, if The Boy and I were night owls, we’d be miserable with this schedule! We would be dragging ourselves out of bed at 7:30 (but probably not closer til 9 and then, only because we had to). It would make sense for us to shift our schedule to the after lunch, early evening time.

“Well, not everyone home schools and stays home, Iva.” Yes, I realize that, but you can still use your natural alert tendancies to your advantage. Do you have a night owl or an early bird in your midst? Why not let them do their homework later at night or early in the morning (chances are, they’ll be up anyway – might as well make the most of that time). Where is it written that homework has to be done immediately after coming home from school? If your child is worn out, maybe it would save the after school homework battles if you waited to sit them down until later in the day?

The same goes for you, you know. If you have to balance your checkbook, you should find when you’re most alert to do it. First thing in the morning? During your lunch break? At night once the kids go to bed? Late at night once hubby goes to bed? My point is: you have a biological clock – use it!

If you doubt what I say is true, try it this weekend. Be totally aware of how you feel. Note when you feel chipper and upbeat. Note also, when you’ve reached a slump. Now, try to work your harder, mentally heavy tasks during those highs and try to leave the relaxing (or the less mentally challenging tasks) for your lows.

And if it doesn’t work? So what? You have absolutely nothing to lose. If nothing else, you’ll be more aware of your natural energy tendencies. What you choose to do with them is up to you, but I think you’ll find if you try shifting your schedule just a skootch, you just might increase your productivity. Make the most of your 24 hours. Do it now!

[Note: TMB and I have been married for 13 years. There was a time when we were night owls because of his schedule. The kids were still very young so Daddy's schedule was our schedule. Basically, you have to do what's right for you and your family; but you can make it work.]