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Hi Sarah... I've been reading your blog for a little while (I think I found you via Gretchen Rubin actually). And since one of the things on your list is growing blog readership, I figured it was time to out myself.

That, and I totally do the same thing with not calling friends. And it's definitely on my list, too. Happy 2010!

First strategy, which is more necessity rather than strategy, is starting to use the night hours as well... but that's not advised for longer periods of time. University asks us to do 8am-6pm courses (1h break at midday), so the only time we can carry out all the extra work and projects goes after that; more often than not we end up working till the wee hours of the morning. There, easy way to make the most of 24h. Give up sleep.
Nah, scratch that, I'm kidding, this piece of advice is rubbish, I think it'd be easier to change our whole concept of day rather than try to fit those 36h in a regular 24h one.

But now I'm also gonna try to make a serious attempt at answering your question. I think it would be best to organise the things you've got to do by how much time it'll take you to accomplish them. I mean, if you've got 5 activities that require 2h each, and you've got 'em all planned for the same day, there's no chance you're gonna make it through all of them (unless you're extremely self-disciplined, thing which I am not), or certainly not painlessly. Unforeseen events, setbacks, mood swings, or just about anything, really, could hinder the completion of your to-do list if that is not balanced and does not allow some leeway. Leeway is also useful for rescheduling, should circumstances beyond your control prevent you from completing one of the tasks, by the way. Shorter activities coupled with longer ones also give some rhythm to your day.
On top of that I'd also say, try to organise your day with a bit of fun activities as well as some less pleasurable ones. Worst case scenario would be planning your 5 2h activities with all of them requiring an extreme effort from your part in order to like and accomplish them. That's Never. Gonna. Work. (Again, unless you're boot camp self-disciplined). Do a few bad ones, and then a few good ones, the latter will double as a reward for having done your "work".

These are just guidelines and come from no expert (aka me), but maybe they'll work for you too. Should these fail ...give up sleep!

Lists! I'm all about lists. haha
I like to first make a list of everything that must be done in a particular week. Then I sit with that list and figure out how to spread it out nicely over the week. Some things MUST be done on certain days so I write those down first. Then I fill in the rest of the days.
It's also nice sometimes to really push yourself on Thursday and leave open time on Friday. I don't mind a lot of work on one day if I know I've accomplished a lot and have a free day the next day.

Calling friends is important. I don't really have friends that I chat with on the phone but I don't call and talk to my mom enough at all. It's sad when you need to write "call mom" on your to-do list. Shouldn't we always remember to do that?

You have a lot of stuff that's not daily or weekly. You should start with a list of things to do in 2010 and then break that down as you can. Might be by months, by seasons, by ovulation*grin*,etc.

Yes you can give up some thing but never give up the things that bring you joy and stress relief.


well, 2010 is gonna rock. i got a promotion and i get to move back to my hometown and into my house which has been on the market for a year. and my mom is moving from up north to live with me and she is a quality roommate. i am going to surprise her with a kitty, too.

i have to say that i am not a negative person at all but i do not recall ever feeling so much promise for amazing opportunities in my life!

this year, i will hack away at my debt. that's right, no more paying interest on stupid frivolity. this chick is cash only!

i even have my eye on a lovely woman so we'll see where that goes!

the biggest thing about a new year is to give ourselves a break. i say screw those too lofty self-improvement resolutions. just change one thing and stick to it!

MULTI-TASK! And efficiency, those are my very simple, very effective pieces of advice as a working single mom going insane trying to get stuff done in a day. I never go up or down the stairs without asking myself, 'What needs to go up/come down?', and I always take a few minutes and throw in a load of laundry if I'm up, or pick up some stuff in Jellybean's room, or whatever. It spreads stuff out so it's not as overwhelming, which I like.
And if you can manage it, do more than one thing at once. Like loading the dishwasher as you're cooking. Shop at Wal-Mart so you can get everything you need in one stop (if you're not snooty about where you get your basics). I read my magazines during TV commercials, because otherwise they don't get read, it's that sad!

Good luck with all your hopes and dreams for 2010. Especially certain ones. And put the vitamins inside the first cupboard you open in the morning, no matter what it is, that's what finally worked for me!

I think prioritizing is key. While writing a novel and building blog readership is nice, it may not be priority in a year you're trying to live healthier and get pregnant?

I would also say the 2nd key thing is delegate. You seem to have a lot on your plate. I assume your career is important and there's not much delegation you can do there. However, if you can get help in any area of your life, do it!

I came across your blog via The Happiness Project, too, and I have to say I enjoy reading your blog even though it is not mainly about food, finance or design (the 3 areas I am usually interested in).

Not everything gets done. I have had two separate days where I looked at my lengthy to-do list -- all things which HAD to be accomplished, like article deadlines and classes and work -- and said, "There's no way this can all get done in this time." Sometimes it does. Sometimes a task I've had on my list for a while falls off because the need to do it goes away (yay for procrastination!) Frankly, the minute I had baby #1, and then had a full-time job and took classes on top of that... there was no creative energy left. Only now, over three years later, have enough other commitments fallen away so that I can concentrate on creativity.

As other people have pointed out, multi-tasking and prioritizing are key things. You may have to make some choices in the short term. I've found that trying to do everything means nothing gets full attention and so nothing gets done.

Delegation, multi-tasking, and LETTING THINGS GO! Brilliant advice, and I plan to take it to heart.

Dara-- Yay! 2010 does indeed sound promising. Congratulations on getting a job back in the same city as your house!

Briana-- Thanks for reading! Now go call a friend! (I'll do the same...)

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  • 'Bass Ackwards and Belly Up' and 'Footfree and Fancyloose' tell the story of four best friends who commit the ultimate suburban sin: putting off college to pursue their dreams.

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    What is Starfish Envy??

    • L.A. 2009. I’m stuck in traffic on the 101 freeway, listening to Isabella Rosselini on NPR. Isabella, for some reason, mentions that starfish are one of those rare species that can reproduce asexually, and I realize that if I could do that, I wouldn't have to worry about finding a boyfriend/husband. I wouldn’t have to internet date! I wouldn't have to figure out if I want to/can/should have a baby/adopt a baby/child on my own. I wouldn't have to stress about things like FSH levels, or weigh my feelings on in vitro versus adoption. I would just have a baby. Thus began my starfish envy.
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