The beginning of a new year is a time for resolutions, introspection, new beginnings, and soul-searching. I generally look at my life and the things I’m doing, and I ask myself why I am allotting precious time, energy, and money to certain activities. I set goals, clean out my mental closets, open wide the windows in my soul, and examine my motivations. Since my main goal for this year is to write and publish two more books, I had to clear time in my schedule to do the necessary work, shave unnecessary items from our budget in order to be able to work fewer hours at my part time jobs, and unload the guilt I felt in connection with saving time and money.
One time-waster particularly glared at me – pointless games on Facebook. I think Facebook is a great way to keep in touch with family and friends, but there are traps there, too. Word games are useful and enjoyable, and I still play them, but I stopped everything else cold turkey. I blocked invitations to every “ville” and “town” on the site. I was just filling up time, and I needed those hours to think, write, re-write, edit, blog, and publish.
I also cancelled all my magazine subscriptions because I did not have time to read the magazines, and they were piling up on my end tables. Priorities were set, and magazine reading was way at the bottom of that list. I save hundreds of dollars a year now by buying the occasional magazine which has an article I really want to read. Nearly everything I want to know can be found online.
I further decided that before I commit myself to doing anything, no matter how worthy that activity might be, I would ask myself why I would be doing it. If my motivation was only to please the person asking me to volunteer my time, bake cookies, pass petitions, canvass the neighborhood, or do anything else, I would say ‘no’ very pleasantly without excuses. The idea is liberating, and ‘no’ is a wonderful word. Say ‘no’ to guilt as well.
Answering the telephone constantly was breaking my concentration, so I no longer answer it unless I recognize the number on caller ID. Everyone else can leave a message if the call is important. I can hear them talking if they do so, and I pick up then if necessary. When I answer the phone absentmindedly and am caught by a telemarketer, I interrupt the pitch, courteously tell them I appreciate their call but I am not interested, and hang up. Yes, they are still talking when I hang up, but I am actually doing them a favor. I have no intention of buying whatever they are selling, and I am avoiding wasting their time as well as mine. Remember, say ‘no’ to guilt.
Live television is a thing of the past at our house. We invested in DVR and found that the cost of the service has been worth it because of the time savings. We set up the DVR to record the few programs we want to watch, and then watch them later sans commercials.
Finally, I keep a notepad and pen on our kitchen bar. Whenever we run low on any needed item, the person who used that item or food writes it on the weekly list. Family members also list things they want, as well as anything that is required for school or work. I go shopping once per week, and I buy what is on the list. If the person who needed or wanted something did not put it on the list, they can either go get it themselves or wait until the next week. I have found that the list saves time, money, and aggravation. Whenever anyone yells, “I need (insert item name here)!” I call back, “Write it on the list!” I am no longer the memory for my entire family. Freedom! If I come back from shopping, and I am greeted with, “Did you remember to buy (insert item name here)?” I answer, “Did you write it on the list?” Usually my question is followed by silence. Even if it is not, I am guilt free.