managing our time

by Sharon Santoni

desktop with watch , roses and agenda

It may be the passing of the years, or the urgency created by  living with abundant social media, but I find that I am increasingly preoccupied with time, and how I manage it ….. or don’t

There is the time that is counted on an hourly basis, the simple challenge to fit into one day all that we want to get done, and then there is the list of ‘things’ that we still hope to achieve, given time .  Our bigger wish list, our aims, our targets.

Maybe , and without becoming melodramatic, I’m simply coming to terms with my own mortality – such a bore!  I’m increasingly aware of the importance of keeping in shape, and looking after my health …. there is still so much I want to do!  So much fun to be had!

It may be part of the reinvention process.   From having been a very hands on mom for twenty years, with an agenda that was buttoned down weeks ahead,
I now revel in the way I can use my time as I wish.    I’m working hard, and I aim to be creative and productive every day, but on my terms: my game, my rules.

desktop with watch , roses and agenda

My Mum always used to say to me, “If you want something done, ask a busy woman”.   Meaning that someone who has a heavy schedule is probably capable of squeezing in a little more because she, or he, is by necessity expert at time management.

And without saying that I’m particularly good at organising my time, (a fact amply proved by the fact that I am typing out this blogpost on a sunday, instead of being out in the forest with the dogs!) I do notice that the days when my to-do list are most ambitious, I am often able to squeeze in one extra thing at the beginning of the day because I know that I am so fired up that it will all get done in the end.

So I was wondering how you all manage your time.  I guess quite a few of my readers still have children at home, or are maybe enjoying their first grandchildren.   Is time management a learning curve at any stage of life?    Do you resent demands on your time from those around you, or are you simply happy to adapt?   Or maybe you have had such a busy and demanding career that you are thrilled to take it easy …. do tell.

desktop with watch , roses and agenda



Nancy October 9, 2016 - 2:59 pm

Ah, time management.
That in itself is like the tide, as it ebbs and flows. Some days are so perfect in organization, one wonders how it ever could be otherwise.
Then, there are those days that are anything but organized.
Even at this stage of our lives, where we are retired and write the schedule and share with our kids (grown though they are) what we know (and don’t)….time management never really seems perfected.
Mostly these days, our weeks are punctuated by permanent items on the calendar…such as Kiwanis meetings or babysitting. Then we add the newer items to the list.
We have found, in most cases we aim for one big item in a day and hope for the best…
It often works, not to be too over scheduled…but life does happen.
It seems that sometimes time management gets away with us….even now in retirement.
As the Holiday seasons are coming, time management will become even more difficult with company coming and celebrations to attend.
And as the saying goes, “…the best laid plans…” totally seems true. Overall, the more over scheduled the less room for enjoyment….retired or not.
There will always be “waves” in life and in a schedule….we try to find the Serendipity in the ebb and flow…it is the unexpected that often gives us the most joy…
In short, we wade through…

Taste of France October 9, 2016 - 3:02 pm

There are always a few things that don’t get done, usually because they aren’t very important. If I have 10 things to do, I finish 9. If I have 100 things to do, I finish 90. Same percentage, but I’ve clearly gotten much more done!
After a career tied to the clock, with meetings at 10, 2, 5 and 7 every day, I still tend to look at the time throughout the day and calculate what can be done or needs to be done.

Cathy October 9, 2016 - 3:43 pm

Dear Sharon,
I agree whole heartedly with your Mom’s reasoning. In 2014 I “retired”…we decided that we could make it work with one income. Less than a year later I went back to work – and it wasn’t for the money. I couldn’t seem to get a lot accomplished because I simply kept putting everything off ’til that (never going to happen) time called later. Yes, my house was clean and we enjoyed significantly more dinners chez nous, but none of my big “to do”s got to done. Bon weekend!

Pat October 9, 2016 - 5:12 pm

I retired in 1995 not by choice but by necessity as I had breast cancer…my position was no longer funded so I had no job to return to. I have worked part time in various jobs since then but the years have given me the opportunity to pursue many creative avenues which I still enjoy. Having survived uterine cancer two years ago, I think of time in a much different manner now…not about doing things but much more about finding the joy in the process of doing anything including…nothing at all…

Susan Sargentini October 9, 2016 - 6:13 pm

Pat…You got it so right. Sometimes it takes the realization that time will not always be available to be able to enjoy the simple and wonderful moments of life instead of the things that “need to be done”. Kuddos to you Pat and blessings also.


Dana Veach October 9, 2016 - 6:32 pm

Thanks for the “wisdom,” Susan and Pat!

Pat October 9, 2016 - 6:38 pm

And blessings to you girls too !

Julie Bresette October 9, 2016 - 5:25 pm

Being a mom of three, I try to keep margins in my life. I don’t like being “busy”, but I do like getting things done. I am learning to say “no, so as to leave room for things I enjoy.

Lavenderhill October 9, 2016 - 5:28 pm

All I have to say it’s quality not quantity. The cyber world is an illusion, use it to where it benefits you. There will always be an Instagram world whatever day or time you wish to escape in to the cyber realm and see a few nice picturesque postings but nothing equates to talking a walk in nature and enjoying the view rather than seeing the same view cyber style.

cl October 10, 2016 - 12:09 am

So true!

Lory at Designthusiasm October 9, 2016 - 5:38 pm

Sharon, this so resonates with me! Time management is a huge struggle for me, because I tend to try to accomplish a ridiculous amount in a given day. This is no doubt left over from my days as a working mom (at a creative job – I was a fashion designer), but I do find it impossible to just relax and be idle. It’s probably my greatest struggle. I’m now a blogger and can theoretically make my own schedule, but I also find that I typically fill up all my time with more projects. My solution, which I do not recommend, is to just stay up until 3am. It’s a work in progress… 😉

Our French Oasis October 9, 2016 - 5:39 pm

There are never enough hours in the day and with the demands of five children, four at home full time, I have to divide my time quite carefully. That being said I would rather burn the candle late into the night if it means I can spend more time with them when they are at home. I would never resent their demands on my time, quite the contrary I absolutely love it, I relish in the fact that even as teenagers they love doing things with their Mum, that they want me to cycle with them, go shopping with them, even just hand out in the sun with them. If that means the laundry doesn’t get put away or the floor doesn’t get washed one day then so be it, this is just how I prefer to manage my time!

Dana Veach October 9, 2016 - 6:29 pm

Bravo for focusing on the truly significant in your life!

Kathy October 9, 2016 - 5:59 pm

I find there are never enough hours in the day, in the morning I work as a marketing manager and in the afternoon I run my own business, as well as finding time to walk the dog and deal with a large house. However I find I’m enjoying life more now than when I worked full time, had small house and no dog. I find I get more done and now really enjoy what free time I have. I’m told I’m ultra organised so that may be the reason

Lynette October 9, 2016 - 6:35 pm

I struggle with this too. A couple of thoughts I have reflected on and practice is setting boundaries for myself and others, especially my husband. I go to bed early so I have the energy the next day to do the things I want to do. I work full-time so my time is limited. I asked myself what or who is most important in my life to spend time with? My ailing Mother, our grandson, close friends, my husband, and taking care of my physical and emotional well being. I practice letting go of perfection daily so I can enjoy the moments. I lost my Father suddenly and unexpectedly last year and spending time, “doing” really puts life in perspective.

Mumbai October 9, 2016 - 6:46 pm

I always do unpleasant work at first and try to see a signification in that,
always thinking how lucky am I to be able to do it. That helps a lot. Then
I can see the rest more relaxed and not so important. It took me years
to understand what really counts but finally I am satisfied with my time

cl October 10, 2016 - 12:16 am

Good advice.

Joanna October 9, 2016 - 8:13 pm

This resonated with me, Sharon. I have been thinking a great deal about my own time management lately. I am either running around ‘doing things’ or hating myself for ‘not getting things done’. Something needs to change for me. Thanks for raising the topic! And yet at a time when so many of the goals of my twenties have been realised, I have failed to set new ones to carry me into my forties. Perhaps losing sight of the bigger picture has been the problem for me…

Janet October 9, 2016 - 8:59 pm

Yes the years go on and at the end of the day which is more important walking the dogs in the forest or writing out a blog post? Magic moments in the sunlight in the forest once missed cannot be regained.

Ellen Shook October 9, 2016 - 9:35 pm

Great food for thought. Having been retired for quite a while, and I find that I still tend to have long to-do lists, unless I re-examine and take stock periodically. This is brought home intensely when someone I know, close to my age, dies. Recently the blogging world lost one of it’s “original” bloggers, Pat at Back Porch Musings. Many of us are re-thinking the amount of time we waste on the computer, as was she, actually. I will mention too, that the only college course which has really served me well in my life was a psych class called “Stress Management” and time management was a crucial component. The premise was to break down every task into smaller increments which are, of course, more manageable. That way you can also assess what is most important to get done.

Isabel @ mybeautifuledinburgh October 9, 2016 - 9:50 pm

This is so ‘timely’ (excuse the pun!), over the last week I have been contemplating my never ending ‘to do’ list and the fact that time always seems so pressurised during the week, and that that constant pressure even creeps well into the weekends. The wheel just keeps turning faster with more things to be done. I occasionally yearn for the days of my youth when I had so much free time to do as I pleased! Distant memories! However, the difference is I now feel more needed and complete than back then – that is my blessing.

Malinda B (Colorado) October 9, 2016 - 10:12 pm

The last several years, I have sat across the table at different coffee shops with dear friends who are just exhausted. The demographics are different for each of these friends, but the underlying depletion is a common thread. It has been quite alarming and I have been doing some inventory in my own life.

Time management is sometimes such an illusive thing. We wake up each morning and the world is fresh and new and the list begins. What I am finding in myself, is that I can be overly ambitious and make a list that is very full and by the afternoon, I am dreading what is left on my list and energy is waning. Something that I am finding that is helpful, is to not put more than 5 or 6 things on my list and get them done as soon as I can.

Therefore, I have more margin in the afternoon to paint, read, putter in my yard or garden, write a letter, put on an apron and finally try that delicious recipe. The afternoons when I can, dedicated to creativity. In the pursuing of something creative, my soul is refreshed and my list is taken care of. Not every day does this happen (I live with five other beautiful souls in my family), but I am consistently striving to not overload my life and just survive. My life is fleeting, I want to cherish these beautiful people and moments in my life. List-free.

Pat October 10, 2016 - 3:04 pm

You are on the right track here, life is fleeting and cherish is the word !

Susan October 10, 2016 - 12:28 am

As a manager of a government entity, my life revolved around lists, schedules, lunches for kids, stresses and more stresses. When I retired, I put my alarm clock into a pillowcase and smashed it with a hammer. I determined that I wouldn’t spend my later years with a schedule and a cell phone glued to my ear. And mostly,I haven’t. I volunteer, I garden, I cook, in a word, I do what I like. Yes, I have appointments and some scheduling to keep up with, being on boards and committees, etc. but I will never again live that life I lived before. It’s too short.

cl October 10, 2016 - 12:37 am

Being older I now seem to be even busier than ever, but my energy is harder to come by. I have things I HAVE to do, a list in my mind of everything that calls out to be finished. What I do now is different than what I used to do. There are certain people who take precedence-my husband, my kids and grandkids. There are certain days hubby and I see the kids and certain days we do other things. For other days, I like to plan at night what I will do the next day. When morning comes if I am tired or my allergies are acting up, whatever, I will decide if I still will do what I planned. It may be put off for awhile, and something more pressing is a wiser choice. But I don’t have hard schedules and try to make it easier on myself. I am an active person, but have learned to not be a perfectionist anymore.

Lane Smith October 10, 2016 - 6:31 am

I was just telling my husband that I wish I had one more day in the weekend to relax. I’ve always thought weekends should be three days, one to run errands, one to clean and catch up, and one to relax and rest. Unfortunately that third day never seems to happen very often. I am looking forward to retirement next year when I will be able to plan my day according to my whims and creative inspirations!

Darina October 10, 2016 - 7:03 am

Time management is a new part of my life. Since February I work 4 days a week, Friday is my day off that I use for writing. Household is something during the evenings. Sometimes it’s hard but I always fix it due to pan things

Melissa October 20, 2016 - 1:22 pm

Darina, I completely agree! I am lucky enough to have moved from the US my whole life working long hours, long commutes no decent vacation time to the Netherlands.
This doesn’t mean the US is all bad, by no means, but I wasn’t ever lucky to have a worker friendly environment and neither did anyone I know. We were all always so pushed, rushed, stressed.

I found myself doing the same thing here for a few years, but after a while I said to myself, WHAT THE HECK AM I DOING???? I moved here for quality of life issues. Luckily here in NL if you have a permanent contract you can drop down to part time hours, , the company has to accept that basically if you want part time hours and can’t fire you, and can only deny without a lot of headache bureaucracy.

So back in April I went to my boss and while I didn’t have to come up with any reason by law that I wanted less hours I still respected her enough to why, I said look quality of life issue, I came here for a better life, I would like 4 days 9 hours, that extra hour no one is here I can get a lot done but that full extra day at home I want for me all me. She hates part time swears no one should have it, but complimenting the Dutch on how great their system is helped, and she also knows I am a type A super organized speed boat worker, so she said no problem.

It was hard at first, not to pack to do things in those first Fridays.
So now it goes like this: Mon-Thurs no appointments in the evening after work, quick healthy left overs so I am not in the kitchen all night, Thursday is cleaning right after work, hubby picks up take out so I ain’t got that mess to clean up. Then the house is nice and clean and pretty for me to enjoy all weekend. One time when hubby left messes on a Thursday after I went to bed (it was the one week I didn’t clean on Thursday evening) and I woke up to it Friday spent the whole day cleaning that up, I told him I didn’t schedule my Fridays off working 4 less hours a week with less pay and less money towards retirement to spend 8 hours cleaning up after you. If that is the way it will be you can pay me for that cleaning service at my normal work hourly rate with pension compensation, or you can give me the key and leave, or you can just pick up after yourself:)
It may be tough but it worked, Friday is all for me and he also sees a huge difference in me, a lot less stress, smiling more, arguing less. While I did loose a bit of money, I make it up without travel expense to work, also being more organized cooking more at home making better supermarket purchases. “Life on the go,” as it is called costs a lot more, not just to your health but also to your pocketbook.
Something we could all think about.
If it is possible try to find a way to get a 3 day weekend, it is life changing. I do yoga every morning now at home even before my work days, I go to my local Hema and have the 2 euro breakfast on Friday’s watch all the nice elderly people, take walks, go into the center in my local German city and have coffee (Greek Frappé), get my hair cut or a bit of shopping, just stop, and yes I mean it stop and literally smell the roses (you can catch me smelling roses regularly on my walks or rubbing lavender bushes between my hands). My physical and mental health is better than it has ever been!
Love yourself first or no body else will I always say.

Melissa October 20, 2016 - 1:39 pm

oh an one more thing I forgot, while I was strict with hubby at first, he sees it paid off I have more time for him on the weekend and don’t fall asleep on a Friday or Saturday night at 8 pm….

Jeanne Visser October 10, 2016 - 8:56 am

This is such an appropriate topic! I consider myself an expert at SPACE management, but when it comes to time, I never have enough. And that isn’t because I do any sort of lolling around, it is because I want to do soooo much and have an incredible tendency to push every possible thing to the brink. Because I really do feel that everything must be done and experienced properly and there is not a limit according to the clock as to when it is “done” but rather when it feels “done”. Of course it is unrealistic to not work according to a clock – and there lies my battle. I cringed a bit at your words “resent the demand others make on your time” because it is true for me……although that said, when I am interrupted or get called away, I give that person or the cause of interruption ALL my attention. And so a good chunk of time disappears…..unplanned for. I always feel good for having spent my time well, even if it was an unplanned and perhaps unwelcome intrusion. I feel terrible when I’m forced to be in a hurry. Since I had my babies, who are now grown but not yet out of home, I have joked about suffering from “Interruption Syndrome”. The biggest cause of friction between my husband and myself is Time. I accuse him of moving through life so fast that it makes his eyes tear and he cannot see what is happening around him; he accuses me of having NO sense of time. I tend to believe that I have a total and complete sense of time. To confirm my belief, my memory is brilliant because I have noticed detail all the way, whilst his recollection of details or events is poor. Then he says I make things up! 🙂 Have a wonderful week. Jeanne X

Botanic Bleu October 10, 2016 - 11:21 am

Until I retired seven years ago, I worked long hours every weekday and on the weekend. First, as a math teacher grading thousands of papers, creating lesson plans, keeping a gradebook, tutoring struggling students… Then as an administrator… long hours attending so many student extracurricular events as required by my school district and state education department. Work weeks were typically 60-80 hours long.

Now, I am retired and love having the freedom to spend my time as I choose without having a bell schedule dictate my life. I can sit on the porch for 2 hours looking at nature, reading, or daydreaming. Laundry can be done today or tomorrow. I can have lunch with friends and not watch the clock for when I must be back at my job. I can leisurely shop at the garden center or spend an hour looking at magazines at the bookstore. My energy level is much lower than when I was younger, but that’s okay. I can always do that chore tomorrow. Plus, I can spend two weeks with my family in another state without worrying about my job or responsibilities.


Veenita Dar October 10, 2016 - 12:20 pm

Its just two days left for me to retire ……I’ve taken voluntary retirement as for sometime now Ive been resenting spending time at work……..Wanting to sit in my garden…spend leisurely time with friends and whoa its going to happen sooon. Loved reading your blog.. and peoples commentatiries on how they spend their time…in a year time I hope I will be able to contribute to this discusion…so long then!

Virginia October 10, 2016 - 3:52 pm

Right now, I am at a standstill as I try to figure out how I want to spend the remaining years of my life. I am not alone. Many friends are facing the same dilemma. All of us have been married to men whose career obligations meant that their wives had to manage everything, pretty much alone. So we raised our kids and managed our homes, and at the same time, given our values, we worked hard in the community starting new organizations, serving on boards, raising money to keep much needed services afloat. Those were 16 to 18 hour days. But then you get to the point where you can’t do it anymore. Heavy duty volunteerism is just as demanding as paid employment. So now we ask ourselves how do we nurture ourselves? What do I want and need to grow as person, to fill myself up? Sharon, you are an inspiration, because everything you do is ultimately focused on creating and appreciating beauty, so needed in our ugly world. So as a start, I now plant flowers rather than scrub another floor, and take a walk in the woods rather than do another load of laundry.

Mary October 10, 2016 - 5:43 pm

A therapist told me a long time ago that the best way to handle “lists” is to put ONLY ONE item on the list! You do that item, and then when it is done, you make a new list, and put ONLY ONE item on that list. You do that item, and so forth…repeating as needed, with a new list each time. These may be written down, or simply held mentally. Sometimes you will get nothing done on that day, other days you will get one thing done, and on some days you will get 10 things done. It reinforces moment by moment faithfulness to the task and the daily journey you are on. I have found this is a great way to move forward at the pace that is best for me, at that time, and have very little stress doing it. Also, psychologically it tends to relieve many stressors…and who can’t profit from that?!! Try it and see how it works for YOU!

Bebe October 13, 2016 - 10:23 pm

Those mental lists are usually what plagues me – especially about 3AM.

I still like the lined pad. And the look of a page with everything (or nearly everything) lined out.

Must go and find that Covey book. It was slated for the library book sale shop! (But he’s never been a wife-mother-grandmother plus career woman plus caregiver, has he?)

Lorrie October 10, 2016 - 6:47 pm

Since returning to part time work in a position I love (teaching high school), I’ve found that time management is more crucial than when I was at home. I’ve also realized that I can’t do everything, and it’s okay to let the floors go for a week or two, that my husband is okay with simple meals, and that time with family must be scheduled.
I agree with you when you say that being busy causes one to accomplish more. There have been times when I had too little to do and I found that I put off even the things that needed to be done, thinking that there was no hurry. I became extremely unproductive. But there needs to be a balance between crazy busy and sitting around. That balance needs constant tweaking.

Marilyn October 11, 2016 - 1:13 am

I function much better when I plan out my week and fill it full each day. I love crossing off things on my list. Always a challenge to get them all crossed off each and every day. Love this post.

Madeleine Lawrence October 11, 2016 - 12:29 pm

So many interesting responses to this post!

I am a long-term sole parent of two kids running my own business and renovating a late Victorian home. No amount of ‘management’ will give me the time I need to do everything I would like to do.

But many years ago I read of Stephen Covey’s idea ‘put the big rocks in first’. The big rocks are things like your health, your partner, your family. Smaller rocks are things like your job, your house your car, and then there’s everything else, which is sand. The idea is if you put the big rocks in first the smaller things will fit in around them, but if you fill the jar with sand and pebbles first those big rocks won’t fit. In other words, you might have a very tidy home but have not much time left to spend with your loved ones.

For me the big rocks are kids, partner and my health, and as much as possible I try to deal with those early in the day so they’re not left behind. That means a quiet cup of tea by myself before kids are awake, then an email to my partner who currently lives more than 10,000 miles away, an hour or two of cooking really good, nourishing food (yes really!) and 2 to 3 mornings a week, a yoga class. I turn down many hours of work to get the yoga in, because for me it is a very important big rock.

The other idea (which I think I got from Covey also) is the idea of values based living. You define your deepest values and then prioritise those things first. It’s rather sobering if one of your top values is relationships and you realise you haven’t spent time with friends for months – I know because it’s happened to me.

I don’t spend as much time as I’d like doing things I love, and my home isn’t consistently orderly, but at least I can feel that the truly important things are given the attention they need. After reading your post and all of the comments I decided that I need to get up half an hour earlier to get in one of my greatest pleasures, gardening. Even 30 minutes a day can make a difference and bring a lot of joy.


Marian from England October 13, 2016 - 10:54 am

Hi Madeleine
I like that idea about defining your values first. Then making your to do list. It must focus the mind on what is important as you say.
I’m newly retired and find that I tend to ‘put off’ some things and then feel guilty because I ‘should’ have done them! I find it hard not having the discipline of a time to be at work etc. It’s a learning curve I guess, adapting to a life where you can choose rather than ‘have’ to do something. One always tends to feel one should do the ‘jobs’ on the list before we have earnt the right to stop and do something just for joy or pleasure. But life is short and I guess after a life of working we all deserve to fill our later years with joyful pursuits, whatever they may be.

Bebe October 13, 2016 - 10:10 pm

The best laid plans are often torpedoed by Life 101. Even planning and prioritizing take time. I spend much of my time negotiating the medical system on behalf of my husband and myself. Not only time-consuming, but often draining.

About the time I have my to do list neatly laid out on a lined pad, my husband’s laptop or iPad goes off the rails (he’s a stroke survivor) or something breaks around the house. Or the cable TV acts up. Or something gets spilled. I won’t go anecdote-nuts here, but you get my drift. I know I am not alone. 🙂

Completely off-topic, I notice the interesting wristwatch in your photos. The watch itself (not the band) looks very much like a vintage Jaeger-LeCoultre that I have loved for the last nearly 40 years.

Bebe October 13, 2016 - 10:20 pm

Re the watch, WRONG! It’s a Gucci, new, with a bamboo over stainless band.

Absolutely smashing-looking!

Dottie Monta October 14, 2016 - 10:36 pm

Such interesting suggestions! Ellen’s (breaking down each task into smaller increments); Mary’s placing ONE thing at a time on her list. Brilliant!

The creative among us simply have too many (delightful) diversions to be terribly organized. My sister, a nurse, is super-controlled and time-block scrupulous. By comparison, my day is more unpredictable.

We truly are all different: The key is to be happy with your style and open to life as it unfolds, grateful for all our blessings.

Susan October 26, 2016 - 4:02 am

I’ve found since retiring that I have trouble pacing myself. I don’t have a window in which to get things done!


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