Y-O-U: In the Black or In the Red?

I think I subconsciously chose this topic for this week’s Kuhnspiration for a reason. Perhaps to tackle my own misuse of time and energy “funds.” I’ve had weeks where whole days of available project time have magically slipped away. Does that happen to you often, too?  I’ve attributed it to following my creativity flow or listening to my project instincts, and that works for only so long before you realize: damn, I’m really behind in this area.

This week, many of us in the U.S. were gathering all of our receipts and proof of the work we did or didn’t achieve last year and in the process, bidding farewell to federal tax returns and money still owed or finding ourselves happy to beat a deadline and drooling over the tax refund to come. I am in the former group and it’s been a while since I’ve been in the latter, mainly because I’m hellbent at making sure our money paid in estimated taxes and employer withholdings is as close to the amount as it’s supposed to be. I don’t want to be owed anything at the end of the year, because if I am, then that means, I’ve lost all of this time doing something – anything – with that money, so my goal is always zero difference and this year we came as close to it as we’ve gotten before. Victory.

So this week I asked you in honor of our most revered and holiest of holidays, Tax Day…where have you been giving/spending your effort, energy, money and interest and are you getting / earning what you had in mind in return? And if not, where should you change your contribution levels?

When it comes to energy and time, I always seem to have insufficient funds at the end of the day.  This  year, more than in the past, I feel like I’ve been exerting more energy than ever to planning and by the time I get to the project itself, I’m out of steam. I’ve also been really bad to adhering to my regular schedule of vitamins and walking as I had been doing last year, and the results are really noticeable. Is there anyone else out there who might work from home as a self-employed business owner or at-home mom doing something similar finding they’re ignoring themselves lately? Argh. It’s frustrating, because I know it’s happening and know that is shouldn’t, but frankly, half the time I’m either too tired or overwhelmed at what lay ahead to do anything about it. Sigh.

I have done a few things right with where I spend my time – sometimes. I did add a daily entry into my planner which has been a really positive use of my energy – a little scheduled mini clean-up session I call NEATO! I write it in my planner every day from 715-730AM. I hate to clean, I mean truly HATE to clean. But each day, I take 15 minutes every morning to do any dishes or clean up in the kitchen, fold some towels if still waiting in the laundry room, clean up a particularly cluttered area, whatever needs to be done that morning but only in 15 minutes. I set a timer and everything. For me, it adds an exciting “beat the clock” aspect that I seriously need to make something I loathe so much a little fun and also it gives me license to STOP after that amount of time and not make myself feel guilty about it. The result has been…peace. Much more peace of mind. I am not a neat freak and don’t like to spend any free time cleaning but just seeing the kitchen counters cleared and the sink empty really makes me feel good. Seeing a barstool area typically covered with crap become – presto! – crap free, is a matter of minutes, and seeing it that way each time I pass it throughout the day, gives me such a pleasant, peaceful and calming feeling when I walk into that part of the house.

This past year, I also started “contributing” more to free reading time and I’ve truly reaped the benefits of it! It’s been a wonderful activity that I use to wind down at the end of the day (usually I schedule it into my planner right after dinner before the other sedentary but less academic activities begin – TV watching and/working over the laptop to Idol, The Voice, Survivor, etc.)

But I had made a promise to myself to stick to walking and other fitness activities each morning to launch my day, and that’s just not happening, consistently, and my energy is paying for it. Taking a closer look at my contribution levels tells me I need to invest more here and really stick by it. And I also promised myself that each month I would give myself a “me” day where I would treat myself to some replenishing activities and time away from the office, and for the past two months, that hasn’t happened. May’s not looking very likely either when I gauge the work to come.

I thought I would do more volunteering last year as part of a group that I’m a member, but while I did a few things, I didn’t participate as much as I thought I would. For the rest of the year ahead, I want to make certain that I have the energy and budget the time necessary to be able to do more. I’m really going to try to focus myself more on tackling some of these issues. First thing on the list for today, take my vitamins and get back on my daily walking routine – no excuses. It has always helped me tremendously have greater clarity and focus.

So when you stopped to analyze your past 6 months or year and where you were investing your time and energy, where did it all go? At the end of the day, did you get back a healthy return that you’re satisfied with or will you be doing something different for the rest of 2012? Put it all out there now as I have and you’ll have others to hold you to it! And good luck…

Cheers to finding that daily spark in your life!
Chris

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