simple is beautiful

About Time Management

Thursday, October 20, 2011

One cannot manage too many affairs: like pumpkins in the water, one pops up while you try to hold down the other.
Chinese Proverb

Blog reading/writing is a funny thing.  Most of us who write blogs don't share our ups and downs and we often look like we have it all under control.  Grab a cup of coffee and come right back this will take a while.  I for one don't think that you want to hear me whine about having to get up at 5:00AM to drive my son to swim practice three mornings a week only to return home, pack lunches, start a load of laundry, and finish cleaning the kitchen from the night before.  Or how after everyone goes to school I have to mow the yard, iron a pile of khaki pants, grocery shop, and finish 2 client projects before school is out.  When you work from home household duties often fall into the lap of the one who is home the most.  I figure we all have our challenges and you don't want to hear about mine.  You want to come here to be inspired.  You want light and happy.  Not too long not too short.  You want just right.  Life is always about balance and I am constantly looking for mine.  Furniture market begins tomorrow and I have 3 sets of placemats to make, a pediatrician appointment, a guest post to write, and on and on.  How will I get it all done?  Well, good question.

I receive many emails asking for advice on blogging - everything from how to start a blog, time management, how to grow your blog, and to get advertisers.  Please know that I am not claiming to be an expert, but I am happy to share my thoughts with you in hopes that it helps you in some way.


1.  Follow Up  -  To backtrack a bit, my blog started at the suggestion of my husband.  He knew how much I enjoy decorating, gardening, & creating in general and he thought that I should share it with others.  He has been nothing but supportive about my blog from the beginning.  Love you honey ;).  In the beginning, I would respond to every comment that was left and try to visit the person's blog who left the comment.  My parents raised me to write thank you notes when people did nice things for me so I tried very hard to thank people for visiting.  As my blog grew it became harder and harder to do this.  I still try to respond to comments, but sometimes don't get around to everybody.  This makes me feel very guilty, by the way, but we cannot do everything.  Sometimes we have to let go.  Please know that I love your comments, love hearing from each and every one of you, and really appreciate you visiting!  I do however respond to the numerous questions/emails that I receive each day and always respond to clients and etsy inquiries.


2.  Meal Planning - Raise your hand if you order takeout or eat cereal for dinner because you are in the middle of a project.  I do it.  I don't like doing it, but I admit that it happens every once in a while.  One thing that helps me SO MUCH is planning meals for the week on Sunday night and purchasing the groceries for the week on Monday.  Our meals are easy, but they are home cooked and healthy.  Our boys are both year round swimmers who consume a load of calories each day.  They need healthy food to eat and I owe it to them to give them that.  We sit down at 8:00 at night because that is when we are all finally home and we talk about our day and eat and linger.  Do I plan our meals every week?  No.  Some weeks are just off for many reasons, but when I take the time to get organized everything is better.  Knowing that I will be tied up at market the next few days, I planned our meals and have purchased all of the groceries.  My fingers are crossed that it helps.


3.  Projects - Writing blogs with original content is time consuming.  Period.  Between doing the actual project, taking pictures, writing a post or tutorial you are talking about hours and days.  All for what?  No one is getting rich from doing this, but if it is taking you away from your family you might want to consider ways to earn income on your blog.  My goal is to share things with you that 1. can easily be done by anyone 2.  are relatively inexpensive  3. are inspiring.  There are times when our house looks like a disaster zone.  Often projects take longer than planned and I simply have to walk away and leave the mess for another day.  What I do doesn't really change to world.  This is OK.  This.is.OK.  If you put pressure on yourself regarding your blog it might take away from the fun of it.  And, trying to keep up with everyone else will only make you feel inferior.  This blog has been more rewarding than I could have ever imagined and I wish the same for you.


4.  Family Time -  My time spent on the computer is very scattered.  When I first started blogging, I spent way too much time in front of the computer.  As I continued to write I began to schedule my time.  I try to do most of my writing early in the morning, but sometimes things come up and and posts are delayed.  Most posts go up around 6:30-7:30AM.  I feel that I owe it to my readers to be consistent.  If I happen to miss a day Mom will call me to make sure I'm OK.  I love you all, but Mom is my sweetest follower, but the way.  Follow up and emails are handled throughout the day.  If I have any extra time, I will write posts for the future just to have in case I get into a crunch.  My creative process doesn't fit the 9to5 schedule.  I think of client projects all day and night which makes working from home a good thing.  That said, the computer pulls at me often.  After 4:00PM I am lucky to have any computer time at all other than responding to emails.  The kids come home from school and need rides.  Then my husband comes home and this is our time.  Next comes cooking dinner, picking the boys up from swim practice, and preparing for the next day.  I try very hard not to let blogging/working take away from family time.  One day I will look back at how I lived my life and I want to feel good about choices I made.  I know I say this a lot, but our boys have grown up so fast and I am thankful for every moment I have had with them.  This is not meant to make anyone feel guilty, just being open.

Those are my thoughts.  I would love hear what you think.  Do you have any suggestions on how to manage time?  I would love the hear them.

38 comments:

  1. all well said renee... thanks for the tips! : )

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  2. Well, you already know I look up to you as a bastion of organization:-) You seem able to fill your days with so many things, many of them good (not the ironing. That part stinks,)-- it's admirable. Thanks for sharing.

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  3. Thanks for being real and you are right, it's all about balance - isn't it?

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  4. Thank you ladies! Yes, Heather, we are all busy trying to find balance. If we don't struggle every once in a while, maybe we aren't doing enough? Although a day with nothing to do sounds pretty dreamy :)

    -Rene

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  5. Thanks for sharing this Rene! It is a constant challenge to balance it all and keep everything running smoothly ~ it helps to know that I'm not the only one who struggles with this! Having meals planned in advance is one of the biggest things for me - somehow it makes a big difference!

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  6. Rene, I don't know how you do it! I thought blogging was tough as a single girl with few commitments. Now I find blogging tough as a partner, trying to balance more errands and chores and cooking and client projects and finding time to spend with my honey. I cannot imagine it with a child, or two, but hope to find out someday ;-) Yet I know it can be done, because awesome women like you have gone before me and made it work! Thanks for keeping it real. And thanks for your heartfelt thoughts. I'm soaking it all in.

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  7. #1 that photo of Barbara Billingsley cracked me up as soon as I opened your post and #2 your men are so handsome (my brother and I swam all growing up and yes swimmers eat A LOT). Anyway, I love these posts and love your honesty. Balance is a constant struggle and I think about it often. I used to thrive on posting about projects around our home, but you're right that takes a lot of time and planning and we don't always have something going on. So I've decided to keep it real by blogging about what's on my mind for the day and hopefully my readers enjoy it. I always enjoy your posts, and I appreciate your openess on these subjects.

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  8. Rene,

    You are an example to us all! There is so much to find balance with when one works, has a family, a significant other and various passions, thanks for sharing how you do it and keeping it real. I think the important thing for us all to remember is that we are unique and need to cull from the advice of others to find what works for us. I know I am still trying hard to figure out what works best for balance in my life with trial and error being part of the process!

    Have a great day and I'll think of you when I get up at 6 AM, knowing that you have already accomplished a great deal!!!!

    Cathy

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  9. Well, guess who forgot to pick her son up from swim practice this morning? Nothing says "mother of the year" better than that. Thanks for the sweet words ya'll. They made me a little misty.

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  10. Rene, Thanks for writing about these things! Sometimes I sit at my computer reading other blogs and thinking that I'm doing something wrong! Very wrong, they seem so together, original ideas, no misspelled words, perfect grammar, witty and perfect posts and I think --I just need to quit trying. Then I read this and know we've all something going on. Things are not perfect like they look. Thanks for sharing! Now I must go clean my dirty house!
    Debbie

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  11. A lot of us are in the same boat and I have been reading a few similar posts by others lately while contemplating writing one myself. It is a constant juggling act...while running around a couple of weeks ago, in a rush, I reversed my car into a hydrant and hit my husband's car bumper partially against a wall - 2 separate incidents in one week. never happened before. You will see the rewards of what you are doing now for your kids and family years later - I am sure you are seeing it now too. Kids do grow up fast, time flies. My mum checks on me, too, via skype every other day and she is half a world away. Your family is fortunate to have you. Have a great day!

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  12. That was wonderful! Thanks for keeping the "reality" in this! I felt like you were talking about me in your post....so many times I'll be working on a project and it's 5:30 in the afternoon and I realize I forgot to get a shower!

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  13. Wow, great post. Thank you for being so honest & transparent. You are very talented & seem to have a great hand on 'balance'!

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  14. Thanks for giving us a 'behind the scene' look into your challenge to balance it all! All along I've thought you had some management secret. I admire that your family is priority and you're a great mom, first and a great blogger, second!

    Have a great time at market, hope to see a fashion & furniture post!

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  15. Great post! Thanks for sharing. I relate to all of it, even though I don't have kids yet. I'm constantly struggling with balance. Feeling guilty about not responding to comments, or posting enough, etc. But I try not to be too hard on myself.
    I think you hit it on the head about planning and being organized. When I make a list and stick to it, it's amazing how much smoother my week will go.

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  16. Thanks so much for sharing this side of blogging/crafting with a family. I find it depressing when ONLY the illusion of perfection (and ease) is presented. I understand people want things positive and inspiring but a little dose of realism keeps us hooked!!! Thanks again.

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  17. Great post. As for taking the Mother of The Year award for forgetting to pick up your son, I think we're all in the running for that reward some days.
    With all the pretty pictures and grand accomplishments that show up in posts, sometimes it's easy to forget that real live humans are sitting behind those edited photos. Next to the piles of crap and to-do's. :o)

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  18. this is a great and thoughtful post! i do ok on most fronts, but fail miserably with meal planning. that pumpkin keeps on popping up!

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  19. Rene, I absolutely love this post and your perspective. We are all looking for balance and think it's wonderful that you make your family a huge priority - being around for your boys in the afternoon, having time with your husband. You have so much on your plate and I am always amazed at the projects you accomplish in your own home as well as working on client projects! It's refreshing to hear that you order take out, sometimes your house is a mess, and you're trying to juggle it all just like the rest of us! The fact that you are so "real" is why you are one of my favorite bloggers!!

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  20. Oh Rene, you are hands down the most curteous blogger I know. You graciously take the time to respond to comments like no other blogger. I used to feel a bit guilty bc I just can't. I'd think to myself, oh Rene would so write this person back. What is it with us women and our need to compare, right?! And i can relate to having a swimmer in the house...I feel like I make dinner twice a night, once before and once after swim practice! Your boys are gorgeous!!! And happy birthday too. xoxo

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  21. It is so hard to find a balance, sometime I can't even find my brain, and I know that there is no "one" balance out there but I know that each of us can find our own and what works for us. I have read and talked to others about how they blog and each and every one is different and that is great. You are a great mom, wife, friend and blogger. You do what makes you happy because you are so right, years from now we want to look back and now that we loved, laughed and learned. Take a deep breathe and know that you are not alone. :)
    Good luck with furniture market too!!
    Hugs!
    xoxox

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  22. I love your honesty, Rene. I'm in the beginning stages of blogging, so I'm spending soooooo much time on the computer, trying to respond to everyone's comments. I really don't know how you do all you do, but seeing those 3 hunks makes me understand your motivation.

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  23. Love all your tips - right on target. This month in particular I've posted closer to twice a week than my usual three but the nice thing I don't feel badly about it. I'll be at market Sunday mid-day - Tuesday - maybe we'll run into each other.

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  24. what a breath of fresh air! it's all SO true, and i love your descriptions of your day! i feel the same way. my days are filled with very unglamorous things like laundry and grocery shopping and cleaning. blogging sometimes has to take a back seat because i am just too busy! i have gotten to the point where i "let" myself have a day where i don't post. the pressure of doing it all can get to be too much, and i realize that i don't HAVE to blog. i WANT to.
    it's nice to hear from another mom trying to make it all happen...and doing a fabulous job at it..at least from my perspective!
    :) keep it up! and thanks for being real.

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  25. Rene it is always such a challenge for me. Is it because so many of us take on too much, that I hear so many friends speak of this need for a balance and even rest and quiet time in their lives.

    As I am going in for complete left hip replacement next week. I vow to cherish and value my life and my families more than ever in the year ahead. I will take time from the computer to take walks, shop and cook healthy.

    Life is too short!

    Do come and enter my Designer Pillow Giveaway!!

    xoxo
    Karena

    Art by Karena

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  26. Rene,
    I really really enjoy your blog..I love that you post every day, love that your posts are relevant, gorgeous and not too long. I love your taste so whenever you post something about your home, it is always special. I haven't been reading blogs very long, but yours is on my "favorites bar" and I look forward to checking in every day. Congrats on your blogging success :)

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  27. I enjoyed reading a day in the life of Rene and reading your blog is always inspiring. I started getting a little stressed out about blogging so I had to let it go a bit. Balance always needs a little tweaking doesn't it? Kind of like a clean house always gets messy again...I hate when that happens.

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  28. Suggestions? Erm...no. I definitely don't have a firm handle on time management. I've tried to set up a firm schedule, but that doesn't work for me.

    What does work for me? Knowing that I'm not making money from this. If I need to take a few days away, then I do. The only person I'm disappointing is myself. Yes, I have readers, but I don't think anyone out there needs my blog to start their morning.

    Obviously this isn't a strategy that'll work for everyone. If I had sponsors, I'd probably put a lot more pressure on myself.

    Not that I like to hear that others struggle, but it's kind of nice to hear that Superwoman doesn't actually exist. Thanks for sharing.

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  29. Rene,

    Each and every day, I think of all of us, Mothers, bloggers, artists, designers, home makers, dreamers all juggling....then I think of friends who have left this earth too soon or who are surviving and trying to keep up a good stiff upper lip.
    My sister and I always say, we could have it much worse, so I rise early to gather my thoughts, to make sure my daughter has a good breakfast, a good lunch, clean clothes, costume for colonial day, sketches for clients and give thanks that I am alive.

    I think if we take time to give thanks, our days are full, rewarding and also time to take a walk in nature.

    Life is indeed full and we all have to choose to live, to give and to know it could be so much worse.

    xo
    Happy Birthday to you....celebrate all you do!!!
    Patricia

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  30. Thanks for sharing so honestly.

    My life should be different for organizing but it isn't. Children all grown and no swim meets or dance lessons. Husband gone too so it doesn't matter what's for dinner.

    Since I have recently closed a shop and should have "time on my hands", I find I get next to nothing done except the computer. I need to follow your advice to schedule it. The only that happens on schedule here is the twice daily doggie and me walk for "business".

    I will let you know if I get my kitchen cleaned or add to my blog or my Etsy list or find another old friend on Facebook.

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  31. At the end of a day I hope to say I did my best not I did it all. My house looks like a tornado hit it right now, and we had chick-fil-a for dinner. Thanks for keeping it real :)

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  32. It was so nice to read all of your comments. As my day went on yesterday, I had a child come home sick from school and an unexpected trip to the library for homework. Needless to say, much went un-done yesterday, but that is life. We ended up ordering Chinese take-out.

    XO,
    Rene

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  33. Thanks for the great post, Rene. I've only been blogging for a few months, but found out VERY quickly how time consuming it is. But I'm having so much fun and am "meeting" people from all over the world. (I look forward to our Triad Area blogger luncheon where I will get to meet you in the "real" world!) One thing that blogging has done for me is to keep me on task. I bet I've completed more projects since I started blogging in June than in the last 3 years! Take care. PS: I would love to bump into you at market. Are you working anywhere or just attending?

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  34. Rene, I love this post and you for writing it. While you are much more established as a blogger, I can very much relate to the need to balance blogging with "real life". And I really thank you for reminding us that "trying to keep up with everyone else will only make you feel inferior". Amen. I couldn't agree more, and that is something that, as a novice and not a professional designer, I grapple with.

    THANK YOU! And have a wonderful weekend, my dear.

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  35. Oh, my ... how many of us out here are blogging because our husbands suggested it? My husband put up a blank blog template for me and sent me the link, to make sure that I didn't put it off. It was such a loving thing to do, since he knows how much I love to write and photograph and TEACH.

    Time management is always a struggle. For the most part, I'm an early riser, and my kids are all grown, so my mornings are my own to do with as I please ... with no apologies. When my husband gets up, coffee is already made, and I'm generally sitting here on the corner of the couch in the family room, under a down throw if it's chilly, with my laptop and at least one cat in my lap. After I finish, I'm off the computer for the rest of the day ... except for email checks when I have something going on.

    ALL of us have these issues, and I'm proud of you for standing up and proclaiming yours to the world.

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  36. OH Lord Rene...real life is not pretty as they say. Of course everyone thinks your house is always clean and a perfect dinner is on the stove. At my house...of course it is not always clean...and dinner...all I can say is thank God for takeout, Trader Joes and any prepared food I can buy. And my kids are grown.....yikes...I sound lazy. But working full time, blogging, and taking care of a home...well honestly it can be stifling at times. I love the way you keep it real girl. I know when Market is over, your house will probably be a wreck! But I know it will definitely be worth it!!!

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  37. Hi Rene,
    Loved this post! I had to take last week off just to re-gain that balance which is so crucial! It is really good to keep it all real! Happy Wednesday! Caroline

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  38. Don't know if you'll
    see this, as I'm playing
    catch up from a very
    busy week last week,
    but just wanted to
    say AMEN to such a
    real and personal post.
    When I start to get
    anxious because I
    haven't been able to
    visit blogs or I don't
    have a post ready, I
    tell myself that, at this
    point, it is still all on
    my terms.....no sponsors,
    etc. and that brings
    me back to reality.
    When it ceases to be
    fun, I'm outta here!

    xx Suzanne

    PS: Your family is
    beautiful.

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Thanks so much for stopping by! I love your comments and read each and every one. Your questions will be answered here or you can email me at rene.cottageandvine@gmail.com

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