Time Out

Mini Mom Agenda-ChocolateI am quite possibly the last person in the Western World who is still using a day planner. Rather than using a slick little electronic device to keep track of my life, I write down my every appointment and obligation in a cocoa-colored, leather-bound book.

There’s something a little dangerous, though, about those creamy blank sheets of paper, waiting patiently to be filled up. I see an empty page and am all too willing to fill it. I’m forever over-scheduling and over-extending myself.

taz51Today, for example, my little day planner is scribbled with errands to run, appointments to keep, practicing to do, and a gig tonight. Until 11:00 this evening, every hour of today is allocated to a specific assignment, and already I am feeling unequal to the task. I am feeling frenetic and scattered just typing these words.

Adding to my adrenaline-fueled quest for productivity amid fears of inadequacy, the superintendent knocked on the door this morning. He wanted to know if he could bring a painter through the apartment to assess the damage from a recent leak. I felt a surge of annoyance. Why couldn’t he have told us in advance that the painter would be in the building today? Why didn’t he make an appointment? I have too much to do, I wailed inwardly.

But outwardly I smiled, opened the door, and ushered the super and the painter inside. After inspecting the damaged area, the two men conferred and told me, “Be ready tomorrow mornink. Vee come beck then to feex sheetrock.” And just like that, I gave away my tomorrow morning, too.

Why didn’t I say, “Sorry, guys, you didn’t tell me you were coming and tomorrow won’t work for me. Can we pick a time next week?” I suppose I was afraid of coming across as “difficult.”

lottie1I don’t, however, attribute the tendency to over-schedule solely to a desire to be accommodating. Women are natural multi-taskers, so perhaps a certain hubris permeates my sense of what is possible to accomplish in any given day. I do so much juggling in order to feel “productive”: exercise, writing, practicing and performing, not to mention the far more mundane (but just as necessary) tasks of laundry, dishes, grocery shopping, and errand-running.

Most troublesome of all is that I (and most women I know) can do a pretty good job of keeping all those balls in the air. We function so well under stress that we often don’t realize how much we need a break until we catch that nasty cold, or find ourselves short-tempered and exhausted, unable to enjoy our free time when it (finally) arrives.

If nothing else, I realized this morning that I need to be much more territorial about my time. I’m a singer, not a juggler.

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7 thoughts on “Time Out

  1. Virgoes: we like to schedule, and re-schedule, and then over-schedule. Let me be the first to say that you and I together might possibly be the last two users of day-planners. I use a bright-red Week-At-A-Glance planner. I must see my week spread out in front of me, on paper and marked up with pencil. Then, to take the Virgo part of me and just highlight the shit out of it, I also use iCal and my iPhone. Once it’s penciled in, I type it in. One schedule for the pocket, one for the briefcase/backpack. Can’t help it: I must have both. There’s a great sense of control I think I have over my year when I use the hand-written day planner. I control the page turn, and I control when the little perforated triangle gets ripped off, concluding that week’s events. The computer changes the week for you, which I don’t like. But, the computer has all those nifty alarms! That’s something my day-planner (and my brain) are completely unable to do.

    Here’s to paper schedules.

    • DG—you know, I read that same article and have been thinking a lot about it. I don’t know that I wholly trust that study, to begin with, but I sure learned a lot from reading the “comments” section. Jeez. There were so many men writing in that we women lost our mojo when we dared to demand an equal place in the workforce. We were “designed by God to bear children,” etc. etc. More than one commenter said something along the lines of, “Hey, now that you have ‘career fulfillment’ you’re probably not feeling so fulfilled!”

      I am reminded of a quote whose author escapes me: We’ve come a short way, and don’t call me baby.

      • “short way”…nice. ehh…it’s always a short way when you look ahead.

        you ladies have it rough. you have all of the hormonal and biological responsibility built in over the centuries and it just keeps piling on…doesn’t it? good luck sorting it out.

        i have a young female student at my college gig. when she entered my studio as a freshman, i could see the doubt. she considered bagging her relationship with music in favor of more study time, but i asked her to please give it a full semester before making the choice. our time together has been a wonderful opportunity for both to learn. i have had to consider gender from a different perspective than even the relationship i have with my daughter, since this young lady was at a turning point in her development. my time with her will be brief, in the grand scheme. so, music has become a place for her to turn that she can be a confident proponent of her own ideas. the change in her over the past year is dramatic and i feel so privileged to be a part of it. seeing this young woman at 19 probably made me a little more fertile recipient of dowd’s ideas, but i’m a little more optimistic about her potential happiness…if she can be honest with herself and others.

      • I SO agree….balance and honesty (above all, with oneself) are paramount. And your thoughtful words and very cool story about your teaching experience are a wonderful antidote to the misogynistic drivel folks were writing to Ms. Dowd! (-:

  2. Nothing wrong with stick’n with some old fashion methods…especially when batteries die! 😆

    I tend to use a combo of both old (written-down), and new (Blackberry or Outlook) to keep my day in at least some level of check…especially in NYC. 😀

    One of the downsides to having the book, or device to help keep track of the daily “appointments”, is that you’re constantly reminded of how busy you are, or on the flip-side, need to be.

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