How to Find More Time, Part Three — Personality

Posted in self help by Steph Auteri on January 2, 2008
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I’d like to officially welcome you all back from the holidays. I tried to throw a few posts in there directly after xmas, but now we can really get back on track with finding more time (um, now that my schedule should finally be getting a whole lot less insane, but whatevs).

The next pillar in Laura Stack’s Find More Time is Personality. What this refers to are your regular habits, behaviors, and choices. Some of her oh-so-helpful advice:

  • Learn how to say no. Oh lordy, this is a tough one for me, and one I’ve only begun to move forward with (hence my proofing at the newspaper this past Thanksgiving Day and New Year’s Day, instead of bonding with my family members, and singing five masses at Christmastime). Learn to set boundaries with others, and also with yourself. Don’t do things out of guilt. Do them because you truly need to or want to do them.
  • Delegate. Learn to swallow your pride and ask for help when you need it. You’re not conceding defeat by admitting that you need help, or by acknowledging that someone else may be able to handle the task at hand better than you.
  • No procrastinating! I like to tell myself that I do my best work when spurred on by pure, unadulterated fear, but seriously folks. The more niggling little tasks you have rotting in the back of your mind, the more stressed you’ll feel. Why do that to yourself when it would be so much easier and pleasurable to just cross that task off your to-do list for good? Speaking of lists, it feels damn good to cross stuff off of them.
  • Don’t multitask. Really. Sometimes, when you try to juggle several things at once, you end up finishing nothing. And the things you do finish may not be up to par, because they did not receive your full attention. It’s often best to concentrate on just one task, all the way through to its conclusion, before moving on.
  • Be positive. Accept responsibility for your own stress levels. Most of the time, it’s not about that darn streak of bad luck. It’s about the way you handled it. You can read more about this in one of my previous posts.
  • Stop trying to please all of the people all of the time. This has a heckuva lot to do with our first bullet point.

Previous posts in this series covered Plans and Priorities. Next stop: Pests.


How to Find More Time, Part Two — Priorities

Posted in self help by Steph Auteri on December 28, 2007
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I have read in many a magazine and self-help book the powers of saying “no.” It’s something I have a problem with. Perhaps that’s how I ended up singing at five masses over the Christmas break, while also hosting my family and in-laws for Christmas dinner & dessert at my one-bedroom condo. Perhaps that’s also how I let my priorities slip, and took an extended vacation from this blog, which is still lacking in any sort of regular editorial calendar.

Bad me.

So it’s a good thing that the second part of this series on how to find more time, based upon Laura Stack’s Find More Time, is about Priorities. (Geez louise, that post about Plans was, like, eons ago. I’m awful at Priorities.)

  • Remember those who are most important to you. When I was first dating my future husband, I was unemployed but keeping myself busy, as per usual. I was handing out iced latte samples at Dunkin’ Donuts (humiliating); writing nightlife reviews for Shecky’s; and interning at the Feminist Press. When life became especially hectic, I told darling Michael that we could only hang out if we were being productive together.

And so, we would go to Barnes & Noble together and sit at a table with our laptops as I wrote nightlife reviews and he wrote music reviews.

That was ridiculous.

Remember to make time for those you love, even if it means you need to schedule a weekly date night with your man, or a monthly Family Fun evening with the fam. Create your own traditions, especially around the holidays, that allow you to spend quality time with loved ones, and create fabulous memories that will last a lifetime (I’m sorry if that sounded too after-school-special).

  • Volunteer. It makes you feel good. It makes the person you’re helping feel good. It spreads good karma. I used to be a volunteering fool growing up, lending my time to my church CCD program, Safety Town, the library, the Juniorettes, etc. Most recently, I tried iMentor, which is an easier to commitment to make when you’re short on time yet still want to make a difference in someone’s life. Sites like VolunteerMatch can help you find the volunteer opportunity that’s perfect for you. If you’re strapped for time, there are even projects you can work on from home, at your computer! Check it. And remember (the most important thing ever). You can always change your mind. If you don’t want to be there, it will wear on you. And it will also show to others. No one’s holding a gun to your head. Pick something you enjoy, and that doesn’t necessarily add additional stress to your life. What are some of the awesome organizations you’ve spent time with?
  • Cut out the time-wasters. For me, it’s Minesweeper, StumbleUpon, G-Chat, e-mail, and reality television. And food. I am a weak woman. But knowing is half the battle. Place restrictions on yourself. You’ll find you get a helluva lot more done. Plus, you won’t feel all groggy from staring at a screen for hours.
  • Be healthy. Be sure to be active. No one said you have to suffer through 45 minutes on a treadmill. Pick something you enjoy, like cardio shimmy or hula hooping or callanetics, and make it a priority, rather than an afterthought. If you schedule it in, just as you would schedule in a meeting or a get-together, it might actually happen. Also remember to keep up with those pesky appointments with your dentist, your shrink, your gynecologist, your allergist, etc. And don’t do gross things like smoke or subsist on Red Bull. And get enough sleep. And do as I say, not as I do.
  • Expand your mind. Whether through reading, public seminars, continuing education, etc., it is healthy to keep challenging both your mind and your body. Plus, it’s a great way to meet nifty new people who share your interests!

Okay guys. I’ll see you next when we discuss Personality.

How to Find More Time, Part One — Plans

Posted in self help by Steph Auteri on December 13, 2007
Tags: , , , ,


With 40+ hours a week in the city, additional hours working on freelance projects at home, and other extracurriculars such as choir and, um, life, time is something that always seems to be in short supply.

And with the holidays adding even more mania to the proceedings, I figured it was a good time to re-read Laura Stack‘s Find More Time.

The book is split into eight sections, or pillars: Plans, Priorities, Personality, Pests, Possessions, Paper, Post, and Play (utilizing the quizzes at the front of the book, you can determine which pillar is most in need of some shoring up). Following one piece of advice in the first chapter — break larger projects into smaller ones — my posts on the the tips in this book will come in eight installments.

If you’re anything like me, the posts this book is inspiring will be a huge help.

So, to begin:

  • Draw up a mission statement. Writing up such a thing will aid in the decision-making process, helping you evaluate the way you spend your time, and the things that are most important to you. My personal mission statement includes my grand scheme to take over the world via written word, my desire to constantly learn and experience new things, and my urge to start a family. When forced to choose a path, consider which one takes you closer to your goals, or is more in keeping with your higher values.
  • Make a list of your goals and dreams. Actually if you think of your dreams more as goals, and write them down in the manner of a to-do list, you’re more likely to accomplish them, as they’ll seem so much more attainable! I plan on going hang gliding, learning the ukulele, learning how to use the manual settings on my camera, getting published in Bitch magazine, etc.
  • Break larger projects into smaller ones. As I’m doing with this series of blog posts on finding more time, so you should do in, well, just about every large project that comes your way. For example, if you have “put together an album for Papa” on your to-do list (which I totally do; it’s for his Christmas gift), break it down into: 1. Look through photo albums for best pics. 2. Scan pics. 3. Order prints. 4. Purchase photo album. 5. Fill photo album. 6. For the love of god, just get it wrapped and under the tree! Stop procrastinating! (Whether or not the tree is actually decorating is a whole other matter entirely.)
  • Be prepared. Or in other words, plan in advance. On The Big Bang Theory the other night, Sheldon tells Penny that she should be buying her tampons in advance, as she’ll “be needing them for at least the next 30 years.” While it’s really an inappropriate topic of conversation, he has a point. Make sure you’re stocking up on things before you need them. It will prevent stress later on when, say, you run out of birth control pills and you and your paramour really want to get with each other.

Check out the book, and Stack’s website, for even more tips! Next up: Priorities.