The Second Half: Why manage time?

By Kathleen D. Tresemer


I mentioned to my Second Half friend Pat that I was busier than ever lately, not my initial plan of working leisurely from home.

“I don’t know how this happened,” I whined into the phone. “I am working a million hours a week…I could beat Santa Claus’ work schedule!”

One of the best things about my friend, she ignores my skewed view of the world, and gets right to the truth. “Why do we keep doing this to ourselves?” Pat asked me. “We have forgotten how to say ‘No’ to the demands of others.”

“Years of time management training,” I muttered, “down the drain!”

Time management in the workplace is totally different from time management in your personal life, and if you work at home, well…forget it! Free-lancing is much like being a parent—the demands of the job are not bound by the average eight hours a day. But, I do it because I want to work at what I love—writing.

I wondered, “Where does the average person go—other than Oprah or Dr. Phil—if they need help managing their time and their life?”

I met Anne Elizabeth Helle several years ago at a book club. Anne is a life and career coach, founder of her Roscoe-based business: Human Impact Group, Inc. She made the decision to spend her Second Half “celebrating human uniqueness…by helping clients discover who they are and how they will best impact their world.”

Here’s a great resource for almost anyone—Anne sends a free newsletter that arrives on your computer, designed to assist you in meeting your personal goals and changing your life for the better. If you like what you read, you might want to set up a complimentary consultation with the coach. What have you got to lose?

Anne suggests a two-step evaluation process:

First, write down how you spend your time: “Be honest with yourself. Take a good look at what you do, and what others would see you do.”

Second, write down the things you value most in life: “What are your priorities? What is most important to you in each of the following areas?” Her list includes:


Health & Well-Being


Friends & Family


Home Environment

Fun & Recreation

Personal Growth/Spirituality

Then, she asks, “What do you notice about how you are spending your time vs. your stated priorities?”

Well, I noticed I have been focusing more on career and finances than the other areas in my life. Who hasn’t? Fear of a dismal economic future is enough to put anyone’s thinking out of whack.

Then, I noticed something else: I have and use a planner every day, but rarely schedule in recreational time. I put anything work-related on the calendar, to be certain I don’t miss any job or volunteer commitments. Fun stuff is scheduled around that stuff.

I never say to myself, “Oh, Thursday I have work scheduled in the morning and a meeting in the afternoon, so I need to schedule my 30 minutes of exercise and some meditation time.” RIGHT!

I was surprised to learn Coach Anne is suggesting just that: “The initial step to getting back on track is to put yourself first,” she says. “Make yourself your first priority.”

Some of her suggestions are:

1. Put an emphasis on the basics: eat right, exercise your body to benefit your mind, exercise your brain.

2. Schedule down time every day, to allow for relaxation and creative thought.

3. Rest one day each week—the Man Upstairs gave us a seventh day for a reason!

4. Plan for FUN—put it in your PDA, on your calendar, or in your planner.

“Recognize that you have the power to choose your attitude and behavior in regards to time, and that you are accountable for the choices that you make,” Anne says. “Take one small step in an effort to create more time in your life!”

I committed to taking that “one small step” Anne is talking about. Hubby is helping—he bought me a kitchen timer for my desk and insists I use it: “Set it for 20 minutes; get up and take a break when the timer goes off.”

“Nobody can stop after 20 minutes!” my workaholic mind rebelled. But I do set it for 30 or 40 minutes, and take a 5-10 minute break, even if it is to check the roast or toss in some laundry. The newest development is: sometimes I keep typing when the timer goes off without even registering the sound!

“The human mind can block out all kinds of stimuli,” Hubby scolds. “You have to be willing to accept this new schedule.”

Willing? I really do want more free time, more exercise, more fun in my life.

“Since our conversation about our hectic schedules,” I told my friend Pat, “I’m writing a column about having more time for the good things in my life.”

Pat laughed, “Isn’t that kind of self-defeating?”

She’s right…so now I commit to scheduling regular breaks during my day, blocks of time for recreation and personal development, social time for my neglected dear friends, and I’m arranging for a day off each week.

Oh, crap, now I’m late for a meeting!

To subscribe to Anne Elizabeth Helle’s free monthly newsletter or find out what a life coach can do for you, log on to or call her at (815) 988-7880.

From the October 14-20, 2009 issue

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