Coffee Talk – Gaining Time + Income

by Sandy L on January 5, 2011

Today’s post is part of a blogging experiment asking people to figure out their plans to either increase time or increase income for 2011 and use 5 actions starting with the letter S to describe their plan of attack. Although I plan on doing a little bit of both (with another attic full of kid stuff to sell), I decided that what I would like most is to feel like I have more time this year.  Last year was very hectic as I started a new sales job in May and my husband and I were both traveling for work often feeling like two passing ships in the night, meeting briefly to hand off the kids and keep on truckin.

My list of 5 things is going to be pretty tactical and specific to my lifestyle, so I don’t know how much wisdom can be had from this list, but I feel good about putting it out there anyway for my own sake.

Schedule Further in Advance

WORK – This is by far my biggest need for improvement with regards to work.  I cover all of NY state but live in MA, so many of my customers are 4, 5 and 6 hours away. Earlier in the year I was just desperate to see as many customers as quickly as possible to get up to speed fast.  This did not lead to the most efficient use of my driving time. A few years back I used a program called Map Point that mapped out all the people I wanted to see so that I could zoom in on an area and see who else is there.  They offer a free 60 day trial that I’ll probably try again.

HOME – I used to be one of those people who had just about every weekend in the summer booked in advance but after kid #2 came along I sort of abandoned my philosophy of scheduling in fun. My kids were very young and sometimes it worked better to just go with the flow vs scheduling every waking moment with activities. I think I’d like to go back to scheduling 1-2 things a month to get more out of the year.

What’s helped me is when I research activities at my favorite local haunts. Then I put them on my calendar so that when I look to see what’s going on this weekend, I have some options already researched.  I know there is a hot air balloon festival the second weekend in  September, but I don’t always remember  it come September and I am upset when I miss it.  I also have annual things I want to do, go to the beach, go sledding or skiing, go to the zoo, etc.  I used to have this rule that we had to use all of our sports gear at least once a year..that meant our scuba gear, biking stuff, climbing stuff, stained glass stuff.  I’ve broken this rule for several years now and we’re slowly adding activities back in one at a time.

Self Reliance for the Children

My kids are now 2 and 5.  I have several goals on this front.

  1. Get my older son to dress himself during school days. He dresses himself on the weekends, but during the week, it’s been more efficient to just dress him while he’s 1/2 asleep instead of debating with him about it.  The first couple of days were ugly, but my anti mama’s boy self knows that the short term annoyance is worth the long term gain in self reliance.
  2. Potty train the 2 year old. I’m using the same approach as with #1.  Big boys get birthday parties when they are 3. No birthday parties for babies in diapers. Oh, and my husband also told him that they don’t let diaper wearing kids have elephant rides at the zoo and he could get an elephant ride once he wasn’t in diapers anymore. You see the zookeeper doesn’t want the elephants pooped on so only big boys can ride them. Maybe this breaks some parenting rule book but it worked like a charm.  I tried about 100 other things too but this approach was the winner, plus by the time they’re 3 most kids are beyond ready.
  3. Resist the urge to pick up their toys for them..make them do it 100% of the time.

Stocking Up

I hate shopping of any kind, but grocery shopping is a weekly requirement that sucks up hours every weekend.  I also take Babci and it’s an excursion she looks forward to every week, so I’ve built it into my weekend as a multi hour event.  I usually take my kids too so that my husband has some time to do his stuff. At times, it’s like herding cats.

Most of you don’t know this yet, but Babci is going to Poland for 2 months starting next week, so I can use that time to slash my weekend shopping trips.  My approach until now has been to only stockpile enough food and paper products to last me until the next sale.  I’ve gotten pretty good at it, but now I’m thinking I should stock up on 6 months worth of certain things so that I can limit my trips to Walmart.  Plus, every shopping trip is an opportunity to spend money, so I should also theoretically save some money in the process.

Smart Multi-tasking

I’ve gotten away from reading books and I miss it. I also have stopped working out to the point that I’m having back problems again.  I have a bike in the basement and I can spin on it while reading. I used to do this all the time and I’m getting back into it now. I realize this isn’t the best approach if I want to do interval training but my goal is to first start sweating on a regular basis and I’ll optimize it once I get into a routine.

Another example is to do my phone call errands when I’m driving and try to do more customer calls in the car.  (I drive thousands of miles a month usually).  It’s a little difficult because my dropped call rate and dead zones is horrific with AT+T in my area but I still think there is room for improvement.

Set Aside Time for Specific Activities

Ever since I started blogging, it’s provided a well needed escape and source for inspiration, but unless I can make a business out of it, I need to cut down on my surfing time.  I remember in college when I discovered the internet back in the 90’s. I had to quit cold turkey or I would have flunked out of school. I think cold turkey is not the answer but I need to spend more time unplugged. I’ve caught myself where the whole family was either watching TV or on one of the computers and not interacting at all.  I really don’t want to be that family.  Ideally I want  to keep my computer time to super early in the morning but that’s also when I like to ride my bike..oh this is going to be a hard one.

The other thing I used to do that I need to do again is splitting up the weekend. One day always used to be dedicated to fun, and the other to projects/errands.  Some weekends have been all errands lately but the reverse is also horrible when you start the week with an empty fridge and mountain of laundry.

Lastly, vacations are still a priority and my favorite way to spend time as a family. They also tend to be some of the things adults remember fondly of their childhood.  I have to start thinking about where we want to go. We are all going down to Florida in Feb but most of that time will be spent with me in meetings and I’ll only have 1.5 days with my kids. They’ll at least have time with their grandmother and dad.  I want to do something in May..suggestions anyone?

Wow..I do have a lot to work on. I guess the head in the sand approach hasn’t been working too well for me.  I’m looking forward to reading everyone else’s articles this week.

Here are the Other Coffee Talk Articles from Around the Web:

(be sure to check back at the end of the day as I’ll update this list as more  posts go up throughout the day)

Invest It Wisely – New Year’s Blogging Resolutions

Molly on Money – Working 25 Hours a Week is Wonderfully Wicked

Budgeting in the Fun Stuff – New Year’s Resolutions brought to you by the letter S

Everyday Tips and Thoughts – New Year’s Resolutions the 5 S’s

Single Mom Rich Mom – The 5 S Resolutions

101 Centavos has The 5 S’s for the Spring Vegetable Garden (Babci would be proud)

365 Days on a Budget  has Day 185 New Year’s Resolution Redux

{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Molly On Money January 5, 2011 at 8:23 AM

Great post! I was still helping my kid get dressed when she was 6. She’s not a morning person so when she came up with the idea to dress herself the night before (thus sleeping in her school clothes) I jumped right on it. I know it was a bit unorthodox but I thought the kid was a genius!

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Sandy L January 5, 2011 at 4:59 PM

Molly – you are so funny. I don’t think I’ll resort to that measure but we may have a few rough mornings in the coming weeks.

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Laura@move to portugal January 5, 2011 at 9:42 AM

All sound like great ideas. I’m trying to really cut down my time spent grocery shopping. At the moment I’m shopping around to take advantage of any bargains, however I want to only do a once a month supermarket visit and then shop locally in our village for fresh food. I tried it before and failed!

Re work travel: My husbands company cut the workforce and increased his overall area but I’m sure it’s counter productive, as all he seems to do is spend most of the day driving!

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Sandy L January 5, 2011 at 5:01 PM

Laura – same on the job cuts. My geography is not ideal and it used to be covered by 3 people and it is now being covered by 2. I would love to spend less than an hour a week grocery shopping. That would be nirvana for me.

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Everyday Tips January 5, 2011 at 9:51 AM

Great goals Sandy! I really think they are nice and attainable too.

I am a stocker-upper too. I stock up only until the next sale, but I don’t really do special trips to WalMart as Meijer usually has sales I can take advantage of on most products every 4-6 weeks.

Traveling in May…what about heading down to the Carolinas? I love the Outer Banks, although I am not sure if it is warm enough in May to go in the ocean.

Regarding potty training, we had a sticker chart. Everyone time our kids used the bathroom, they got a sticker on the chart. When they accumulated enough stickers, they got a new book (or whatever the hobby was they were in to at that time). Some kids really are not mentally ready at 2, we would have failed miserably with that with one of our kids.

Happy New Year, and thanks for organizing!!

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Sandy L January 5, 2011 at 5:05 PM

Everyday Tips – I always thought the Carolinas would be the perfect place to retire. You still have 4 seasons but much milder. You’re close to oceans and mountains and housing is cheap. I think I’m leaning towards something near an ocean so the boys can fish.

We tried stickers, and M+M’s and high 5’s. They worked at the beginning until my kid realized it was much easier to keep playing and pee their pants vs going to the bathroom. We were doing well at first until the novelty wore off. The other thing is I needed a stretch where my son was home with me for a week as the daycare lady wasn’t really pushing the potty training. So we ditched the diapers the week before his birthday and it worked. You know, I may try your approach with #2. After all, each kid is different.

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Squirrelers January 5, 2011 at 12:10 PM

Good list of “S” resolutions, Sandy. All resonate with me, especially the self-reliance part. My 7-year old is a wonderful girl, and I’m very lucky, but I need to do a better job of getting her to immediately clean up toys. We tend to clean for her. After Christmas, seeing stuff strewn all over, I figure it’s something I can influence. As for multi-tasking, it’s said that men aren’t as good as women at doing this (I agree, being male), but I want to try to be able to pick my spots to do it more efficiently.

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Sandy L January 5, 2011 at 5:06 PM

Squirreler – Yeah, it’s just so much faster to shove everything in the toybox isn’t it? But I have to show a little more patience and nag a little more.

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The Lost Goat January 5, 2011 at 12:54 PM

Sounds like you have your year covered.

I hope Babci has fun in Poland.

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Sandy L January 5, 2011 at 5:07 PM

I’m sure she will. She has an identical twin that she hasn’t seen in a few years and they are very close. I’m sure she’ll miss my kids but it’ll be good for her to spend time with her sister.

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Invest It Wisely January 5, 2011 at 4:56 PM

It’s great that you’re teaching your kids self-reliance. I think it’s very important to show your kids love without spoiling them — there’s a balance between helping them and hurting them. I don’t have kids, but when I do, I’m going to think “does this help them or hurt them in the long run?”.

I like all of your categories, and they are all things I would aspire toward as well. As far as back problems go, the plank is a good exercise to build up back strength, and sometimes a reverse arch can help — you lie on your back, then put your palms on each side of your head with your elbows sticking up, put your feet flat on the ground, then lift up your butt and arch your back like an inverted cat. Support yourself with your palms and feet and hold for 20-30 seconds. A few of these will work wonders for your back, though I recommend doing the planks first if you’re not up to the inverted arched cat.

You’ll look a little bit like this though not arched to that extreme: http://kiransawhney.files.wordpress.com/2008/08/dsc_00031.jpg

When I had back pains from lifting boxes all day, these worked wonders for me.

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Sandy L January 5, 2011 at 5:14 PM

Invest It – Thanks for the tips. I started seeing my PT again this week. I hate plank, but it’s definitely one of the exercises she suggests. It’s my lower abs that need strengthening. My upper ones have taken over and it’s causing problems..it’s a childbirth thing. A little known fact about me. I’m actually double jointed and I used to be able to do the arch to the point where I could stick my head in between my legs like those contortionists on cirque de soliel. It was one of my many stupid party tricks. My backbends always impressed the yoga people but it was all genetic. Sadly, I have a ways to go before I can do that again.

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101 Centavos January 5, 2011 at 7:08 PM

All good plans, Sandy. Self-reliance is also something we’ve tried hard to pass on our boys, starting with chores when they were very young. Stocking up also makes good sense. We keep a deep pantry, and many times we’ve saved ourselves a trip to the store by keeping extra items on hand. Considering how groceries are increasing in cost, it might also be an alternative short term investment.

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Roshawn @ Watson Inc January 5, 2011 at 8:10 PM

Great list of S-centered resolutions. I think the smart multi-tasking one is a big one for me as well. I have been trying to stop multi-tasking; however, there are definitely instances where I can optimize my time better and should. I’ll have to think about ways to apply this one further. Thanks for sharing.

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Jacq @ Single Mom Rich Mom January 5, 2011 at 9:58 PM

Great resolutions! I found that when my oldest was little and I wanted to schedule activities, I could find plenty to do with the combination of the annual entertainment book (more for winter) and there used to be a listing of events in the area put out by my province and another in the front of the phone book.
My apologies for not linking up to everyone earlier, so much stuff is blocked at my workplace so had to wait until I got home to get ‘er done.

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LifeAndMyFinances January 6, 2011 at 6:32 AM

“Schedule Further in Advance” – a lot of time is actually freed up by scheduling events in your day. I did not make this a resolution, but after reading your post, I will definitely make a point to structure my day with more thought and less random action. 🙂

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Crystal January 6, 2011 at 11:22 AM

This was fun! Great goals Sandy! I love the idea of setting aside specific time for activities. I’ll need to do that a lot this year just to tear myself away from the computer…

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Little House January 6, 2011 at 1:26 PM

You have a lot of goals this year. Not being a mother, myself, I’m always amazed at how much more work there is to do when there are kids involved and am so impressed by what you’re already doing!

As for minimizing the online time, I hear ya! My husband has been pointing out that I’m spending WAY too much time online. I’ve heard that some bloggers are really efficient by scheduling two 20-minute uninterrupted blocks each day. That’s how they are able to keep posting and commenting on sites. I don’t know if you have time for 2 blocks, but maybe see how one 20-minute block goes and then go from there.

Good luck!

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