Babci on Time Management

by Sandy L on February 21, 2011

Today I’m going to attempt to understand a bit of advice that Babci dispenses over and over again.  This particular advice is something that I find a hard time listening to.   You see, I very much take after Babci with regards to my schedule.  I run myself ragged and never seem to have a moment to myself.  The only moments where I seem to have any down time is when I’ve completely gone too far and get myself sick.  In college, I would always seem to get sick right after my last final was over. It was as if my body was saying “Okay girly girl..I let you abuse me for long enough.  Now it’s my turn to relax and if you don’t let me, I’m going to get sick to force you to stay put.”

As I’ve been talking to Babci over the phone, I’ve been updating her on the progress of her bathroom remodel.  Due to our schedules and how screwed up the plumbing had been, it’s been extremely slow going. Plus, the plumbing was running along the outside of 2 adjacent rooms, so those had to be done too.  The gutting took place on Thanksgiving weekend, and we’re just now to the point where the floor tile is down and the sheetrock is hung. We still need to tape and paint it and finish installing the toilet and sink. We have another 3 weeks before Babci is back home and I hope that it can be functional by then, plus there is still a hall and bedroom to sheetrock after that.  At any rate, whenever I tell her about my plans for the coming weekend, the first thing out of her mouth is “Stop Killing Yourself with so Much Work”, quickly followed by “Take your Time, there is no rush.” Now, my mom’s hallway has been gutted for over 2 years. I hardly feel like I’m rushing things.

Also, when my mom was my age, she was working all kinds of overtime, plus kept a garden and sewed her own clothing. She kept the exact same schedule as I did for decades and I’m now following in her footsteps.  I mean it sure beats being lazy but here she is telling me over and over again to work less and up until now I’ve ignored this advice.  What does it all mean?

Work will Always Be There

I believe that one of the things Babci has learned over the years is that no matter how hard you work at getting ahead, there will always be more work right behind it.   A house is never “done”. Even if it’s been remodeled, it still needs periodic maintenance. In the 10 years we’ve had our home it’s been remodeled from top to bottom, but I can still list off 5 things off the top of my head that need attention this year.

I think part of what she’s trying to tell me is that whether you work at a backbreaking pace or a slower one, you will never be “finished” with trying to maintain and improve your living conditions.

Take Time to Enjoy Yourself

Babci often talks about never being able to go anywhere and do anything when she was younger.  Even as cheap as she was, she always supported my decisions to vacation and travel.  She wanted me to be able to see the world and enjoy life.  If you’re working all the time, you miss out on a lot.

Do Deadlines Really Matter?

Again, over a lifetime, when I’m almost 80, will I look back and say, wow..I wish I would have remodeled my mom’s house in 5 years instead of 10.  Probably not.  I may wish I spent more time with family but not necessarily more time working on stuff.

Conflicted

I’ll admit. I’m a little obsessed with efficiency and forward progress.  I also think my mom didn’t tell herself to take it easy when she saved for her house and then fixed it up.  If she took it easy, she may have never become a homeowner/landlady and she would have been much worse off financially.

Maybe she just sees that I’m finally at the point where I have “enough.” Maybe she wants me to take my foot off the accelerator pedal so that life doesn’t pass me by too quickly.

As with anything, there is a balance.  I feel like it’s good for the soul to be hard working and independent. I also don’t want to leave my future self hanging with no safety net.  However, I think it’s time to heed some of Babci’s advice and learn to slow down a little so I can enjoy the present more.   What do you think?  Why do you think she’s dispensing this particular advice constantly?

{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

101 Centavos February 21, 2011 at 7:15 AM

Babci’s right, of course. In a month, or a year, or five or ten years, none of today’s pressing concerns and emergencies will matter much.

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Sandy L February 21, 2011 at 5:06 PM

101-yes, I have to remind myself of that at times.

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Nicole February 21, 2011 at 8:05 AM

My dad’s a bit like that too.

He’s also been complaining recently that now that he has a lot of money (through scrimping, saving, and investing), he doesn’t actually know how to spend it. He’s traveling constantly (always staying in youth hostels! where he paid for a lifetime membership decades ago!) and is starting to sponsor prizes for customer service in his local community (10K for a librarian who has given outstanding customer service, that sort of thing).

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Sandy L February 21, 2011 at 5:07 PM

Nicole – your dad sounds like my kind of guy. I wonder if he could do it again knowing what he knows now if he’d save less.

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Molly On Money February 21, 2011 at 8:48 AM

It’s probably hard for her to watch you run yourself ragged. It sound like she’s being a bit protective of her only daughter. As a parents it’s difficult not to do.

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Sandy L February 21, 2011 at 5:08 PM

Molly – that’s a good point. Parents sacrifice for their kids, but they don’t like seeing it the other way around, I guess.

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Deidre February 21, 2011 at 9:12 AM

Babci’s advice is invaluable and she is correct…work will always be there. I guess it just depends on what you consider work? Take the remodeling for example. Do you love the remodeling projects and enjoy seeing that progress? If so, then you are not only working at them … it is a source of satisfaction, progress and love. When we do what we love it no longer is all about ‘getting the job done’ and moving on.
I think what Babci is trying to convey is …. Do what you Love – don’t just work at something. And mix in other things that you love too!

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Sandy L February 21, 2011 at 5:10 PM

Deidre – I do actually enjoy remodeling and the evolution of before vs after. I’ll admit though that I love starting projects much more than finishing them. Nice message.

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MoneyCone February 21, 2011 at 12:06 PM

Balance is the key! I’m a little obsessed with efficiency myself and sure I like to spend all my time with my family, but then problems won’t get fixed by itself! :)

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Sandy L February 21, 2011 at 5:11 PM

MoneyCone – True..someone has to do the housework and maintenance.

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Linda February 21, 2011 at 12:59 PM

In a conversation I had last night I was just saying “The work will always be there.” In that conversation it was in reference to my job and how I had done just enough yesterday (working on Sunday! my goodness!) to set things up for a productive Monday morning. But there is always something to do in life.
— In your job/career, if you don’t have a constantly shifting To Do list, then you’re likely unemployed or soon to be unemployed.
— In your home there is always some improvement you feel you can make. It may be as simple as rearranging furniture, but it’s still something that needs doing. If you’re a homeowner, though, there are undending maintenance and improvement tasks. And unless you hire someone to do everything for you, there is always cleaning/cooking/yard work/tidying to do.
— In your personal life, there’s always some new skill to learn, relationship to work at, or personal improvement/enrichment to make.

I also try to cram too much into my life all the time. It’s a constant struggle, so I know how you feel. I try to enforce rests occasionally and allow for the occasional day where I can just sit in my PJs and read or knit.

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Sandy L February 21, 2011 at 5:12 PM

Linda – well said. My husband figured this out long before I did. He tends to have a more balanced approach to work/play than I do.

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Sandy @ yesiamcheap February 22, 2011 at 2:14 PM

Sounds like Babci has the wisdom of age. My grandmother would say the same things and she had 14 children! I think they realize what the important things are in life and want to help us get to the same realization as early as possible.

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Sandy L February 24, 2011 at 5:32 PM

Sandy – is it ironic that the oldest people with the least amount of time left are the ones who tell us to slow down? I guess we’re missing out on the important stuff when we rush around too much.

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retirebyforty February 22, 2011 at 4:00 PM

There will always be more work.
At the corporate job, people put off vacation, work over weekend, and such.
I don’t do that anymore. There will always be more work to do. Go ahead and take your vacation, when you come back everything will still be the same. It’s tough to take some time off when you think you’re so essential to the company. Anyway, the young bucks can do that. I’m more efficient now and can do my job in less time. ;)

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Sandy L February 24, 2011 at 6:05 PM

Rb40 – my first manager told me this advice “never cancel a personal vacation on account of work” The work will still be there when you get back.

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Jacq @ Single Mom Rich Mom February 22, 2011 at 8:20 PM

Sandy, I found the same thing when I was – or wasn’t working. It took me a looong time to settle down and take things slower when I wasn’t working earlier this year. I don’t want to be Type A anymore though – maybe type B+, but much more relaxed than I used to be. I have to literally stop myself from the urge to overachieve. Babci has it right.

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Sandy L February 24, 2011 at 6:08 PM

Jacq – I do think people tend to mellow with age. It’s just not possible to burn the candle at both ends for your entire life.

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Everyday Tips February 22, 2011 at 10:49 PM

I think Babci has learned from her own life and is trying to share her wisdom with you. Just as we don’t want our children to repeat the same mistakes we made, she is probably trying to do the same thing with you.

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Sandy L February 24, 2011 at 6:12 PM

Everyday Tips – Yup, I’m trying to understand the wisdom instead of ignoring it. I think the compromise is to try to slow down on the weekends. It’s hard not to rush around during the week.

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Squirrelers February 23, 2011 at 1:33 AM

It’s a balance with listening to respected elders – sometimes the advice is great, other times they don’t want you to get stressed or too worked up. Of course, it’s the hard work that ends up getting much of the important, value added things done.

Overall though, I tend to think that she’s probably giving you really good advice based on her own experience. Life is relatively short, and we should enjoy it every day.

I tend to be like you in trying to get tons done, until I wear myself out and get sick. Though there’s no body saying “Okay girly, girl….” :) With me it’s more like “Ok Buddy, listen up here!”. So, as I get older, I realize I should take it easy more and not get over extended. Time is becoming more precious, every month that goes by.

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Sandy L February 24, 2011 at 6:19 PM

Squirreler – Yeah, I think it does have something to do with age. It’s hard to relax when you’re trying to save for a house, pay off debt, or get your career off the ground. Once you’re on solid footing, it’s then that you start seeing the value of time and enjoying what’s left of it.

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Lindy Mint February 23, 2011 at 11:38 AM

I can understand your conflict with heeding this advice. When my first son was only 1 years old, I was trying to become more financially literate. I was taking finance classes at the community college, reading books, trying to find ways to make and save more money. My mom was constantly telling me to stop worrying about it, to enjoy my baby because he was going to grow up so fast. But I knew that if I didn’t do these things, I wouldn’t get to where I wanted to be. So yeah, it’s a hard thing to balance.

I don’t think there is anything wrong with working hard now, and resting later in life. But there is also much to be said for knowing your limits and taking a break now and then to enjoy your family.

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Sandy L February 24, 2011 at 6:21 PM

Lindy – Thanks for your advice. I think getting ahead is important if it’s done with a purpose. You sacrificed time so that you can be a better and more responsible mom for your son. It was the right thing to do for your collective future. Well, when all else fails, you can always schedule in fun and quality time.

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