Timekeeping as a lifesaver

How discipline, timekeeping and routine kept me safe, sane and effective.

There I was.

Brand new mum.

Sort of happy, but also very surprised.

I had a little baby in my arms and my head knew he was mine, as he fought himself out of my body – I was still very aware of the process of giving birth (aaaawwwwww) – but my heart couldn’t get round it.

This was my son?

We spend lots of time together hanging out.

Hanging as in me hanging in bed or a chair or a sofa and James, hanging on the tit.

He loved it. I loved it.

Thought it was extremely cosy and convenient that he just drank whenever he wanted and for the rest we were getting used to each other.

One week later I was in agony. Cracked nipples. Not very nice.

When the health visitor came to check me out she gave me strict instructions. ‘You can’t allow him to hang on you for hours. 20 minutes each side and then a break for 3 hours.’ Ah, a strict regime and limited access to the source of joy for James. To save me.

The way we dealt with that was by setting a timer. It meant that I didn’t need to keep an eye on the time during feeding time as the timer did that for me, and I could just be fully in the moment.

Since then I have used a timer for everything.

Of course, wake-up call.

But also, for my domestic duties. All those jobs I defo not enjoy. I set a timer for 10 minutes, clean like a looney and when the beep goes, I let it all drop. And later in the day, I will do another 10 minutes slot.

If I face a big task that I am not looking forward to, I get myself a coffee, sit down, open the laptop and make a start. I have nearly finished my book on Narcissism and the beeps did take me through that. The creative process is easy for me, but the editing, reading back, check references and all the stuff that I find boring, has been done thanks to the magic of the beep. I could do it for 10 minutes and knowing it would be only 10, I made the most of it.

I set the timer for when I have to leave, in order to be in time. I calculate in that I usually have to go back into the house to pick up whatever I have forgotten and some traffic.

I agree with myself how much time I am allowed to spend (on Facebook, reading, writing, chatting) and when the beep goes, time is up.

My friends are used to me setting the timer when we are out for a coffee or wine, all my family members – including Mollie – know the power of the beep and it makes me more organized and in control.

Tips on timekeeping to control your day and activities:

  1. Make a start with big daunting tasks for just 10 minutes.
  2. Jobs you hate, only do them for 10 minutes at the time. It will keep you sane and happy and the jobs will still, more or less, get done.
  3. Decide on each activity, be it work or social, how long you are prepared to spend on it and listen to your timer.
  4. Never plan tightly. It doesn’t make sense to plan your loo breaks, but you will need them…. If someone starts an important conversation, you don’t want to stop them before it really starts off, but it will take some time. Even if you agree to talk further at another time…. It’s nice and necessary to have a breather, a reset or energizing time…
  5. Be disciplined. Once you have instructed your timer, it’s you who needs to obey.

This process is helping me on a daily basis. Isn’t it amazing how it all started off with sore nipples?

Timers and discipline. It sounds horrible and it is fantastic how it frees your mind and helps to achieve more.

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