Tick tock, tick tock

Our priceless tree logo bears many fruits. Spare yourself a second or three to study it. Drawn by our then 11-year-old niece Rosa and our 6-year-old daughter Ella it holds all things precious not least the colours of life, diversity and optimism.

It represents not only our business but reminds us also of the greater ethos and fulfilments of this Mother’s Garden life – family, farm, food, olive oil, writing and sharing Mother’s Garden with people from around the world. The complexity of it holds the eye long enough to measure time – and time and using it wisely are what really matter.

But there lies the challenge which constantly tests us all.

Balancing business and personal life in the micro world of financial self-sufficiency is seriously tough, isn’t it? What with the 24/7 positives of bright ideas and cashflow anxieties, finding a way to step away needs structure and self-discipline, neither of which come easy when a pre-planned workday turns into the Monty Python 100 metres for people with no sense of direction. (Don’t know what I mean? Click here.) You know, your mind is ordered and then, as the Americans say, telephone calls and emails requiring complex solutions come at you from left field. Before you know it the day has evaporated.

Three disciplines help me cope.

I have the universal running list of tasks in my diary, with underlines for imperatives: Standard procedure. What isn’t achieved is carried over to the next day with simple tasks at the top.
I start as early as I can and resist checking email and phone messages until I have clicked off some essential tasks, the result being a feel-good buoyancy that sees me through the rest of the day and all the left-field surprises. Hardly rocket science.

And I am learning to say no, because I seriously need to. That’s the novel bit. Tricky too. Having always seen value in the positive I long ago developed the bad life habit of saying yes to what in principle might be a good idea before thinking things through. Out of control optimism, I call it, where blind faith in one’s capabilities swamps one’s capabilities.

I must remind myself constantly that there is no point in stretching the day because I will make mistakes and my efficiency will nosedive. Example; I know that when writing a complex novel or major magazine article that I need to take a break after 3 hours because I unwittingly lose the plot and begin to scribble drivel. By pushing too hard I waste time and invariably have to rework the last pages. I am wasting my time, basically. It is a lesson for all tasks.

So I try more and more to say no to “opportunities” which distract me from the fundamental, agreed business goals. This is the hardest goal of all, but I am determined to crack it, for it will bear the great fruit of time well spent, time for effective work and more time for family that will be as precious as our tree logo.

Does that challenge chime with you? Any tips?
“For every minute spent in organising, an hour is earned.”

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