Review Feature

Learning to be clock-wise

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If days were 36 hours long and there were 9 or 10 of them in every week, maybe we could get through our "things-to-do" lists and still have time for little personal pleasures like, oh, sitting down.

The grim reality, however, is that if the day-expansion concept were universally adopted, the clock and calendar industries would have to spend gerzillions redesigning their products ... the cost would be passed on to us ... we'd all have to take on second jobs just to afford knowing the correct time and date ... and we'd get less done than ever before.

There is only one workable solution to this dilemma, and that is to take control of the time at hand; to grab every minute by the throat, wrestle it to the ground, and beat it into submission.

Your first step toward seizing the day is to think about what you spend time doing and pinpoint how much of it is wasted. OK, finished? Well, hurry up! You're not gonna get anything done if you stand around thinking all day!

Here. Let me do it for you ...

GETTING STARTED

For tasks which require only occasional attention, such as paying bills, create an office for yourself. Set up a desk, establish a simple filing system, hire a full-time secretary, and exercise your executive privilege to take four-hour lunch breaks and fire anyone who annoys you.

A parent's biggest time killer, I have noted, is over-commitment. Therefore, it is imperative that you learn to say "no" quickly, easily and guiltlessly. If you just can't get the knack of it, ask your children anything. They'll be happy to show you how it's done.

HOUSEKEEPING

1. Remember: Tidiness is more important than spotlessness ... and a whole lot less important than preventing the kind of stress which pummels your brain into a gelatinous gray-green goo which can leak out of your ears and stain your clothing. So lower your housekeeping standards.

2. Lower your standards some more.

3. Oh, all right. eliminate your standards.

MEALS

1. When preparing meals, always make double portions, freeze the lot of it, and treat the family to a fine dining experience at your favorite restaurant. Not only will you cut down on shopping and dishwashing time, you'll see a drastic reduction in inter-family lawsuits resulting from food poisoning.

2. Parents can save time by asking their children the night before what they'll want for the next day's breakfast and then preparing something completely different, knowing that the tykes will surely change their minds six or seven times by morning, and three or four times during breakfast.

3. Never offer youngsters open-ended choices such as, "What do you want to eat?" It could take the little guys weeks to make up their minds. Instead, give them specific options like, "Take your pick: Sugar Honey Frosted Cocoa-Donut Flakes ... or Steamed Broccoli Surprise?"

4. Make and pack the kids' lunches early ideally, before the school year begins, while they're away at summer camp and well out of your hair.

GENERAL

1. Don't waste countless hours separating and sorting laundry. Have each of your housemates select one favorite color and clothing size (i.e. magenta, double-extra-large, stock up on their choice, and dress them accordingly every day.

2. Since it is almost impossible for new parents to keep an eye on their beloved infant while showering or taking a bath, their safest course of action is to eliminate all attempts to maintain any level of personal hygiene. This will put a welcome end to nervousness about leaving baby unattended while you're in the bathroom plus, as an extra-added bonus, fewer unannounced visitors will interrupt your day. Heck, after a couple of weeks, fewer immediate family members will interrupt your day.

3. In extreme situations, working parents can buy a little extra time by calling in sick. In desperate situations, have a friend or family member call your employer to report your tragic and untimely demise. As soon as your life is back in order, race into your place of employment hollering, "Call Larry King! Call Barbara Walters! Call Shirley MacLaine! It's a miracle! I've been reincarnated as myself!"

4. No matter how well you organize your time, don't forget that even the best-laid plans can go awry so always have a backup plan. And depending on how strictly you've been following these handy suggestions, having a backup job and a backup family wouldn't hurt, either.

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