Building new habits

That’s what we do in the new year, right? We start fresh with a new calendar. We try to make this year “count” in some way that previous years haven’t.

I’ve always tried to give some of my time to volunteer pursuits, mainly by taking positions on various non-profit boards. And, thinking back, I’ve always taken the same kinds of roles — the ones that help with publicity or communication. These days, that tends to involve social media.

But since I’m mostly retired, I’m up to six groups. I counted the other day. (Stop me before I volunteer again!) Their demands vary, and one only needs attention from now until the end of April. But it needs a lot of attention.

Another needs a record of the hours its volunteers serve. In order to be eligible to vote at the annual meeting, volunteers must have provided at least 10 hours of service during the previous year. And the organization needs records of that service, not just to keep track of its voting members, but also to include in grant applications.

So, my new habit involves a timesheet — my new habit. I made a spreadsheet to help me keep track of the hours I’m spending for each group. I didn’t make it until Jan. 8, so I missed whatever I put in on the first week. That’s ok, because I didn’t do anything for the group that wants records until the day I started it. (And I need to give them a bit of time today.).

Since it’s all on the honor system, I’m rounding to the nearest quarter hour for all the groups. I hear that works for lawyers.

And I’ve been diligent since that first day.

I added it up yesterday and I’ve put in 51.75 hours of volunteer service to five of my six groups in the past two weeks. (The other one won’t meet until next week.)

But I also added a column for writing and revising. So I also learned that, until yesterday, I’d only put in 3 hours towards my novel. That’s no way to get revisions done.

I doubled the time yesterday. I focused on my revisions and spent 6 hours on them. That has to improve.

So, my new habit — my timekeeping — is already teaching me things about the balance in my life. And led me to my next goal, which is to make sure I get some writing and revising time in at least five days a week.

Wish me luck.

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