Shortcuts to Sparking - Making Time!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

I really enjoy being a part of Spark. As with other Spark Friends, I have learned SO much about many of the facets of learning how to live a healthier life style. Just as important, I have met and friended many wonderful people from all over the country as well as in other countries. I had always hoped to travel extensively and am now realizing that just might not be in the cards; however, my sadness about not getting to travel whenever and wherever I want has been relieved greatly by corresponding with all you who are my Spark Friends.

I have come so far since I joined in October 2009. I have listed or mentioned the improvements in my physical/mental/intellectual/ spiritual in previous blogs and in comments on other Spark Members Spark Pages or Personal Blogs, so I will not list them here again. That is not the purpose of this blog.

As all of you frequently state, "I just feel I can't thank everyone enough for the energy and support sent one's way when one is feeling down." I often feel the same way. How can I repay or return that same energy and support? Well, maybe, there is one way.

All of us are in the same situation of finding enough time in each day to address all the needs and wants in daily living which includes living a healthier life style. Why are we involved with Spark if not for living a healthier life style. That can mean so many different things to so many different people. Regardless of the differences. ("Long live differences!") None of us have MORE time than the other person and we all are challenged to organize our planned tasks (work, play, relaxation, family, friends, exercise, reading, etc) in a manner we can feel comfortable with at the end of each day. Particularly "sparking". If one is not careful, it can really take up more time than allotted for, we then start to no longer feel enjoyment in sparking; but, "Oh, oh, I haven't done this, or I haven't done that, I didn't make a nutritious meal for my family or myself, oh no, I didn't exercise." It goes on and on.

These are some of the time saving skills I try when I am sparking.

Basic management:
1) Just like exercise, I break it down into smaller segments. (Sometimes I go over my time limit - I am working on that)
2) Just like time allotted for meals, I allot time for sparking
3) Family, work, friends, exercise comes first. Hey, we are talking about real life here. I enjoy, appreciate and admire all my Spark Friends, but daily living is what we ALL have to do.

Handling Time on Web Site
1) Email notifications - I can't read it everyday, but I do save Spark educational information because it is what is made available for educational/informational reading.
2) Notifications of activity feed - I make sure I look at my own ACTIVITY FEED - I can see right there if a someone has said she/he liked something and if there is a comment.
3) Friend Feed - I look at that to get a general idea of what is happening. I USED to try to respond to EVERYTHING until I found my Spark Identity. I simply can't do it anymore, the Feed is so long that I only go in about 4 or 5 pages leaving "likes and comments" as I go a long. I just find it impossible. I do figure I will get to leave something for all my friends at least every other day. I would rather do this then do nothing or say I have to drop out - I don't want to do that.
4) I can no longer leave comments on everybody's Spark Page or everybody's Blogs. So I try to touch base on 8-10 friends pages or blogs and rotate throughout the week. Sometimes I touch base with someone who has said, "Ulp, Help, know...." on their status.
5) I create in-box folders for Spark emails and other incoming emails have their categories as well. I eventually delete 'notification' emails and save informational emails.


These are the basic steps I use in order to maintain my partnership with Spark and the Real World around me. Not that you people are not "real", but you can't fire me, or yell at me, or cry, know what I mean. LOL.

I am sure many of you have worked out your own methods of balancing all your life needs and wants, I would love to hear what is working for other people.

I know I simply enjoy my Spark Friends so much. I love to hear what you all have to say, everyone's style of writing,...I think I said how I feel earlier in my blog.

I hope my thoughts get some of you to thinking about how to manage your time. I hate to lose friends because of time management - there is always room for improvement.

Warmest Regards, Rusty

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Great blog, I've had to adapt the Spark habits too. It's all good! I'm only an email away if you need me! And I'll swing by for mass blog reading when I can! It's all about the balance!
    3895 days ago
    Thanks I just came upon this is where I am at times...overwhelmed with the time I spend on here knowing how helpful it is ....streamlining is the answer....moderation eh! (fitting the good stuff like Spark in)

    many thanks! emoticon
    3897 days ago
    great blog. I think we all need to manage our time in the real and virtual worlds. emoticon
    3904 days ago
    You know, this blog contains some excellent advice for new Sparkmembers... to not only help them utilize their time a little better on here, but also to help keep them from getting overwhelmed!

    Thanks for sharing!
    3905 days ago
  • FRANRN76
    I feel you It is so hard to do this at times. I do not want to make anyone feel bad, but this is for ME. I Have to do what is best for me. I do try to check in with all my friends once a week. THen I have a few that I get notifications that they posted a blog. SO I will respond to those. I also try to post on one BLOG from each of my teams. A few times a week I go to the main message boards and post on the PANIC button and the WOOHOO thread. It is my way of giving to others. I want to be supportie of everyont because everyone has been supportie of me, but there just isnt any time left to get to everyone.

    3905 days ago
    I have been sparking for about a year and a half and it is IMPORTANT that you find balance and don't overspark and burn out. I sort of overdid it and it became stressful thinking I needed to do everything! The tools and resources have added so much to my life and helped bring my activity level up to a point where I needed to be for years. Great list you put together and thanks for sharing.
    3906 days ago
    Rusty, you hit the nail on the head there. I make time for Spark but then I realize that I stayed on so long that I did not do something important. Like right now I should be working on a paper but thought I'd log on and that was 21 minutes ago. You made great points and I agree with all of them and hope to incorporate them into my day so that Spark does not become a burden.
    3906 days ago
    It's a tricky thing, keeping our SparkFamily in balance with the rest of our lives...for sure!

    3906 days ago
    I use my kitchen timer and I have lots of "To Do" lists going so I keep up with everything. I promised myself I would do more Sparking in 2010, so I'm here a lot. I have spark windows in the background along with the other things I'm working on and I kind of flick through all day. This is a luxury of time though and won't last forever.

    I also have email rules and folders set up, so that helps. My friend feed only has a few things on it so that I don't have to wade through too much.

    It's all a matter of balance though, and this is my year to get my health together, I hope. I love reading your blogs and comments, so keep doing what you're doing - maybe just less of it!
    3906 days ago
    Oh miss Rusty, your heart is so big you are almost apologizing for not being able to check in on 100's of people everyday! emoticon As we all know you probably would if there was more hours in a day!! Just knowing that you are out there in an emergency is all I need. emoticon
    Good advice as always! emoticon
    3906 days ago
    Good blog. Like you, I tried to check in with all of my SP friends every day, and actually I could do that early on - less friends, plus I started on Winter Break so I had more time. Now I try to touch bases with everyone on a rotating basis, too.

    The is definitely a balance that needs to be found between 'real' life and Spark, which is real life, too, but a different kind. There are so many fantastic people here, some who really need the support, the occasional crisis, and the shared quest for health and happiness. Finding ways to check in with everyone, plus having time for exercise, family, work, etc. requires some creative thinking.

    3906 days ago
    I forgot to mention that I do create an in-box folder for all my Spark email. I also have other categorized in-boxes folders for other subject matter; yes, so the main email page does not become clogged with unrelated emails.

    That is a very good point.

    Also, I eliminate notifications after using them. Only the emails with informational material is saved.

    3907 days ago

    Comment edited on: 3/23/2010 9:46:17 PM
    I set up an in-box folder on Outlook for spark emails and set up a rule to automatically direct all my spark mail to that folder. This clear up my in-box for other emails. Then when I get time to do spark emails they are all together. I wish I could direct you in how to set up a folder and rule on Outlook. I got directions on how to do it at work and was able to transfer this knowledge to my home computer, but I'm not sure quite what I did. You could always ask the nearest 20 year old to do it for you.
    3907 days ago
    Great ideas Rusty. Some days I realize I have sat at the computer too many hours. Sometimes I am so busy with other things I hardly check anything.

    When I go to the states next summer I will probably just get on a computer to delete my e-mails and answer those that have to do with my family and trip. Some of my friends do not have computers so when with them I will not be on at all.

    Jane on Guam

    3907 days ago
    Well said. Thanks for sharing- I know I spend waaaaaaaaaaay too much time on here! Time to revisit my time management skills!

    Thanks for giving a lot of us some things to think about.

    Wendy emoticon
    3907 days ago
  • no profile photo IRISH_AGUIRRE
    Thanks for the tips!
    3907 days ago
  • MUNOZ2806
    I'm new to "Sparking" but it is good to know that I need to set limits. With college and work for me "The Spark site" is a nice chance to get away from it all ... like a mini break. emoticon
    3907 days ago
    Just in time, I need to get some ideas on not spending my whole life on SP, so this timely blog was helpful, now I just have to set my own limits and stick with it. Thanks
    3907 days ago
    Definitely an issue we all deal with. I used to try to respond to all of the message board posts and things like that, but have greatly limited the number of teams I belong to and the number of posts I am able to respond to daily. But I always try to make sure that I am there for my friends, I don't subscribe to everyone's blogs, but I respond to a few and while I have LOTS of Sparkfriends, there are several who are special that I make sure to touch base with regularly.
    3907 days ago
    Very important and "real" blog! I've had to do the same thing, and try to manage time for am & pm sparking! I try to at least comment or send a goodie to most everybody at least every 2 or 3 weeks! I don't want to be so obsessed with Sparkpeople that I cannot exercise or function outside of it!
    3907 days ago
    Thank you for your ideas! I just joined yesterday and I love it but Sparkpeople is already taking up too much time! I need balance!

    Take care!
    3907 days ago
  • KMILLER990
    Thanks for your "basic steps", Rusty. I'm starting to face this issue and appreciate the input.
    3907 days ago
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    Disclaimer: Weight loss results will vary from person to person. No individual result should be seen as a typical result of following the SparkPeople program.