The art of time management


This morning, The Wife gave me a hug and kiss as she always does before leaving for work. I watched her walk to the car, and then she turned back around, smiled, waved goodbye and said, “If you have the time, could you put away the dishes? Don’t get too busy and all wrapped up in one of your projects, or they’ll still be there when I get back. I love you, but we really need to work on time management.”

Of course, I knew by “we,” she meant me. I still waved and smiled, then went in to unload the dishwasher. The Wife would be back in about 10 hours. Unloading the dishwasher would only take about five minutes, an easy task. Even for someone who suffers from chronic ATM disorder.

I’ve been suffering from adult time management disorder as long as … well … I’ve been an adult. Reaching for the dishwasher door, I heard my cell phone ringing somewhere far off in the distance. Before I could get to where it was, it stopped. That started an hour-long search which finally ended only when Best Friend Mitch called again. The cell phone was under a stack of pillows. Why, I don’t know. My theory is one of the cats dragged it there.

I opened the door of the dishwasher and started to unload the dishes. Mitch first said he had called earlier and when I didn’t answer, he figured I’d lost my cell phone again. Then he complained about all the noise so I had to stop the unloading. He was having a crisis over at his house, and he desperately needed my help.

With only having to unload the dishwasher on my “Honey Do List,” I did what The Wife would have wanted me to do. I drove over to help my buddy out.
Around lunchtime, the crisis had been averted when my cell phone rang again. It was Robert. I hadn’t heard from him in over a year. So when he invited me to lunch and offered to pay, I couldn’t turn him down. Besides, I knew that’s what The Wife would want me to do.

After a lunch of a giant baked potato stuffed with mounds of BBQ, I was also stuffed. Home by 1:30, it was definitely time to put away those dishes — right after a short afternoon nap.

The short afternoon nap ended up being a long afternoon nap that lasted almost two hours. Luckily, I woke up to a gray and black cat licking the last of the BBQ sauce from my face or I’d still have been asleep when The Wife got home.

A couple of big stretches by me and the cat, and I was out of bed, refreshed once again to take on the rest of the day. If only I could remember what I was supposed to do. With a shrug, I made my way to the kitchen to get a glass of water and wash cat slobber off my face — only to run right into the door of the dishwasher some dummy had left opened.

Curled up on the floor holding my bloody shin, I quickly realized the dummy was me. Then gray and black cat head-butted me, paused, and not detecting any additional BBQ sauce, slinked over to the litter box. I hobbled to the bathroom with a roll of paper towels wrapped around the gash in my leg. Now, if I could only find a Band-Aid.

The fruitless search for the box of Band-Aids ended around 5. That’s when I finally realized they were the item I forgot to pick up at the drugstore last week, along with four or five other things I still can’t remember.

A glance at the clock let me know I could make a quick trip to the grocery store, come back, start dinner and still have time to put up the dishes. That is if I could just find my car keys.

The Wife got home by 6 to find the man she has loved for over 11 years on his knees, paper towels wrapped around one leg, trying to fish out car keys from under the refrigerator with a bent metal coat hanger, and a gray and black cat looking curiously on with big yellow eyes, amused that her handiwork had warranted so much attention.

I didn’t look, but I’m sure she had to be laughing. The cat, not The Wife. The Wife just walked over, opened the door to the dishwasher and began putting up the dishes. She asked, “So how did your day go, honey?”

“Just fine, you know, the usual.” She gave a knowing smile just as I pulled out my keys and sat back on the floor with a sign of victory on my face. The cat walked over and gave me another head butt, The Wife knelt down, bandaged my wound with the Band-Aids she had picked up on the way in, and gave me a kiss. She went into the bedroom, and I put up the last of the dishes, and then joined her.

It had been a good day after all.

[Rick Ryckeley, who lives in Senoia, has been a firefighter for more than two decades and a columnist for The Citizen since 2001. His email is]