Awhile ago someone asked me how I decide what I’m writing and I tried to explain that I explore topics that interest me, which is true. I’ve come to realize that I also write about things I’m struggling with at the moment. I’ve posted about sleep, stress relief, and other topics that all tie into healthy habits. And right now, I really need some time management tips because my to do list is only getting longer!
The Struggle is Real
Time management is a huge struggle right now because summer is coming up and my work time will dramatically decrease once the kids are home. We have road trips and other things planned that will take me away from the computer. So, I’m trying to do a lot of heave leg work now, ahead of time. But, to carve out the extra time, I had to let some things slide. I haven’t gone to the gym in a month…now, I am still exercising but on a much different scale than before. At first I was upset, but I have come to realize that I can’t fit everything in my day right now. Here’s the truth, we all have 24 hours in our day, but I’m not sure about you, I could definitely use more time! Since the hours in the day are never going to change, I’m all about finding ways to carve out more time and finding way to better execute my day. There are so many ideas out there and what works for one person will not always work for the next person.
How to Carve Out More Time in Your Day
Handle specific tasks twice a day only
Make phone calls, send emails, read emails, and other mundane tasks, delegate to only twice a day, once if you can get away with it in our on demand society. I check emails in the morning than I close my email program until the very end of my day.
Have Plans for Wait Times
I always carry a non-fiction book in my purse for wait times. Whether it’s waiting for my kids, waiting for an appointment, or waiting to meet friends, I have something to read that directly relates to work. This is also a time I’ll check emails and handle the above mentioned mundane tasks.
Listen to audio books or podcasts during your commute.
Most Productive Time
If you’re a morning person, try to get up fifteen minutes earlier to get your day started and maybe have a few moments to review your upcoming day. If you’re a night person, extend your evening, have a cup of tea and review the following day. Make sure to prioritize your upcoming tasks.
Work one room at a time and clean things out, getting rid of items that haven’t been touched in months or especially years. The less you have in your house, the less you have to clean. This is especially true when it comes to your clothes!
Label Your to-do list
What is essential to get done in a day and what isn’t? Can you eliminate some of the non-essential things? Ask yourself what would happen if you didn’t complete these tasks? Then add in things you WANT to do (exercise, meet friends, go see a movie) and make sure some of those get in your daily and weekly plans. Make some of those items essential because taking care of yourself is essential!
It’s not just coming up with tips and tricks to create work time out of dead time but there’s also planning and creating balance in your day. This is something else I’ve been working on, creating a better game plan for my day and my week.
Ideas to Set up Time Management Balance
Create a daily plan
Plan your day the night before. Crawl into bed and instead of being on electronics, look at what’s on the docket for tomorrow and create a game plan for tackling some of the tougher tasks.
Find a great calendar program for your lifestyle. Many people LOVE Google calendar. I personally use Cozi (affiliate link) for my family calendar because each person is color coordinated, I add grandma and other family friends who often help us out so they can see what’s going on too. Regardless, find a system that works for you!
Know your deadlines
When is the absolute latest things can be done? Prioritize based on due dates working on most pressing first.
Guilt can force you to say yes when you should say no. Your time is valuable and make sure you’re giving your time where you need to and then where you want. I almost, ALMOST volunteered for my son’s elementary school PTA, but good sense finally kicked in and I didn’t. I get that it is hard as heck to get volunteers to step up and donate their time. I’ve been on the board for a sports non profit for another child before, for years! Now, with three very active kids instead of one, my time is more limited and I’m a better worker bee than leader. So, I sign up for event shifts rather than a leadership position. So, I still try to help out, but I limit what I say yes too.
I work on the compute all day and I’ve learned to not even open my email or Facebook as they trickle time away from my day. I used to have the TV on in the background and once I turned it off too, my efficiency skyrocketed. Get rid of all distractions.
We often pride ourselves on the ability to multi-task, but the reality is, we don’t get as much done when we multi-task. Try to devote 100% of your attention to work tasks at hand for better efficiency. Being realistic, this isn’t always possible for me. When the kids are home, 100% attention is not happening. So, when they’re at school, it’s paramount that I devote everything to my work time.
Follow 80/20 Rule
I have an entire post on what is 80/20 rule, and it applies perfectly to time management too and it says that 20% of your activities produce 80% of the results. This is known as the Pareto Principle. Basically, we procrastinate a good chunk of our time and ignore the highest priority items, finding smaller, more mundane tasks to fill our time. I LOVE the book, Eat the Frog because the basic principle is to tackle the most important project at the start of your day. Everything else comes second.
Get Rid of Perfectionist Attitude
Trying to get everything done perfectly is nearly impossible and it slows you down. I’m reading a fantastic book right now by Stephen Guise called How to be an Imperfectionist that covers this topic wonderfully.
Books I Love for Time Management
Eat that frog
Seriously, Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time is the best book I’ve ever read on time management! Eating the Frog is about tackling the most unwanted task first. What can you take care of first thing in the morning that will feel like a HUGE accomplishment? Take care of that item first. It’s a rather short book, a decently quick read and I highly recommend it to everyone I know!
12 Week Year
Another book I love is The 12 Week Year: Get More Done in 12 Weeks than Others Do in 12 Months. Breaking down your yearly goals into a twelve week block, and creating achievable, smaller goals is the concept here. It’s a great idea to incorporate, keeping goals manageable and reachable, lessening the chance for you to lose sight of the finish line because the deadline is only twelve weeks away.
How to be an Imperfectionist
I’m currently reading How to Be an Imperfectionist: The New Way to Self-Acceptance, Fearless Living, and Freedom from Perfectionism and it’s another great read! It addresses unrealistic expectations, what you should be caring about, and it’s not results. It’s not directly about time management but it still addresses the ability to get more done when we let go of preconceived high expectations.
Always Keep Trying New Things
Time management will always be a struggle, no matter the stage of life you might be in, there are different pulls at different times. Creating and executing a game plan and developing new habits can help us manage our 24 hours with more efficiency. Realize though, what works now, might now work later, as our lives change, so do our needs. It’s an ongoing battle that we can keep learning new strategies to better utilize our day, one habit at a time.