This year has been rather challenging for me. First, I got a book deal. Then I spent a few months taking care of my grandson. Then life just started exploding with blessings and opportunities that I had to learn to make room for in my life. There are no complaints – I’ve had the most fulfilling year I’ve ever had professionally and personally. But, to make room for all of the wonderful blessings that were brought my way, I had to learn some time management skills in order to make the most of every moment.
1) Pull the plug on computer time. When I began carefully watching where my day was going, I realized I would easily waste six hours a day online. I tried to trick myself into believing that I was working, but hanging out on Facebook chatting with friends isn’t really working. So I decided to try something new: I plug up my laptop at night, then only use one full battery’s worth a day. My battery lasts about two hours, so I get two hours a day to do all my work that has to be done on the computer. I found SO much more time with this one thing I could have stopped there. (This didn’t apply to my book writing time, however I did unplug my wi-fi during writing hours to eliminate distractions.)
2) Find the main drain. I am a phone talker – and I always have been. Since I have very few local friends, I keep in touch with all of my friends who are scattered all over the country by talking to them on the phone. One day I realized I had caught up with all of my buddies, but hadn’t accomplished anything other than wasting an entire day on the phone. Now I allow myself one long conversation a day. Other than that, I have 15 minutes to get on and off a call – but I try to do most of my communicating through texts when possible. Now I keep up with my friends, and have plenty of time to enjoy the conversations because I’m not bombarded by them.
Your vice may not be talking on the phone… it might be Candy Crush, or online shopping, or perfecting your disco dance moves. Whatever the major time drain is, find it and tame that beast. I’m not saying to eliminate it, just tone it down (in my very best Ross Gellar voice.)
3) Set iPhone reminders for everything. From twice daily “reboot the laundry” to “go for a walk” – everything that needs a daily nudge goes into my phone. No more forgetting if my phone lets me know! It was easy to wander around trying to think of what to do, now I know what needs to be done and just do it.
4) Get my sweat on. I know it may seem counter-productive to add something new in, but I find once I’ve walked for only 20 minutes, my mind is clearer and I seem to have more energy to tackle the things that need to be accomplished each day.
5) Run all errands one day a week. Most weeks I only leave my house one day a week. I know, I’m a hermit. Partially it’s because I want to hide from the world, but when it takes over an hour just to drive to town and back, I can save a ton of time just grouping things into one major trip and be done with it. That’s it. If I forget something, both my husband and daughter drive by multiple stores daily, so it’s not a big deal. I pay most of my bills online (like most of the world these days), and I grocery/supply shop all on one day. Saves gas, saves money, saves time. Triple win – yay!
6) Keep a calendar. Writing down appointments, school functions, party/shower invites, everything all in one place, helps me to know what day to run those errands. If I can work it around other things, it makes my life easier. If I have nothing on the calendar that week (because we don’t do sports, etc.) means I can choose my day depending on the weather or whatever needs to dictate my schedule.
7) Plan a menu. Each week I plan out my menu and do all my shopping so that I’m prepared to feed my family without standing in the kitchen wondering what in the world to do. When I have a plan, my life seems to go easier. Spending those 30 minutes once a week to plan my menu and shopping list helps me get in and out of the grocery store in no time, saving me even more time.
8) Get organized. I cannot even begin to explain how much of my life I have spent looking for lost items. Way too much. This past summer I got myself organized – totally, completely, thoroughly organized. Best decision ever. Now I know where stuff is, I’m not spending mass amounts of time cleaning/organizing/decluttering stuff I don’t need. It transforms your life in more ways than you will ever understand until you actually do it.
9) Clean 20 minutes, daily. Getting organized brought to light a fairly new habit at our house – gimme 20 minutes. Every day when my girls get home from school we crank up the music and clean for 20 minutes. You’d be amazed at how clean you can keep a house in only 20 minutes a day. No more days full of cleaning – no more yelling at them to pick up their things. And the music helps to make it fun. If we spend those 20 minutes cleaning, then we have the rest of the afternoon (or day) to spend together doing things we enjoy. And bonus – most days we’re done in less than 15 minutes!
10)Schedule in down time. Every day I read a book – I allow myself plenty of time to let my mind chill out, stop thinking so hard, and just relax. Usually I do it at night, but if I’m seriously stressed I will do it in the middle of the day. Some days I even use the time to take a nap or catch up on my favorite shows on DVR. Whatever it is, taking time to relax makes me better all the way around.
What’s your best time management tip? I’m always looking for more ways to declutter my day.