Going to try something a bit different and invite someone who knows a lot about personal productivity to guest post some tips for us. Meet Brittany Wheeler. She knows about time management because as a busy mom she lives it every day.
So let’s let Brittany take it from here:
“If you’re like me, you feel like you’re being pulled in more directions than ever these days. There are 24 hours in a day but only one of you. Once you subtract time to sleep (ha!), time at work, errands, picking up and dropping off kids, taking care of pets, etc., what are you left with? The same one of you but kicked around a little bit. But there are ways of making the most of those 24 hours without putting yourself through the ringer. Here are 10 tips I’ve found helpful to manage your time without losing your mind:”
- Make a list: Yes, that dreaded “to do” list can actually turn into a helpful ally if you think about it the right way. Imagine it as a pep talk on paper. Try writing down your list for tomorrow. Yep, that’s right, for tomorrow. No need to make a list for today because your mind is already buzzing in twenty different directions. Now take another look at the list. If there are things that can wait or don’t really matter, cross them off immediately. What about those things you do anyway but aren’t on the list? Write them down and mark them off tomorrow as you complete them. It doesn’t matter if they are second nature things or routine things. Just mark them off as you do them. I guarantee that seeing those check marks will boost your morale to tackle the rest of the list!
- Delegate: You may be a Super Parent but even superheroes need help sometimes. As any successful executive will tell you, you do not have to do it all on your own just because you can or even because you’d do it better. It is in your best interest actually not to do everything on your own. Things that someone else can do without a lot of trouble should be done by them, not you. Spread the chores, spread the work load. You can focus on what you need to do. Just be sure to be there to help when someone else needs to delegate to you. Keeping this amazing “revolving door” of help going with the people who matter to you will make you feel more secure with the craziness of life.
- Use a planner: I actually have a secret love affair with planners because, well, I love almost everything in the office supplies section. But it’s surprising how few people use planners. The planner is probably one of the most undervalued tools in the personal time management toolbox. If you’re not using a planner, try a few different ones and see what works for you. Some people like paper. Other people use their phones for a lot of things and there are some great apps for planning. Use your planner to keep track of what is going on that week or as far into the future as you can for things like meetings, school activities, grocery trips, cleaning time at home, family get togethers, etc. You can also use a calendar board at home or at work. Having a plan visually available will help keep you on track and make you feel better about it.
- Batch it: In the course of a day, you will find many tasks that can be clumped together instead of being separate activities through the day. For example, the dry cleaner is on the way to soccer practice and you can stop by the grocery store before you need to pick up the kids again in an hour. So instead of spreading things out through the day, you can plan your trips and tasks in a more efficient way that will save time and stress. Bonus: if you clump driving errands together, you save gas, which saves money.
- Stock up: Life happens but sometimes you just don’t have the time in the day to make that emergency run to the grocery store because you are out of something and need it right now. This will happen occasionally but it no longer needs to be a normal part of your life. You can take control. From now on, you need a back up to your back up. My Gram said that to make sure you are never caught off guard with an at home emergency, you need a replacement for everything. That goes for toilet paper, diapers, wipes, jars of peanut butter, toilet paper, noodles, water, medicine, toilet paper, baby food, bread, milk, and, yes, toilet paper.
- Organize: Yes, I know you are busy. Yes, I know there is only one of you. That’s why organization is so important to your time management. You don’t need to be Martha Stewart to have your home organization under control. Things you don’t need can either be donated or recycled which build up your karma as well as get them out of your face. How many hours in a week do you waste looking for something that you need? How many minutes do you lose in the morning by rummaging through your terribly tossed drawers and makeup storage trying to get ready? Messes make you stressed out, they are not pretty, and they waste your limited time.
- Recalculate: When you finish a task that you normally do, take a moment and reflect back on it. Is there anything that could have been done differently to make it more effective? They say that lazy people find the quickest ways to do things. You are not lazy, but maybe you can use that shortcut mindset to your advantage to figure out a way of doing some things faster without losing quality.
- Create a buffer: One of the best ways to help you with your time is to add a certain amount of buffer time. You have times where you need to be somewhere or get something done by. Set a timer to go off fifteen minutes before then to get your ducks in a row. If you need to be at an appointment at 10:30, tell yourself you need to be there at 10:15 so you have enough time to find where you need to go and get seated. You can add or take time away to your own “virtual clock” to put in as much buffer as you need.
- Say no: It’s as simple and as hard as that. One thief of time is saying yes to things that take you away from what you really need to get done. You can stay late sometimes or take on an extra project once in a while, but you are not a patsy. You can say no and should say no sometimes. It’s not only good for you and your clock, but it can also be a good reminder to others that they need to respect your time.
- Make time for you: This is my favorite recommendation for busy people. When you are spread too thin, things get messy quickly. You are so busy taking care of everything else that you can forget about yourself. Things will not go smoothly if you are a frazzled nightmare. It isn’t selfish, it’s imperative to set time aside to do something just for you. It doesn’t have to be a whole day or even a few hours. Thirty minutes to watch a show alone or get a pedicure can be all you need to revamp your outlook. Don’t forget that sometimes even superheroes have to recharge their batteries.
Hope you find these tips helpful. I’ve certainly improved my efficiency and my quality of life by following these as often as I can. I’m not perfect, though. Sometimes I still find myself over scheduled and feeling frazzled. If you ever see me that way, then another bit of advice might come in handy: “do as I say not as I do!” 🙂