It seems that life is extremely busy right now. Whether you work full-time or stay home, have kids or not, it seems like it’s go, go, go, all the time. Time management is more important than ever in order to stay sane and complete the tasks that are on your plate. As a stay-at-home mom with two young boys, as well as a couple of part-time jobs, I know how difficult it can be to keep up. On the occasional day that both boys nap at the same time, I work hard to accomplish as much as possible during that hour and a half. But most days, they end up on opposite schedules and I am left either working during family time during the evening, or not paying enough attention to one of the boys during the day. It is a lose-lose situation that I would love to remedy. And did I mention that I need sleep? And a lot of it? So where do I fit it all in? There are so many different techniques for staying organized and managing your time, so which one is best? I have compiled a list of different ideas from a number of websites, so I will let you take a look and be the judge!
- Take the first 30 minutes of every day to plan your day – I prefer to do this at the end of the day before bed, as this is when everything I need to do starts tumbling into my brain; not to mention the mornings are crazy around my house! But I can also see how making your list in the morning, when your brain is fresh, might be effective as well. And be sure to label your list items; what is the most important? What can wait? What can be dropped?
- Block Facebook and other forms of social media, unless you use these to generate business – this is huge these days! I try to stay off of Facebook as much as possible, but even if I am just hopping on to send a message, I find myself getting sucked into my newsfeed, which leads to reading news articles, pointless anecdotes from my Facebook friends, and political rants that only stress me out. This is a huge time-waster, and should be avoided if possible!
- Learn to say no – if you are a yes man or woman, then chances are people will appreciate you but occasionally take advantage of your giving nature. Sometimes it’s easier to say yes because you know the job will get done, but occasionally it’s important to pass tasks along to others so your plate is clear to accomplish the most important items on your list.
- Have one place where you record your lists and events – this is one that I learned from someone when I was complaining about being unable to focus. This person asked me if I was someone who had post-its and notebooks galore, all with different to-do lists. Of course the answer was yes, so they suggested having only one place where I record my thoughts, my lists, and my reminders. I immediately went out and got a spiral notebook and kept it in my purse at all times. There are also a ton of apps that will help with this if you prefer to have everything on your phone.
- Create a time limit for your tasks – it is so easy to get stuck on one thing, trying to make it absolutely perfect, or even just because it’s a mind-numbing task and time just gets away. Set a limit, set a timer and stick to it. Working against the clock can be a great motivator to finish your tasks in a timely manner.
- Finish! – This is something else I learned from a random source that I have been trying to incorporate in my life. With two little boys who need almost constant attention, this is a little more difficult to accomplish, but it’s worth striving for! Because I stay home, I will give an example from the household perspective. Pretend you start to clean the kitchen, but get interrupted by a phone call. While you’re on the phone, you realize that your carpet really needs to be vacuumed. As you are vacuuming, you stop because there are too many toys in the way, so you proceed to pick them up. In the middle of picking up toys, your 9-month old falls and hits his head. I could go on and on, but you see where I’m going. Now you have 3 unfinished tasks and if you’re like me, you may start to get overwhelmed and just give up on cleaning for the moment. However, if after your phone call you made a point to finish the kitchen before moving on to the toys, you have at least finished one task which will most likely motivate you to move on to the next, and so on.
- Prioritize and stop complaining about how busy you are! – This is a pet peeve of mine. Remember that everyone is busy. You have the power to change your situation, so if you feel overwhelmed by everything on your plate, then figure out what can be cut out rather than wasting your time complaining about it. I recently heard a mom (with a nanny, mind you) complaining about how she was so busy and had so many things to do! Her children are involved in a ton of activities and sports and she is so stressed about getting them to where they need to go. Well, my answer to that is PRIORITIZE. Sit down with your family and figure out how you can all work together to calm your schedules down a bit.
I hope these ideas have given you a great start on your time-management transformation! What techniques do you use in your everyday life? If you have an idea that could help others, please leave it in the comments below!