Happy Tuesday y’all! I’m super excited to be a part of the Organizing 101 Series: Back to Basics with some seriously incredible bloggers. Yesterday Beth at Free Stylin’ showed you how to get more organized with menu planning (and not break the bank) and today I’m going to share with you my tips on time management (without losing your mind).
And I will warn you here, this post is wordy … this girl likes some organization, that’s for sure! And I am pretty passionate about being happy, and for me, effective time management = one happy girl. :)
Can you believe today is the 11th anniversary of 9/11? I can still remember exactly where I was when I heard about the first plane.
How I was glued to the tv coverage for days.
How it felt to think about everyone who lost their lives so unexpectedly. Their families. Their children.
Such tragedy. True, true tragedy.
For me, it’s a reminder to continually focus on what is important to ME. To make sure I am taking the time to do the things that really fulfill me. To enjoy this life. It’s the only one I’ve got.
Do you ever feel like you’re just wandering aimlessly through your daily tasks? You have so many different balls in the air you don’t know which one to grab first? It’s hard to tell where to turn, or what to do next because so many tasks are just weighing you down?
*And this is where I’ll put a little asterisk and say a few words like ‘I am not an expert’, ‘I know I don’t live your life’, ‘I have no interest in telling you how to organize your day’ and ‘I just hope you can learn a few new tricks from this info’. Thank you very much. :)
My time management philosophy is simple, get what you need to get done done so you can get to doing what you really want. And what things do we really need to do, anyway?
We really can succeed here if our goal is a feeling. Can we agree that there is a limitless number of things we can choose to accomplish? And that the cycle is never ending? And we will never just be ‘done’ with everything we have to do in life?
I know, no brainer. But this really is the key to obtaining that goal above.
We all have lists a mile long of things we’d like to get done around the house, yard, volunteer work, kid activities, etc. And then there are the vacations we’d like to take, experiences we’d like to have, accomplishments we’d like to make. Man, I’m tired already!
But, it does no good to focus on all that we’re not accomplishing on a daily basis. So let’s figure out what we really want to accomplish.
I used this specific prioritize strategy when I got home from Haven. I had, I think, 85 items I wanted to do as a result of the conference. And the only way I knew to break it down, so it would seem manageable, was to prioritize.
But, it’s a rank of priority for that task, not a ranking system against the other items on the list.
I read through my entire list and marked all items that I considered ‘easy’, then ranked all others with a 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 (1=most important, 5=least). There could be any number of tasks ranked 1, or 2 or any number.
This gave me a clear understanding of which items were most important to me, and which one’s I could just do all quick like when I had a spare minute. You really will feel so much more accomplished if you are actually doing the things that you feel are a priority in your life.
Erin at How to Nest for Less creates a blog schedule one month in advance to help her determine her daily priorities. Maybe you’ve been meaning to get a pedicure and this week is the week it gets put on the schedule. Or maybe you can’t put off yard work one. more. day. Make it happen. :) Yes, that means something else might not happen … just pick your priority!
Now that we understand exactly what it is that we want to be doing, we need to make a plan. My Sunday routine is to review the list of priorities and pick one task a day to accomplish. (I have house lists, errand lists, blog lists … there could be kid lists, school lists … you can even implement this at work for all of those ‘I’ll get to that someday tasks’.)
The lists are forever evolving, with shifting priorities … and there’s always that ‘real life’ thing that sometimes happens unplanned. Which is nice. :) When you discover another task, assign it a priority and add it to your plan. And move on … if you find yourself dwelling on it, maybe it’s a bigger priority than you thought … or maybe it’s just going to take some time to learn to let some things linger in low priority land.
Last year my priority was to study Spanish and now my priority is to learn the ins and outs of my new camera. Shift your plan to enable you to accomplish your priorities.
And play around with the pace, maybe you’re
an overachiever efficient and 2 tasks a day works, or maybe you have so many areas of your life to plan you’re better off with every other day. What you want to do here is create the habit and routine that leaves you feeling ‘ahead’. Do one thing, do it well and feel accomplished for that one thing. Maybe more is possible … maybe not.
Lisa from Before Meets After and her husband have a ’10 minute a night chore’. Take 10 minutes a night and pick a task … cleaning toilets, wiping down mirrors, emptying garbage around the house. Then it doesn’t all pile up and take over your weekend.
And I LIVE BY the tip of leaving one day completely open. The one free day leaves you available to do whatever it is that inspires you that day. It may be the day you need to get caught up on things you didn’t accomplish on your plan. Or maybe it’s a long workout or a new house project, or an ice cream date with your kids, or maybe it’s watching a movie on the couch. There’s comfort in knowing you have planned to have the time to be doing that exact thing you’re doing.
Let’s be real here … we’re not talking about any of the non-negotiables. The work obligations, family engagements, kid’s soccer games and everything else you consider a non-negotiable. We are talking about EVERYTHING else. If it’s not on your non-negotiable list, it’s fair game.
TIP!!! Pick your non-negotiables, but don’t marry them … they can change, too.
Exercise used to be optional for me. Then I realized I would never do it unless I had it in my plan. Then I realized I was a cranky, moody, easily irritated
be-ach person if I wasn’t exercising regularly. (I’m not training for marathons here people. I’m just trying to not feel unhealthy … that’s it. Really.) Now, for me, exercise 5 hours a week is non-negotiable … unless we’re on vacation. :)
Cooking dinner every night, however … totally optional. Just ask Joel :)
Set yourself up for success. Let’s get real again here. We can talk all day about planning and prioritizing, but if you’re not ready to execute, you’re not going to be able to shake that feeling of not getting anything done.
My prep time is at night. If I’m not prepared I can easily find myself at Noon on any given day feeling like I haven’t gotten anything done. And I hate that feeling.
If I’m hoping to have a productive day tomorrow, my evening preparation tonight includes:
- setting the coffee maker
- making sure I’ve got something good for breakfast (hey, this girl gets cranky hungry and that’s not pretty!) I hard boil a couple of eggs if we’re out of cereal or milk.
- charge the laptop/cell phone/iPad
- review the following day’s plan and make sure everything is accomplishable (not a word?) and I’m in a position to make it happen (is the dry cleaning in a bag by the door? do I have my grocery shopping list ready? are my keys and sunglasses on our landing zone?)
- lay out my workout clothes
Carmel from Our Fifth House has an ingenius tip for all you parents out there about preparing. She shares how picking out school outfits for the week at the beginning of the week has changed her family’s life here.
And Rita from This Sorta Old Life has a great philosophy to ‘keep the problem’ small. Do one load of laundry a day, clean a toilet when you see it needs it (without feeling like you need to clean the whole bathroom), fold clothes as they come out of the dryer. Stay ahead of the game. :)
It’s one thing to have an ‘idea’ of what you want to accomplish in a day or week. It’s something entirely different to take the steps needed to make it happen.
Write it down. Add it to your phone or online calendar. Chisel it in stone. Whatever means you are comfortable with … get your plan ‘on paper’ and use it as your daily guideline. Why give yourself the added pressure of trying to remember it all? Feel like you’re not sure what to do next? Check your plan. Need help getting motivated to get something done? Check your plan and just do what’s next … the next priority in line.
If you’re left with a feeling that you’re not accomplishing what you need to be doing … it’s time to revisit your priorities.
TIP!!! Only put ‘accomplishable’ tasks on your plan.
I don’t need ‘make coffee table out of old doors‘ mocking me on my plan for a month. Instead try MON – design coffee table, measure and cut doors TUES – scrape old doors WED – scrape old doors (’cause I know it’s gonna take me time THU – work on an entirely different project (’cause I know I’m gonna be hating the old doors right about now) FRI – get revenge on old doors with the sander :)
Whitney from Drab to Fab also lives by the ‘write it down’ philosophy. Her big tip is to write obligations down immediately … we always think we’re going to ‘just remember’ … until it’s Saturday AM and the body shop is calling wondering if we’re going to come to our oil change appointment?!?! Oh snap!
It really is your choice. What exactly are you going to do with your time when all of the non-negotiables are taken care of?
Noticing that those floors really need a thorough cleaning? Plan it for this week and move on. Don’t stress about not having it done already, you were doing something more important. #doghairismyfriend
Wanting for more play time with the kids? That has to be a bigger priority than other things that were accomplished. #makedoghairyourfriend
Desperate for a date night. Just do it.
Realize which items are really frustrating you that aren’t getting accomplished and make them a priority.
And for everything else … let it go. Cut yourself some slack. This is your life. Other than the actual requirements of life (we all know what those are for ourselves) everything else is just gravy.
Unless you don’t like gravy … then it’s chocolate sauce … and caramel sauce … and maybe even some nuts. :)
And there is always this brilliant tip from Emily at 52 Mantels. When you start to feel overwhelmed about the amount of housework/yardwork/pick your poison (sounds like yours might be emails, Emily) , set the timer and just GO. No sitting, no tv, no distractions. Get as much done as you can in the next 20-45 minutes. And then move on with your day. :)
And have peace in knowing you’re doing exactly what you’re meant to be doing. And be sure to relish that oh so rewarding feeling. You’ve earned it.
And for the rest of the week that is Organizing 101: Back to Basics, don’t forget to check out these great posts (I’ll add links to the specific posts when they all go live).
Now tell me, does this make any sense? Can you see this working for you? Is it similar to what you’re doing already?