A clearer mind. More space. More time. It’s my tagline; my mantra. Let’s focus on that last line ~ more time. What I really mean is, more time well spent. You see, I am not suggesting that being more organized will add hours to your day. There are 24 hours in a day, no more, no less and the clock will keep on ticking regardless of what you are doing. But one sure fire way to use that time more wisely, to get the most out it, is through organization.
You must be strategic and plan ahead; here is a guide:
Identify a time management tool and look at it daily. Choose something as robust as Franklin Covey or as simple as a calendar alone. Your techie heart may love the latest scheduling app or perhaps (like me) you prefer an old-fashioned paper agenda; just find what works for you and use it consistently.
Set goals. Goals are an integral part of time management; goals give you a greater sense of purpose and help you decide how to prioritize tasks. Learning to simply say ‘no’ can be very difficult; I struggle with it myself. But goal setting gives me the boost I need; just knowing that I am only saying no so that I can devote the time I need for my personal goals, makes it a lot easier.
Two important points in goal setting:
- Write them down. Seeing your goals in print, and reviewing them frequently, is the visual reminder you need to stay the course; and
- Keep your goal setting realistic so as not to discourage yourself. I applaud ambition, but setting too many, or goals too lofty for a short time frame, will only leave you feeling like a failure, which you most certainly are NOT. Never give up on your dreams or goals, just be sensible about what you can reasonably accomplish in given period of time
Write down every event. Birthdays, vacation dates, key school or sports dates, should be put in the calendar for the upcoming year (or season). Everything else…..write it down as soon as you know about it. Don’t stick that doctor appointment card in your purse, only to be forgotten. Write it down in your planner immediately and throw the reminder card in the trash.
Schedule your time. Find one day of the week that makes sense for your life; my day is Sunday, to develop a Weekly Action Plan (WAP) for the upcoming week. Your WAP will guide your schedule and will most likely be comprised of three parts:
- typical have-to-do tasks ~ food shopping, a Target run, bill and paper management;
- scheduled events ~ meetings, birthday parties, doctor appointments, soccer games; and
- tasks that support your goals ~ attending an educational seminar, spending one-on-one time with each of your children or exercising X days of week.
Prioritize. When we don’t properly plan and prioritize, the tasks supporting our goals are what get sacrificed. Our most important bucket! To prevent this from happening, place goal related tasks from your WAP into your planner first, then tackle scheduled events and lastly have-to-do’s. The ‘have-to-do’s’ may need to be shifted around to ensure you are not sacrificing goal related tasks.
When initially implementing a time management system, you may find that you are truly overscheduled and have no choice but to sacrifice goal related tasks until you really get a handle on your schedule. Completely understandable; and that is ok for a short time. As you continue to plan in advance, you will become more aware of the time you have available (to prevent overscheduling) and how you want to spend it (to ensure goal related tasks are not sacrificed).
Also, delegate to free up time. Yes, by a certain age, the kids can absolutely sort the laundry for you and set the table; which might just give you the 15 minutes you need to manage mail / bills. Strategize the regular ‘have-to- do’ tasks. Do not make 5 trips to the same shopping plaza on 3 different days. Plan ahead so that everything you need to accomplish at one given location can be done at the same time.
Last, but absolutely not least, before bed take 10 minutes to review the schedule for the next day. This simple habit will help you sleep better; no worrying about what you may have forgotten to do or what is lurking in the shadows the next day. You will be well prepared, less stressed, more empowered, more productive and more decisive. A clearer mind. More space. More time.