Last month, I was over at a friend’s home and we started talking about our schedules. We both are moms who work from home and have very full lives. My friend asked me how I make my schedule work and I shared a few things that work for me the majority of time. We are all busy so I thought that perhaps these four pointers might help you too…
- Schedule your time according to your priorities. Personally, I schedule out my months, then my weeks and then my days. Many of us work for pay (either part-time or full-time), so those hours are automatically taken from our weeks. It’s the other hours that I’m talking about. We all only get 168 hours a week, so it’s important to be mindful of how we use them. My personal priorities are God, my husband, my kids and then everything else. So, for my non-work hours, I schedule in daily devotionals, time with my husband, time with my kids and some sort of physical exercise on a daily basis. Then, everything else gets in where it fits in. 🙂
- Say “no” or “not right now’…a lot. We all have a variety of roles and responsibilities that pull at us. Some things we “have” to do, but we have a choice in many of the things that take up our time. I know that I don’t have a sober estimate of time (see Point 4 below). I think that I can do 5 things in the time that it actually takes to do 1. So, I have had to train myself to only say “yes” to the things that I can absolutely do (barring any unforeseen circumstances). Fortunately, I have great family and friends. They don’t take it personally when I turn down invitations, because when I accept them, they know that I will actually show up!
- “Chunk” things together.Basically, that means to do similar things together when possible. A couple of examples:-If I have several people who have expressed an interest in spending time together (that are in the same circle of friends), I will do one larger group hang-out – instead of 4+ individual ones. That way I can have great 15 minute conversations with each of them (and also see if there is someone who really does need that individual time so that I can make it happen).-Work-wise, I try to do similar things together. If I’m writing, I’m writing. If I’m on social media, I’m on social media. With the camp that I’m administering, there are many different aspects (finances, registrations, campers, counselors, medical, etc.). I try to focus on one aspect at a time – instead of switching back and forth – because I’m more productive that way. Note that everyone is built differently. My friend (who has various clients) asked if it was wrong for her to work on duties for each client together instead of working by task. While it works better for me to do things together by the actual task (i.e. I do all of my invoicing at once), there is no “wrong” way with this. Try grouping things in different ways and figure out what works best for you.-I even apply this with household things. It surprises my family and friends that I only do laundry once every two weeks. I read a report a while ago that said women spend more time on laundry today compared to the past even though we have more clothes and better technology. Not I. I don’t mind washing clothes, but I don’t like to fold them. That is why I only do the whole process twice a month. We have plenty of clothes and linens to last in between laundry days, so it works for me…and there aren’t piles of laundry waiting to be folded in the interim.
- Associate a time with your “to do” item. ..and then add some “wiggle room”. Honestly, this is the one thing that I wish that I knew years ago. It has changed my life! I have been writing “to do” lists since I was a little girl. That’s just the way I’m “built”. However, the fuller that my life became, I noticed that I was checking less and less things off my daily lists. In the last 6 months, I started putting a time frame with the various things on my daily lists. What an eye-opener! I was so “off” in regards to the amount of time that I scheduled for things versus the amount of time that it actually took to complete them. After about a week of tracking my estimated timing to the actual timing of things, I had a better grasp of how to plan my days. Now, I can plan pretty accurately, but I also give myself some “wiggle room” – an extra 15 minutes or so between tasks – just in case something comes up. (With kids, something usually comes up – even if it’s just a quick snuggle!)
I hope that those tips help. Actually, I find it kind of ironic that I’m writing about time management during a period when there really are not enough hours in the day to make everything fit. These tips really do work though …they just are not magic. There will be times in all of our lives when (despite our best efforts) everything just didn’t fit neatly. That’s a part of life. During those times, I just ride the waves and do my best. For the majority of the time though, the tips that I have shared help my life to be a lot more peaceful and enjoyable. Is there anything that helps you to juggle the various roles that you have in your life?