If you’re like me, you’re always looking for more ways to be productive and to stay on task. If you’re not like me and you have it all together, pretty please share your tips to being a super hero in the comments. We’d all love to hear from ya. 😉
I’ve long been known for my “efficiency brain” as I like to call it. It gets me into trouble at times – hubbs is constantly reminding me that not everything has to be done in the most efficient manner. He is a go-with-the-flow-er. How I love him and the balance he brings to our marriage. BUT, alot of the time busy wives, mamas, ladies of the working world (and those of us juggling all of the above!) need to find a way to do all the things without losing our minds or putting the milk into the cabinet instead of the fridge because we are so frazzled.
No, that’s not a real example. I don’t know what you’re talking about.
I have found that a little forethought and planning goes a long way to making our daily lives a bit less insane. I know that I am more stressed and not-so-pleasant when I am not managing my time well. So, without further blabbing here are my top 10 simple and effective time management tips to make you more efficient. (Plus, a freebie! *hands up emoji!*)
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Choose a word for the year. It’s never to late to choose a word for the year. Or the season! I use Powersheets for goal setting, and I have to say it has changed my life. Filtering everything through my word for the year (life-giving) and then through my four main goals (life-giving me, relationships, home, community) has really helped me live out a more purposeful life. Powersheets lays out a seasonal refresh (which you can do even if you don’t have the powersheets!) where you can focus in on a word for the season and take another look at your goals for the year. I recently posted on Instagram about choosing “healthy” for my seasonal word. Filtering all I do through that lens of “is it life giving and healthy for me/my guys/my home/my Graceful Journey community?” has really helped me live a more intentional life.
Intentionally plan time for things that matter most. Just like what I was talking about above, living a purposeful life doesn’t just happen. Date nights, family nights, intimacy with your spouse – these are things that don’t just “happen”. Time management has to do with intentionality and it definitely carries over to those things that matter most to us. Take time to jot down what matters most to you, then think through ways you can be intentional in those things! You can narrow this down to just your personal life or just your work life – or widen the scope to all areas of life. Where you place your focus shows what is most important to you. Are you focusing on the right things?
Prioritize. Take time to weed through your to-do list, your goal list, your calendar – some things may need fully cut out. As you make your daily plan (more on that below!), you’ll need to weed through your list. Some things just aren’t as important as others. If you take time to think about what REALLY matters, you’ll end up with a do-able list that you can feel good about diving into. You’ll feel more accomplished looking back at what got done instead of looking back at a giant list that looks like you barely touched it. I like to think about my word and goals for the year when I’m really stuck on weeding through my lists. I’m a compulsive list maker, so I get distracted by list making and defeated by my lists all the time. By focusing on what is life-giving for me, my guys, my home and my online community I have found that I can get to the heart of what matters. That makes it easier to choose whether housework or a trip to the grocery store MUST to get done on a particular day.
Plan it out/think it through. This is something that seems like a no-brainer. But I’ve found that alot of people don’t take time to think things all the way through, myself included! I’ve trained myself to think through whatever I’m headed into in my head in any down time I have before-hand. (Usually my 2 minutes of solitude in the bathroom. Mamas, you feel me?) If you’re grocery shopping and need to go to multiple stores, plan out your route and which stores to hit in what order. That way you don’t waste time backtracking. If you are cleaning your home, make a plan to go from messiest to least messy or vice versa – whatever makes sense to you. If you have a huge project to complete, take time to write out the steps so that you don’t miss anything or need to stop 15 minutes in because you don’t have the materials you need. Taking 5 minutes to think things out and jot down a plan brings to mind things you may have overlooked and helps prevent time wasting.
Go in order. This goes along with the above tip. Once you have an order, stick with it. Don’t get distracted. If you’re cleaning and see something in another room, stay focused on your current task, then tackle the other room. If you’re doing a sweep of the house and picking up, don’t let yourself get sucked into deep cleaning your desk. Work on the tasks at hand for the allotted time and then move on to the next.
Set a time limit. Set a timer, visually block out a chunk of time on your planner- think through the time it will take to complete each task and stick with it. If you get to the end of the allotted time and it’s time to move on, do it. If you realize the next task isn’t a priority, then move it to the next day or to the “add to tomorrow’s list” column and finish the task at hand
Implement the one touch rule. This involves planning and some organization. It also takes practice and diligence. Don’t set something down until it’s in it’s home – at the very least, in the room or space it belongs in. I do this when I get home from work everyday and when I carry groceries in. Each bag goes to the room where its contents belong. That way, I’m not dealing with a pile of forgotten bags on on my couch at 9pm. This is something I need to practice with my inbox. For me, virtually implementing the one touch rule is harder! But, my techy husband is helping me get organized and make a plan to succeed here. If you struggle with the planning and organization involved with implementing this rule, leave me a comment below. I’d love to address it in the Organization 101 series I’m working on!
Block out distractions: Mute your phone and any unnecessary notifications. If you’re cleaning, listen to a podcast or listen to music but keep your phone out of reach. I love our Google Home and our Google Chromecast for this. I can cast music or podcasts and can keep my phone out of reach for less distraction. Phone calls come through on my Fitbit Charge 2 so I can easily see if it’s something important enough to stop for.
Make a daily plan: This can be done the night before, in the early morning as you have coffee – whenever works for you. Sometimes I mentally make a plan in the shower. Ha! Just take time to think through your day/afternoon/work time/free time. Brain dump all that you want to get done, then go back and highlight what HAS to get done. If you’re like me and need strict boundaries, assign each task a time block. If you want a looser schedule, think through how much time each will take and roughly outline your day. Filter your list through your goals and what matters most to you. Thinking about how much time each thing will take also prevents an over-zealous and ultimately defeating list.
Hourly organizer: Looking at your day in time blocks helps to visualize what you can realistically accomplish. It also helps to think through how much time each task will take. This helps you set limits for yourself. You’ll be more focused and accomplish more. I do this on Thursdays when my mom in law watches Logan. I have about 3 hours to work, so I make it as focused as possible. An area I am working on using this tool is time blocking in the evenings to get housework/etc accomplished.
I used hourly planners in college all the time – usually just an index card with an hour or half hour slot per line. I’d get all my school work done this way and stay really focused. After this last year of new mommyhood, I’ve felt really flighty and like I wasn’t really accomplishing all I wanted/needed to. My lists were winning again!
So, I created some hourly planners for myself to use, and they have been game changers. On days I am home all day, I stick in Logan’s schedule and plan my work times around that. On days I am working without Logan, I really focus in and have a very productive three hour work period.
And now, I’m trying to do the same for the evenings so that I can get housework and such accomplished. I had a lot of fun making these, and I really wanted you to be able to benefit from them as well!
These are all available in the resource library, so if you haven’t joined the community, click any of the images below and head over there! You’ll get a password in your inbox immediately and be on your way to downloading, printing and being more intentional with your time!
If you find these helpful, don’t forget to share the love and pin them to your Pinterest to that others can find them and be blessed as well. Have a wonderful, productive day – doing what REALLY matters!