Time management is tricky. What slows you down?
Do you have to remember the schedule for 4 or more people… Daily?
Do you struggle to anticipate the time it takes to get the kids ready, pack everyone into the car, and drive from here to there?
Do you often fight last minute ‘fire drills’ that are caused by competing pressures?
I’ve discovered over the years that I don’t have a natural talent for managing my time, but I’ve learned how to accomplish an incredible volume of work each day – mostly without feeling swamped. I’d say managing to not feel swamped is an achievement in its own class.
Here are practical tips to help you be more efficient.
1. Write down your to do list somewhere so important items don’t slip through the cracks – choose someplace you’ll actually reference
2. Delegate what (a) is possible to delegate (b) to someone competent and (c) don’t take on tasks that are not meaningful
3. Tackle about 3 really important and urgent things everyday (see number 7)
4. Bundle your time – If you’re going to be by the bank, what other errands on your list are nearby, even if you planned to go tomorrow?
5. Get enough sleep and take a break inbetween your ‘thinking’ activities – there are some items you can accomplish without much thought out of habit and others that require your concentration – Fuel yourself appropriately
6. Take your food with you – take healthy food from home along with plenty of water – keeping your body healthy gives you more energy
7. Prioritize your to-do list and only do things in Category A, by:
(a) things that are urgent and important (if you don’t do it there IS a serious consequence);
(b) things that are urgent but unimportant (if you don’t do it there is no serious consequence)
(c) things that are important but not urgent (you don’t have to do them today, but if you ignore them you will definitely not be happy later)
(d) things that are not important nor urgent (you don’t have to do them immediately and you won’t really care if you delay them)
8. Schedule appointments in some kind of calendar you will really reference and consider drive time in those appointments – always allow a 15 minute buffer on both sides, or more if outside forces notoriously contribute to taking more of your time (such as the doctor’s waiting room)
9. Spend 15 minutes the night before tidying up your house or apartment every night before you sleep and morning before you leave
10. Use commute time to your advantage. Here are my favorite car time uses:
(a) make phone calls using a headset in the car
(b) reconnect with your kids through conversation (but realize you’re giving up valuable eye contact so reconnect with them face to face later too!)
(c) thoughtful reflection for those items you just need to think about
(d) relieving stress – either focus on deep breathing or turn on some fav tunes
11. Set aside some small and consistent window of time everyday to just think, perhaps this is 30 minutes every morning or 15 minutes before and after some consistent activity
12. Always assess your day and write your list for tomorrow – start by transferring leftovers from today’s list – include (a) appointments, (b) to-do’s in those 4 categories, see 7, (c) phone calls and errands
I am covering time management in full detail at our workshop. If you need help managing your time, see http://www.meetup.com/Active-Mamas/events/98668082/?hidePromoBar=true
For more information about Robyn, see http://activemamas.org/?page_id=22