Knowing how to manage your time is something that many people are unfamiliar with. It seems as though we are all running around frantically like chickens with our head’s cut off, trying to cram as much stuff into our days as possible.
Personally, I like to live a very simple, streamlined life. I purposely make to-do lists because they help me accomplish the things that need to be done in a day.
Below is a list of my top tips for time management.
Determine Your Priorities
The very first thing that I made myself do when I first started to get a grip on managing my time, was to understand that I can’t do it all. Being a perfectionist, this was a hard reality to accept. However, once I did so, life because so much simpler.
I’m the gal you can come running to with questions about coupons. I can tell you everything you want to know about creating a budget. I can show you how to make the best homemade whipped cream you’ve ever tasted.
On the other hand, I know that I’m not a talented artist, seamstress or fashionista and that’s okay with me. I focus all of my energy on the things that I can do well and I encourage you to do the same.
Set Long & Short Term Goals
Just like you need goals when planning to get out of debt, you need to have goals when you are trying to manage your time.
What are some things that you would like to accomplish in the next month? What about the next 6 months? Be realistic about what you can achieve. Don’t try to stack too many goals on your plate at one time or you will wind up feeling burnt out rather quickly.
Some examples of short term goals (to be completed in 1-3 months):
- Call the cable company to re-negotiate monthly bill.
- Read at least one new book per month.
- Cook from scratch more often.
- Plan ______’s birthday party.
Some examples of long term goals (to be completed in 4 months or longer):
- De-clutter my home.
- Pay off my debt.
- Organize the kitchen.
- Save for a home/car/whatever.
Setting goals is important because it gives you the push that you need to get things done, even if you don’t feel like doing them. Sure, you don’t want beans and rice for dinner again, but that is going to get you one step closer to being debt free, so maybe it’s worth it.
Keep your eye on the prize. On those days when you’re feeling rushed and overwhelmed, take a look at your list of goals. Those are what you’re aiming for. Don’t worry about a bad day, they happen. And guess what – tomorrow is another day!
Take the Time to Plan
If you want to achieve your goals, you need to have a plan in place. Simply having goals is not enough – you need to make a plan for how you are going to actually achieve them.
I’ve heard a lot of people complain that there aren’t enough hours in the day (I’m guilty of doing this myself a few times!), but could it be that perhaps you just aren’t managing your time wisely?
I strongly suggest creating a daily schedule so that you can stay on top of your daily to-do’s. A simple daily schedule will help you get through the days where you’re lost and confused and aren’t sure which task to tackle next.
Don’t make your to-do lists too big though, as this often leads to failure. Be realistic about what you can accomplish in a day.
As an example, here’s what my current daily schedule looks like:
6:30am: Wake up, shower, get dressed
7am: Check email, post deals, check in on Facebook & Twitter
8am: Wake up Elliott & Kaylee (if they aren’t already awake), eat breakfast
8:30-8:45am: Go for a walk or do my daily chores (depending on which day of the week it is)
10:30am: Play with Elliott & Kaylee
11:30am: Get lunch started, eat
12:30pm: Elliott goes for a nap, I check email, post deals and blog while Kaylee wiggles beside me
3pm: Wake up Elliott if he isn’t already awake, bathe him & Kaylee
3:30pm: Check in on Facebook & Twitter
4pm: Free Time
5pm: Start dinner, tidy the main floor
6pm: Eat dinner, clean kitchen
7pm: Go for a walk or play with Elliott & Kaylee
8pm-9pm: Elliott goes to bed, I check email and do some more computer work
9pm: Spend time with my husband
10pm: Make my to-do list for the next day
10:30pm: Bed time
Everyone’s schedule is going to be different, but this is how I do things. Do I always follow this schedule? No, of course not. There are days when I’m just not in the mood to do chores and I’m fine with that.
You also need to make room in your schedule for unexpected happenings such as a phone call or a visitor. Don’t make your schedule so rigid that if something like that occurred, it would totally ruin your entire plan for the day.
I also want to stress how important it is to give yourself enough time to sleep. Being well rested is a crucial part of getting things done.
Do the Worst Task First
As Brian Tracy would say, Eat The Frog. Get the worst task out of the way first thing in the morning and the rest of the tasks on your to-do list won’t seem so bad.
By eliminating the most annoying task before you have your morning coffee, you are setting yourself off on the right foot to get everything else accomplished much more easily than if you had left your “frog” until the very end.
Meal time can be stressful for many people and most of the time that is due to lack of planning. Menu planning is one of the best time (and money) saving things that I do.
To make dinner time even more simple for you, I highly recommend giving freezer cooking a try. Spend a few hours (or more if you’re up to it) one day cooking up a bunch of meals for your family. Then, you can enjoy those meals during times when things are extremely busy or you simply don’t feel like cooking.
Ask For Help
If, at the end of the day, you feel like you have way too many things to handle on your own, let people know. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from your partner, your kids and other family members and friends.
Don’t ever turn down help from others.
If you want to manage your time more effectively, you need to be prepared to make a lifestyle change. You have to be in it for the long haul.
You can’t simply wake up one morning and decide that today you will be productive. Without a plan – a long term plan – you will burn out fast and will likely be left feeling frustrated.
Give up the idea of being superwoman/superman and plan your life accordingly.
Do you have any time saving tips to share? Please leave a comment!