Keeping busy has never been difficult for me. Our society teaches that, “busy people get things done”. While that is true to an extent, I want to uncover how you can add intention and enrichment to your life. Over the years I have served on numerous boards, committees, managed various work projects and now launching a meaningful business that supports my passion, encouraging women on how to maintain their authentic self in the midst of transition and/or tragedy. Managing all of these commitments has been challenging to juggle while being a full time wife and mother. I was recently reminded of some great time management tips that moved me so much I wanted to share with you.
- Schedule your time. Webster’s dictionary refers to a schedule as a plan of things that will be done and the times when they will be done. While this is just one definition keep in mind that your schedule is different than an agenda or task list. It is a plan, a strong suggestion, thus it can change and be adapted to you needs. Sometimes the best thing you can do when you become overwhelmed with tasks or get off schedule; is to throw in the towel and save it for another day. Give your self permission to change the plan from time to time. You will thank yourself later.
- Limit your access to e-mail. This is a biggie for me personally. I have become a slave to my e-mail. Now days we have multiple e-mail accounts. Rather than guarding our time and using our e-mail as the tool it was intended for, we become enslaved to it. Someone reminded me that, “your output does not equal your value“. Perhaps a better use of your time would be to schedule in specific times of day when you will check and respond to e-mail. Another great tip I have implement is to move my e-mail icon from my home screen on my iPhone to a page that is not visible when I open my phone. Just try it, I dare you.
- Do what you like first. After all its YOUR schedule. I understand that when working for an employer, it is a bit more challenging to do what you like to do first. However, it can be done. When you do the fun things or complete the tasks you enjoy first, you are provided with a sense of accomplishment generating a positive energy that will last throughout the day. So when you make your schedule, your plan, select the parts of your job your enjoy doing first and then plan the other tasks around what you like. Keep in mind that if you’ve been trying to find time to exercise or in my case, practice yoga, make that one of the first parts of your schedule.
- Vacation time. While I’m a huge advocate for taking vacations, traveling and exploring the world; it’s important to schedule a vacation hour every day. I’m borrowing this one from a friend. She didn’t have to explain much, but when she suggested that I take a vacation hour I signed up right away! Your vacation hour is an hour each day where you do what YOU WANT to do. Her suggestion was to put together a power point of all the places and things that inspire me and watch it for a few minutes on my vacation hour so that I can relax, rewind and refuel. Your vacation hour is just as important as taking a week of vacation. No, you don’t have to take your vacation hour all at the same time. You can break it up throughout your day. I would suggest keeping your increments of at minimum of 15 minutes or more. If it’s possible, keep it to an hour at one time. It’s your vacation so you get to do whatever you want to do. Go for a walk, read a book, paint, take pictures, meditate, pray, but do not work on your vacation. That is a deal breaker!
- Use the right tools. Our constant access to online applications is again, meant to help us not hinder us. So find some really great tools that will help you manage your time. Some of my favorite social media tools would include the Buffer App, SocialBro and tweetChat. Recently I was introduced to a great task management application called Trello. My busy family often uses the Cozi Calendar to sync what each one is doing which helps to know who needs to be where when, or who is going to be out of town, etc. This app only works if each family remembers to use it and input their schedule into the program. There are hundreds of different tools to select, choose the ones that will work for you. Oh, yeah, don’t spend too much of your time searching for applications either. That can suck up a lot of time, so ask for recommendations from friends, family and/or co-workers.
- Stay focused on only one critical goal per week. This one is a hard one for me. I’m such an ambitious person that for a long time I had several critical items on my list each week. Since I am involved in so many projects, I have begun to set just one critical goal per week for each project. This has been such a huge relief of anxiety for me. “When we stop trying to be God, doing everything, being everywhere, we begin to feel good about the work we are accomplishing.” If you tend to only focus on one project at a time I would limit your critical goals to no more than 3 per week. Critical goals are the tasks that must get completed to move a project forward to the next level or to completion. Your critical goals are not simply tasks but actual goals that need the time that a week offers to complete.
- Family time is a must! Whether you have a family at home you are caring for, or it’s just you and your husband or partner, parents, aunts, uncles, siblings or really close friends make time for them. Schedule it in each week. Even if it’s a phone call. It’s important for you to be supported and be around the people who love you. Schedule in play time with these people. If you have children of any age, be a good example of managing your time by making time with them a priority and giving them your undivided attention when you do.
There are so many books and articles on time management, what I have found is that your schedule and time needs to be set around you. One final tip is to take time to breathe. sometimes you need to take a moment and stop everything to refocus your energy. It’s ok, set a timer on your phone and close your eyes. Managing your time wisely is a process that begins from the inside out. When we fail to do this we often find ourselves feeling overwhelmed and become less productive. How do I know this? I am the biggest offender of scheduling from the outside in and it doesn’t work. It’s also healthy to say NO, once in a while. As with any change or self improvement, it takes time, practice and patience. Give yourself permission to fail. After all isn’t that the best way to learn sometimes? You can’t fail if you don’t try. Nike said it best, JUST DO IT!
Call to action: If you find your task list is getting out of control from time to time, I can help. Please feel free to reach out to me on Facebook, Twitter or e-mail, (firstname.lastname@example.org) I would enjoy the opportunity to work with you. I am happy to share my experiences with you and help you make a plan to manage your situation. Balancing life can be tricky sometimes especially when you have a family and a career, and/or managing a transition like graduation, changing jobs, caring for aged parents or simple self neglect. I am certainly not perfect and have made some unwise uses of my time, which is exactly why I can help you. It’s my passion to help you succeed and live the fullest life for you. Looking forward to hearing from you soon!