Gosh, don't think for one second that I have my schedule under control all days, all weeks, and all years. Heck...sometimes I'm lucky if it's for a few hours.
However, you don't get to my age in life having ran a business all of your life while being a mother of 2, a youth director, a sibling of 9, and all sorts of other titles without knowing a thing or two about time management.
I am a MASTER at packing a whole lot of productivity into my day. And a MASTER at making it seem like the day isn't terribly busy. Both, at the same time.
Not possible, you say? Sure, not every day. But I have learned a few tricks over the years, employ a few tools, and get lucky here and there. I'd love to share a bit of what I have learned in the hopes it might you gain a bit of sanity in your crazy, hectic life.
- Pomodoro Timer
I use this little tool for tasks I dislike but know need to be accomplished. Or, for when I would love to read a book but know that I can't take too long because there are other things that should be done. The idea is simple...break up your day into small increments (I have mine set for 25 minutes) with small breaks in between each increment. Do that task for 25 minutes and stop. Do it again if necessary. Or not. Really, it simply teaches you (and your kids) that anything can be done for a small amount of time. And often, it only takes a small amount of time to finish it.
- Block Scheduling
In the podcast I don't go into great detail about this because I think it's fairly self-explanatory. Block scheduling is simply scheduling time for the activities you need to do each week/month. But, doing them in block times rather than a bit every day. This allows your brain to devote time only to that task (frees up energy and brain space!), allows you to stay on groove for the entire time (saves time!), and allows you to take out necessary supplies only once (saves time, energy, and sometimes money!). Example:
Saturday is laundry day in my house. Sure, it's a pile but the rest of the week I'm not distracted by folding or doing laundry...I know it will be done on Saturday.
Monday is money day. I take care of the bills, interacting with the bank, and other necessary financial decisions.
First of the month is Monthly planning. I plan out the month for schedules, meals, bills, and misc. Sure, I don't get everything.
I schedule a time in my week to go out for coffee with a friend (if I don't schedule the time I fill it with "work").
Sunday is grocery shopping day. Sure, I'll pick up toilet paper if we run out but I don't need to remember "what else we might need" because I know Sunday it will be taken care of. Get it? Doing a bit of block scheduling and creating to-do list for the blocks can help free up your brain and time. You KNOW that these to-do lists will be addressed at the proper time which allows you to focus and enjoy the task at hand.
- White Space
Along with the block scheduling, I schedule "white space" into our calendar. How each family does this will vary. Some families need a few hours each week, a day a month, or a week every few months. For our family, I try to make sure we have a full weekend without scheduling for each person. They may not always be the same weekend for everyone, that's okay. It's about each individual getting a couple days to do what they feel is important to them and to "catch up" on what is bothering them.Scheduling "white space" in the calendar is vital to keeping stress at bay, feeling productive, and remembering that life is ours to enjoy.
- Saying NO to good things.In order to block schedule and create white space I often have to turn down good things. For myself and for my kids. Invitations to great events, sleep-overs to friends homes, or non-profit fundraisers. There seems to be no shortage of good things to be involved in and give time to. And, I want to do it all! I want my kids to have all the good experiences they can. In all the clubs that exists. Yet, if I don't say no to good things there is no white space available for my kids to learn what THEY love. For me to recharge and rest so that I can best contribute to the good things I'm already a part of.
- Having a great planner.
A great planner should help you remember what is most important in your day. Not your to-do list. The problem with to-do lists is that we often don't prioritize them properly. We are just intent on getting the list crossed off that we don't do the items in a proper order. Good planners will help you prioritize your day and keep you on task. Remember that just doing isn't useful. Doing in the right order is best. I mention these in my podcast but I will mention them here, as well. Day Designer by Whitney English and Planner Pad are my two favorites because of the funnel systems they use.