Time Management and Planning Tips

“I must govern the clock, not be governed by it.” ~Golda Meir

“Time is one thing that can never be retrieved. One may lose and regain friends. One may lose and regain money. Opportunity, once spurned, may come again. But the hours that are lost in idleness can never be brought back to be used in gainful pursuits” ~Winston Churchill

We all have the same amount of time in a day, no ifs ands or buts. Some people are able to get so much done in their days while others seem to flounder and barely get meals done. We all have 24 hours in a day, 7 days a week. What we do in those minutes, in those hours determines where our time goes, how our days are spent. Simple? Yes and no. What do others do with their time that allows them to get so much more done? What is the secret? I believe it involves planning.

Planning is the best time saver there is. Take time one day a week and look at what is coming up for you. Are there appointments that must be kept? Are there any birthdays, holidays, special activities, games and/or practices this week? Take notes, either mental or written of the things that you have to keep during the next week. Also, look ahead at things that are coming. You don’t want to wait until the week before something to take action for special events that are coming. If you have a birthday that is coming up for someone that is three weeks away, you can add some prep for the birthday this week. Now you can look ahead and schedule those things into your week this week. Even if you just bought some plates and streamers and candles for the birthday that is coming up, you are a little more prepared. It also doesn’t take such a big bite out of the money at once. By looking ahead and doing some simple planning, you aren’t leaving things for the last minute. This is something that those people who seem to be on top of things all the time do; they don’t leave things until the last minute and make sure they know what is coming up. They stay ahead of the game.

You can use an elaborate day planner system, printable calendar pages, a wall calendar, desk calendar, pocket calendar, etc., to do your planning. To be honest, I just use a very simple system right now. All appointments that we need to keep get wrote on one wall calendar. As soon as they are made or as soon as I know, I write them on that calendar. I also have a household notebook (also known as a household management notebook, family notebook and I am sure other names) where I do my planning. With 5 children, my dh’s birthday and our anniversary plus all of the holidays that come up, I need a place to keep ideas, suggestions, and plans for what is coming up.

Since I homeschool and stay home, my days aren’t full of outside activities or lots of meetings. I use a basic daily schedule and try to follow that as closely as I can. I have devotions, exercise, grooming, cleaning, cooking, meal prep, and of course schooling on my schedule. We don’t follow this exactly, on the dot, everyday. It is a guide to our day. You might need something different. What works for me might not work exactly for you and vice versa. A plan is a good idea for everyone no matter how busy or not busy we are. If you are a busy person with lots of meetings, a daily schedule probably isn’t going to work for you. A day planner of some sort would be a good idea where you can pencil in your meetings and various appointments. Your weekly planning session would be longer than mine but still very important for both of us. But, be flexible with your plan. Remember you are not a slave to your planner. It is there to serve you. If your time management system isn’t working, tweak it. I know I said a lot in these few paragraphs, but I feel that they are important if we want to get a hold on our time and make the most of it.

25 Time Management Tips:

1. Keep a time log. Take a piece of paper and fold in half. Write the hours you are awake on the paper. Now, write what you do during those hours. You are able to see where your time is going and what you are spending it on. This really helps you keep track of where your time is going. Do this whenever you feel like you can’t keep up with everything.

2. Know what your values are and live them. Who do you want to be? What do you want to do? Where do you want to go in life? Your life can feel miserable and empty if we aren’t living a life that flows with our values and priorities.

3. Learn to say no to what is not in your mission or your values. Many of us have yes syndrome. That is where we say yes to too many people when we know we should politely say no.

4. Do the best you can now. Focus on the moment, or focus on the task at hand (as a former Pastor I was under used to say). If you are working, focus on the work, get it done. Same as when you are relaxing. Focusing on the moment is a good habit to learn. Enjoy yourself now, no matter what it is that you are doing.

5. Forgive yourself for the past, don’t hold onto past mistakes. How often do we waste time for mistakes that we made in the past? If you can learn from it, then learn and let go. Not only is it freeing, now you aren’t wasting time by holding onto something you can’t change, you aren’t spending time worrying about it.

6. Listen to audio books while in the car. One thing that I would like to do is have a cd player in the van (yeah, it is a little behind the times) and put in audio books for all us to listen to. Those of you who can, use that time in the car to listen to books that you would like to read or when the kids are in the car, put in a family favorite audio book and enjoy a family read-aloud time while going down the road.

7. Use a planner. It can be a cheap homemade one, one purchased at Wal*Mart to an expensive one you ordered online. I use one that I made myself. It used a 3-ring binder and print paper. I have made this work for me

8. Get ready earlier than you think you need to. Leave earlier than you think you need to leave. How many of us put those things off until the last possible minute and then are rushing and stressed because we are going to be late? The concept is simple and should be relatively easy to implement. It will require you to make yourself conscious of what you are doing and why. This will result in less rushing around the house and yelling and a less stressful drive.

9. Us the time while you are on the phone to do something. You can clean out your purse, organize a drawer, straighten your desk, etc.

10. Make up a meal plan and follow it. Also, doing things ahead of time will cut down on frantic dinners and eating out. You can do something as simple as browning extra ground beef and freezing it to actually doing OAMC.

11. Create a before bed routine and actually follow it. This is a big morning rush saver. If you follow this one thing, you will see a big change in your morning. I have been doing this for years and love it.

12. Stop putting things off. Procrastination is a bad habit to get into and hard to get out of. People who are on top of things, aren’t late to appointments, have time to make meals for other families, reach out to neighbors, etc, are people who don’t procrastinate. Procrastination is a time stealer, joy robber and doesn’t let you have peace of mind. Do whatever it is that you have been putting off and you will feel better when it is done.

13. Reduce the amount of time you spend watching TV. The television set is a big time zapper. We use a device like a Tivo and also closely monitor what we allow into the house. With the Tivo, we are able to watch a show that we like whenever we have time and skip all of the commercials.

14. If you need to call someone who really talks, call when you know you might be able to get off the phone quickly. An example would be, around meal time and late in the day. Also, if you don’t need to speak to them directly, you can always call when they aren’t home and leave a message on their answering machine.

15. Use your body clock. When are you most productive? When are you the least productive? Plan the items that require the most energy from you when you have the most energy. And the same with your least energetic time of day. I am least energetic at night so I try to not do much then. That means that I need to get as much done before then.

16. With your priorities in mind, make a checklist of things you want to accomplish each day. Glance over your goals each day and then prioritize your list.

17. Clean your desk off at the end of the day. Put everything away, and when you go to it the next day, everything is properly organized and straightened. Who likes to start a day amidst a mess?

18. Keep a calendar at your desk. I have one hanging above my desk but have also used a desk calendar. Right important dates on there and appointments. Now you can see what is coming up at a quick glance.

19. Don’t put it down, put it away. One of the reason we have so many paper piles is because, well, we pile it. All junk should go immediately in the trash. Mail should have a place to go, and only keep what is needed. Have a designated area for paper and make sure it gets there.

20. Continually reevaluate your system. If something is working, toss it. If you see that someone does something differently, give it a try. Read books on the subject and change what you think will work. Nothing is written in concrete, it can be changed, adapted whenever needed.

21. Once a week clean out your purse and organizer.

22. Always put away whatever you are using when you are done with it. We waste so much time looking for things because we didn’t put them away when were finished with them. Have a place for your keys, purse, cell phone, etc.

23. Delegate! This is something that we should be doing. When a mother does all of the household duties, she isn’t delegating enough. This isn’t meant to say that we shouldn’t do work, but when we are picking up after everyone, doing everything for every meal, all parts of laundry chores, etc. then we are doing too much by ourselves. Two or more people can accomplish more than one can.

24. Believe in yourself. We are more times than not, our own worst enemy. I know you have heard this before, if you don’t believe in you, who will?

25. Let go of perfectionism. Not everything has to be done perfectly and some things are out of your control.

“You will never find time for anything. If you want time, you must make it.” ~Charles Burton

“Everything becomes different when we choose to take control rather than be controlled. We experience a new sense of freedom, growth and energy.” Dr. Eric Allenbaugh

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