Time Management Tips
Being chronically “busy” seems to be the status quo these days with more activities, to-dos and must-do’s packed into our schedules than ever. We could all use a few more hours – or sometimes even just five extra minutes – each day to help things run a little smoother. These time management tips from productive people all across the country offer a variety of options. Find the ones that fit for you and take back your time!
Forget the 5:00pm traffic jam, the real “rush hour” for many of us is getting our families out of the door in the morning on time! Mandy, mother of twins from Richmond, IN saves time during her morning rush hour by doing as much as she can in the evening when life is less hectic. “I prep everything for the next day the night before,” Mandy says. “I lay out the boys’ clothes and mine, get the coffee maker ready to brew, and make sure both backpacks are ready to go with homework.”
Sometimes, preparing one day in advance isn’t enough – you need an entire week! Marcia (Richmond, VA) has her daughters choose their school outfits for the week on Sundays. A hanging sweater organizer is a great way for kids to manage this, with one entire outfit placed in each compartment for each day of the week.
I’m a list-maker, and when my life is at its craziest I keep a list of “Things I Absolutely Must Get Done Today Or I May As Well End It All.” Yours doesn’t need to be quite so extreme, but it is helpful to prioritize your to-do list to ensure the most critical things get accomplished in the time you have allotted. Consider your “top 3 to-do’s” for the day and try to let go of the rest.
Get back to the buddy system! Turn to your neighborhood friends to see where you can work together to save time. Make a carpool schedule to get your kids to school instead of each household doing separate drop-offs and picks-ups. Send out a text when you’re stopping by the hardware store or that specialty grocery store across town to see if there’s anything you can pick up for your neighbor while you’re there, and have them do the same for you when they’re out running errands.
Save time getting meals and snacks ready by focusing on bulk prepping and freezing. For example, if you’re making a lasagna for dinner, double the ingredients and prepare two pans instead of one – one lasagna for dinner that evening and another to freeze for another night when you’re short on time. If you’re making muffins, double the batch and freeze extras so you always have a quick and easy breakfast or snack option on hand. Beth from Birmingham, AL takes it one step further and packages up a week’s worth of healthy snacks on Sunday to save her family time.
Looking for ideas of foods to prepare in large quantities and freeze? Here are 10 of my favorite bulk prep and freeze recipes.
Multitask without losing your mind. Allison from Boise, ID turns vacuuming, sweeping and dusting chores into a fun dance party with her one-year-old son, Gus. I like to use my five-year-old daughter’s bath time to clean the bathroom so I can keep my eye on her and knock out this weekly task.
Some activities are most effectively accomplished by not multitasking. Identify what you prefer to do without distraction and commit specific times in your day to that and only that. Chris from Madison, WI prevents getting sucked into his email all throughout the day by designating two periods of time each workday specifically to this task. He ensures his colleagues are aware of this by including the following message at the end of each email: “Please Note: While in the office, I regularly check and respond to email at 1pm and 4pm. This allows me to focus on being more productive so that I can serve you better.”
Think of your time like money. Our time is the most valuable asset we have, yet many of us give it away without much thought. Instead, treat it like a budget, with each hour of your day equalling one dollar. You only have $24 dollars to spend each day. Subtract $8 for sleeping and you’re left with $16. How much of that now needs to go toward your job and daily commute? How much do you have left over? Is it worth it to you to spend one of your few precious dollars on an hour of internet or TV, or agreeing to attend an event that doesn’t interest you? What is the return on your time investment? Protect your time budget just like you would your financial budget and say no to things when you cannot “afford” them or when it’s not a good deal.
Thank you for investing your time into reading this article! I hope it’s given you some great ideas for how to make the most of your invaluable hours and minutes.