This has been one of the busiest seasons of my life, so figuring out ways to be a good steward of my time has been absolutely crucial. I’m excited to share how I’ve done that using 6 of my most effective time management strategies. Plus, I’ve included some simple action steps to help you put these strategies to work in your life, and start getting more out of each day!
The other day my kids had a Christmas party at school. Several days before the party, the director of the pre-school asked if I could bring sweet potato casserole. I told her no (kindly of course) and explained that this year, I needed to bring something I could buy. I had to fight off a bit of guilt, but it was the right choice for my life! My husband was still out of town, and I had a jam-packed work week. Two years ago, I made sugar cookies that I painstakingly hand-decorated. Maybe I’ll go back to that next year, but this year, I needed to say no.
It’s OK for you to say no to things. It’s OK to be honest about your bandwidth. It’s OK to know that you need to keep it simple.
Action Item: Intentionally say no to something this week. Use the time you would have spent doing that thing to tackle something that really ads value to your life.
I am not a naturally clean or organized person, and I have to really focus to keep things in order. It can be tempting to let this slide when life gets hectic, but I’ve recently learned that keeping my environment clean is something I shouldn’t let go of during busy times. When my house is clean, I think more clearly! When my laundry is done, I spend less time stressing about what to wear. When my dishes are put away, I feel less overwhelmed. When I’m less overwhelmed, I get more done.
If this is a busy season in your life, it may not be the right time to do a major overhaul of your home or work space. You can, however, do small things that will make a big difference. Before starting work, spend 10 minutes cleaning off your desk or cleaning out your inbox. Create a simple nighttime routine that ensures the most important household tasks get done and that you wake up to a sense of order and calm. Clean out your purse and car.
Action item: Make a list of 5 things you could do in under 15 minutes to better your space, and go do them!
The days that I immediately start tackling things are often my least productive days. Why? I don’t have a plan. I get sucked into the fires that need to be put out, and I don’t get to the things that really matter. Before you start your day, carve out a little time to plan what you need to do! I promise it will have a dramatic impact on your productivity.
You can apply this same concept to anything you need to get done. Need to clean your house? Take ten minutes to map out what you are going to tackle before digging it. I love to set time parameters around tasks as well because this helps me recognize if I’m spending too much time on one thing.
Action Item: Commit to mapping out your tasks every day this week. Bonus points if you do it the night before.
One of my biggest productivity and time management secrets is that I’ve never been shy about asking for and arranging help. I have a housekeeper who comes every other week and a girl who handles small tasks for my book business such as mailing prizes and organizing inventory. It’s been life changing for me to have regular help with things that can eat up a lot of my time.
I haven’t always been able to afford a housekeeper or an assistant, but that doesn’t mean I wasn’t finding creative ways to get the help I needed. Hiring professionals may not be financially possible for you, but you can still find ways to work some help into your life, even on a modest budget! Pay a neighborhood kid to fold laundry for you once a week. Trade babysitting with a fellow mom, and use the kid-free time to tackle an important task. Pay a sitter who is already watching your sleeping kids a bit extra to complete household jobs. Spend a tiny bit more to have your groceries shopped or delivered for you. For the cost of a few Starbucks lattes, you can incorporate some much-needed help into your life!
Action Item: Find a way to outsource at least one thing this week.
I recently started listening to audiobooks while cleaning my house, walking my dog and working out. I’ve read so many more books this year because of this!
Think about how you can get creative with your time. Ask one of your best friends to be your gym buddy—Now you’re spending time with a friend and working out at the same time. Turn date night with your spouse into something productive that you both enjoy doing. (My husband and I love shopping for the kids and looking for furniture and other things for the garage apartment we are building.)
Action Item: Think of a way to combine two things in your life into one experience. Now plan it and do it!
I found that I was getting pulled away from the task at hand multiple times a day because of social media notifications. I decided to turn notifications off on my phone and only check my social media accounts at certain times. It made a huge difference! How could you set limits on certain activities to make more space for things that truly matter?
Action Item: Keep a log for a week of how you spend your day. Write down everything you do, even small things such as “scrolled through Instagram.” I did this not too long ago, and it was incredibly eye opening!
Remember, we all have the same number of hours in each day. Hopefully these tips will help you spend yours in ways that bring joy and enrich your life!