As a homeschooling mom with an infant, two busy kids with extracurricular activities galore, a home to care for, a husband who works out of town, too many pets, and a thriving business, I’m often asked, “How do you find the time to do it all?”
Well, the truth is, we all have the same twenty-four hours in each day. I simply know my priorities and take the necessary steps in focusing my attention on the things I’m most committed to.
These are the 10 most important time management tips to make your days more successful:
- PRIORITIES are Pivotal
Being aware of what’s most important to you and having a detailed Priority list is crucial! Knowing the order of importance a person/event/goal has in your life will keep you from trading the time allotted to that item with something of lesser value to you. Write a list, numbering your priorities from first to last and eliminating anything that doesn’t measure up. If your priorities are God, Homeschooling, Husband, Career and House Chores, you’ll know what the right answer is when a work colleague calls you during your allotted bible study. Which is ranked higher on your priorities list? That’s the one you choose. The other can wait a few minutes until you’re free.
- Dominate your DAILY ROUTINE
Having a daily routine is mandatory to being efficient with your time. It starts with waking up at the same time each morning and going to bed at the same time every night, but it doesn’t end there. Although your daily schedule will be tailored around your list of tasks each day, your basic routine should be as uniform as possible. Your routine should differ from your schedule in terms of timeline. Rather than having everything itemized out, your routine should simply be… I wake up; I drink my coffee and study my bible; I exercise; I work and take care of my clients; I eat lunch; I homeschool my kids; I tidy up around my house; I take my kids for their extracurricular activities… etc
- Set a SCHEDULE
I don’t know about you, but my days often become hectic! Whether I have meetings with clients, karate practice, homeschooling work, dinner to cook or an endless cycle of laundry to wash, I stay busy! However, busy doesn’t always mean productive. Keep a written schedule and calendar that lists all of your activities so nothing gets forgotten, missed or skipped. This should be much more detailed than your daily routine. For example, every day is different, but tomorrow I will wake up at 7:00am; I drink my coffee and read my bible form 7:00-8:00; I exercise from 8:00-8:30; I work and take care of my clients from 9:00-12:00; I eat lunch from 12:00-12:30; I pay bills or answer emails from 12:30-1:00; I homeschool my kids from 1:00-4:00; I tidy up around my house from 4:00-5:00; I drop my kids off at karate at 6:00… You get the point!
- Be FLEXIBLE not Forceful
Although you should strive for perfection with your routine and schedule, rarely will these things all go as planned. Allow yourself to be flexible! If you get thrown off course, reevaluate the rest of your day and move forward. Don’t let one complication derail your whole day. If something comes up, count your blessings, make the necessary adjustments and keep going! It’s also okay to stop and smell the roses from time to time.
- BOUNDARIES are Beautiful
Make sure everyone in your life, even your family, knows your schedule, routine and priorities! Let them know that during these hours you will be working hard to meet all your goals and unless it’s urgent, you don’t want to be bothered. Is that going to work with your two year old? Probably not! But, at least when my husband knows I’m working from 9:00-12:00 he doesn’t expect lunch until I’m done! (No matter how hangry he gets!)
- Dump DISTRACTIONS
We all have our bad habits, but anything that is not a top priority should not encroach upon the time allotted to our goals. Never make the error of allowing yourself to watch television shows, browse social media, or any other hobby during time when you should be working. If these things are important to you, fit them into your schedule in a time that doesn’t interfere with your priorities. Don’t cut these things out completely! Just strategically place them into your schedule when you aren’t busy with more important things. I allow myself an hour of television in the evenings after my kids are home from karate, before I read and go to bed. Whatever works for you, just schedule it so it doesn’t encroach upon more important priorities!
- ENCOURAGE your Excellence
Save time in your day for something enjoyable! Don’t get so focused on productivity that you miss out on life. Make time in your schedule for hobbies, family time, and friends! I love to write, so I make sure to allot time a few days each week to focus on my projects. Remember, you only have this short time on earth to enjoy all that God has given you. Embrace it!
- Overcome OVERWHELM
Life hands us all lemons from time to time but God is good. He cares for His children and He never abandons us. When things are not going as well as they could, put your problems in God’s capable hands and focus on the things you can control. Don’t let yourself become so overwhelmed with your schedule or being productive that you drive yourself crazy! If there’s too much on your plate, reevaluate your priorities and eliminate something if possible. Otherwise, lean on God and trust that He will give you the grace to handle it.
- NO is Not a Bad Word
Making your schedule a priority will require some sacrifices! When your focus is set on your priorities, you might have to say “no” to friends who want an impromptu breakfast date or colleagues when they ask you for a favor. You’ll sometimes have to say “no” to play dates for your kids. Declining those extra activities isn’t being mean, it’s simply the best way to keep your priorities in check.
- Pursue POSITIVITY
Not every day will feel like a success! The beauty is, we’re blessed with the opportunity to wake up tomorrow and try again! Don’t let one bad day turn into a bad week or a bad month. Focus on the good in every day! Remember what you accomplished and celebrate the small victories.
Remember it takes several weeks to form a habit! Start applying these concepts today and let me know how they work for you!