I cannot believe that we are nearly to Fall and there are only four months left of this year. Time definitely is not slowing down any time soon. I dropped my kids off at a new daycare/preschool this week. With back to school, I know many of us moms are starting to feel the rush and the stress of this time of year. There are so many things to do at work, volunteer activities at the kids’ school, extra-curricular activities, football games, and a million other things to flood our to do lists.
I thought it might be a good idea to talk about time management this month. I was listening to a podcast the other day and the guy said that “writers and speakers often write and talk about the very things that they are struggling with at the time” and I thought, “Duh! Why would I waste my time talking about something that I’ve got all figured out? If I’ve got it all figured out, then I’m sure everyone else does too.”
We all struggle with figuring out how to manage the 168 hours that we are blessed with each week. We all have 168 hours in each 7 day week. No one gets any extras. Yet, somehow there are some people who breeze through each week, accomplishing way more in their 168 hours than I can hope to accomplish all year. What is their secret? That is what we will aim to figure out this month. I have been studying and researching already, and trying to implement some changes in my own life to try out some of the things I’m learning. I’ll be sure to share what seems to work as I go.
Last month we talked about personal development. One of my goals when it comes to personal development is to read more books. Real, actual books, not just blog posts and emails. I love reading, but life gets crazy and reading books often falls to the bottom of my list. I’ve decided to sign up for a couple blogger programs that will “force” me to read more books and share the good finds with you. I’m really excited about the books I’m reading for this month. They fit so perfectly into the time management subject and I’m learning so stinking much, so stay tuned to learn more.
When it comes to time management, one of the things I’m learning is that our time can only be managed when we actually manage it. I’m sure you have a running to do list of things you want to accomplish today. Maybe you’ve even taken it a step further and written down your to do list so you can start working through the items. But, do you actually have a specific plan to complete your items or is it just a long list that you hope to accomplish? Without a plan, anything can happen. With a plan, I know what’s going to happen because I make it happen.
I’m now working to put my to do list into a schedule. Each activity gets a time spot on my calendar. The evening before (or, more realistically for me, at the moment, the morning of), I pull up my Google calendar and my to do list and start filling in time slots. Usually the to do list is longer than the available time slots, so I have to work through my list to figure out the most important tasks and cut the rest. I know how long it will take me to complete most of the things I need to do each day (there are always exceptions or problems with this, but in general, I can estimate time pretty well). I can’t add more time to my day, so the only available option is to cut out the least important tasks. I try not to just shuffle them onto tomorrow’s to do list, because tomorrow will have enough of it’s own tasks to worry about. What really must get done today? Schedule it on your calendar and get it done.
Another thing I’m learning is to have a specific plan in place for what a successful day will look like. How do I know that I’ve had a successful day? There are always more things to do. I can’t ever truly say that I’m bored at work, there is always something more that can be done. How do I measure if I’ve been productive then? This is where a specific plan comes into play. My job involves making lots of calls and emails. I have set specific goals for myself for the calls and emails that need to be done each day, each week, and each month. I have a specific plan. I can always do more, if time allows (which it rarely does), but with my specific plan, I can easily determine if my day has been successful, because I completed the work that I need to do for the day. Think through your daily tasks and see if you can come up with a vision for what your ideal, successful day would look like.
I’m expanding this idea of having a specific plan for success to this blog. Previously, my goal was to write as much as possible. Then I thought, maybe three times a week would be good, but that never happens. From a reader standpoint, I know it’s hard to keep up with my posts when you never know when I’ll be posting again. I can go for weeks with nothing and then post three days in a row! Well, lucky for you, I now have a plan. I’m a little nervous about pulling this off, but please feel free to bug me if I’m not sticking with my plan. The goal is to publish a new post twice a week, on Wednesday and Friday. I may get off on the actual publish days a little, but I’m really going to work hard to get some good, consistent posts coming your way.
To go along with this new plan, I’ve also created a new email subscription option! I’m so excited about this. If you don’t want to have to remember to check the blog each Wednesday and Friday to read the latest post, you can now opt to have all of my latest posts delivered right to your email inbox. Or if you struggle with finding the time to squeeze in searching for the blog and catching up, sign up for the emails so they will just be waiting in your inbox to read when you have a few precious moments at bedtime or in a waiting room or wherever it is that you can sneak in some time. There’s a sign up box on the top right and all the way at the bottom of the website that will always be available, but I’ve also included a sign up box at the end of this post. I’m new to this whole email list thing, so hang with me if it doesn’t work as perfectly as I’m expecting it to right away.
Now go find your to do list and start whittling it down to the truly important things and get them scheduled on your calendar. Make today an amazingly productive day!