One of the biggest questions I get asked as Professional Organizer is “how do I manage to get it all done?” The truth? I don’t. No one does, but that does not mean you cannot get most of the things you need done finished. I think the secret is really in figuring out what “it all” means to you. For one person that might mean getting 4 out of the 5 things they need to accomplish done, for another it might be that they only get 1 out of 5 things accomplished, for yet another it could mean they did not get to the things that they had on their list but they did spend the morning playing with their kids, doing an art project etc. Below are some tips to help you with time management.
• Develop a Routine
• Timers are your best friend
• Create a “First Then” chart for yourself
• Calendars are also your best friend
~Develop a Routine: This is by far one of the most important keys to time management. A Routine helps ensure certain things get done every day without having to plan, it promotes consistency and lowers anxiety. Children in particular of all ages (even teens) love the predictability of a routine, it makes them feel secure. Schedule in things such as meal times, bed times, chore times, etc. in a routine.
~Planning: Taking time to plan is super helpful and saves us time and headaches in the long run. It is so worth it to set aside time one day a week to plan out your upcoming days or weeks even. For me I do it on Sunday because that is also the day I go through my “Sunday Basket” which I was inspired to create after reading Lisa Woodruff’s blogpost on it. I will do one of my own soon. Once a week I sit down and make an overall plan for the week, however because I am also a chronic list maker I also sit down every morning and go over my “to do list” and adjust as needed.
~Timers are your best friend: Timers such as the one below are wonderful in that they are an audio reminder to you. Once the timer goes off you have given yourself permission to stop and move on to something else. Say you have set your timer for 15 minutes to de-clutter 1 kitchen cabinet. After that timer is up, stop, you can pat yourself on the back for a job well done, is the entire kitchen de-cluttered? No, but one cabinet is and you will feel better. Timers help break down big tasks into manageable pieces, they are also helpful in everything from reminding your kids when to get out of the shower to internet usage. As a homeschooler to 3 kids including 1 with sensory issues it is very helpful to get him through his tasks and keep his focus. It is easier for him to realize that while he may not want to do his math he knows he only has to do it until the timer goes off an then he gets to do something fun.
~Create a “First Then” Chart: This idea was one I used both as a preschool teacher & then when my kids were little to teach them about chores, schoolwork etc. They knew that whatever task was on the chart first they had to do it then they would get to choose something they wanted to do. I found though that since I tend to procrastinate I created a “first then” chart for myself in my head. I create a mental picture of what I need to do and then decide what I want to do when that task is finished and create a picture of that too. I am a visual person so I need to see it. If I don’t create a mental picture in my mind, then I will put it on my list, while I am prioritizing it, I will put in a task I need to get done such as 2 loads of laundry, and then put either one of my easier tasks, or schedule in 20 minutes to read a book or read blogs on the internet, have a cup of coffee etc. then I will have another task on my list and so on.
~Calendars are also your best friend, for one thing they are a visual look at what my week ahead will be like. It is also a way for my family to see what we have coming up so before they come and ask me about hanging out with a friend, or going to a get together etc. they know to check the big wall calendar we have first. They are also useful in counting down to something like a vacation!
I could seriously talk forever about time management but here are the basics to get you started.