At my house, we went to ridiculously busy in the blink of an eye. Often, I let myself get so busy that my to-do list could swallow me whole. It’s overwhelming. And despite being so busy, I’m not doing the things that are important to me or are moving me forward.
So, we must work smarter and not harder.
It’s time to stop being busy and start being productive.
Here are 11 tools for time management to help keep the daily to do’s balanced with time for what matters most (self-care, family, and friends!).
The Pareto Principle states that only 20% of our output gives us 80% of our results!
To be more efficient, we need to find the critical few activities that give us the most bang for our buck. We can still do the last 80%, but we prioritize the 20% FIRST in our day. In other words, whatever you don’t want to do (because it’s hard) is probably what you should do first!
What are the 1-3 activities that you can do right away that progress you most toward your goals? No matter what else happens in the day, you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing you are moving forward!
2. PLAN AHEAD
“When we fail to plan, we plan to fail.” – Benjamin Franklin
Set aside a few minutes every day to plan for the next day. We are much more effective when we have a clear plan for what we need to do! Put a star next to the 20% tasks from tip #1!
Then, set aside one time a week to plan the following week. I am so much more productive when I take time out on a Friday or Sunday to set up goals for the next week!
3. USE A TIMER
I make it no secret that I hate cleaning. Unfortunately, a mom that doesn’t clean would be, well, really gross. So I set a timer for 10-15 minute increments. It’s more efficient because I move faster, plus I know that there’s a glorious end in sight.
Timers also work very well on bad habits that we spend too much time on. Is social media like a rabbit hole for you? Set a timer for 15 or 30 minutes. When the timer goes off, close out and move on.
4. MULTITASK (SOME)
We are stellar multitaskers, but that’s not always a good thing.
We, as humans, are unable to give 100% focus to two things at once. So, if we are trying to focus on our phones and our children, only one of them is actually getting our attention.
However, multitasking isn’t all bad. There are times when we can use it as a time management tool because we don’t need full attention.
Listen to a podcast while folding laundry. Go for a walk when you’re waiting on someone. Or, spend quality time talking while driving.
5. HAVE ROUTINES
Morning and bedtime routines are essential for a multitude of reasons. A morning routine sets the tone for the rest of the day. Many times, if I don’t work towards a goal in the morning, it just doesn’t get done. It’s often also the only time I have personal space for myself!
Additionally, a night routine helps us wind down and sets the tone for how the next day will go. These bookends to our day can be used for self-care, reflection, and preparation that help us succeed the REST of the time!
6. TRACK YOUR TIME
I get curious about whether I’m using my time per my values. Sometimes, we tell ourselves nice little stories, but numbers don’t lie.
What I usually find is that I have a lot of “putter time” between activities or I’m not spending as much quality time with my family as I think I am. Tracking time is one of the reasons we started Date Night and Family Night.
I found that when this time was scheduled, other less meaningful activities (and screens) wouldn’t take over as much. I use this time log here.
Husbands and kids can cook and help around the house. Our kids have a checklist that gives them more responsibility so that it doesn’t all fall on mom. And it’s perfectly fine to pay for babysitters, services, or robot vacuums if it improves quality of life.
Yes, we want to save money, but we also want to live happy and calm lives. We must find a balance! Which brings us to the next…
8. JUST SAY NO
This is one of the time management tools that we need to hear every single day. We do not need to be involved in everything to be a good _______ (mom/spouse/employee/enter noun here).
Much of my stress comes from putting too much on my plate.
I once heard this valuable advice…If doing something isn’t a “hell yes!” then it should be a no. If we let so-so activities overtake our schedules, we’ll never have time for those amazing opportunities that set us on fire.
9. BATCH YOUR WORK
It’s difficult to get real, focused work done when we’re ping-ponging between tasks, and we waste a lot of time this way.
If you’re cooking or cleaning, do all of one thing at the same time whether it’s cutting veggies, wiping counters, or cleaning toilets. You’re getting all of the supplies out only once!
For emails, respond to them all at one time. Then, close out the inbox and move to the next task.
When we spend too much time on tiny decisions, it’s hard for us to have time and energy for what matters. Much of our lives happen the same way over and over, and there are many things that we can automate.
Bills, clothes, grocery pick up, reoccurring meal plans, and appointments are just a few examples.
A few months ago, I decided to eat the same healthy smoothie every single morning. Not only has it improved my health, but I’ve found it extremely liberating to not have to figure out what to eat in the mornings!
What can you automate to make your day and week run smoother?
11. TIME BLOCK
Divide your day into 2-3 hour chunks! This improves productivity because it tells us exactly what to focus on at different times of the day every single day. There is no wondering “hmm, what should I be doing right now?”
As an added benefit, it also helps me focus on when I need to be present. I know that at a certain time my focus should only be on my children, or only be on my work.
It helps so much with the multitasking problem that tip #4 addresses!
Be sure to set an alarm on your phone to help keep you on track during the day!
Something to Think About
Which 1-3 of these time management tools will you try this week for better time management?
Let me know in the comments! I’ll be working on automating blog stuff, planning days ahead, and saying no this week!
These two books were instrumental in getting my time under control! I HIGHLY recommend them!
You May Also Enjoy…
- Design Your Life With A 5 Year Plan
- Why You Should Write Down Your Goals
- Invest In Yourself For A Healthy, Happy, Impactful You
These are affiliate links, at no cost to you. I’m just sharing what I love!
- 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think by Laura Vanderkam
- I Know How She Does It: How Successful Women Make The Most of Their Time by Laura Vanderkam