Four Tried and True Time Management Techniques
I have a type A personality and have finally accepted that I can’t change my type. I love to organize just about anything and I’m constantly looking for ways to improve a process. In fact, many of these skills comprise what I do for a living as an IT Product Manager. I get excited in the Container Store and I love to help my friends and family purge a purse and organize a closet. Remember the show, Clean Sweep? Loved it! Years ago I took a Franklin Covey time management class and it was right up my alley. If organization was a language, I’d consider myself fluent. Below, I’m going to try and consolidate my best secrets and systems around time management in the hopes of giving you back a few more hours in your day for you to focus on your personal health and wellness.
1. ONE family calendar is a MUST, preferably a digital shared calendar.
My family and I use a Google calendar – it’s free and easy to set up. It started out as my non-work Google calendar and then I saw the need for us all to use it. Each person in my family has the Google calendar mapped on our iPhones so we can add our appointments remotely and see the reminders for the day.
When a doctor appointment impacts my workday, I invite my work email address so it will appear on my Outlook calendar at work (I later will add the drive time surrounding the appointment on my work calendar). If the appointment may impact my husband’s workday, I’ll include his work email as an invitee. Lately, we have an unwritten rule that he helps more with our kid’s appointments since I accompany my mom on all of hers – this balances out our time away from work.
When we get a paper calendar or email containing dates, we consolidate it ASAP on the family calendar. My husband and I spilt the kid’s sports so that I put all the volleyball dates and carpool times on the calendar and he does the same for baseball. No separate school calendar, class calendar, sport calendar, birthday list, printed email itinerary, etc. cluttering up the refrigerator! It’s all in ONE place for all to see and reference and it’s always the latest and greatest.
I’ll admit that I do miss the pretty printed fridge calendar but with a family on the go – we need a mobile calendar. I once tried printing the Google calendar but it was outdated just a few days later and then we were writing on it and then we were maintaining multiple calendars and right back where we started! Now the only time I print a calendar out is when we are trying to plan out our annual vacation times or when I used to organize each kid’s camp filled summers.
2. Block out your personal appointments for your repetitive tasks and goals on your family calendar.
These appointments may include:
· your workouts
· meal planning and prep time
· bill pay/account review sessions (I have a list of bills in order due that I reference)
· date nights
· family fun
· home projects
Scheduling these items on the calendar says these items are important to you and signifies commitment to your goals.
3. Use a family group chat to make scheduling adjustments
The calendar is the family roadmap but we all know that stuff happens throughout the day. Group text family chats are great to sync up on carpool plans, getting dinner started, change in plans, etc.
4. Protect your available time
When you say ‘yes’ to something you are saying ‘no’ to something else – probably your own health and well-being or quality time at home.
Don’t volunteer for too much
When I used to volunteer at school, I learned only to say ‘yes’ to activities that I could spend time directly with my kids such as a holiday party or being the mystery reader for the class. Another option I did was to sign up for one big (but short lived) annual school event. I would choose one at a time of the year that wasn’t in the crazy months for our family. I used to volunteer for the Sock Hop in February or one year I helped organize decorations for the 5th grade party so I could spend time with my kids and their friends.
I love the phrase, ‘we can have it all, just not all at once’. I would love to donate more time to my church, community, and even abroad. But, I also know that I am in a season of my life when time is a hot commodity and I am already being pulled in a million directions. There will be a day when my life isn’t as hectic that I can donate time to others outside of my family. In the meantime, we do small works that contribute such as:
· donating clothes or food pantry items
· always saying ‘yes’ to a child’s fundraiser even if I just buy one thing
· Separating recyclables
All of these little but repeated contributions add up!
Leave work at work
Since I work outside the home, I need to set boundaries! I rarely respond to work emails and texts after hours unless it is truly an emergency. I have added my boss and other key employees to my VIP inbox. My mom and my immediate family are VIPs too! Even my kid’s coaches are VIPs so that I can receive last minute practice changes. All of these VIP emails pop up on my phone like other alerts. If it can wait, I don’t answer it! I never want my family to think that they aren’t as important as my work.
Limit tech time
Technology can be a time sucker. There is always some great deal, a current event to indulge in or a new post on Facebook. Lately, I have been unsubscribing to many email promotions. These deals are just encouraging me to spend more money and they are cluttering up my life. I also try to check my personal emails either once or twice a day. If something is that important, my family will text or call me. I have a handful of favorite TV shows that I watch. I rarely ever just plop down and see what’s on. I don’t even know when my favorites are on since I use the DVR so I can whiz through the commercials. We also try to make our TV time family time by watching shows together – our latest ‘family’ show is ‘The Walking Dead’. I’m certain I’m going to win a parenting award for this choice.
What one item from above are you going to put into practice today? What do you struggle with related to time management that I may not have answered? Please share your thoughts in the comments below!
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