Ever use the phrase, "I just don't have time for _____"? Not "having time" is a something I'm pretty sure we all have in common. It's by far my biggest complaint. The clock and I have race everyday, and it usually wins. Whatever your job, responsibilities, commitments, and hobbies may be, you have got to accomplish them in 24 hours just like the next person. In my opinion, time management is a skill, just like any other skill, that improves with discipline and practice. In other words, it doesn't come naturally. Some people are more organized than others, but even those people have work at it.
For me, I have my set responsibilities....two little girls, a house, a hubby, selling hand made clothes and accessories both online and in a local shop, a blog, and the other social responsibilities and commitments that come with life. We live no where even close to family, so there is no sending the kids down to Grandma's so I can get an hour's worth of work done in peace. My sewing room is a converted storage shed, and not attached to the house. While my oldest is fine doing art projects while I work out there, the baby absolutely cannot go out there...its a baby's disaster waiting to happen with threads, pins, bolts of fabric precariously stacked, etc. That means sewing can only be done while baby is asleep. Needless to say, my time is precious and must be used wisely or nothing will ever get done. I've compiled this list of things that I try to stick to in order to make the best of my time. I am no expert at this, and certainly have much room for improvement. Just because these things work for me and my personality, may not mean they will work for you. This list is just meant to show you some ways you may not have thought of to help you make the most of your day.
- Have a routine. - I do the same things, at almost the same time, every single day. I get up by 6 AM, exercise, shower, eat a blueberry bagel and a cup of coffee while reading my Bible (yes, I eat the same exact breakfast every single week day. Lame. I know.), get kids up...ect. Not having to think about what is supposed to happen next, and what I need to get done in an of itself is a time saver. I stick to the routine, and even when I'm half asleep, I can get done what needs to be done, because it's muscle memory.
- Exercise. - I hate exercise, despise it really. But, exercising give you energy, and energy = more done in a day. I carve out 30-45 minutes first thing every morning for it...and because I hate it so much, I do the exercise that gives me the most "bang for my buck", running. I do a five minute walking warm up, a twenty minute run, and a five minute walking cool down a minimum of four days a week...but since it's part of the routine, its not hard to do more than that, and for a little bit longer than that.
- Get ready for the day. - I'm a stay at home mom, so I should wear my PJ's all day right? Wrong. I've found that if you wear t shirts and yoga pants, you'll do t shirt and yoga pants level work. A matching outfit, brushed hair, and a touch of make up goes a long way to feeling my best and doing my best work.
- Multitask. - Gotta run outside to pick up the mail, take the trash out with you. Put a load of laundry in while your in the bathroom washing your hands. (my laundry is in the bathroom) Got to run upstairs to break up a fight, take the clean laundry up with you.
- Work while you wait. - How many dishes can you put away in the 43 seconds it takes to warm up your kids lunch in the microwave? Make up the bed while the bagel is in the toaster. Put the coffee on before you run take a shower so it's ready when you get out. I think those who are best at time management are those who have figured out how to make their actions flow continuously and purposefully.
- Limit internet, TV and phone time. - I don't own a television so that takes care of that one for me...but the internet can be just as huge of a time waister. I could literally spend all day doing nothing but reading blogs and browsing Pinterest. So, to keep myself from falling into that black hole, I limit computer time to when I must be sitting anyways....my kids lunch time. I can dish peas and pin at the same time. When they are done eating, I am done browsing. I don't talk on the phone usually, unless I'm driving (not the best advise I know), or I'm outside supervising kids playing. I can't be doing other work during those times, so that's when I can talk.
- Get kids involved with house work. - My girls are still pretty little, but the oldest is big enough to help a little. If I'm doing laundry, I give her one thing at a time and send her off to put it away, and she thinks its the funnest thing ever. She works off energy, and it helps me get work done faster...win win.
- Prioritize. - Decide what is absolutely a must do, and what is not. For me, the kids and family come before my shop... my customers and getting their orders out, comes before getting a blog post up... etc.
- Keep the kids on a schedule, and work on that schedule. - When the girl are up and about, I do my prep work so that I can sew like a mad woman when they are asleep. I cut out a whole stack of things on the kitchen counter in the morning. When afternoon nap time rolls around I can get right down to business without wasting any time.
- Keep things in their place. - How much time does it take to go hunt down that thing you KNOW you left right THERE?! Been there done that. If everything has one spot, it takes one second to find it.
- Plan ahead. - Decide the night before what exact work needs to be done the next day.
- Plan to do twice as much as you could possibly do. - By planning twice as much, you push yourself harder and you will finish more than you thought you could.
- Make lists. - Write things down when you think of them, it frees the brain to focus on the task at hand.
- Take a nap. - Sounds counter productive doesn't it? Well, I can tell you some days I am just dragging. On days like that I sew sleeves to necks and cry over the scissors I can't find. I can get a lot more done by taking 45 minutes for a nap, and it will be much better quality work. I will say though, that naps can be mostly unnecessary if your routine includes a decent bedtime and exercise.
- Last, but most important...Start the day out on the right note. - No, I'm not talking about the blueberry bagel and coffee...I'm talking about spending a little time before your work day starts talking to the one who loves you the most, God. No orchestra would ever dream of giving a performance without tuning every instrument to the tuning note. You'll find your day's performance to be much more in harmony with those around you if you've tuned yourself to God and His word at the start of it. Its a little less likely you'll explode at your kids, if you just spent 20 minutes reading a chapter about patience. When your mind and heart is at peace, your actions will be much more balanced and productive.
Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.