Monday, February 23, 2015

Time Management Part 4

Here we are! Today's post is part 4 of 5 on Time Management. First we went macro. Then we began breaking things down a little. Then a little bit more. Believe it or not, today's post is all about actual time. It seems nuts that "time" hasn't really been discussed in a series about time management because there is so much more to it that the "time itself".

But here we are, and I have six tips (that I have actually tried myself-they work!) to help you wrap your mind around that wily concept of "time". Here we go!

#1. Be aware of time thieves.

Alright, I'll be fair. I did mention this in the first post. I called them time suckers. These are the things you do (knowingly or not) that drain minutes and hours of your time away. Most of the time these time suckers help you to escape from reality. And I'm all for an escape lemme tell you! However, these are the things that you feel a little crappy about afterward. Things like the obvious television and computers. But it can also be cleaning your kids room because you hate it being dirty. What? Yep. Kids can handle it. Let them do it and learn to be happy with the results. Pinterest won't be showing up to photograph his/her room anytime soon, so just deal with the legos being in the stuffed animal bin and a few socks under the bed. 

Other time suckers? Your phone, iPad, that whole bottle of wine, that kinda toxic, whiny friend that wants to talk for hours about problems (and it's a bit repetitive) but always treats for lunch yadda yadda yadda. There are a kajillion different time suckers. But be aware of them. Be aware that you want more from your time that to feel bored, dazed, zoned out, annoyed, or hungover. Think of time as having a life cost. Decide what you want those time thieves to cost in your world. Have a favorite show? Then it's not a time thief to watch it! It is if you marathon twelve episodes when your dishes are stacked up and you haven't written word one of your Great American Novel. 

When you meet that friend for lunch, change it up. When the topic moves toward the same series of life problems, gently guide the topic elsewhere and after 30-45 minutes (the time it usually takes for a nice lunch...also your "life cost"), say that it's time for you to go. You have things you need to do (it's not a lie- you really do!!!). She may not even realize that you made the whole situation more pleasant for yourself in the long run either. And if she does, and is unpleasant about it, then maybe its time to have a different type of talk, eh?

Time thieves. We all have them. It's up to you to regulate how the affect your life! Most time thieves don't have feelings. Some do, and that's okay- be kind to them and do for yourself politely but with conviction. 

Steven Banks. One of the best procrastinating piddlers ever. My dad still calls me "Steven Banks" when I am putting something off! Hilarious! I'd be shocked if Stephen Colbert didn't watch this every chance he got.

#2. Focus on the tasks that will accomplish the most.

If you meticulously fold all the socks and underwear in your house will your house be cleaner? If you set a timer and tidied your living room for 5 minutes would you immediately see results and feel better? I think that's a pretty good way to describe the above idea. It may be immediately gratifying to  organize the silverware drawer, but that isn't the task that's going to give you more bang for your buck. Taking those donation bins out of the hallway and to your local Refuge House or what have you, (it's a two-for, things look neater immediately and you give something to others that need it)!


#3. Do a time audit.

This is deeply connected to #1, but there it is. Write down where your time goes in an average day. You may be surprised at the things that consume the majority of your "thoughtless time" (time where your mind isn't really focused on anything in particular). Write it all down and analyze it. Set a timer (you'll really love that timer after a while). Plug the leaks and trim the fat. You'll be amazed at how quickly it helps without the feeling of deprivation.

 #4. Set times (and timers) for tasks, and afterwards- regroup time.

Told you. It's nothing new, but it works. 

#5. Reality check! Be honest about how long it takes you to do something.

My husband was astonished when he realized it took less than ten minutes to completely sweep and mop our (awful white) tile floors. In his head, he'd built it up to be a bigger task than it really was. With two dirty dogs always running in and out, it felt that way. Once he realized it took 1/3 of the length of an episode of Parks & Rec, it started getting done a lot more. It takes me 30 minutes to deep clean my master bathroom. It takes 7 minutes to tidy it and get it looking decent enough for visitors. Knowing that helps me on crazy days when I feel overwhelmed. I know I can get minimum done and feel great. On days when I have a bit more time, I know I could get that room sparkling in the time I would have spent mindlessly internetting. 

Be real with yourself. It took me almost three years before I realized my commute was closer to 15 minutes instead of 10, I have no idea why I was in such denial about it but I got really tired of getting to work with seconds to spare or even a minute or two late. Now I'm in the parking lot before my co-workers get there and that gives me time for a check-in call to a parent or my hubs. Also (and this is connected to #4), plan for regroup time. When I plan to work out for 30 minutes, why's it seem like it takes so much longer? Because I didn't plan for the time it took to change into my workout clothes, stretch, cool down and make it back to the house to shower. Der. I always tack on a few minutes before and after a task for the "setting up and tearing down/putting away" time. With planning and practice it becomes second nature, you get more done, and believe it or not- start showing up to places on time more often (even early!). 

#6. Schedule time to relax. Leave time for fun and play!

This is one of the most important points of this entire series. I cannot emphasize it enough! What is the point of managing your time better if that time isn't spent doing the things that make you feel happy, fulfilled and sane? Seriously guys, it's that frickin' simple.

 I live for those moments when I can escape to the tub for a wonderful bath (and it taking a normal amount of time, not an "I have to escape my life and marathon Phryne Fisher episodes" amount of time). I don't feel guilty because I worked for it. I did my no-fun stuff early, I prioritized and now I get to reap the rewards of green-tea scented pruney fingers and toes!

That's it, for today kiddos! There's one more round coming up on Wednesday. Do any of these tips resonate with you? Have you thought about them before (the timer is nothing new, but it does work)? I find that 5-7 minutes is a good timer time for me otherwise I start to feel like it's taking too long and the shorter limit gets me moving faster. What about you? I'd love to know!



  1. I loved, loved this post!!!! Well put and well done. I came home and set my timer, did my priority list and then treated myself with a short nap.... I only got 6 hours of sleep, it is a luxury!

  2. yay! congratulations!!! you prioritized and reaped the rewards! I'M SO PROUD!!!!