I love to organize. I am naturally an organized person and I have great thrill in life getting myself and keeping myself organized. Some of you may be thinking, "Eh--well I am not an organized person and could never be so, so this post is not for me." You can become better at the things you want to be better at. Heber J. Grant once said: "“That which we persist in doing becomes easier for us to do; not that the nature of the thing is changed, but that our power to do is increased." As you work at being more organized, you will get better at it. Here are some strategies for you to improve your time management.
Earlier this week I posted on Prioritizing Your Time. Please read that if you haven't.
Keep a List
You really need a way to keep track of the things you need to do. You might use apps, a notebook, a planner, a sticky note, a planner...whatever works for you works. Just make sure you have a list of the things you need to get done and the places you need to be.
Keeping a list helps keep you on task. This is a basic of goal-setting, and your usage of time each day should be essentially a goal. You want to have a goal to use your time wisely.
You also want to outsource your brain. When you are a mom, you wear so many hats that it is challenging to keep track of everything that needs to be done. Keep your lists in your preferred method so your brain is free to focus on the task at hand.
It is wise to take a task and break it into several manageable tasks. So let's take sewing something for an example since I am currently making Halloween costumes. You have this large task of needing to make a costume. You can break that into smaller steps. One day, your goal might be to cut out the pattern pieces. The next day, it might be to cut out the fabric. The next might be to sew the project. Another might be to hem. As mothers, we rarely have a huge chunk of time to tack a project all at once, so breaking it down into manageable tasks you can fit into your day will help you be more effective with your time and get things done. Just be realistic in your baby-steps.
Know and Think
Now that you have your priorities and you have a list of things that need to be done, you can apply the method of knowing and thinking. Since you have outsourced your brain, you need to check in with that brain so you know what is going on. It does you no good to outsource if you never consult back.
Early each week, go over what is going on during the upcoming week. In our family, we do this during our family home evening each Monday night. This way, we all know what is upcoming for the next week and know what to expect.
Each evening before I go to bed, I look at the schedule for the next day so I can think through and prepare anything that I might need to prepare. It helps me hit the ground effectively the next morning so if anything needs to happen right away or if I need to be ready earlier than usual, I make sure that happens.
Around breakfast each morning, I then review the day, my to-do list, and decide what we will have for dinner that night (from my list of meals for the week). For me, having dinner as a family each night is a high priority, so I make sure I have things prepared and ready to make that happen. See
Prioritizing Family Meals for more on that.
Now you are ready to actually start completing the tasks you have before you.
Small to Big
A great strategy for paying down debt is to pay off your smallest debt first, then apply the money that went toward that debt to your next smallest, and so forth. This strategy is also effective for getting things done. Each day, you will have small and easy tasks before you and larger tasks that will take more time. I find it effective to do the easiest and fastest tasks first. This frees my mind to focus on fewer things that day. It also helps me feel motivated and good about my time spent because I get a lot of things done. If you take on the biggest project first, you might find the day ends and that is all you accomplished, and it leaves you feeling discouraged.
Do Not Multi-Task
Women are natural multi-taskers, and sometimes multi-tasking can be your friend in trying to get things done. You can visit with a friend while you iron. That kind of multi-tasking is fantastic. Some multi-tasking can actually decrease your productivity, however.
I am talking about when you are cleaning a room. You then take something to put it away, and while there, you see your laundry that needs to be folded, so you pause the room cleaning and do some folding. Then you take the laundry to put it away and notice your bathroom is a mess. As you are putting away the random items that were trailed into the bathroom that morning, you see an email pop up on your computer so you sit down to respond.
This is classic "Laura Numeroff"--you know--If You Give a Mouse a Cookie and the like? You are doing a lot of things but not really accomplishing any one thing. Stay task oriented.
Set Aside Chunks of Time
Like I said earlier, it is hard to have large chunks of time to get things done when you are a mom. I have a list of things I like to get done in a week. I have my cleaning, blogging, some crafting, and I love to have some time to read a book if I can, also. For a while, I would try to do some of each every day, and for a while, that worked for me. At some point, I realized it was no longer working. I was "Numeroffing" it.
My current system is to have a day for things. One day of the week is my laundry day. On this day, my main goal is to get laundry done. Naturally there are other things that need to be addressed, like taking care of children and feeding the family, but the main goal of the day is laundry. If I get done early, I can do something else.
Tuesday is my blogging day. This is the day I try to get everything done for my blog that needs to be done for the week. Wednesday is crafting day. Thursday is read a book day. Friday is cleaning day/family history day. Now, if something comes up (and it often does), I can cut out doing crafts or I can cut out reading a book. I don't live and die by this, but it is a way for me to organize time and a way to dedicate times to different areas of my life I really want to focus on.
Do Most Important First
You might have something that needs to be done in three weeks that is of high interest to you, but you need to make sure you take care of that thing that needs to be done by tomorrow first.
You will notice I have time set aside to do hobbies. Many hobbies are for the family--any crafts I make/sew are for the kids or home. Reading is for me.
M. Russell Ballard said: "...even as you try to cut out the extra commitments...find some time for yourself to cultivate your gifts and interests. Pick one or two things that you would like to learn or do that will enrich your life, and make time for them. Water cannot be drawn from an empty well, and if you are not setting aside a little time for what replenishes you, you will have less and less to give to others, even to your children."
Having some hobbies will help you to have the mental "umph" to help your family out.
Do Not Procrastinate
When it comes time to do tasks, don't procrastinate them. I once read a quote from Spencer W. Kimball that said procrastination is "...an unwillingness to accept personal responsibility now." I mean, ouch right? Do it now. Nothing is more stressful than having to get stuff done at the last minute. If you think ahead, you can spend the same time on tasks but do them ahead of time.
Also, do not get in your own way. We often drag our feet while doing tasks we don't like. Just move out of your way mentally and even physically and get the task done.
Remember Life is a Journey
Life is a journey, not a destination. Just remember as you work toward having this time management that you are working toward your journey. There will always be things to do. The to-dos will never stop. You have to make sure you are willing to be flexible and that you make time to have fun and spend time with your family. Make sure that is part of your list (plug for not procrastinating, if your tasks are not "fire" situations, you can be more flexible with them). Your point in organizing your time is to make sure you are able to focus on the essential, so do not let lists get in the way of relationships.
- Increasing Our Capacity
- Time With God
- You Can't Do Everything
- Only a Few Things are Essential
- Figuring Out What is Essential
- Good Sacrifice vs. Foolish Sacrifice
- Slow the Pace
- We Don't Need to Live at a Frantic Pace
- A Good Woman
- Motherhood: Some Uplifting Words
- How I Do It: Organize Myself
- Life is a Journey, Not A Destination