Recently I’ve realized that I have a bad habit of jotting things down in journals or notebooks, then promptly forgetting all about them. Until I go looking for something in particular and discover some fantastic, but forgotten, idea. Can anybody say, “Follow Through”? So I’ll be spending sometime this weekend going through journals and notebooks, mining for forgotten gems of genius…
(Photo by Anna Denise on Flickr)
I share that story because one of the things I came across in a journal was a notecard from a teleconference I listened in on last summer about time management, working at home, and kids. The woman, whose name I don’t recall, had a whole mess of kids (as opposed to my one), home-schooled them, and supported the family during her years of single parenthood doing internet-based marketing from home full-time. Granted, her kind of work and mine vary greatly, but she had some great tips for keeping it together and making the most of your days.
The following are the tips I found relevant. Even if you don’t have kids, most of these ideas can still be applied to your workdays.
Seven Tips for Time Management- With or Without Kids
1. Get Organized. Plan meals for the week, organize the house, create a dedicated workspace. Organization saves time in the long-term, but it does require some time to set up in the short-term. Remember the big picture and take that little bit of time now…you’ll love yourself later for it.
2. Yes, Kids Can! I remember this woman having pretty strong feelings about children and chores, and I’m in total agreement. I am completely perplexed by people who stress about a lack of time, yet don’t give their children chores or any sort of household responsibilities. J. is still small, but we’ve already started the training. At two, we’re working on putting things in the trash, picking up toys before bed, taking his dishes to the sink, and putting dirty clothes in the laundry basket. I’m not advocating that children become unpaid servants (not on the record, anyways!), but they do need to contribute. How else do kids learn responsibility, independence, self-reliance, domestic skills, etc. if we do it all for them because “they’re just kids”? Childhood is when you learn those things!
3. Don’t be half-busy. Work Time=Work Time and Kid Time=Kid Time. I’m guilty of this. I’ll try stringing coherent sentences together for a blog post while J. is playing underfoot or brainstorm ideas when we’re supposed to be playing or watching a video. It’s not fair to either of us. He deserves my undivided attention, as does my work. And really, when I schedule and plan specific time to work, I do find it’s easier to be present with J. Granted, kids don’t always operate according to schedule, but you can plan a general time for things- younger ones have to sleep at some point, yes? And the older ones can be talked to about entertaining themselves while you work for a while.
4. Less time = More “doing”– When you have less time “to learn”, “to plan”, “to discuss”, you tend to get to the actual doing. (Why do you think work meetings end up feeling so unproductive? Too much talk-y, not enough do-y.)
5. List 3-5 things to accomplish that day. This tip actually came from Gwen Bell, but it’s one that’s stuck in my mind. She uses a 3″ x 5″ index card to list her 3-5 things each day. I love this idea, as an index card is easy to keep with you and allows you to jot on the back any genius ideas that strike or things to do another day, so you stay focused on today’s tasks. My *free* PDF Weekly Planner works for this also. It small, portable, and allows you to plan your week, and make notes for the next, all on one sheet of folded paper.
6. Always know-“What’s Next?” This makes such a HUGE difference in keeping me on track. Always know what you’re next actionable item is, be it writing a blog post, brainstorming for a project, or starting a new design. Planning ahead for what I’m going to do when J. is napping, bathing, off to bed, etc. makes a noticeable difference in my productivity. Plus, when you know what your next actionable item is (key phrase here), you’re less likely to find yourself aimlessly roaming the internet (not that any of us are guilty of that!)
7. Multi-task during TV time. Ok, this one is mine and something I do to justify watching mindless television. Come 9:00 PM most weeknights, I love some USA and TNT dramas, and when It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia returns on FX, the gods will sing, and I’ll do a happy dance. I’m a Housewives junkie too (although I think I’m done with the Jersey girls this season). Unless I’m completely brain dead by that time of the day, I always try to have a notebook in my lap if I’m in front of the TV. Most shows don’t require a lot of brain power, so I can float back and forth between the show, jotting down ideas, making lists of things to get done the next day, flipping through books and magazines for inspiration, etc.
When I started implementing these things last summer, I felt more in control. But then life happened, I got off-track, and forgot all about what was actually worked. So this time, I made a printout to post over my desk as a reminder, and I’m sharing it with you!
(click on the image to download)
This downloadable, printable mini-poster, lists the first six tips I shared here, plus has room at the bottom to write things that work for you. I didn’t include #7 since some people aren’t into TV, but feel free to write it in on your mini-poster.
Think any of these can help you? Got some great ideas that are already working for you? THEN SHARE!! We need to be helping one another here!! Leave a comment and share your tips with others.
Here’s to less stress, more doing!!