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I don't know about you, but time management is a mystery to me. Sure, when I was single or without kids, time management was a breeze! I was productive and efficiently. I felt confident about planning my time and getting things done.
Even as child one and two entered the world, I could manage my job and my day-to-day life well. I had all the schedules and all the routines. I was tired, but things got done.
It wasn't until my youngest was born and diagnosed with some special needs by his first birthdate (apraxia of speech) that things began to slowly fall apart. We were slowing climbing our way out debt and dealing with all the ups and downs of working in full-time ministry. Life was full and I was overwhelmed.
I would love to tell you that one day I just magically figured things out and that my life functions seamlessly right now. HA! My kids will be the first to tell you that I forget to pack lunches on a regular basis and don't write things down on the calendar. I am quick to get overwhelmed each and every week, but the difference is that now I have a few tools to deal with that overwhelming feeling of "how will I make all this happen?"
These are just a few tricks I used and have helped me tremendously to build this business, manage my day job, raise kids, and support my husband in his calling in full-time ministry work. It is not exhaustive, but a starting point.
CREATE A TIME BUDGET
I've been a long- time fan of Amy Lynn Andrews. She is a blogging guru and teaches fellow bloggers how to build their business in language normal people can understand. Her Useletter is one of my favorite lists to subscribe to. It is always filled with great tips!
Her book Tell Your Time is a quick read but full of fantastic tips on time management. Amy homeschools her kids and runs a thriving business. She knows her stuff and this book shows it.
She encourages her readers to set up a zero-based time budget with a simple 4 step system. Much like a zero-based cash budget, this system forces you to block off each time of the day towards your roles and goals. She even includes an example of her typical week!
Each time of the day is predetermined for an activity that will get you closer to your goals. She says,
"Just as you only buy so much with a fixed amount of cash, you can only accomplish so much with a fixed amount of time. Spend your time wisely."
A time budget may seem rigid at first, but it is really freeing. If I block time out for a certain activity it has to be worth it! I find myself saying;
"Do I really want to be doing this task?"
"Is this task getting me closer to my goal?"
If I can answer NO with confidence, I probably need to let that task go.
Especially those of us who own our own businesses or have open ended schedules, a time budget can really increase our productivity. You don't question what you need to do next or waste your day procrastinating about a certain task. You simply get more done.
DO FIRST THINGS FIRST
Brian Tracey has probably written the most effective and most popular book on time management. Eat That Frog is a gem and a must read for anyone! I read this book almost every year.
His idea is simple: you don't have time to do it all. If you set out every single day to get everything on your list done, you are not using your time effectively. The most successful people start their days with the MOST IMPORTANT tasks. The tasks that will get them closer to their big goals.
He talks about how we tend to procrastinate and do the easier task first each day. Unfortunately, the easier tasks will not get us to our goals. They are time wasters and lead to frustration.
Instead, start your day with the tasks that matter. The tasks that will get you towards your goal. The tasks you want to put off and avoid. You know what tasks I'm talking about. Get it over with! Do those things first!
I knew for years I wanted to start this business and this blog. I knew exactly what kind of business I could build, but I put if off. I came up with a million reasons NOT to do it. To this day, when I sit down to write or work on my business, I have to commit to eating that frog.I commit to doing the scary things first. The things that will help other and grow my business.
I am so tempted to avoid the work that matters. I don't want to do the scary things. When I choose to give into fear and laziness, my goals are lost. I wasted my time. Do the things you want to avoid FIRST!
Read more about Eat That Frog here.
CHANGE WHAT YOU CAN
I resonated with Laura Vanderkamps's book I know How she does it. Laura collected hour-by-hour time sheets from women who make $100,000 a year or more. She found some fascinating things about the lives of these women. Contrary to popular belief, these high earning women worked less and slept more than you would think. They spent quality time with their spouses and kids. They worked out and maintained friendships. Laura includes their time logs in the book as well as tips and trick she has learned from these women.
In life, you can be unhappy or you can change things. And even if there are things you can't change, you can often change your mind-set and question assumptions that are making life less good than it could be.
As a working mom of growing and active kids, I am learning to let a lot of things go. I may not be able to control what is happening around me, but I can control what I think about the things going on around me.
I lived for years in an idealistic world that my happiness was dependent on a clean house and tidy to-do list. As you can imagine, my house is never quite clean enough, and my to-do list is bananas every single day. Happiness was hard to find. I woke up and went to bed frustrated.
I've learned what is really important to me is not a clean house, but strong relationships with my kids and husband. My work also matters to me and is an important calling on my life. It centers me, grows me, and makes me a better wife and mother.
I've stopped stressing so much about the house and invited my family into tidying up, doing laundry, cooking, and mowing the lawn. I have a lot on my plate, but there are plenty of things I don't do. I've had to say no to helping my husband with various things within his ministry and he has sent me out to do what he knows I am best at. I cannot control all the demands on my life, but I can decide what demands matter to me.
Read more about this and more in Laura Vanderkamps's book I Know How She Does It.
YOU HAVE MORE TIME THAN YOU THINK
I read Robert Pagliarini's book The Other 8 Hours, 5 years ago. This little book has changed the way we live. The ideas in this book took us from broke and dependent to debt-free business owners. It gave us the confidence and tools to carry out a little dream.
The question we get over and over again is, "how do you have time to do the things you love?" We learned in this book that we all HAVE time, it's just a matter of finding it.
Pagliarini is convinced that you have the free-time to create wealth and purpose in your life. The goal is not to cram more into your day but to get more out of your day. He doesn't just preach it, he gives in-depth ideas on how to create the life you want.
After we read this book, we started setting up clear work boundaries. We made lists and dreams about how we want life to go. We said no to kids activities, mindless tv, and hours on social media. We invested in things that would make our dreams a reality and never looked back.
The truth is, we think our work takes more time than it actually does. If we did our work with diligence within the hours our employees paid us to work, we should be able to come home and use our other 8 hours of the day to build the life we dream about. This is exactly what we've done the last 8 years of our marriage.
Life is about seasons. One season you maybe up to your eyeballs in babies or special needs therapy and the next season everyone is off to school all day long. One season you have no money to pay the light bill and the next season you've saved up just enough cash to buy a car.
Let's take a deep breath and take one season at a time. Doing the best we can with the tools we have available to us. Personal growth, not perfection, is the goal.
If you work 8 hours a day, what are you really doing with the other 8? How can you use them to move your life towards your big goals?
Read more about this concept in his book The Other 8 hours.
Let us know, what is your biggest obstacle with managing YOUR time?