‘A schedule defends from chaos and whim. It is a net for catching days. It is a scaffolding on which a worker can stand and labor with both hands at sections of time. A schedule is a mock-up of reason and order – willed, faked, and so brought into being’ – Annie Dillard, The Writing Life
At the beginning of every new year I take time to refresh on time management and finances. Normally I work my way back through my Dave Ramsey DVDs and revamp my budget while using my morning block of reading time on a time management book. I also set up a meeting to discuss my retirement plan and decide what my commitments will and won’t be for the ‘semester’.
This year I chose ‘Ten Time Management Choices’ by Sandra Felton. I’ve read A LOT of time management books. Probably a freakishly, obsessive amount over the past 8 years of true adulthood. However, something unique and fresh about this particular book is that it previews several different time management techniques (all of which I’ve read about before) – giving you options. Ultimately you could try them all until you find one that ‘fits’. I put fits in quotes because let’s be real – you have to make a schedule fit. We all do.
I thought to start out the year I would share with you what works for me personally to keep me on track and ensure I live each year the way I’ve determined. I love to plan and achieving goals is a passion of mine. Admittedly these are a hodge podge collection of ideas I’ve picked up from my endless reading on the subject.
- Use your mornings wisely. I’m awake and on the move for 3 hours at home before I head to the office. Before you think of excuses to give me – this means 4:30AM. And yes, that took hard work to arrive at. As much as I resisted admitting this as a teen – what you are determined to get done should truly be done first thing. I’ve learned enough to plan that my evenings will get away from me or lack motivation.
- Don’t constantly check/monitor e-mail. E-mail is EXTREMELY distracting. I use to be the girl who laid in bed first thing in the morning before even turning on a lamp and browsed my work e-mails. Don’t do it. Your mornings will be distracted and frustrating. Let e-mail wait. For me that’s until at least 10am.
- Make choices not excuses. My absolute pet peeve is people who make excuses about their time. If I had a nickel for all the people who tell me they wish they could read as much as me while sleeping til 7, being late for work, watching 5 shows a week, and missing their goals by a mile I would be rich. I’ve determined that I don’t ever make excuses for my time but I do make choices and sometimes owning that means simply saying ‘I’m not coming’ with no excuse. Just no. I have had to learn to quit explaining myself. No it an acceptable answer.
- Multi-task. I’ve read the endless banter about multitasking as I’m sure you have. Here’s where I’ve landed… multi-task wisely. Most mornings I take a book with me to the gym while I do cardio. Is there the chance that I’m retaining less of the material because my legs and arms are pumping and sweat is dripping in my eyes? Yeah, sure. The good news is – only 8 percent of American’s read 50+ books per year. So even if I retain less info than I COULD by not multitasking – I’m in the top 8% of the country. So round down to account for multi tasking and maybe I’m top 25%. I can live with that. I’ll even call that a win. Other tasks I combine: picking up the house & making phone calls, watching shows/doing dishes, practicing my speeches/commuting, and errands on my lunch break.
- Time mapping. I map my time and what I accomplish. Most of the time this is per hour. Work and home. I don’t do it on every single of my days off. However, much like writing down everything you eat – even on the days you don’t, you’re pretty aware. It works. And for all the negative nancies about to say this takes MORE time – it actually just shows you were the time you’ve losing is going. It’s worth it.
So cheers to a more productive, better planned 2016. May your priorities be clear, your tasks get done, and your goals be achieved. I’m rooting for you.