Hope you are having a great week. It feels like just yesterday we were ringing in the new year, and already it is mid-January! Time sure does seem to move at lightening speed, and the older I get the faster it seems to go. I don’t know about you, but I always feel like I am racing the clock!
There never seems to be enough hours in the day to accomplish all.the.things. The first week of January I set some goals for myself, both professionally and personally. My ability to achieve these goals all comes down to time management. Being the creative gal that I am, I always seem to have lots of ideas and creative endeavors that I want to pursue.
What I have noticed is that I tend to spread myself a little thin and I don’t always devote enough time to certain projects that are of importance to me. So I am trying to be more focused on my priorities and more conscious of my time. Today I thought I would share some of the time management tricks that help me to be as productive as possible. I figure some of these tips might help you too, and they are a good refresher for me!
Find a good day planner
One of the most important aspects of time management for me is my day planner. There are a million kinds out there, and I have tried several. For the second year in a row, I am using a brand called Day Designer. The cool thing is that you can download a sample page for free and give it a try, which I did and right away I knew this was the system for me!
What I love about this planner is the way that it’s structured. It is organized by month, with a 2 page monthly layout to start…
and then each weekday of the month has it’s own page. Here is what I really love…the way each daily page is organized…
As you can see, there is a daily schedule broken down by the hour, a section for your daily top 3 priorities, a to-do list as well as some other fun sections that I don’t take advantage of as much. I most appreciate the hourly schedule, it’s hard to find a day planner that incorporates this. For me, it really helps to get a handle on the day when I can plot out the time commitments I have and as such, I am trying to get better at “budgeting” my time.
Not only is my day designer planner so well organized and functional, it is pretty. I know that shouldn’t matter, but it does! What can I say, I like pretty things!
This is not a sponsored post or anything, I just really love this planner and I am so grateful for it. I purchased mine through Amazon, here is the link if you are looking for one. Just a word of warning, there are different types of planners by Day Designer, the one that I am loving is the “Daily and Monthly” planner. Not all of them are organized in the same way.
Use a Family Calendar
In addition to using my day planner and the calendar in my phone, we also keep a family calendar. This might seem totally redundant to some people, and if you think my multiple calendar system is bonkers I totally get it! BUT, this is what works best for us, so this is how we roll.
With 3 kids in our family, our schedule is pretty busy which means there are many things to stay on top of – birthday parties, professional days at school, practices, games and the list could go on! A few years ago I discovered the “Do It All” mom calendar and just like with my favorite planner, it works really well for us.
I love the title, but in my case it would more accurately be called the “2019 Do-Most-of-it Mom Calendar” for “moms who occasionally drop the ball but mostly keep it together”. LOL!
Here is what I like about this particular calendar :
2.it comes with fun stickers for holidays, birthdays, etc.
3.it has several lines per day to write down multiple events
The reason that we need this Family Calendar is that my kids and husband like to know what’s on tap for any given day, and I found that having everything written down in a central location worked really well for us. Our Family Calendar lives on the fridge, which I know is not very “pretty” but I tried moving it to different spots in the house and it just didn’t work for us. This is one of those things that, while isn’t my favorite stylistically, is a reflection of the season we are in for now. It seems that we need that visual reminder front and center.
Again, this is not a sponsored post, I just love this calendar! Mine came from Indigo if you want to snag one for yourself! I just noticed it is on sale for $12.59 which is a great deal!
Sticky Note To-Do list
Something I have always done is to create a master to-do list at the beginning of the week, breaking things down into categories, separating work items from family items. When I started using the day Designer, I loved the to-do list section.
I would write my weekly list starting on Monday’s page, then I would cross of the things I had done and re-write unfinished tasks on the next day’s to-do list section. I found I was re-writing the same things over and over again, which was a little annoying. Then I had an a-ha moment and came up with the idea of writing my list on post-it notepad.
I draw a line down the middle and write Home/Family tasks on one side and then work stuff on the other. Then instead of writing things out again and again…I am a bit of a “Procraster Master”….I just move the list to the next day, crossing of items as I finish them.
This is so much more efficient than constantly re-writing the same list! Friday’s I can review the list and see what I haven’t yet completed. I try never to carry something over to the next week, but that occasionally happens.
I am trying to get myself into the habit of actually assigning a time to each task and writing them into the schedule. This is a bit of a work in progress for me. I also like the idea of prioritizing the most important 3 tasks every day and then challenging myself to tick those off first.
Use Colored Pens
I use a colored pen system both on our family calendar and also in my day planner.
I have been using this color coding system on our family calendar for a few years now. Each kid is a different color so instead of writing “Kallum’s basketball game, Friday 6:00pm, Cambie”, I just have to write the “what, where and when”.
It’s a small thing, but saves time and space on our calendar, which gets pretty full! And just in case I forget which kid is which color, I make a little legend each month.
I use colored pens in my day planner as well. I am writing exercise and self care items in pink, work stuff in dark blue and family commitments in pink. Not only is this practical, but it adds a little color and fun! I love these pens by papermate.
Set aside time to plan out your week
This is something that I don’t always manage to do, but I find I am most productive when I take a bit of time on Monday morning to plan out the week ahead.
Just like the saying goes..
First I check my phone to see if I have any scheduled appointments, and I put those into my day planner. I also look at what the kids have going on, and then I put their activities in my planner, taking notes of car pooling obligations, Dr. appointments, professional days, etc.
Once I have all of my commitments plotted out for the week, I try and come up with a rough plan for what tasks I should do on which day. For example, if I need to go shopping for a client project, and I know it will take me a few hours including travel time, I can look and see what the best day might be to knock that off my list. As a mom, I know that plans can change on a dime and it’s important to be flexible. But having a plan for the week really helps to keep me focused!
Use a timer
I set timers for my kids all the time, but I also use this strategy to boost my productivity. When I am trying to tackle a specific task, I give myself a time frame, set a timer on my phone and then get to it.
If it’s a job I don’t really enjoy …like unloading the dishwasher for the hundredth time, I will try and make a game of it and challenge myself to do it in under 2 minutes. Yes, I am a huge nerd. I find there are so many distractions around me, setting a timer is the most effective way to force myself to stick to the task at hand.
So in summary, here are 6 strategies I use to help boost my productivity and keep me focused on my personal and professional goals:
I am always trying to improve my time management skills and would love to hear your tips and suggestions. Leave them for me in the comments below!
Thanks for reading!