Tuesday Tips: Time Management

“Either you run your day or your day runs you.” ~ Jim Rohn

What is a manager? According to the dictionary, a manager is  “a person who has control or direction of an institution, business, etc., or of a part, division, or phase of it.” YOU are the manager of YOUR day because notice that a manager is a person; therefore, your DAY can not be the manager of you. Just doesn’t work that way. But it seems like it sometimes, doesn’t it?

So how do you maintain control of your days? You learn to manage them. Notice I didn’t say you learn to control the circumstances. We can’t do that. I am not the manager of the universe and neither are you. (Sorry to burst your bubble if you thought you were.)  But if our days are generally in order and well-managed, having “one of those days” every once in a while will not throw us completely out of kilter. If you have “one of those days” every day, then we need to talk. No one should have “one of those days” every day. Something is already out of kilter and you need to figure out what it is and fix it. Pronto!

1. Learn to say “no.”

Say that word out loud. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. You can say “no” to your kids, your mom, your friends, people at church, etc. You can say “no” to activities, service projects, lunches or dinners out, etc. You can say “no” to just about anything and you need to until you get your days under control. After that, be VERY SELECTIVE about what you say “yes” to. Some of you need to pick up the phone right now and gracefully back out of some stuff that’s on your calendar. Just explain that you are trying to get your schedule in order and that, at least for right now, you can’t participate in _________________ (fill in the blank).  You may have to make more than one phone call. Once your days are under control, you can say “yes” to lunch out with a friend or to a special service project…just not every day. There needs to be some serious blank space on your calendar. Remember: If you say “yes” to everything that comes your way,  you may find yourself having to say “no” to an amazing, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity because your calendar is already too full.

2. Limit your kids’ activities.

Little Susie will not die (though she might indicate to you that she will) if she can’t take ballet, play soccer, act in a play, and participate in AWANA’s all at the same time. Especially if Susie’s brother plays football, is on the debate team, is in the youth group, and can’t drive himself just yet. You are one person. One. Your spouse is one person. One. That’s two people. Two people can’t be in seven different places at once. One person certainly can’t be. So even if you work out the logistics of getting Susie and her brother to their respective locations, you still are going to miss something. You’ll have to choose Susie’s play over brother’s championship football game. Or his debate team competition over Susie’s dance recital. Someone is going to miss out. Several someones, actually. So limit the activities.  One, possibly two, activities at a time or in a season is plenty. (Teach your kids NOW to be selective and to learn to say “no.” It will benefit them in the future.) Besides, if you spend all of your time in the road driving them from Point A to Point B to Point C, etc., when are you going to have time to be quiet? To have dinner with your spouse? To just breathe? You wonder why your laundry is piled up, the dishes aren’t done, and dinner isn’t ready by 6:00 (or whatever your dinner time is)? Because there aren’t appliances in your car, mini-van, or SUV, and you are never home to use the ones in your house. Limit the activities and spend some time at home.

3. Keep your calendar in a visible, easily accessible location and write everything on it.

If you can see it readily, you might be less likely to add something to it. Also, when you have things that you can’t miss – like doctor’s appointments – you can see when they are so you don’t say “yes” to something else. Write on there when bills are due. Put birthdays on there. Put all (limited!) activities on there. Be sure to leave some blank spaces. Please. (You can do this on your calendar on your smart phone as well. But pull it out and check it before you say “yes” to something. I use both…one for the visibility, and one for the reminder “ding” I get an hour before an appointment.)

NOTE: An exercise for you if you wonder why you’re always so stressed out. Print or copy a blank calendar for a month. Put everything you have to do or are signed up to do or whatever on there. Everything. Work. Church. School. Home school. Activities. Lunch dates. Play dates. Appointments. Any and every thing that you do…every day. Use markers or different colored highlighters for different things. Is there any white space on there? If there isn’t, you should pick up that phone and start making calls. Just saying.

4. Use schedules and routines.

Establish a laundry schedule. Make a menu plan. Maintain a cleaning routine. Have an exercise schedule. Schedules and routines help keep us (me, anyway) sane and in control. Whether you work outside the home, work from home, home school, stay at home while the kids go to school…doesn’t matter. We all need schedules and routines. Remember that you are trying to gain control of your days. “Control” is the key word here. Be flexible, but at least have a plan. Don’t think of a schedule as being a strict, unbendable thing. Think of it as a guideline to keep you on course. If you normally wash towels on Monday and you get sick and don’t get to it, the world won’t end. If you’ve been maintaining schedules and routines on a regular basis, you won’t be behind and won’t feel overwhelmed by adding a load of towels to your laundry on another day.

5. Limit your time with electronics.

Just because you have a phone doesn’t mean you always have to answer it. That’s what answering machines and voice mail are for. (Always answer for your spouse and kids, however.) Set a time every day that you’ll check messages and return phone calls. When we home schooled, I didn’t answer the phone between 9-2 unless it was my husband. I let people leave messages. If there was an urgent message, I would take care of that. Otherwise, I called back after school and after my cup of afternoon coffee. 🙂 If the kids are at school, don’t spend the entire day on Facebook and Google. You can get sucked up into that pretty easily. Limit the amount of television you – and your kids – watch. Record shows you like and watch them when you actually have time. (Limited TV time does not necessarily apply during football season.) Side note: I think that smart phones may be the tools of the devil. Not sure. But that’s my guess.

6. Reevaluate regularly.

At least monthly, take a serious look at your calendar, your schedules and routines, and an honest look at how much time you’re spending online and such. If something isn’t working, change it. If you are feeling overwhelmed with busyness, get out of something. Try something new for a month and see if it works better for you. Eventually, you’ll find what truly works best for you. Stick with it. If circumstances change – new job, new baby, new house – adjust as necessary, but don’t abandon your schedules and routines all together. Reevaluate and rework until you establish new ones.

Always remember, if you don’t have time for yourself, you’re spending too much time on something else. You can quote me on that. 😉

Have a blessed Tuesday!

Lynne

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One thought on “Tuesday Tips: Time Management

  1. Stephanie Shirley says:

    This is all great time management advice! I’ve recently learned the value of saying “no” when too much is just eating away at my schedule and keeping me from doing the things I really need/want to do in a day.

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