I know we’ve all wished for more hours in the day at some time or another! When the to-do list appears to never end, and when that deadline is looming, it would be handy to be able to stop time. But of course, this is impossible, and so it’s also necessary to be able to manage our time well, and get the right things done in less time. I don’t always get this right, but I’ve been fine-tuning my time management skills the more kids we add to our tribe (baby number 3 is due in early April this year!) as time really does appear to get away from me daily!
1. Start the day with a clear intention
First of all, I find that it’s been helpful to start my day with a clear focus. Sitting down the night before and planning out my day means that I know exactly what needs to be done when I wake up the next day. I use my Leanne Baker Daily planner to set my List of 3 – a concept by Leanne Baker where you write down 3 priorities that you wish to complete before you head to bed the next day. This year I’m using a weekly planner, so I fill in each day in the weekly spread with any appointments, and the tasks I want to achieve. In the daily planner, you can fill in any appointments in the timed section, and the tasks you want to achieve in the morning, afternoon and evening sections. The self-care section means that my wellbeing isn’t forgotten in the midst of the busyness too! If you don’t own a planner, a Padtastic notepad or notebook is the perfect tool to jot down your to-do list and give yourself a clear focus for the next day.
2. Check your to-do list
Revisit your to-do list several times throughout the day so that you can maintain focus, and tick off what you have completed to provide yourself with a sense of achievement. Keep your list flexible, in case unexpected things pop up through the day (as they tend to!) This is where having a clear focus and using the List of 3 is vital – if nothing else is achieved during the day, then you can just draw your attention to completing 3 things, which saves you from becoming overwhelmed, while still helping you feel productive.
3. Complete the task you enjoy least, before anything else.
Often when we have a task we aren’t keen to complete, we leave it until last because we are avoiding it. Something that’s really helped with my time management is actually doing the task I am least looking forward to first – it gets it out of the way so that you aren’t left worrying about it and dwelling on it for the rest of the day. This is also vital for those tasks which are most important – start with these and resist the temptation to clear the smaller, unimportant tasks first: prioritise!
Another idea for getting through a long to-do list is to delegate as much as you can. Even young children can help out with little things on your list, and I find it can even be an enjoyable activity for everyone! For example, if you have several areas in your house needing a tidy-up, involve the kids and set the timer to see who can pick up the most items in that time.
5. Review your day
At the end of the day, spend 5-10 minutes reviewing how your day went. Give yourself a pat on the back if you achieved what you wanted, and if you think your day’s efforts fell short, decide what you’ll do differently tomorrow in order to accomplish what you need to. But always be kind to yourself, and ask yourself: “Will it matter in 5 years?” This question should give you some perspective, especially when there are lots of things going on – always remember what and who are most important to you!
Do you feel that you manage your time well? What have you found works well for you? I’d love to hear from you – feel free to leave a comment!