Let me tell you the truth. I struggle to do all the things. My type-A personality dreams of an organized home, clean spaces, a clear to-do list, and the ability to manage my time well enough to get everything done. I know so many of you face the same challenges with time management and productivity. There are just not enough hours in the day!
Whether you work from home, like me, are a full-time mom or work outside the home while you raise a family, you are probably stretching yourself thin! Women are amazing that way; we always find a way to squeeze it all in. I was just texting with a girlfriend last night. It was super late, we had both already tucked our families into bed and were up working. Women have a way of just making it happen, but it’s usually at our expense, and frankly I got tired of living that way, and I’ve been making changes.
I write for a lifestyle blog owned by my real-life friend and true type A mama (I’m more of a wants to be type A personality) over on Live Love Texas. Last year I shared my 7 Secrets for Conquering the World. Those seven secrets are still how I manage to accomplish so much each week, and today I wanted to expand on those and share a few more of my best productivity tricks. I have been using these secrets to handling our new on the go lifestyle. The only thing more difficult than fitting it all in, is doing it around kindergarten drop off and pick up! So here are more tips to make it all happen!
PLAN & PREP & SCHEDULE
I am a huge believer in the Sunday night plan and prep. I need to hit the ground running Monday morning, which means that I need everything ready to go when I wake up. Sunday nights is when I start the week. I make sure I have a clean house, everything laid out for school, my master to-do list updated, my weekly to-do list, meal plan, and grocery list made. This Sunday night prep has changed my life for productivity and feeling on top of the week instead of feeling like I can’t keep up. But since the new year, I have taken the plan and prep up a notch.
Now I plan out my days to the minute. I literally look into every spare minute of the weekdays and put my to-do list items in a time slot on the calendar. If there’s not a time for everything during the week, it comes off the list. This not only helps me to fit everything in and keep me on track each day, but it also forces me to be realistic about what I can accomplish every week. I use my daily schedule evaluation to plan my days. You can grab your free printables right over there ——————————————>
Feeling overwhelmed can be paralyzing. There isn’t much more than can halt your productivity than having too much on your mind. Planning each day during the week and having organized to-do lists can help prevent overload but sometimes that isn’t enough. That’s when I do a complete brain dump.
I get the kids situated, go to a quiet place (I have absolutely done this on the laundry room floor), get a spiral and pen and dump my brain out on paper. I simply write it down. Everything on my mind, I write down. If I’m worried about my son’s speech testing at school, all the things that I need to get done, an argument I had with The Water Man, all the groceries I am out of, stresses of any kind. I write it all down. If I think it, I write it.
Just the act of getting it off my mind and onto paper is a huge relief. Some items I can do something about. I can make a grocery list, add tasks to a to-do list, get all my emotions out about something that’s eating at me. Some feelings I might not have realized were bothering me so bad, and I need to talk to someone. I might need to address something with my husband or call a girlfriend to talk about a worry. This clears my mind and eases my stress like nothing else can. Most stress and worry can be lightened when I have a clear view of what needs to be addressed. Try a brain dump, it will lighten your load.
THE TIMER SYSTEM
I’m sure you’ve heard of eating the frog in the morning. It’s a productivity term that basically means that if there is a task that you really don’t want to do (like eat a frog, gross!) then do it first thing. The idea is that if you get the dreaded tasks out of the way first thing in the morning, then you’ll be more productive all day. I love this concept; it is an excellent strategy to counter procrastination. But…. apparently, sometimes it’s not the frog I have a problem with. Sometimes I put off simple tasks, then I see them on my weekly to-do list over and over and over until a easy task seems daunting and overwhelming. I hate to admit it, but cleaning out my office has been on my to-do list every week since November… whoops, it’s March!
So, I started the timer system. I set a timer for a specific task. I do not allow myself to do anything else during that time. NOTHING. I am only allowed to work on that one task. I cannot awnser the phone, return texts or emails. I cannot grab the laundry when the dryer buzzes, I do not let myself get distracted and switch gears (I always find something to clean when I’m on a deadline). I only work on one thing. I allow myself only enough time to complete the task and if it’s a big task, I might break up the time throughout the day to make it more manageable. Using a timer keeps me laser focused and when I want to stop, I remind myself that I can quit as soon as the timer goes off. Boom. Game changer.
I haven’t changed the hours in the day and yet I am finding so much more time to be with my family, take care of myself and tackle big projects. I was tired of feeling overwhelmed, spinning my wheels and never being able to catch up. These 3 secrets will change the way you manage your time. If you need to make big changes, you might want to check out this post for more tips!