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Time management has become another of those great buzzwords. This guru and that has a great system to help you get more out of your day. The problem with most of those systems is that they are focused on the workplace, or, to be honest, on men. Time management for the overwhelmed woman is a bit more complicated than that.
We not only have to juggle work (whether you work from home or out of the home), meals, laundry, house cleaning and organizing, perhaps ministry obligations and so much more. So, where does that leave time for you or your marriage?
I’m sure that I don’t have to tell you, my friend, that time management for the overwhelmed woman is unique. It is unique, but, not impossible.
Before I share some practical tips on time management for the overwhelmed, I recommend that you do two things:
- Evaluate how you are spending your time currently
- Decide on a time management tool
Tracking How You Spend Your Time
Just like journaling the food you eat when you are trying to lose weight or tracking your expenses for budgeting, keeping a journal of what you are doing by hour (or even fifteen minute increments) will help to keep track of how you spend your time. It will also give you insight about whether or not these activities are truly valuable in your life.
Tracking your time can be as simple or elaborate as you would like it to be. When I did this exercise, I used a notebook and listed the hours with four lines before writing the next one. For example, I woke up at 6am so my notebook looked like this:
On each of the lines, I jotted down what I did during each fifteen-minute increment in the hour.
So, using my example above:
6:00am-6:15am Bathroom, took dogs out, started coffee, fed the cats, turned computer on
6:15am-6:30am Checked personal and website email and calendar
Ouch! Only an hour out of bed and I had already wasted thirty minutes of my day on Facebook! I knew very early on that there were plenty of improvements that I could make.
Part two of tracking your time is to evaluate whether or not each activity is valuable, overall.
Here are some ways you can tell whether a task or activity truly has value or not:
- It builds meaningful relationships with people in your life.
- It helps you bless or encourage others.
- It helps you become better equipped for the things you are called you to do.
- It leaves you peacefully refreshed instead of frustrated or distracted.
- It bears “good fruit” instead of “bad fruit” in your life.
Once you have tracked your time and evaluated how you are spending it, you should start to see where you can make some changes.
Using a Time Management Tool
Before we overthink this, a time management tool can be as simple as a physical planner or Google calendar. Regardless of the calendar you decide on, you may wish to color code your days and lists. I use a color code system for two reasons: 1) it helps me to visually see what my next to-do item or appointment is and 2) it assists me in evaluating how I’m spending my time. If I notice that my week is heavily filled with one color, I know that I am not achieving good balance and adjustments have to be made.
One of the best time management systems is to simply use a calendar to commit to.
Here’s a color coding system you might want to use in your own calendar:
Blue: medical/dental/vision appointments
Yellow: kids or grandkids activities
Red: church or ministry
Purple: Household responsibilities
If you would like more room for tasks and to-do items, you might want to add a to-do list to your system. While I am a big list maker (my lists have lists!) and I do use paper for this, I keep major task lists, as well as shopping lists, on a digital to do list. I like any.do and todoist for this.
18 Of The Best Time Management Tips for the Overwhelmed Woman
1. Don’t be a slave to your inbox.
Check emails three or less times per day (say 9am, 1pm and 5pm)
2. Make lists of what you have to do.
You can keep lists by how long a task takes to complete (2 minutes, 5 minutes, 30 minutes). When you have a few spare minutes tackle something on the list. Alternatively, you can keep lists by priority: High priority – must get this done today. Medium priority – must get this done this week or Low priority – get this done this month. Tackle your lists when you are at your peak – for me it is early morning. You may wish to use a time mana
So, you feel you can’t miss this week’s episode of The Voice. No problem. Commit to handling a task while you are watching. Consider folding laundry or purging your purse or magazines. Something that does not require much concentration.
4. Learn to say no.
I know you really want to volunteer to serve at the bake sale, but perhaps you can donate a cake or cookies, instead. You can toss the cake in the oven while you are doing something else. On the other hand, you can even BUY a cake. Yes, you can and it is ok to do so. Remember that your time is valuable and you can’t do it all without going a bit crazy.
5. Consider keeping your phone on silent.
You don’t have to answer every call that comes in. Check your voice messages once or twice a day. It’s amazing how quickly phone calls eat up our time.
6. Get in the habit of routines.
For example: do dishes, wipe out sink, sweep kitchen floor before you go to bed). For more on establishing routines and how they help you sanely keep up on your home, see this article:
7. Set aside time each week to schedule your time.
Use a calendar (paper or digital) and write in every appointment, practice, meeting, etc. Then find blocks of time where you can fit in the tasks on your to-do list. Scheduling saves time and stress. You won’t as easily forget to do important things on your list.
8. Choose your outfit the night before (for the kids, too!).
This will save time trying to find the right outfit in the morning.
9. Make lunches the night before.
10. Prepare breakfast the night before.
Even if you just have cereal, you can take out the bowl, spoon, cereal, beverage glass, etc.
11. Use a timer to accomplish tasks.
If you know you only have a thirty-minute block of time to get something done, set a timer so you don’t run over and run late for something else. It can be easy to lose track of time when we are focused on a task.
12. Brain overload can cause us to feel stress.
Grab a notebook (or digital list) and have a brain purge. Write down every single thing that you have to do – big or small. When you are done, not only will you feel better, but you may notice that some are really not important, others need to be scheduled and still others can be delegated to your kids or spouse.
13. When looking at your to-do list, look for the three most important tasks.
Add those to today’s calendar and focus on those. If those things get done and you have more time, great, go to the next item. By tackling the most important items, you’ll feel productive and motivated to tackle more. You’ll also start to see which items are truly important and which ones you’ve been doing because they are easiest.
14. Get up an hour earlier.
If you dream of writing the next epic novel or simply have a to-do list longer than the hours in a day, but can’t seem to find time, get up an hour earlier and use that hour to focus on what matters to you.
15. Make a to-don’t list.
Tim Ferris, reknowned for his book The Four Hour Workweek, wrote an article about the importance of a to-don’t list in order to get everything accomplished. His tips included not answering calls from unrecognized numbers and not committing to meetings without a clear agenda or end time. Your list will look different based on your evaluation of how you are spending your time in the exercise above.
16. Reassess priorities frequently.
Once a quarter or even once a month take a look at your calendar, your to-do list and your life and see what adjustments need to be made. Each season of life (and weather) brings new challenges. Reassess and change your schedule or priorities as needed.
Once a quarter or even once a month take a look at your calendar, your to-do list and your life and see what adjustments need to be made. Each season of life (and weather) brings new challenges. Click To Tweet
17. Take time off.
Although this article is focused on time management for the overwhelmed woman, everyone needs a break. You may choose small blocks of time off (say, allowing yourself fifteen minutes of social media each evening) or larger blocks (such as planning a dinner and a movie with friends). Taking a break to recharge yourself will do so much for productivity and give you the mental, physical and emotional break we all need.
18. Stop beating yourself up.
Instead of feeling frustrated about all you can’t do or fit in, celebrate all that you do accomplish in the week.
Regardless of the actual time management system you use or which of these tips you actually incorporate into your life, recognizing that you can improve in this area is huge and truly, half the battle.
Which of the above tips do you plan on trying? What time management tip for the overwhelmed woman do you have?
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