In this blog post, we will work on getting our time organized and maximized together! Work smarter, not harder! Being organized doesn’t just mean physical items in your life…
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I am a professional organizer which means I do have a relatively organized home. A home for everything and everything in it’s home. I’m certainly not perfect, however! I do occasionally leave something out when I am in a hurry. There are also 4 other people who live in my home and are not quite as into organizing as I am! So, things do get misplaced or left out on the regular. That’s life!
However, I am taking a blogging class in an effort to further my education on the topic and improve my business. The woman teaching the class (Eryn Gilson of www.614mom.com ) is a professional blogger and someone I definitely admire! Her blog is for Columbus Ohio moms of all kinds who need ideas, support, or just to know that another mom out there has their same issues or interests! I highly recommend it! She made a statement last night that has stuck with me. I have been pondering it and mulling it over ever since and I have finally had an epiphany! At last, I understand why her statement stuck with me the way it did!
Her statement was “I cannot stand not having control over my time.” Being a professional organizer, I am accustomed to and comfortable with putting things in order and also guiding people in setting up their own organizing systems in their homes so they, too, can feel peace and order in their homes and lives. However, I never considered organizing my time. Such a concept just hadn’t occurred to me….until she made that statement!
My time definitely gets away from me more than I’d like to admit. I am a mom, wife, childcare provider, professional organizer, aspiring professional blogger, and so much more. Every single day! I often speak about how tired I am or frustrated with how much I have left to do when my day has ended. I keep a daily planner and I have a calendar downstairs and one upstairs! I’m not a TOTAL catastrophe but my time is definitely not utilized as well as it could be.
I think it’s high time that I organized, well….MY TIME! I’d like to invite you to join me on this journey to use my precious time in the most productive way possible so I can be a successful business woman AND have the time I want to spend with my family and friends as well!
The Blinkist App
The very first thing I have done to save myself some time but still be productive is to sign up for Blinkist. I have no affiliation with them and gain nothing by recommending them to you but I have found this app for my phone to be VERY HELPFUL! Google it for more info but the quick rundown is this app takes non-fiction books and breaks them down into 15 minutes worth of main points so you can essentially read the main point of the book in 15 minutes instead of a week or more!
I love it! It’s a great way to get your educational reading in while also saving some time! The app will let you read the summery or you can listen to it as an audio! I’ve been going with the audio option so I can listen while I’m doing dishes or waiting in the car rider line at my son’s school or hanging up laundry. There is a fee for this app but they offer a 7 day free trial so you can see if you’ll really use it or not. Check it out!
My Daily Planner
Anyone who wants to be more organized throughout the day needs to have some sort of daily planner. There are some great apps for your smart phone that can accomplish this but I am an old school kind of gal! I prefer an actual paper planner! Crazy, I know!
My current planner is great because it has the times written in from 7am to 9pm Monday thru Friday and then Saturday is from 7am to 5pm and Sunday just has a little box to write in. I love this because I can just go straight to the time that I need and write a few key words so I’ll know what’s happening at that time. Then, I draw a line from that entry down to when the event will end so I also know the time frame by just glancing at it. There’s no need to read the entry to figure out when it will end.
If you do use a paper planner, you must make checking it a part of your daily routine! Paper will never alert you when an event is coming up. You have to read it every morning to know what is scheduled for that day or week. Make this task a part of your morning, every morning. Even weekends! Remember, it takes 21 days to form a habit!
This is the daily planner that I use, in case there are any other old school people out there who prefer actual paper over technology! It is perfect for Time Blocking, which you will learn about further down in this article!
Smart Phone Calendar
I don’t normally use my smart phone’s calendar because I prefer paper but I’ve decided to force myself to use it for two weeks and see how I like it. My husband is a computer programmer and swears by the calender and uses his all the time. I just find it tedious to go into it and type what I want. But…maybe using it for a few weeks will help me become faster and more efficient at it. Plus, it will alert me when something is coming up, which is something that my paper daily planner will never do.
If the event that you are entering a family event, enter it into the family calendar instead of your own calendar so your family members will also be alerted about it. When you click to add an event, there will likely be an option to put it on your calendar or the family calendar. It’s different for each phone but mine says my email address if it’s my calendar. I just click that and change it to family in order to add a family event. That way, my husband and 19 yr old son will both see it.
I will come back and add my feedback after using it for two weeks so you will know how I ended up feeling about using my smart phone calendar.
Another great way to save time and frustration is to skip the To Do list and practice Time Blocking instead! To Do lists tend to add stress instead of relieving it because there are always things that don’t get done. Not to mention, it is pretty easy to pick and choose the easier things on your list instead of hitting the most important and difficult tasks first.
Time Blocking is scheduling a specific time period on a particular day of the week to complete a task. If you need to clean up your email, choose a block of time during a specific day to do that task. Give yourself the amount of time that you think it should take, or at least how much time you are willing to spend on it. If you are not done at the end of that time block, schedule another one, either on the same day or another day. You can use a pen or pencil or highlighters to “block out” the time for a task. If you use highlighters, you can make each color represent a certain type of task….like pink blocks are always office tasks and blue blocks are always researching tasks.
If you know you need to pick your child up from school and will be gone from 3pm to 4pm, block that time for that task. You could also block that time for a task you can do in the car while you wait, like updating your daily planner or making an important phone call.
The point of Time Blocking is to schedule every minute of your day with the amount of time you think it will take so you won’t have leftover things to do at the end of the day. If something doesn’t get done, you reschedule it. That way it won’t get missed or forgotten on your To Do list. Time Blocking isn’t for everyone, just like To Do lists aren’t for everyone. Try different methods and choose the one that best suits you! For me, it’s Time Blocking in my daily planner!
Schedule Email and Social Media time
We all know that email and social media are huge drains on our time! You can get totally lost in an endless list of emails pretty easily. And I’m sure I don’t have to explain what it’s like to fall down the rabbit hole of social media! A great way to manage this time is to schedule (Time Block) specific times during the day for email and social media and only look at them during their specific times. This will take practice and discipline! I know I subconsciously open my phone and hit the Facebook button before I even realize what I’m doing!
One way to avoid subconsciously opening social media is to move all the social media buttons on your smart phone into one folder that you have to open in order to get to those buttons. That extra step may be enough to remind you that it’s not time for that yet. Another way to avoid the subconscious social media browsing is to set an alarm or reminder on your smart phone for the times of day that you want to allow yourself social media. You should have an alarm to tell you when to stop as well, so you don’t go tumbling down the rabbit hole that tries to get me every time!
Time Blocking your email time into the spots that you want it is a very effective way to control email time AND to make sure you address email regularly so it doesn’t pile up on you! Nothing is as stressful as seeing 100, 200, or more new emails waiting for your attention! As a business woman, I always worry that I will miss something important. I am having to teach myself that if it was truly THAT important, they would’ve called or texted. If it’s in email, it can usually wait until your designated email time each day.
Themed Work Days
Having a theme for each of your work days can really help with keeping your work week organized. It will also help keep you moving toward your monthly and yearly goals! Design your themes according to what you need to accomplish to meet your larger goals and you are off to the races!
An example of themed work days for a blogger would be:
Mondays – Emails, Phone Calls, Meetings
Tuesday – Research
Wednesday – Writing
Thursday – Creating Printables and Graphics
Friday – Blog Post Goes Live, Managing Business Social Media Accts
You always have the freedom to change your work day themes whenever you decide that they are not working toward your goals or if you change your goals and need your days to change as well. It’s just a matter of organizing your days so they fit your business needs, plain and simple. When they no longer fit those needs, change’em!
If you are a stay at home parent, your themes would definitely look different but you would still have themes! Instead of Monday being for emails, phone calls, and meetings….Mondays could be your laundry day. You would also Time Block other necessary chores but the bulk of your time would be spent getting your laundry done and put away on this day. Tuesdays could be your Bathrooms day where you focus on deep cleaning all of your bathrooms. Fridays could be your Tidy Up day where you do a timed cleaning of each room of your house in preparation for the weekend. You get the idea!
My final time organizing tip of this post is to prioritize everything! Each night, make a simple list of the things you need to get done the next day. Then, put those items in order of priority. You should always focus on doing the toughest things as soon as you can each day. Once those are out of the way, you will feel a massive sense of accomplishment and be energized for the rest of your day!
Time block everything that needs doing so you will not become overwhelmed trying to fit it all in during the day. In this way, you will already know what you should have time to do before your day even begins. You won’t be down on yourself for not getting it all done. If something takes longer than anticipated, simply schedule the remainder for the next available time slot and move on. Don’t stress over it! Things happen! Not every day is going to go as planned. That’s the beauty of time blocking….it’s flexible!
Basically, the end of each of my work days has an amount of time allotted for scheduling the next day. I always have a good understanding of what I accomplished and what I expect to accomplish the next day. I’m not perfect, though. There are definitely times when I get bogged down, but that is usually because I didn’t schedule things ahead of time and I let it pile up on me. I’m hoping being more routine about my time blocking will help me with that. Maybe it will help you, too!
If you are having success with these tips, please comment! I love to celebrate with my readers! If you have other tips for keeping your time organized, we also would love to hear them!