Ok, maybe not everything gets done, but there is a lot to be said about good time management. Managing chaos can be super stressful and seem like a daunting task. But a few sanity saving techniques can make life more simple and leave more time for things you love.
I’m terrible about being consistent with time management. I try a lot of systems only to eventually cave back to my stressful routines of chaos. Sometimes I’m on a great routine that works and is full proof. While other times, I’m hanging on by a thread for dear life.
Out of all the systems and routines I’ve tried, there are 5 things I have learned to be the MOST important in managing chaos. These 5 things seem to offer me the most extra minutes in my day, make me a happier person and change the flow of things in our home. Finding some balance of things that really make a difference is better than any major life changing system.
1. Wake up EarlyI HATE getting up early but have found that it often is my most productive time, peaceful time and a time I enjoy. Being up before my house comes alive gives me time to get myself ready and be prepared for whatever the day may bring on. No one likes to be "woken up," especially when they aren’t ready to get up, and then go full speed ahead with getting everyone else ready. When you plan accordingly, even 15-20 minutes before the baby wakes or before someone’s asking for breakfast, it will allow your brain start in it’s own time.
Be sure to get healthy amounts of sleep, but be the first to rise. I look forward to my peaceful start. An hour allows me time to get dressed, check my email, plan a to do list, prayer or personal meditation, and most importantly, not waking up to screaming children is a great start and well worth the early alarm.
2. Planning a Menu
No matter if it’s for a week or a month, having a menu plan is a must have! I like to plan mine according to my shopping list and what is on sale in ads. When I do it this way, I know I will have all the ingredients needed the night I make that meal. There is nothing worse than having a menu plan and not having the ingredients. I also know ahead of time what is being made and can do some of the prep work at a more fitting time of day, such as, "nap time" where there aren't interruptions and no evening routine waiting me.
It doesn’t seem to matter if I’m feeding one child at home or a whole army. When it hits 4 o’clock, it’s sink or swim time. If I don’t already have a plan, I will end up wasting several hours. Deciding what to make almost becomes unbearable. One of two things will happen: it gets late and eating runs into bed time, or we waste money with excessive eating out and throw out unused groceries.
3. Learning to say NO!
Yep, you heard it. Saying yes to everything isn’t real. Sure you can pull it off, but you may lose something else along the way, get behind on tasks that you need to do, or feel as if you can’t do it well enough. There is nothing wrong with saying NO! Learn it! Put it in your vocabulary.Sometimes we need to step back see what’s on our plate and just say no. We have nothing to prove: we ARE already amazing.
Know what really matters. Sometimes saying NO to housework and laundry are important. Stop and enjoy the moments. Those tasks will always be there. And it really doesn't matter if there are dirty dishes in the sink.
Also learn to say NO to your time wasters. We all have them! Even the person who feels they have no time for anything extra probably has a time waster. Perhaps it’s spending time online, watching TV, visiting on the phone, hanging out with friends, playing candy crush, etc. Discover your time waster. Don’t get rid of it, but set a limit as to how much time you have to put in it.
4. Be Prepared
This isn’t about a natural disaster. It's about the countless hours we spend sitting in places waiting for things to occur, such as, doctors offices, traffic, sporting events, concerts, etc. I keep things with me everywhere I go that I can work on.
When driving in my car, I use voice recording on my phone to create lists of to do, shopping, tasks for my kids, etc. I keep a notebook in my purse for journaling when I have little minutes of time. When I know I’m going to be somewhere with waiting time, I bring mail to sort, calendars to schedule, menus to plan, flash cards to work on with kids, etc. You'll never regret lugging it around, but you will regret not having something when you want it. Be prepared every where you are so you are not caught in situations of dead space.
5. Take Time for YOU
Probably the most important thing I’ve learned is that I need MY time. Many years ago, I thought it was selfish. I had kids. My job was to take care of them, not leave them. Then, in a screaming rage, I realized that I was STRESSED! My stress was a result of bottling me up and taking care of everything else. Giving me something to look forward to and doing things I enjoy are important for everyone's sanity around me.
Once I learned to take time for me, it made me a happier person. Doing it continuously keeps me happy. Developing a new talent, or continue an old, going out with the girls, or just taking a long bubble bath interruption free is worth it. It makes you feel better and gives you time to step back and say “I’ve got this”. You can conquor each new day one at a time.
We each have 168 hours in a week. Take a minute to map out how much time you have for the things you need to accomplish.
1. List the hours you invest in the different activities below.
2. Add up any other major ongoing commitments you have (church, school, house work, etc.).
3. Add up your total hours accounted for then subtract 168 hours and get the number of hours available.
Sleep x7 days
Day Job x5 days
Family x7 days
Personal x7 days
You may start to realize by doing this time activity that you have MORE time than thought, or feel that you have. Perhaps time management will help you make better use of that time.
We DO have enough time for the important things. The key is learning to use it!