Have you had the time management talk?

I had a great talk with my oldest son this morning.  His concern?  He’d been back to school for 2 days now & wasn’t getting much video game time in.  I decided to control every part of me that wanted to scoff, give him the “mama eyebrow” or the “so sad for you” face (below).  Instead, I took it as an opportunity to help him learn time managementpoutSo we pulled out some paper & he gave  me a run down of his day from beginning to end, being sure to approximate how much time each task took.  At the end of the discussion, he found that he had 2.5 hours of time he could use to play his game.  Of course I told him I’d prefer he didn’t spend that much time in front of his game so his brain doesn’t turn to mush & he’s not complaining about headaches.  He got the point.  Next, we took a look at how he could better manage the time he was using.  Instead of waiting until after school to do his chores, he could use the morning (he doesn’t leave home for school until after 8am).  He didn’t even consider that.  He was busy looking at the time lost, not the time he had.  He was also looking at the general task, not how much time it actually took to complete it.  He realized that if he did the tasks faster, he’d have more time for other more enjoyable things.  This is a very important thing for our young people to know.  It sets them up to be responsible adults who are problem solvers & can think outside of the box.

So why is this important to you?  Well when is the last time you took a look at your daily schedule?  Not to do it, but to manage it.  Even if you do the same things every day, there may be a different way to approach your tasks that will save you time or effort.  Maybe both!  I had to take a look at my daily schedule (which is far from daily & more like moment to moment) & paint myself a clear picture.  Then I had to look at the best time to do each task.  Once I wrote it down it was easier to create a plan of action & get to work.  So, ask yourself the following questions:

How am I keeping track of my tasks?q

Is it working for me?  (If you’re late, forgetting things or rushing, then no.)

What should I be doing every day?

What tasks are done once a week, month or quarterly?

How long should each task take?

What’s the priority of each individual task?

How can the task be more completed more efficiently?

Can it be delegated?

Am I tracking my progress?

Are there obstacles that are keeping me from getting tasks done? (Are you sidetracked by too many unimportant emails?  Phone calls interrupting you?  People wandering in your office? *See my tips below)

If so, how can they be removed or managed?

Take time to look at how your time is utilized & see if you’re getting a good ROI (return on investment).  Time is the hottest commodity out there.  Not money, not gadgets, time.  You know as well as I do that you can waste more time on minute details than it takes to get the actual task done.

Another thing that will make a huge difference is your personal information & organization style.  Some people can put a red circle around a date & know everything important for that day & when it needs to be done.   For me, it would be an epic fail!  Others may work well with daily to do lists.  These are great generalizations which can keep you on track.  Another type cellis the daily calendar with writing space.  It’s a combo of a basic calendar with a to do list.  My favorite is actually a combo of all of the above.  We have a family calendar (it’s a desk calendar mounted with 3M velcro on our pantry door) that has every family member’s agenda.  It’s large, at a height even my 6 year old can see & it’s in a high traffic area-around food.  In my office, I have a wall calendar.  My cell phone has been a life saver numerous times.  In my phone, I use my phone calendar with reminders as well as my alarm app.  Why do I use both?  Because some of my calendar reminders aren’t important enough to warrant an action, while others are code red.  For example, I don’t need an alarm to remind me to remember to go to rehearsal, but it’s there in case I “have a moment” or time gets away from me.  However, this is the first week of school for my kids & my husband & I switched the days we pick them up.  So for the first few weeks, I’ll use an alarm on my phone to leave on time to pick them up.  Since my phone is synced with my husband’s, it also reminds him.  Sometimes he’ll send me a text to make sure that I didn’t forget to do something (picking up his favorite snacks is usually the topic).

Here are some tips to really get it done:

*Clear the clutter (clean out your junk drawers, buckets & files)

*Evaluate what emails you want to keep, toss or file for later.  Be honest.  Everything doesn’t need to be RSS fed to your inbox.

*Unsubscribe from unwanted emails (Be sure to unsubscribe.  Deleting doesn’t stop them from coming.)

*Create filters & folders for emails to keep your inbox streamlined (visit the folders as needed instead of them flooding in every day)

*Set up email accounts that are very specific.  Have an account just for family & friend email, one for work or your business, another just for research or whatever else you decide.  Don’t want multiple accounts?  Gmail has adopted a special tab format to allow you to decide how your email is delivered to you.  You can add or delete those tabs or even rename them.

When I think about all the information we encounter on a daily basis, I wonder if the research is true.  Do all these reminders, alarms & calendars actually weaken our memory skills?  I can’t say.  My degrees are not in that field.  But I do know I can’t afford forget to pick up my kids, pick up items from the store or when exam week is.  I have responsibilities that are a major deal, so for now I’ll be using those apps & calendars to keep it all straight.

Remember, the time management discussion is not only great for our kids, but for ourselves, our spouses, our staff & in our businesses.  Take time out to think about what works for you, ditch the rest & make good use of the time you have.

What tools do you use currently to stay on track?  Why do they work for you?

hourly planner planner to do list

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