How I Learned About Using My Time Wisely
This blog is all about time management, and I have lots of ideas and tips for you to try. Today I’m concentrating on my top 5 time management tips because these are the ones that I learned the hard way and the ones that stuck with me.
Let me start with a little background: my parents had an eighth-grade education and college was something they never considered for me. But I was a good student and I wanted to further my education. I knew the value of a college degree.
So my degree was earned in bits and pieces, little by little, as I could afford it. Yes, I paid for my college education. No students loans, no help, other than from my husband after we got married.
I had an associate’s degree when we got married and went back for my bachelor’s after our oldest was born. Our son was born 16 months after our daughter, and I took one semester off before returning to school.
So, to catch you up here, I had two children under the age of two and was taking a full course load. Business management. Also, our son was sick a lot as a baby, so I was getting far less sleep than most new moms.
Look for Small Pockets of Time
I had to learn to use every spare second I could find in order to get everything done. I had a house and two babies to take care of and lots of homework to do.
And no computers back then. When I took a computer programming class, we punched our own cards and ran them through the computer. I’ll wait while you go look that up.
You know, everyone says these days that we have the same amount of time as Beyonce, but excuse me: most of us don’t have her assistants or her money. We have to do things the hard way.
So I learned to look for time anywhere I could find it. Staying up late or getting up early wasn’t an option since I was already sleep-deprived. That’s tip #1: look for small amounts of time. And when I say small, I mean really small. 5 minutes here and there can add up, especially if you’re focused on getting things done instead of checking social media.
Remember Your Why
Tip #2: stay focused on your goal. You should be setting 2 – 4 main goals to accomplish each day, and each of those goals should be taking you closer to your bigger goals.
Yes, I realize that you still have things like making dinner and doing laundry on your list, but your goals deserve to be on that list too. And at the top, so one day you can accomplish something that you really wanted to, other than learning to fold a fitted sheet.
If you want a better job, to start your own business or try blogging, if you want to learn to invest your money wisely – whatever it is, set that goal and break it down into tiny pieces. And then work on it with every spare second you can find. Because it’s important to you.
For us, my degree was an insurance policy. If something happened to my husband, or we needed extra income, I would have the ability to get a better paying job instead of working for minimum wage. And when the time came, I did.
Always Be Prepared
Now I know that things are way different now than they were when I first learned these lessons, but still, it’s worth it to always be prepared. That would be tip #3.
These days, if you have your phone on you, and it’s charged, you can do almost anything that you need to do. The ability to go online is, by itself, game-changing. But as I said, always be prepared, so make sure you have a phone charger on you at all times.
That’s probably not all you need, though. For me, back in the day, it was my school work. My textbooks, notebooks, pens, and highlighters traveled with me, along with an ample supply of index cards.
Today, I don’t leave home without at least a notebook, depending on where I’m going. I don’t need my entire planner with me as much as I used to, but I always have a notebook to jot down thoughts for this blog, some pens, and extra paper for whatever.
How Much Time Do You Need?
Remember that I said you should look for small pockets of time wherever you can find them? Well, the other half of that is knowing how long things take. Tip # 4.
I think most people would be shocked if they knew how much time everyday things in life actually take.
For instance, my husband thinks that driving the car to the dealership is going to take us 45 minutes. It’s closer to 20. That leaves close to half an hour of time that’s essentially wasted. He spends it reading magazines, watching tv, or checking his phone. I’m sure that half an hour could be better spent.
Of course, if you follow my other tips, and you are well prepared, you can possibly get something else done. Pay some bills, check your bank account, make a meal plan for the following week, list the next steps towards your goal; whatever.
The other reason that knowing how long things take is that it can motivate you to get things done.
I have a good-sized kitchen, and when I cook a big family meal, the last thing I want to do is clean it afterward. But I’ve learned that no matter how bad it is, I can get it clean in 20 minutes or less. I’ve proved it time and again, and that knowledge helps me get started on it when I’d rather ignore it.
Learn When to Say “Enough”
I went back to school when my son was just over 4 months old and my daughter was about 20 months. I was beyond sleep deprived. My son had undiagnosed problems with his ears and neither of us was getting more than 30 minutes of sleep at a time.
If I’d been smart, I would have withdrawn from classes on concentrated on my family.
There have been so many times in my life when I’ve said yes to something when I should have said no. I think as women, we tend to do that, and we always put ourselves last.
But – and this is tip #5 – there are times when we need to step back, take a good look at our life and how it’s going, and say no. Sorry. Not this time.
Remember tip #2? Remember your why? Keep that in mind as you set priorities, and learn when to say “enough”. Sometimes you have plenty on your plate; sometimes your plate has too much on it and you need to cut back.
Learn to say no, to take time for yourself and your family, and to rest when you need it.
The Recap: My Top 5 Time Management Tips
Just so you remember – because I personally think they’re really important – here is a recap of my 5 top tips:
- Always look for small pockets of time and take advantage of them
- Remember your why and don’t forget your goals
- Be prepared with what you need so you can be productive anywhere
- Find out how long things really take, so you’re using your time wisely
- Know when to say enough, and take time for you and your family instead
That’s it. My best tips for managing your time. As I said, not my only ones, but the ones that taught me a lesson the hard way.
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