Welcome!! This is Part 2 in my Time Management Series called “Managing Our Time Better”. To catch up with Part 1 you can start HERE.
Time Management is such a challenge for so many of us, whether you are married or single. As a busy working Mom to three boys I certainly struggle with this too. It’s just hard to stay focused some days (and life throws us plenty of distractions!). In speaking with so many others that ARE very successful at effective time management, I found that the common factor in their success is to FIRST set annual goals (goals that are realistic!) for each year and then to SECOND make a weekly “to do” list to help achieve those goals.
Those weekly lists include the following:
- The everyday tasks, cooking, errands, chores, bills, appointments, etc. that MUST be accomplished
- Home organization or personal goals – like cleaning a garage or painting a room or personal fitness – that they would LIKE to accomplish
- Tasks or exercises that work towards achieving their ANNUAL goals such as saving $100/week or losing 5 lbs
So here’s how I started: The Husband and I wrote down a list of our annual goals – things to accomplish by the end of 2013. This isn’t a huge list, but it’s an IMPORTANT list. I wrote a little bit about my plan for 2013 in my “Thoughts On Being Brave” post at the beginning of the year.
We’ve also set some of those goals as “mid-year” or “Third Quarter” mark goals, like saving up to take a family vacation this summer and paying for our oldest son’s first semester of college to help get him started. Once you know what you want to accomplish by the end of year, you suddenly know you have X number of weeks to make it happen. It makes those annual goals a bit more manageable!
Now I have always been a list maker and I just personally like pen and paper for mine (ok, I am also a huge sucker for cute spiral notebooks and journals and awesome gel pens and such… I am set for at least 3 years!!) but I will include a helpful link at the end if you prefer printable lists. I really like the calendar I use because it is portable and has the month at a glance and then PLENTY of room for me to make notes each day!
Here’s a quick plan to help YOU get started:
If you haven’t done so, start with writing down your annual goals. You may have multiple goals or maybe just one extremely important goal. Just make sure your goals are realistic and attainable (ie: “Losing 50 lbs.” is attainable. “Winning the lottery” is probably not!).
Maybe your goal is also to save up for a family vacation, or to have all of your Christmas shopping done by Nov. 1st, or to sit down with your family at least four nights each week for dinner (meal planning!). Everyone’s goals are different, but write them down and keep them realistic! And it’s also ok to have an overall big “blue sky” goal too (ie: “I want to retire by age 50”) but just know that goal may not be reached this year.
Make a weekly list (starting with the current week) of everything that HAS to happen this week and the thing(s) that you would LIKE to accomplish this week. Cooking dinner and doing laundry generally HAVE to happen. Organizing your closet is something you would LIKE to have happen (yeah, me too!).
I find it’s best to make my weekly list on a Sunday but whatever works for you. Also, if you keep a running side list of home organization goals (ie: organizing that wayward closet or the garage or the pantry or painting the family room) then you can add something from that list into each week.
Your weekly list needs to include anything and EVERYthing that takes time (grocery shopping, laundry, etc.). Only you know how many hours in the day you have to accomplish these tasks. If you work full time, it could be that you will dedicate one hour in the AM and two hours at night. If you are a stay at home Mom, you might be scheduling time around “naps”. Everyone’s schedule is different so make your weekly list with that in mind.
You will also need to add in a few steps each week that will help you reach your annual goal(s) as well. If your annual goal is to lose 50 lbs, then you know how many weeks left that you have to achieve that goal and exercise will probably need to factor in to your weekly time. If your annual goal is to save $5K for a vacation, you know how much you need to save each week. Add it to your list. And this list may look a little daunting at first but don’t worry. You can do it! And the first few weeks will probably be the hardest.
Once you have your goals for the week written down, you’ll need to break those out over each day.
Each night you can quickly look at your weekly list and write down a list of priorities for the next day. The next night, if something did not get accomplished that day, you can move it to the following day. After a few weeks, you’ll find that many repeated things (like laundry!) will fall into place on certain days and you can probably write a lot of your weekly lists out in advance.
So, in summary, a daily list will help you stay on track each week with effective time management, and an overall weekly list will help you reach your annual goals. Set annual goals, make weekly lists and then accomplish that weekly list by setting realistic daily lists for yourself. And (VERY important!) don’t forget to delegate tasks to others whenever possible!
Whether you have a family yet or not, it COULD be that paying someone else to do your laundry (or manage another task for you) is a more effective way to manage your time and might free you up to accomplish more or even make more money, etc. As long as that added expense actually HELPS you achieve your personal and financial goals, it’s something worth considering!
I’m so glad you stopped by today! Do you have an annual goal list for yourself or your family? (even if you are single, you still need to set annual goals!). Next, if you already make a daily or weekly “to do” list, is that list organized or is it just unmanageable? More importantly, do you look at it every morning or night so you can shift things around to stay prioritized and reach your goals?
You can check out “Part 3: Saving Time and Money On Family Dinners HERE“.
I always enjoy hearing from you. If you have any tips to share on time management and what works in your home, I would LOVE to hear them!
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