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Time Management Tips

I’ve had some questions e-mailed to me lately from the sweetest readers.  Questions like: “how do you do it all?” or “how do you fit everything in?”  So this will be a really short post.  Here’s my answer:

I don’t.

Ha!  Seriously though.  These are questions I don’t know that I have the answer to.  I don’t think I have it all figured out and have found a way to magically “do it all.”  Every day is a little different and every day (especially since I had baby #3) has been a huge challenge for me to make the most of the time I have.

Even though this is an area in which I’m constantly striving to improve and I don’t consider myself an expert, I’m happy to share a few things that have helped me manage my time.

1)  Decide your priority for each day and write it down.  It’s all about priorities and planning to make time for them.  Each night before I go to bed I glance at my planner and take a look at the next day.  I find the small pockets of “me time” (when Kole is napping and kids are in school, etc.) and I decide how I’m going to spend that time.  I always think “what is the most important thing I want to accomplish tomorrow?”  Exercise takes top priority for me.  I always figure out when I’m going to exercise first.  (I’ll answer questions about my exercise routine in another post soon.)  My binder I shared in my paper organization post helps to remind me about things that need to be done soon (immediate/important actions and projects I am working on).  I look at my schedule and then fill in the “down time” slots with things from my binder I want to accomplish.

2)  Be specific.  When I write my to-do’s for the next day I am very specific and realistic about what I’m going to get done.  I don’t write “work on Project Life albums.”  That is overwhelming to me.  I write “select next photos to develop” or “organize March – May art work.”  I focus on just one step of the project I’m working on.  If I want to organize my closet (something I would never have time to complete in one day) I write “go through Kenny’s shirts.”  You get the point.  If I’m specific and realistic about what I want to get done I have a much better chance of actually doing it.

3)  Set routines for yourself.  I’m a routine kinda gal.  Having a set time to do certain things each day helps me a lot.  I always exercise as soon as I can in the morning, do housework in the late afternoon/evening, and blog at night.  I resist the urge to clean at other times during the day so that I can get more done on my to-do list.  There is always something that needs to be cleaned and if I didn’t have my set cleaning routine, I would just clean all day long…and still have messes!  

4)  Make the most of every minute.  I have found that since I had Kole, I have really learned how to make the most of every minute.  Moms are amazing multi-taskers!  For example, I wrote the outline for this post in the carpool lane.  :)

5)  Watch the computer!  The computer is such a time trap, isn’t it!?  I don’t tweet and I haven’t been on facebook since October.  Blogs are my weakness!  I’ve found that for me it pretty much needs to be all or nothing.  I can’t sit down at my computer and think “I’ll just check my blog and a couple of others….”  Before you know it I’m lost in blog land and 20 minutes has turned into an hour and there goes the only time I had to get anything done.  Since I had Kole (and my free time has become incredibly short) I don’t get on the computer much at all during the day.  I answer most e-mails, upload and organize pictures, write my blog posts, and read other blogs all at night after my kids are in bed.  (I stay up WAY too late!)  I have also had to really cut back on how many blogs I read and how often I read them.  I still read all of my friends’ blogs (and new friends I’ve made in blog land!) but as far as “just for fun blogs” I only follow six or seven.  If I find a new blog that I love and want to start reading, I make myself drop a previous one.  Harsh, I know, but there are only so many hours in each day and again, it’s all about priorities.  

6)  No TV during the day.  When my girls were little I’d watch Oprah, or just turn the TV on during the day while I cleaned to feel like I had adult company in the house.  Not anymore.  There isn’t time at all now for TV during the day.  (Still love listening to music though!)  My mom gets frustrated with me that I never know what’s going on in the world because I don’t watch the news.  The news hour is when I’m cleaning, doing laundry, bathing two kids, and entertaining a baby all at the same time.  Who has time for Brian Williams!?  ;)  Besides, the news is mostly depressing and if my TV is going to be on in the afternoon, you better believe we’ll be tuned into Max and Ruby or The Wonder Pets so that I can have a short moment of peace to get something done!  

There you have it.  A few things I do that help me make the most of my time.  I hope that answers some questions.

What about you?  Any tips or tricks that have helped you with time management?

xoxo, Erin
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24 thoughts on “Time Management Tips

  1. I agree with everything! My house is pretty clean, and I’m usually on top of things. My friends ask me “how I do it all.” Like you…I DON’T! My house may be clean, but I haven’t been reading to the kids enough, or there’s no fruit in the house, or I need to wash the sheets…there’s always something. We can’t “do it all!” I always feel organized if dishes are done, bathrooms are clean, a loud of laundry is going. That’s my starting point and I go from there.

    Oh…I couldn’t agree more about the computer. I need to stay off during the day! Especially now that my kids are in school all day it’s sooooo easy to sucked on for hours….NOT GOOD!!

  2. you sound so much like me! i have also resisted getting a “smart phone”- which i know sounds nuts…but when i’m out with my kids, i want to be focused on them…not “into” my phone. i am very much into being “in the moment” with them.

    priorities are big for me, as well. and like you mentioned in your cereal post, i also order things online quite a bit to save time (and money!)

    we don’t have a tv in our house- we used to have a 52 inch plasma at our old house…but we really never watched it (i felt it dominated the living room). so now, if i am going to watch something, it’s an “appointment”- i watch netflix, hulu, and streaming from the networks. it makes such a difference not to have that “mindlessness” in the house. since my husband works in reality tv, the last thing he needs to do when he comes home is watch more of it. LOL!

  3. Erin I LOVE this post! I do most of the same…except late afternoon evening is too chaotic around here to get anything done…with all the school kids coming home. I love your tip about being specific and realistic about what needs to get done…that helps me also!

  4. I need to come up with a better routine for ME – I mean, I know what I time I have to get up and get the kids ready and to the sitter and then to work….but after work….at night. I need something more solid. I can’t let the TV suck me in anymore. I’m a reality show junkie. ;)

  5. This topic is always a struggle for me. I work full-time as an attorney and I have learned that I can’t do the things I once did (like organizing projects) as quickly as I once was able to do. Now, I feel such pride in getting even one project done.

    I am definitely a work in progress. Love your tips. I am new to your blog and have loved reading along thus far : )

  6. Great tips, Erin. I am in a total different phase of life where I can get pulled into lots of working – which I love but have to pull back and remember my Priorities which is family #1. I have found that throughout each stage of life – when I was a stay at home mom, a part-time career, and now full-time that has helped me. Its okay to say no to things that don’t fit our priorities. Wow, a blog post in the carpool lane – that is impressive!

  7. Great advice!

    I have definitely found it to be harder to keep up with everything since “Baby #3” joined the family. What I love about life though is that you learn to adjust to the “new normal.” And, while I’m not there yet, I know that practice makes perfect and soon I will learn how to prioritize all over again…with one more child!

    Life is definitely a learning process, and an adventure – That’s for sure!

    Thanks for your great tips!

  8. Fantastic post and so motivational. It has given me ideas how to prioritize my daily routines better… thank you for sharing. Now please tell me what you do for exercise and when oh when?! Again thank you!

  9. This is a great post! I need to be better about looking at my planner each night to prepare for the next day…thanks for that encouragement! I need to work on my cleaning routine because things are out of control. I really want to take up your tip on cleaning bathrooms while the kids bathe. The computer can be such a trap and a lot of times I have to put a time limit on myself :) I never watch the news either (though I love Brian Williams). It is depressing…I’m with you! Thanks for sharing. If I ever get some tips I’ll return the favor. Right now I’ll just keep checking in here :)

  10. I just found your blog today and I am addicted! If we lived closer we would totally be friends! You and I are a lot alike :) You have iunspired me to tackle a few projects that I have been dreading, so thank you. Can’t wait to see what projects you are working on next!

    xoxo Nikki
    Follow my blog at

  11. i love your blog:) I hear you about priorities and DEFINITELY agree about the computer. In fact, here I am reading your blog when I should be making dinner. Off to do that!

  12. Hey Erin,

    Loved this post. I am sooo not as disciplined as you are, so you are my role model! I wish I had some tips for you, but I am not good at this stuff. I’m (slowly) learning.

    Shannon in PA

  13. What great tips. I rarely watch TV as well..I always think of a million things that I could be doing rather than watch TV. I love your tip about being specific with your tasks for each day. I think that will really help me as the broad tasks can be extremely overwhelming! Enjoy your organizational posts! I also wanted to share with you that I used your tips for a blog header to create my own recently! I think I did OK for my first one, but I am already looking for a new kit to create a new header!! Thanks for all of your great tips:)

  14. Love this post, Erin!

    I’m excited to hear about your exercise routine. I so need motivation right now.

    I too can’t be online much during the day, especially with a two year old darling boy to play with. :)

  15. My timer. I love timers. I set my timer for 15 minutes & work on one thing (laundry, dishes, bedrooms…whatever needs to be done). When the timer goes off, I re-set my timer & take a quick break (scrapbook, read, organize something, check emails, etc.). When my timer goes off again, I’m ready to tackle the next cleaning job. I repeat this process throughout the day & I find I’m so much more efficient. I don’t get sidetracked because it’s easier to stay focused knowing I only have 15 minutes to work on something. It’s totally changed how I do things & I love it. You’ve got to try it sometime!

  16. Hi Erin,
    Just wanted to tell you that I love your blog and thank you so much for the advice you give all of us. I finally created a header using Picassa. I never knew you could do all that and upload the digital scrapbook paper…Oh MY…I love it..I read Clover Lane’s instructions and OH my…I love it..Check out my new march header…thanks again.
    Queen April

  17. I love all of your “how to” posts. You know why? I love that you have all the answers. I used to have a lot of answers too. The older I get, the more unsure I am of my answers. Tonight my husband asked me what topic I would be able to write a “how to” book on. I had to think and think and the thought came to me…Erin would never have this problem…she could write on MANY subjects. (and does every week, at least) You are the
    b o m b!!

  18. I have been struggling with the TV thing for years. Do you have any tips for weaning yourself off it? I don’t spend much time actively watching TV, but I’m one of those people that likes the background noise. And sometimes it’s not even just the noise, but when it’s dark outside there is something about the bright screen that is comforting. Of course, the problem is that trying to find a channel to set it to can take time and then you’ll hear or see something that will catch your ear or eye and get sidetracked. I have wondered if building a fire in the cold months would help with the “bright screen” part.

  19. I indeed agree with these tips, Erin. It could greatly help how to manage time effectively. However, in my opinion it would not be very effective without self discipline. #6 No TV during the day is great way to get more things done and avoid distractions. This will help you stay focus on tasks. Just like “Airplane Mode” that needs you to turn all you gadgets off like your mobile phone to avoid being distracted while working. At work I keep myself productive and get more things done by setting an estimated amount of time when working on each task that limits me wasted time. I use this tool Timedoctor to track time accurately and give me analytics of how I spent time for the day.

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