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5 tips to manage your time better (Eat That Frog!)

Thank you so much for all of your sweet words about my Spring Home Tour!  They meant a lot to me.  I truly feel grateful every day that I have such kind, encouraging people reading my blog.  It’s a huge part of the reason I love doing this!  You all continually make my day.  :)
I’m switching gears a bit and talking time management today!  It’s honestly one of my favorite topics.  One of the best ways we can feel organized and on top of our lives is to make the most of our time.  I have to admit, that while time management is a topic that I love to learn about, I’m not always the best at managing my time.  In fact, it’s something I’ve really struggled with in the past. When you are a stay at home mom/dad it’s difficult to feel like you are getting anything done at all.  Sure I’m working hard and I’m busy.  I constantly feel busy.  But that doesn’t mean I’m always busy with the things I should be busy with.  :)  I’m spending quality time with my kids each day and making sure they are thriving in their little lives – a top priority for any good parent – but there are other things I want to get done each day and precious little time to do it!  Making each free minute count is crucial.

Last year when we were on vacation in Maui I read a book titled Eat That Frog by Brian Tracy .  I LOVE this book.  It gave me so many great strategies to help me get more done in less time.  (I know – funny to read a time management book on vacation but that’s the way I roll)  ;)  Whether you work outside the home, in your home, or just want to feel more on top of things in your day to day life this is such a great book!  I’m going to share 5 things with you (some are ideas from this book and some are things I’ve always done) that have helped me make the most of my time this year.

1)  Eat your “frog” first thing before you do anything else. In Brian Tracy’s book he refers to your “frog” as your biggest, most important task of the day.  The one thing you are most likely to procrastinate.  It’s also usually the one task that will have the greatest positive impact on your life at the moment.  Get in the habit of just doing it!  Get it done!  First thing before you do anything else.  That way even if the rest of your day gets away from you, you have at least accomplished that one very important task.  My youngest is in pre-school for just a few short hours each day so it’s crucial that I use that time wisely!  On the days that I focus and “eat my frog” first whether that’s getting my workout done, editing pictures and writing a blog post, or focusing on something else important on my to-do list, I try to get it done first thing as soon as my kids are out the door for school.  One thing that has been difficult for me is that this precious few hours of “me” time in the morning is also the best time to run errands and schedule appointments.  I’ve been trying to not schedule appointments or run errands more than twice a week.  That way I for sure have several mornings to “eat my frogs” so to speak.  :)

2)  Think on paper.  When I was reading the chapter in this book about thinking on paper and making lists I have to say I had a huge grin on my face.  :)
i love list notepads
This is something I’ve done my whole life and agree that it is crucial for making the most of your time!  Before you can “eat your frog” you have to know what your frog is!  Take some time to make a list of the goals you want to accomplish this year.  (Maybe you did this in January?)  What are your priorities?  Once you know your goals, organize that list into a plan.  What order will you do things?  What is the first step?  The best way to truly achieve your goals is to break them down into individual tasks.  Then do something every single day that moves you closer toward your goal.  One example of this is how I made a plan to organize my home this year.  If you check out that post you’ll see that I took the large goal of organizing my home and broke it into small more manageable steps to follow each month.  Most importantly I wrote it all down.  Now there is a clear plan for me to follow to achieve my goal.  I just have to do the work.  :)
**Another way I “think on paper” is with my week ahead prep.  Making a plan for the next week and doing a few things every Friday to get ahead helps our weeks run much smoother!

3)  Plan every day in advance and prioritize each item.  Aside from writing down your goals and ways to achieve them, planning out your day ahead of time will save you hours of wasted time during the day.  Every evening before I go to bed I write down a quick list of things I want to accomplish the next day.  After reading this book I started taking that one step further by putting my to-do’s in order of importance.  I simply write a #1 next to my top priority, #2 next to the next thing I want to accomplish, etc.  Anything that doesn’t get done moves to the next day’s to-do list.  Resist the temptation each day to finish small things first!  You can waste your whole day clearing up small things and never get to what’s most important.  Write down your to-do list and then actually follow it!  Eat your frog first and then move on to item #2… without stopping to check in with Instagram in-between.  Sometimes easier said than done!

4)  Just say no.  Once you’ve determined your priorities and have made your lists don’t let other things get in the way of achieving your goals.  Say no to anything that isn’t a good use of your time.  There is never enough time to do everything we would all love to do in a day.  I’ve been having this talk with my 11 year old a lot lately because she has a passion for dance, gymnastics and theatre.  I’m trying to help her understand that while she can still enjoy all of those things, there is physically no way possible she can take 5 dance/gymnastic lessons a week, act in a play and keep up with school work all at the same time.  (At least without making her mother a complete crazy person!)  We all have to prioritize.  What can you cut out of your life that will free up more time to work on what is most important to you?  Less TV or social media if your goal is to read more?  Less volunteering for activities outside of the home if your goal is to be more present with your kids?  For me I’ve had to learn to clean less.  Silly I know, but because I’m a stay home mom and because I love having a clean and organized home, if I’m not careful I can waste my whole day cleaning the house.  It’s tempting every time I find a free minute to just start picking things up and wiping off counters.  But at the end of the day, the kids mess things up for the 10th time and I haven’t completed a thing that will actually move me forward with my personal goals.  I’m getting better at this!  But sometimes the vacuum calls my name and I cave.  We are all a work in progress.  :)  The goal is to make it a habit to focus on tasks that are the most important to you first!

5)  Time management is a means to an end.  One of the sections I enjoyed most in this book that really resonated with me was when Brian wrote about how the main reason to develop good time management skills is so that you can free up more time to do the things you love.  Most of our happiness in life comes from relationships with other people.   You will never be caught up.  There will always be more that you could be doing.  Strive every day for a healthy balance.  Work hard when it’s time to work.  Focus and don’t waste time.  Then when it’s time to be done working, be done.  Enjoy your family.  Relax so you can recharge for the next day.  Never lose sight of the fact that we work hard so that we can enjoy a higher quality of life with those we love.
I hope those five tips help you as much as they have helped me this past year!  Now close your computer and make a list.  Then eat your frog and just say no to the vacuum.

As always, this post made complete sense..


xoxo, Erin
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23 thoughts on “5 tips to manage your time better (Eat That Frog!)

  1. Sounds like a great book! I love hearing about how other people manage their time! I am very organized and definitely get my most important tasks done first. The volume of tasks I do in one day is a lot but I can’t afford to get behind. I keep a to do binder with all of my master lists by topic, then a to do sheet with my day’s routine on the front, divided into sections, and then my tasks for the next 2 days on the back with the other days items on deck so to speak. I create a new sheet every two days due to the volume. I usually have a lot of medical type issues to manage and that takes up a lot of my time in terms of calls and day to day management. All pending items are on the front of the sheet. Another key is having a system for everything so I don’t waste time and doing things once. .. grocery shopping once a week, errand day one day a week (have an errand bag and notebook for that, lol), etc. I map out my goals on New Year’s Day and break them into steps. The hard part for me is that I really don’t have any “me” time and that I’m not a morning person! That being said, I try to get my important tasks out of the way early but do other things late at night.

    1. You are amazing Sue! I don’t know how you do it all. Your family is so lucky to have someone who is as on top of things as you are! xo

  2. I LOVE #1! I have three kids and I split the morning and afternoon “breaks” up. The morning is dedicated to getting the important tasks completed (work), and that really takes a weight off me as I tend to get anxiety about unfinished tasks. Then the afternoon is dedicated to a tiny bit me time (play). I use it almost like a reward for getting all my “work” done earlier, and it allows me to recharge my Mom batteries a bit so I can attack the rest of the day!

    1. Such a good way to look at it! Get the work done and then enjoy the reward of some me time to recharge! Next year my son will be in Kindergarten all day with my girls and while I’m sad about the change and the fact that he is growing up so fast, I’m also excited to have a little more time in the day for exactly what you described! :)

  3. Oh, Erin – it is always so refreshing to read your posts – I always feel like yelling, “Finally, someone who GETS me!” I had to laugh when I read that you sometimes waste a whole day cleaning!! I do the same thing….only to find that as soon as the kids get home from school, it’s a mess again! I, too, am trying to get better with this one!! Baby steps….

    1. Baby steps for both of us Susan! It’s a lot easier said than done! Right now I’m seriously resisting the urge to clean up the mass of toast crumbs from breakfast while I get blog stuff done first! Maybe we need to join a club.. over cleaners unanimous? ;) xo

  4. Thanks for sharing this at this particular time, Erin. I remember you talking about this book before and I meant to get it then, but didn’t. :( I appreciate your taking the time to share it again. The steps you wrote about make perfect sense to me. I am going to try to implement these ideas into my daily life. And I’m going to find this book! :) Good luck to your daughter as she comes to grips with real life priorities. I’m sure you are guiding her well.

    1. Thanks Jeanne! I would definitely recommend this book! Full of great tips. I’ve tried a few things he suggested and they are becoming habits now which makes it easier! :) xo

  5. Erin, I loved this post! I bought this book back when you posted about it because I really love learning about time management too, but I’m not as great about it as I would like or need to be. I’ve read a few chapters, but I need to finish reading this and implement some of this tactics. Reading this post, I already wrote down my summer goals that have been swirling around my head! As always, I love your ideas and tips :) Thanks for sharing!!!

    1. Thanks cutie! That really is a good book! I still want to read the one you suggested on parenting! We need to plan a few more pool days with the kids this summer so they can hang out while we read and chat. :) xo

  6. Your #4 is such a perfect summary of where I get lost in Time Management!! I feel managing my time is something I’m pretty good at – but you are so right…I will get lost in vacuuming the rugs and wiping the counters and clearing the dishes for the 6th time – when really my kids are going to make more messes during the day because WE LIVE HERE!!! It seems so important to me to keep it tidy but that is something I need to let go of until bedtime. Love this post, please post more about your summer schedule and routines because it always gives me so many ideas.

    1. Thank you Lynnsey! It’s so hard isn’t it!? And we could clean all day and there will always be more to clean! I have to try really hard to let the messes sit sometimes while I get other things done. I’ll definitely post more about our summer routine when we get it figured out! :)

  7. You are amazing and very inspiring! Thanks for these tips. I embrace many of them daily but it was a nice reminder of why we do them….To spend time with the ones we love.

    1. Thank you Trish! I know – I often need that reminder too. I have to remember to just sit and hang out with my family sometimes also instead of always trying to get something done! :)

  8. Love this post Erin! I was just saying to my husband last night that if I only had more time in the day, there are so many things I could do to move my business forward. But with a 2 year old and 4 year old, I don’t want to miss out on time with them, especially while they’re so young. It’s a juggle for sure! But I love the notion of ‘eating the frog’! Thanks for the inspiration :)

    1. Thank you Jo! It’s so hard. Especially when you have really little ones, but you are smart to appreciate this time with them! It goes by in the blink of an eye and you’ll never get it back. So glad this post was helpful! xo

  9. I’m absolutely going to take my mother’s day Barnes & noble gift card & check this book out. I struggle with time management – especially on my work from home days!! So much to get done, so little time!! Thanks for the recommendation!

    On another note, i should let you know that your blog is such a happy place for me! Just a few minutes of sunshine when my patience is wearing thin. Thanks for sharing!

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