So how is everyone’s week going? Stellar? Awful? Somewhere in-between? My girls’ play ended last week. It was a great show and the girls had a blast, but our schedule has been so “off” lately because of all of the rehearsals, parent obligations and performances that for over a month now I’ve felt a little “off” myself. This week I’ve worked hard to get back on track and to make the most of my time. I’ve had a couple of productive days and it has been such a good feeling! It has made me think a lot about the habits I’ve formed that save me during crazy busy weeks and then help me re-group and get back on track when those crazy busy weeks finally come to an end! Five simple things I strive to consistently do that make all the difference in my productivity and help me GET THINGS DONE. Want to hear them? Well let’s go then! No procrastinating around here. ;)
1 – Plan a time to plan once a week. We’re all busy. It might seem difficult or silly to plan a time to plan, but this is the number one thing that has helped me have efficient weeks and get things done more than anything else! I do this on Friday. For years I tried to do it over the weekend and it just never worked. We have too much going on and by Sunday night I’m always exhausted. Friday afternoons are low key for us. My kids don’t have homework and most weeks they don’t have activities (I purposely keep this afternoon open). I turn on a movie for the kids and take some time every Friday afternoon to plan the upcoming week and to write lists of things I want to accomplish. Pencil in a time for this! If you can get in the habit of setting aside a time to plan once a week it will make a huge difference in your upcoming week. (You can read about everything I do for my “week ahead prep” here.)
2 – Write a realistic to-do list for each day. Aside from setting aside a time to prep for the week ahead, I also take 5-10 minutes each night to write my daily to-do list for the next day. I know what you’re thinking – yeah.. we know.. write a list.. we’ve all heard it before. (So maybe I’ve mentioned it a time or two.) :) But today’s takeaway is the word “realistic”. Here’s a problem I’ve had in the past. I dump my brain on paper and write out a fabulous list of all the things I need to get done. ALL of the things. So many things that while my list might temporarily make me feel better, when I actually look at it the next day it does nothing but overwhelm me so I end up ignoring it completely. Raise your hand if you’ve been there before! I’ve learned to be realistic about how long things take me and how much time I have during the day to work on my projects. I still dump my brain and write all sorts of long running lists each Friday, but my daily to-do’s are short and sweet (usually only 4-7 things!) and I put them in order so that there is a clear plan of what I need to do first, second and third.
Cute notepads help. :)
3 – Use your time wisely and make the most of extra minutes. I always ask myself in the morning hours when my kids are at school “what can’t I do when my kids get home?” I want to use my precious “no kid” time to do anything that’s difficult to get done once they are home with me. Things like computer work and making important phone calls are difficult to do with my little ones buzzing around me so I try to do that sort of thing while they are gone. I can do dishes while I’m hearing about their day, I can tidy our office while helping them with homework, and I can wipe down a bathroom mirror and counter while my youngest is in the tub. Use your time in a way that works for you to maximize your productivity. Also use those extra minutes! On the phone? Organize a small kitchen drawer. Waiting in the carpool lane? Clean out your purse. I had an extra 15 minutes while I was waiting for my kids to round things up to get ready to leave the house yesterday so I hopped on my computer and organized a couple of picture folders that were getting out of control. Those extra minutes add up and sometimes make the difference between having a productive day vs. a not so productive day!
(*Sidenote: You can see how I organize my pictures here.)
4 – Minimize social media. I think we all know what a time trap social media can be! You head to Instagram just to check in quick and before you know it you’ve commented on 15 friends’ pictures, started following 4 new accounts, followed a link to a blog and in a flash 45 minutes has passed. The struggle is real! :) I’ve learned to be SO careful with social media. I’ve had to become really disciplined about it. If I’m not careful it can get out of control fast and eat up too much of my time each day. I check in with Facebook and IG on average twice a day and when I do I make sure I’m not on for more than 15 minutes. You have to be careful with blogs too. Obviously I LOVE blogs, but I only read most of the blogs I follow once a week. I follow quite a few and if I read them all every day I’d never have time to write my own blog let alone get anything else done! Catching up on my favorite blogs is my Friday night treat after the end of a long week. I love to get my kids in bed, put on pj’s and just veg out! I pop popcorn and have a blog/Pinterest party while my husband watches TV and falls asleep on the couch. (#fridaynightroutine) I don’t feel guilty wasting a few hours because I haven’t done that all week. This might not work for everyone but it has been working for me for years. Now that said, you should still read my blog every day and you can follow me on Instagram here, Facebook here, and Pinterest here. If you’re going to waste your time on social media, at least spend it with me. :) Kidding! Kind of. Not really. ;)
5 – Finish one thing before moving on to the next. This last tip is the one I struggle with the most. When I do work hard to focus and finish one task before moving on to the next I always get more done. But admittedly a lot of days I am so scattered! I’ll start responding to e-mails and something I read will remind me that I need to take a picture of something for the blog so I grab my camera – but as I’m about to take the picture I notice how dusty the floor is so I start sweeping – which leads me into the kitchen where I remember my girls forgot to feed their tortoises – so I grab them some lettuce – off to the garage I go where I feed the tortoises and then stop and wonder what in the world I was working on and remember my goal was to clean out my inbox. HELLO! Scattered much!? :) My goal for this next month is to not move on to a new task until I finish what I started. Tortoises might not eat every day, but I WILL check off my to-do’s. ;)
So that’s it my friends. My 5 best tips for GETTING THINGS DONE. May the force be with you.
** Other similar time management posts:
Week Ahead Prep
5 Tips to Manage Your Time Better: (EAT THAT FROG!)
How To Make an Effective Plan to Organize Your Home