"Time management" is a myth. Time ticks by, whether you achieve what you want to or not in the run of a day or week. "Time waits for no man" as the saying goes. The only thing that you can manage, time-wise, is YOU.
The following tips will help you on the road to a less hectic schedule.
1. Get Organized
It's hard to manage your schedule if you spend a great deal of time hunting for keys, team notices and school papers. Once you are organized, with a workable system in place, you will find that managing your schedule will become much easier.
2. Call a family meeting
In order to reign in the overwhelming schedule that most families have, you must get input from all the concerned parties.
Ask each family member to pick one or two activities that they are passionate about. Though you may want your children to be exposed to a number of activities, remember that downtime is essential for children. An overscheduled life leads to stress, burnout and a lack of interest. Contrary to popular thinking, it won't necessarily make your children "well-rounded" but you can be sure it will make them stressed, irritable and generally unhappy. Children don't like the pressure of too many activities any more than adults do.
In our household of six, we limit our children to one sporting activity to promote health and fitness, and one "community minded" activity, like Scouts or Brownies. This works very well, and allows us two nights off per week, when there are no activities scheduled at all. It did, however, mean some compromises. When we scheduled our son and daughter for Cubs, we had to switch our daughter's tap dancing to a different night, at a different location. All worked out in the end, as we now drive a little farther for the dance school, but I use the hour that she dances to get groceries at the local supermarket.
We also encourage reading, playing outside with friends, and musical pursuits through school band. We find that the kids are happy with their schedules and are not stressed out over activities. It also leaves plenty of downtime and homework time in their schedule.
3. Learn to say "No"
Sounds simple, doesn't it. Go ahead and practice it now. "NO". However, when someone calls you and says "We really need your help", it becomes very hard to say that little word. Despite impassioned pleas, the cause that wants your assistance will NOT fold without you.
Go ahead and donate your time to one or two causes that you are passionate about, and tell the rest that you would love to help out, but you are not able to give them the attention they deserve. Thank them for considering you, but you must decline.
Saying "No" is a way to honor yourself by allowing you to give your full attention to the one or two causes you choose. Doing so means that your cause benefits and your soul benefits by the calm that can enter your life when you devote yourself and your time to what you genuinely love.
4. Use Unique Storage Ideas
Sounds like an odd suggestion for managing yourself, time-wise, but it's really a great idea.
Most people do not like to admit that they read in the bathroom. However, most of us do. So store any magazines that you want to read in the bathroom. I also print off newsletters that I want to read and store them there. I am always guaranteed two things ? time to read and a few minutes of peace and quiet away from my overly energetic toddlers.
By using my time to multitask, I can read the articles that interest me without taking up work time or family time.
Our children all have "chores" according to age and ability. The toddlers (ages 3 and 4) are responsible for picking up their toys and putting them away. Since they know exactly where the storage areas are, it's very easy for them to do. They can also set the table and help with sorting the laundry. They love to load the washer, thinking that it's just a big game.
Our older children (ages 10 and almost 12) are responsible for emptying the garbage cans and the compost containers. They also take care of shovelling snow off of the back steps, getting the newspaper and the mail and doing laundry. They make their beds, and keep their rooms tidy. The only beds I have to make below to my husband and me, and our youngest daughter.
Hubby and I equally share our household chores. This means that we cook, clean up or do laundry and housework depending on who is available. This also means that neither of us is solely responsible for all the household duties, which is a great stress reliever in itself.
6. Use a Master Calendar
We have a huge dry-erase style calendar that hangs right by my desk. All activities are scheduled from here, and my husband and I each make note of upcoming events in our individual planners. This allows us to have an overview of all activities, meetings, Doctor appointments, school happenings and special events like Cub camps and dance recitals. We also sit down for a few minutes together each day and review our schedules so we can each make the other aware if things have cropped up during time apart.
If you work opposite schedules of your significant other, "sticky notes" strategically placed are a gigantic help.
7. Develop a Flexible "Daily Plan"
Quite by accident, we have developed a rough outline of a few necessary activities for our day. When we were having septic system troubles, we were forced into a routine of no more than two loads of laundry per day so that the septic field had time to absorb the water. And guess what? We kept that system. It's a relief to know that I only ever have to do two loads of laundry per day, one in the morning and one at night. And I was quite surprised to find that this worked exceedingly well despite our large family.
We don't get backed up with laundry now, and there are even days when we only have to do one load. HURRAY!
Scheduling regular activities into your day or week makes it easier to carry them out. Grocery shopping gets done when I take our oldest daughter to dance lessons and items for mailing get taken to the postal outlet when we drive our son to Tae Kwon Do. This sort of multi-tasking works well for us, as well as streamlines our time and makes the most of trips we have to take anyway.
8. Adjust Your Expectations
Perfection is unrealistic. There will be days when you seem to get nothing done. This is NORMAL. By staying open to change, you don't get yourself so worked up when things appear to be going crazy. Know that not every day will be efficient and work well. Know that there will be times when you have uncooperative kids, a cranky car, traffic, classes that run late, etc. etc. Just smile and take a deep breath and know that you have a chance to try again tomorrow.
9. Take Adult Time Out's
Some days, after dealing with two toddlers all day, then two school aged kids, a business and a full-time student spouse, I really don't feel like cooking. So I declare a "Weird Supper Night" and the kids are allowed to have anything they find in the refrigerator, as long as they have something from each of the four food groups. This is my "Adult Time Out". I don't cook, the kids think it's hilarious to each pickles, pepperoni, milk and a bagel and I can relax.
This works especially well on nights when we do have an activity scheduled and hubby and I have had to work late.
10. Schedule Downtime
Write it on your calendar. Go to the gym alone. Go get a facial or a massage. Run on your treadmill or take a brisk walk. Turn off the television and play a game with your children. Honor your family by scheduling downtime into your week. As well, try to take a 20 minute block at least once per day where you do something just for you. Children and partners will all adjust. And you'll be in a better frame of mind when you return to them. All around, everyone wins.
By Jill Chongva
Align Your Life Organizing & Office Services
Telephone (204) 489 0932
Jill Chongva is the owner of Align Your Life Organizing based in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Her 5 years organizing experience, combined with her 19 years in Administration, plus her ability to multitask as the mother of 4 children under the age of 11, gives her a wide variety of skills, tips and tricks to offer her exclusive clientele.
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