Thursday, May 31, 2012

How I Tackled the Time Monster: Part 2

Simple Steps for Tackling Your Time
Now that I have sold you on this concept of time budgeting, let's discuss some simple guidelines for creating a time budget that works best for your life.  Today, we will look at the big picture and establish priorities. 

Step One: Remember that there are 168 hours in a week 
Sometimes, twenty-four hours just does not seem like enough time to do anything meaningful with your life.  However, it is important to remember that each of us is given the same 168 hours a week to work with.  It’s all about how you work it.  You can get a great deal done in 168 hours.

Always keep the bigger picture in mind. In the middle of life's craziness, it is so easy to allow our responsibilities to overwhelm us.  There are more items on the to-do list than there are hours in the day.  Yet, stepping back to take a panoramic view of an entire week, 168 hours, gives an entirely different perspective. 
 If you need help with this, Laura Vanderkam wrote a whole book about it.
Step Two:  Know Your Priorities and Own Them!
Take time to make a list of everything that you normally try to accomplish in any given week.  This includes work, homeschool, family time, work, exercise, and social and church activities.  Basically, every aspect of your life.

Now, make a new list.  Write down all of the things that are most important to you.  When you get to the end of your current life season, and take a look back, what do you want to say about it?  Those images and words that come to mind are your priorities.  Do not feel as though you have to apologize for them.  This is what is important to you.

So, what's important to you?  

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

How I Tackled the Time Monster: Part 1

My day used to look like this:

It’s three o' clock in the afternoon.  I am attempting to wrap up a project for a client while my toddler sounds the verbal alarm  to let me know that my coveted quiet time is officially over.  I have yet to work on the church's social media marketing plan, select and practice new worship music, and choose the new small group study.  Bad pastor's wife!

For the life of me, I cannot begin to figure out where the time has gone since I woke up this morning.  That science experiment with the kiddos took way longer than anticipated. Add in the fact that I forgot to feed myself lunch, and this is not turning out to be a good day.  Starting a free-lance writing career, church,  and homeschooling seemed like a great idea in the beginning.  Now, punching in a time clock and burying myself in a cubicle or classroom somewhere else while my kids catch that yellow bus looks deliciously attractive.  What gives?
Insert time budget here.  That word, budget, is a dirty word for many people, but anyone who has ever had to juggle fifty things in one day (okay, we'll call her, "Mom") can tell you that it is necessary if you plan on keeping your sanity.
This is not a new concept.  People have been grappling with the time management issue for years, probably centuries.  I will be upfront and say none of my ideas are original.  I developed a hodge-podge system from different sources that works for me and thought it might get your wheels turning on how to create something that works for your life.  For a complete series on time management, you can always start with Money Saving Mom's Time Management 101 series

So, What is a Time Budget?
Budgeting your time works very much like budgeting your money.  You determine your priorities and goals and then craft a time budget that helps to create the necessary balance you need in order to show up in your own life. Amy Andrews talks more about a time budget in her book, Tell Your Time

I used to run around like a mad woman, dragging myself into bed at the end of the day, trying to remember if I accomplished anything.  Then, I sat down and got real with my time.  Ever since, I have been amazed at how I really can fit in everything that is most important to me and my family. 

I am much more peaceful and an easier person to get along with.  Managing my time effectively has given me the chance to be fully present in whatever moment I find myself.  I can focus on my free-lance writing and blogging tasks because there is an allotted time for them.  Church activities get there scheduled time as well.  Then, when it is time to teach my children or talk with my husband at the end of the day, I am able to give them all of me in that time space instead of worrying about my daily checklist.

I will come back later to share how I finally wrestled my schedule down to the mat and won...well, at least for now.  In the mean time, I would love to hear about your time management strategies and resources.