Top 10 Time Management Tips
Time management is more complex than you want to think – at least initially. It involves putting systems into place to make life easier. At first, those systems take effort to set up. These 10 time management tips will give you quick information so you can get things under control immediately. Once you have a reign on the chaos using these steps, move on to more complete solutions.
Tip #1) Time Management is Possible
You read in many other “top time management tips” that time management is a myth. While it's true that you never have more than 24 hours in a day, the true myth is that you can't manage those hours. Things come up unpredictably – but you can still make the most of the hours that you have.
Tip #2) Stop Using Multiple Systems
This is a mistake that's easy to make. You think that there are different areas of your life, and you need a system or method for each area. In reality, this creates confusion and makes it very hard for you to keep track of everything you're supposed to be doing.
If you're a work at home mom, I highly recommend you maintain one master system for all your tasks – for kids, home, husband, and your work. This works for many reasons – one big one: you're not tempted to put work ahead of the house. Sometimes a messy home and rowdy kids are OK – but most of the time you need to tend to the basics and get the kids settled before work.
I go into this in more depth in other articles – but for now, combine your various systems into one. If you're a work at home mom, combine your “work” and you “home” systems – mom and entrepreneur is who you are, 100% of the time. Don't separate it.
Tip #3) Do Use a List
You see several possible systems on this site, but it all comes down to how you list the tasks that you need to get done. I recommend you do use a list. Your calendar and your planner have their place – I certainly use mine – but the list holds your action steps.
Tip #4) Keep No More Than 20 Items on Your List
You want to look at your list and pick out the best thing to do at any given time. You need to look down the list without feeling overwhelmed – and have the ability to pick out what really needs to be done first. These are your priority items. Keep everything else as low-priority. Michael Linenberger calls these “over the horizon” tasks. Look through these regularly – but at scheduled times. Focus on the priority items the “now” items… now 🙂
Tip #5) Menu Plan
That's right. You and your family must eat. Unless you're eating out for every meal, you need to have an idea of what you're eating. And even if you are eating out every meal, plan where you're going or ordering from! A menu plan doesn't take a lot of time to make every week or two – and if you're really busy there are a lot of work at home moms offering a “menu mailer” service – you get healthy menus, recipes, and shopping lists mailed right to your inbox every week.
Tip #6) Teach Your Children
You constantly hear how important it is to “delegate.” You think “I can't delegate anything – this business is me, myself, and I!” Thankfully, that's not true. Your “job” is as much managing your home as it is managing your business. And your children are little worker bees under you.
Invest the time it takes to teach them how to do housework (you have to invest time teaching any employee how to do their job). Then delegate it! Like most “bosses,” you also need to follow up and make sure your workers are doing an acceptable job. Investing this time now and then giving them responsibilities not only eases your workload, it's also really good for them.
If you have only young children, let them help you as you do your chores. This makes your chores take longer, but in just a few years it will pay off big dividends.
Tip #7) Create Routines
You need routines for yourself and for your children. Don't schedule your husband's day – but you can schedule family times (like mealtimes). Check with your husband on these things. Routines will get you through the more mundane parts of the day quickly and easily, because you don't have to think about them. A routine keeps the kids happy too – they like the security of knowing “what comes next.”
Tip #8) Learn to Say No
You're expected to do a lot as a wife, mother, and a business owner. Those are your priorities. Other things come later. Learn to say no for yourself and for your children. The are opportunities you want to take for fun and for the good of others. But there are some things you don't need to say yes to. You don't have to serve on every committee and your children don't need to be part of every activity presented to them. Balance is key. If in doubt, say no.
Tip #9) Use the Wait Time
Chances are there are some activities your children are enrolled in. There are appointments to take them into – and to go to yourself. These are times you're waiting around – don't waste them. Always keep a book with you. Or flip through magazines that come into your mailbox quickly. Tear out the articles you want to read and fold them up. Carry a couple of them with you to read in those moments when you could be working. Keep a notebook with you to make plans, sketch mindmaps, and record ideas.
Tip #10) Do Not Multi-Task!
There are times you can multi task – maybe you can listen to a lesson or lecture while you cook dinner. But when you settle down to work on writing, product creation, or whatever you do for your business, do not multi task. Focus on what you're doing completely. You get through it faster, and it gets done more effectively and professionally. When you spend time with your family give them your full attention. The times you have together are more enjoyable and you don't feel guilty about spending some time working later.