Several time-management tips that will help you to use those precious hours wisely
Time management seems to be an issue in almost everyone's lives as there never seems to be enough time in the day for all of the day-to-day tasks. Whether you are a stay-at-home or work-at-home parent, or you work outside of your home, I am sure that you could use a few more hours in your day.
1. Get organized!
I can't stress this enough. This is the first thing that absolutely needs to be done to improve your time management skills. Think about all of the time that is wasted looking for things; looking for papers, phone numbers, supplies.....your desk top.
Use the first 15 minutes of your morning to organize your work area. Go over your "To Do" list and organize the things needed to accomplish them.
2. Identify your MOST productive time
You may be a morning person or an evening person. I do all of my most difficult tasks when I am fresh in the morning.
Use your child's nap time, or one hour of "TV time" for your kids, to do your most difficult tasks.
3. Make your "to-do" list the night before
Know what you will accomplish the next day. That way, you start out with a goal in mind first thing in the morning rather than wandering around aimlessly.
Divide your "To-Do" list into several pages; one list for things to do tomorrow, one for this week, and one for things to do this month. As you accomplish these goals, cross them off. I write my monthly goals on my calendar.
4. Find more time in the day
Need an extra hour in the day? Get up an hour early and have your first cup of coffee or tea sitting at the computer going through your e-mails, answering your e-mails, and posting to forums. I call these my "day wasters".
5. Schedule it and stick with it
Write one thing that you will accomplish on each day of the week on your calendar. For instance, I file every Monday, do my online banking every Wednesday, and update my web site on Friday.
6. Avoid the big "day wasters"
Facebook, TV, surfing the web, and talking on the telephone are all huge "day waters" if not used properly. These are all great things, when used in moderation, but can become very addicting and you can seriously lose hours and hours of your day with all of them.
Limit your "day wasters" to the morning hour of your day. This is a huge time management tip!
7. Household chores and house cleaning
Clean one thing every day. Clean the kitchen one day, vacuum one day, clean the bathrooms one day... Wash one load of clothes every day.
Load the washer the night before. Start the load of clothes washing as you head to the coffee pot first thing in the morning. Dry the load while you are doing your other household chores, then hang and put it away. One load is so much more manageable than three!
Make your bed and do the dishes before you "go to work". Tidy the night before so that you wake up to a neat house and are ready to start working.
8. Do double duty
Do you sit in the carpool line for half an hour? Read your longer e-mails or newsletters that you have printed out from your computer. Read your mail that you saved for this time. Do your callbacks while you are sitting outside with your kids or sitting in your car in the carpool line. Double duty!
Do you have a small child? Try to schedule time for work and time for play. I work most of the morning, fix lunch and then we head outside. We play for a while and then I sit outside while our daughter swings or rides her bike and use this time to read, study, or draft ideas for my newsletter, jewelry or website.
Have your smaller children do their daily reading while you are cooking. I have my first-grade daughter sit on the kitchen counter and read to me while I am cooking. I can hear her read and can help her with any words that she is having problems with.
Have your child do their homework while you are cleaning up the dinner dishes. This way you are already in the kitchen and can help if your child needs it.
9. Learn to "Just Say No!"
I have run into the problem of people (hubby is my biggest diversion!) assuming that since I am a stay at home mom, I don't do anything all day but read or sit on the couch with my bag of potato chips and watch TV. I am often asked to run errands, watch someone's kids, or volunteer. If I have a full week I simply tell them that my week is overbooked as it is and I can not do it.
10. Avoid interruptions
Let your calls go to voicemail. Turn e-mail off. Only check your e-mail in the morning, at lunch and at the end of your day. E-mail is a major interruption.
If you are trying to work at home, explain to family and friends that you have work to do and will not be available between the hours of 8-4 but would love to hear from them after that. You choose your hours.
By following a few of these simple time management suggestions, you should have another hour or two of time in your day to run your business or to just spend it enjoying your family.
Lisa Jay is a freelance writer and the jewelry designer behind Lantana Design wear.
You can visit her website at http://www.JewelryMakingHQ.com