Monday, December 9, 2013

Simplify Life

We all live such busy, complicated lives. Many of us have jobs that take us away from the home for several hours a day. Those who work from home (for a job or your family) are just as busy. We have many responsibilities and people we are responsible to and responsible for. 

I’ve always been good with time management at work but this autumn I found myself busier than ever. In addition to my full time job and commute, I went back to college, started a drama ministry at a local coffeehouse, joined Toastmasters and a 9-week financial class. Did I mention that I have two teenagers? I realized that if I am going to do all this, I need to have very good time management for my life. Here are the steps I took to try and balance everything with some tips for you.

1    Prioritize! Make an all-inclusive list of everything you such as your work (and the commute if applicable), caring for your children, housework, yard maintenance, childcare, hygiene, exercise, prayer/meditation. Include all the various clubs, classes or other things that you are involved in. Don’t forget some “me time” in there. Perhaps you like reading, watching football, or geocaching. Take each into careful consideration and categorize them into a) must do, b) like to do, c) committed to and d) other.

2    Next, organize your time. Make up a week long or month long calendar. If you have more than two 'once a month' activities, it may be best to choose to work with a monthly calendar. You may want to use Outlook or another electronic template. Excel can be useful to design something for your specific needs. Others may want to use a regular paper wall calendar with erasable colored pencils. Next, beside each of your activities, write its frequency (monthly, weekly, daily, etc.) and its duration (minutes/hours). Then, start plugging things into your calendar starting with the most important. You may find it helpful to make all the “must do” one color, all the “like to do” another color and so forth.               

3    Finally, review and revise. Are you too busy? Do you find that you are exhausted every day and are overwhelmed by how your calendar looks? Look at some of those items that are of a lesser priority. Are there some things in your life that you can release? Perhaps you have been leading a Girl Scout troop for six years straight and someone else could take over. What about those things you enjoy? Maybe you could let go of one for now, the bowling league or the book club. Do one for a year and then switch to the other next year. Try utilizing your lunch hour as well. Pack a sandwich and run some errands. Or, if you have a very stressful job, use that time to find a quiet corner and read while you eat leisurely. Don’t forget to delegate when you can. Maybe it is about time that your twelve year old twins learn the fine art of dish washing.

Try to have some Plan B scenarios in place as well. For instance, I planned to post this today during my lunch hour. However, I never made it to work today. After spending two hours in standstill traffic on a major interstate due to an accident, my car decide to just die 1 ½ miles from the exit. Knowing what I normally have to do helped me not to stress out and think about what I could delegate and what things could be delayed. However, I could have done better job planning for my car to break down. So, that is something I will be working on next. 

I hope this helps you with all you do. Life Organizers is one of the sites that I like to visit every so often for some great tips. Leave some of your best tips in the comments to share with others. I’d love to hear from you!

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