As the world of technology evolves, there are more and more devices to make life easier for us. Think of all the time we save with things like garage door openers, snow blowers, remote controls, dishwashers, elevators, high speed internet, digital everything, laundry and cleaning services, gas powered mowers, online shopping…
It seems like no matter how many time-saving tools we have, people just keep getting busier. We work, sometimes more than one job, go to night school, have families, pets, belong to book clubs, volunteer, and more. If saving stress and finding time for fitness sound like good ideas for you this year, here are some tips that time management experts offer for busy parents…but you don’t have to have children to benefit from this great advice.
Do a Realistic Time Audit
Time management experts stress that before you can make needed changes in the way you manage time, you need to look at how you spend your time now. What activities or tasks are taking up the biggest chunks of your life? What items do you hate or put off most? Are you allowing others to dictate uses for your time that aren’t productive or don't fit your agenda? By doing a brutally honest assessment, you can begin to change the way you manage yourself in relation to time.
Personalize your to-do list
Some people thrive using a daily to-do list, which they construct either at the end of the previous day or first thing the next morning. Some people combine a to-do list with a calendar or schedule. Others prefer a "running" to-do list that is continually being updated. Or, you may prefer a combination of both, whatever method works best for you. Don't be afraid to try a new system — you just might find one that works even better than your present one!
Don't waste waiting time
Waiting is inevitable, but you can find ways to put even a few minutes of waiting to good use. Whether holding on the phone or waiting for play practice to end, you can make lists, sort mail, go over your schedule, and complete other small but necessary tasks. At home, sort the laundry or the mail while catching up on the news, talk on the phone while preparing dinner, etc.
Stock up as much as possible
Save time by keeping items on hand so that you don’t have to make constant special trips to purchase them. Examples include not only items such as postage stamps, greeting cards (buy several at a time with assorted themes), and wrapping paper but also nonperishable groceries and household goods in quantities to last at least 2-3 months. Your supermarket visits will be reduced to quick trips to pick up fresh items, and you’ll be surprised at how much time is saved.
Have a system
Whether cleaning house, cooking, or making sure homework gets done, you'll be ahead of the game—maybe even ahead of schedule—if you have a system for getting things done. Include your family in a friendly competition to see who has the best ideas for accomplishing things quickly and efficiently-- you might be surprised at what they come up with! Run several errands at the same time. Have a morning "launching pad" as a place to collect backpacks, briefcases, papers, money, etc. the night before. Carry a list of current sizes for everyone in the household when shopping. Do as much routine shopping (bedding, underwear, footwear, etc.) as possible by phone or online, and buy all your kids’ seasonal clothing in one trip. Use "sticky notes" on the bathroom mirror or by the door to remind you and other family members of schedules, or other things you need to remember.
Multi-task when feasible
When supervising baths or homework, dovetail with other activities such as cleaning cabinets, checking supplies, mending, list making, ironing, washing dishes, or doing personal grooming. Group routine medical/dental/haircut appointments for household members, and try to schedule them first thing in the morning or right after lunch, when you're more likely to be seen right away.
Don’t be a perfectionist
In the Malaysian culture, a minor flaw is always included on final products so the gods will not be offended, since only the gods are considered capable of producing anything perfect. Some things are worth perfecting, but often good enough is just that— good enough. What’s more, perfectionism—paying unnecessary attention to detail—can be a form of procrastination.
Learn to say ‘No'
Most of us have trouble saying this little word. But if you focus on the goals that are important to you— like incorporating a fitness routine into your life— saying no to the unimportant gets easier. It may even just be a matter of timing— as in saying, ‘Not now.’
According to many "time management" experts, time really can't be managed. You can't slow it down, speed it up, or manufacture it. It just is. Time management is about managing yourself. Try some of these ideas of "self management" to help you prioritize your tasks and reach your goals.