Time. We all seem to need more time to get things done, don’t we? I think it’s a good thing that God has control of the number of hours He gives us in a day because, if we were able to add more, we would probably work ourselves to death!
There are so many little things that happen each day that eat away at our time. So what can we do to better manage the gift of time? I’ll tell you a few of the things I’ve been doing lately in my own life. Perhaps these ideas will be helpful to you as well.
One of the big time-wasters in my life is the computer! Since I work from home, co-own and help run a homeschool website, and write for my own personal blog as well as this one, it’s very easy to spend far too much time on the computer. In order to help keep myself from wasting time on the computer, I recently made myself a plan. I decide what project, job, or blog I’m going to work on before I sit down at the computer. I also give myself a reasonable amount of time to work on it. Then I set a timer, get to work, and stop working when I reach my time limit. I like using a stop-watch timer because, if I get interrupted, I can simply stop the timer and re-start it as needed.
Just using this simple “trick” has tremendously cut down on the amount of time I “need” to get my work done on the computer. I had no idea how much time was slipping away without being noticed!
Another strategy is “mapping out” my day each morning (or the night before). I begin by simply listing the things I need to do that day. Then I put the list in order. If I have several errands to run, it makes sense to do those all at once. And of course I set aside time to do homeschool work with my children. I designate “work” time. I also designate time to cook meals, clean the kitchen, and do other chores around the house. And of course I schedule time to do things like drive the kids to ballet or tennis or appointments.
I don’t assign exact times for these activities, but I do try to think about the approximate amount of time each activity will take. (I do, of course, have to drive the kids to lessons at certain times. Other than that, though, I try to create more of a “flow” for the day rather than an hour-by-hour schedule.) For example, I may set aside an hour for errands; 3 hours for homeschooling; 1 hour for preparing lunch, eating, and cleaning up; 2 hours for my own work; etc.
I was pleasantly surprised at what a huge help this simple plan has started to make in my life! Simply knowing what needs to be done and having an order to do those things in has been very helpful!
One more help that I’ve recently put into place is meal planning. I have been far too lax in this area for a long time. I don’t think about our dinner menu until it’s time to start cooking. Then if I don’t have something thawed out or if I don’t have all the ingredients I need, it’s a problem. Then we end up wasting money eating out or what I prepare might not be very yummy because I lack certain ingredients.
I don’t do a “formal” meal plan most of the time. I simply make a list of 7 or 8 dinner menus for the week that I have ingredients to make. Then each morning I decide which meal we will have that evening so I can thaw out ingredients or run to the store for anything that needs to be purchased at the last minute (like fresh fruit, etc.).
At times I’ll use a more formal meal plan and make a menu for certain meals on certain days for a specified number of days. I’ve found, though, that a less formal approach works best for me right now.
What’s great is that each of these changes was small and simple. I didn’t have to re-work my entire life or come up with an elaborate plan. I just made a few little changes here and there, but I find that my time is much more productive now. I also have more time to enjoy my husband and my children without always feeling pressed to be working or blogging or cleaning. It’s a little bit of work to begin with, but it’s definitely worth doing!
What about you? Do you have any ideas for managing your time more efficiently? We would love for you to share them with us!
Image credit: http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/
Wendy lives in the South with her wonderful hubby and 3 great kiddos! She is a Christian, homeschooling, work-from-home mom. She and Scott were high school sweethearts and have been married for more than 20 years. Her oldest child has autism, and Wendy began homeschooling her at age 2. Her son, a typical boy, would rather do anything than school! Her youngest child is a little social butterfly and people lover. Wendy loves reading and quilting and will hopefully return to scrapbooking sometime soon. She blogs at Homeschooling Blessings and at Hip Homeschool Moms where she is co-owner and social media director.