I have received a few questions from people asking me how I manage my time between college, blogging, photo sessions, and family time all while making sure I stay sane and healthy. So, I thought I would write a blog sharing my best time management tips and tricks. I hope that you are able to take a few of these tips and work them into your routine, so you can have a schedule that is life-giving, peaceful, and exciting.
Line up your Priorities
Make a clear list of your priorities in your life in order of most important to least important. This helps for when you are in a crunch and need to decide what activity or project should take priority over the other. In his book The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People, Stephen Covey talks about the difference between what is urgent and what is important. He says that most people never make time for what is important, rather they keep focused on what is urgent.
In moments of stress, you will most likely focus on what is due right then. However, knowing what is important in the long run will give you perspective in the moment and be easier to decide where to focus your attention. Here is my list of priorities:
- My family and friends
- Bethie Grondin Photography
I understand it seems crazy to put school last on the list. However, I found that things that have a deadline and accountability (like school in my case) will always be completed. A task fills the time allotted for it. Whereas, something that does not have a deadline (like family time), can be more easily shoved aside. However, by deciding in advance what is more important to me in my life, I can consciously choose to go for a walk with my family, knowing school will get done ultimately.
Find Your Peak Hours
I am such an early bird and I love it because my brain and body are the most awake first thing in the morning. In the morning, I can think so clearly and get so much done during these first few hours of the day. I also work great at 10:30 in the morning and around 3 in the afternoon. I know that those three peak hours are when I am the most focused, energized, productive and driven. So, I plan my day to do the hardest work during these peak hours.
Whereas, during the evening hours, I am not great at the thinky work. lol. Not only am I not productive but I find, I am too tired to concentrate on the urgent projects. So, I choose to do fun, mindless things at these times. Or I use it to do some of the important things on my priority list, like chat with friends and spend extra time with family.
Plan for Your Week and Days
I start by working through my prioritizes. Beginning with any events that I might have coming up during that week, I plan events like Sunday church, bible studies, school deadlines, and then any family plans and girls get togethers. Then, I add in any photo sessions I have coming up and plan for the next few blogs. I always sit down and write out a very specific list of To Do’s for each day. This helps to make sure, that I am staying on track. And I am using the time I do have available for good, productive work.
Assign a Time Limit for Each To-Do
If I am being honest, I am the type that is easily distracted and can let a task drag on longer than it should. In her book 168 hours, Laura Vanderkam, talks about what she calls sprints. A sprint is where you set a time limit for a task and push through it as quickly as possible. When you have a tight schedule, it is necessary that you use every minute you have available to work for as much as possible. Also, I find that when you do a couple sprints, you start feeling good and are more motivated to keep going.
Give Yourself Margin
It is healthy to say no. I am a people pleaser and would love to do everything for everyone, but I burn out way too quickly. Like you, I need my time to rest and recoup before I can continue on. By giving yourself margin you are alleviating stress. You allow your brain to process and decompose and you are able to put everything in perspective. Often times, when I have margin it restores my thoughts and sparks my creativity. It gives me the opportunity to sit with a task and then revisit it. I find it adds so much peace to my schedule.
Keep Yourself Healthy and Well
You cannot do anything if you are not healthy and functioning at your best. When you have a good night’s sleep, eat healthy, exercise, and do not have too much stress, you are able to take on so much. Life is easier.
I will be the first to admit that I am not perfect at all of these tips. However, I have noticed a huge difference when I became intentional with managing my time. Leave a comment sharing a time management tip you use and love or which of these you want to implement. I would love to know which one helped you best!
Once again Bethie, you never cease to amaze me with your insight and ability for writing. You said to leave a time management hint – this is something I learned years ago at a Time Mgtmt Seminar while still working at Kemper. Never pick up anything twice – now that I am retired I still use that small little idea daily..When unloading the dishwasher I put things away immediately in the cupboard and not just leave on the counter – I go thru the mail daily and handle what’s needs to be done file important papers and toss what is not necessary – and doing the morning watering put all pots back where they belong ….in otherwise complete each project started no matter how large or small . Thxs for a great blog..
Thanks for sharing! That is a very helpful tip! I will have to try it
Great blog. I love the 7 habits book. I’m going to have to read Laura Vanderkam Book 168 hour (if I can find the time) just kidding.
Thanks for all the great suggestions