Guest post by Kristen Boucher, RN
Have you ever uttered the words, “I need more hours in the day,” only to be disappointed that the time Gods keep ignoring your request? The fact is, we are all given the same 24 hours per day to use as we please. Well sort of. It’s how efficiently we use those 24 hours that separates the men from the boys when it comes to extreme productivity. If you’re among the majority and need to refine your time management skills, read on and YOU just might create those elusive extra hours in your day to crank out more work (bad idea) or even – gasp – relax!
1. Make a list.
Identify your top three priorities for the next day the night before and get working on them first thing. For your techie junkies, try TeuxDeux, an online, clean, simple-to-use app that has everything you need, PLUS the ability to cross-off a task when it’s completed (Type As rejoice!). If you’re worried that you’ll forget the other looming things on your list, do a periodic “brain dump” so you feel lighter. The aforementioned TeuxDeux has a “Someday” section. This is a good place for the brain dump to live. More than likely though, if it’s that important, you won’t forget.
2. Avoid the morning email blitz.
As creatures of habit, we are programmed to start our day checking our email. Then what happens? We get sucked into the vortex of answering and responding, aaand answering some more and responding some more. More come in and we keep the cycle going. Before we know it, the day is half over and what have we accomplished? Reading and responding to email. Not tackling the three priorities on our “to do” (or TeuxDeux) list. I’m not suggesting you eliminate email from your life (although it is mighty tempting sometimes), but rather schedule times throughout the day to dedicate your time and energy to this task and stick to your schedule. For example, noon, 4 pm, and 9 pm. When you do check emails, handle them immediately. Respond, delete, or file it away for later. If you’re one of those “immediate responders”, you may have to give your friends and colleagues a warning about your new, super-productive bad-assery. If not, expect to receive concerned phone calls and other distractions that will thwart your productivity.
3. Start saying “no” to at least one thing a day.
Afraid of hurting someone’s feelings or feeling guilty? Knock it off and read my recent post “Six Simple Tips to Say No (Without Being an A-hole)”.
4. Batch ‘n chunk.
Taken from the pages of the amazing Danielle LaPorte, pay all of your bills at once, run your errands on the same day, and make all of your calls before noon. You’ll immediately notice warp speed momentum building that will skyrocket your productivity.
5. Limit time sucks.
Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Words With Friends, you name it. Don’t give it up altogether if it’s something you like, but do give yourself a time limit. Set a timer (literally) and stick to it.
6. Stop multi-tasking.
In theory, multi-tasking gets a whole slew of things checked off that list at the same time, but it’s really counter-productive and a major productivity zapper. Instead of trying to do several things at once—and often none of them well—Dr. Paul Hammerness and Margaret Moore, authors of Organize Your Mind, Organize Your Life, suggest what they call “set shifting”. This means consciously and completely shifting your attention from one task to the next, and focusing on the task at hand. Giving your full attention to what you are doing will help you do it better, with more creativity and fewer mistakes or missed connections.
7. Don’t grocery shop everyday.
How many times have you had to run to the store for one or two items so dinner can happen? Stop flying by the seat of your pants when it comes to meal planning, and schedule time in your busy life to plan your meals for the next seven days, make your grocery list, and go shopping. Once.
8. Cook once, eat thrice.
Who the heck has time to cook every single day? Not me. Leftovers are this Busy Mama’s best friend. On a typical week, I’ll make about two to three main meals that I can double (or triple) the recipe, prep ahead (and pop in the oven), and that reheat (or freeze) well. These serve as dinner for my loves as well as leftovers for lunches and subsequent dinners. Need some ideas for family-friendly clean eats? Try these for starters: Baked Whole Grain Eggplant Parmesan, Four Cheese Swiss Chard Lasagna, Ahi Tuna Casserole with Mara’s Whole Wheat Rotini, Chicken Pot Pie, Four Cheese Baked Ziti Florentine, Southwestern Burrito Bake, or Shepherd’s Pie With Barley, Beef, and Kale. Dinner is done.
Now that you have all of the secrets, pray tell. What are YOU going to do with your extra time? And what’s missing? How do you best manage your time? Please leave a comment below. I’d love to hear!
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Do you have any tools to simplify your life? What are your favorite time savors? Let’s chat below!