“How was your day?”
It is a question we need to ask ourselves at the end of the day regardless if we work from a home office, are a stay-at-home Mom, or commute to a job away from home.
Are you exhausted, worn out and ready to collapse at the end of the day?
If your job leaves you drained of energy, coming home each day to a chaotic environment, dishes in the sink, clothes and toys scattered all over, chores left undone, is not what you want to have to face. It’s hard to relax when everything around you is a mess.
Time management is your tool. It will be effective only as it fits your wants, needs and goals.
What can a time management plan do for you?
It can put in place routines, schedules and to do lists that give you overall control over each day’s tasks and duties. A time management plan can reduce stress, indecision, and create habits that work for you and not against you. Included in that plan is establishing specific times for relaxation and enjoyment with your family or the people you love.
Replacing one habit with another
Before you put any plan of action to work, you need to know what you are currently doing. What habits already in place are not working? What keeps them in place? What needs to happen to replace those not working? Consider the following examples of every day living that can make your life easier instead of harder.
- Having clothes washed and ready to wear when you want them
- Keeping the kitchen free from dirty dishes making it easier to prepare meals when you want
- Making supply lists and regularly selecting a time to purchase groceries on a regular basis
- Sitting down together as a family for meals
- Designated times for work and free time with family, spouses or friends
- Morning and bedtime routines that allow for minimum stress and frustration
- Developing sleep habits that insure maximum sleep advantage
- Planning and completing long term tasks such as thorough house cleaning, car maintenance, etc.
As I mentioned in last week’s blog, to change course requires both a conscious and deliberate decision followed by some kind of action. It takes both to change to a new direction. Habits based on what you feel like in the moment will lead you on a downward spiral of exhaustion, frustration and depression.
How do you spend your day?
Most of us assume we know exactly what we do every day – how we spend our time. When we are asked to keep a log for a week, however, we are often surprised at how much time is wasted or used inefficiently.
Keeping a log is a gift to yourself. It is time well spent.
Keep a daily log for a week, from the time you get up in the morning until you go to bed at night to discover how you really spend your time.
Take a piece of paper with lines for the times of day, from when you get up in the morning until you go to bed at night. Then for a week, each day jot down what you do at these times. Don’t make any changes or any judgments. Just record. Be as honest as you can. You are doing this for you – not anybody else. The following questions in each section can help as you record and evaluate at the end of the process.
- Morning Routines
When do you get up? How long does it take to get ready for work? If you have children, how long does it take them to get dressed, eat, and leave for school? Put down commute times to and from work. At the end of the week, you will see routines that have helped and those that haven’t.
2. During the Day
If you work outside the home your time will be dictated pretty much by your job. You have a choice as to how you spend your lunchtime. Simple chores can be done during such times if you choose such as writing thank you cards, etc. If you work at a home office, do you start work at a designated time each day? Do you take breaks and time for lunch? If retired, it may be more difficult to remain motivated without a schedule in place. What are you missing at this time of life by not having a schedule? What could your retirement look life if you did? What opportunities are you missing?
3. Evening Routines
Who makes meals, is in charge of preparation and clean up? Are chores shared by all members of the family or does the responsibility fall on one person? Do you eat together as a family and how does different meal times create extra stress and work? Is there a consistent school homework schedule for children as well as play time?
Is there a time when family members can come together to enjoy one another? Is there a bedtime routine that is followed fairly consistent? Does your current schedule make it more difficult to get to sleep and get a full night’s rest sleep?
4. Weekend Schedules
If working full time, is there time designated on weekends for cleaning, vacuuming, and other ongoing home tasks? If you work out of your home, as I do, I can complete tasks throughout the day as I schedule ten or fifteen minutes away from my desk making it easier to complete larger tasks at a time I choose. Knowing what needs to be done to make the home run smoothly ahead of time, gives you the option of perhaps doing some laundry or house cleaning during the week allowing more free time on weekends.
At the end of your week, review your time and habits. Do you see patterns of behavior that are ineffective? How could you change them so they work for you? How could some tweaking make it better. What benefits are you receiving in the short term that costs you more in the long term. It might feel okay to leave dishes until the morning because you just don’t feel like doing them. But the cost will involve doing double duty the next day. Only you can determine both the short term and long term benefits for how you direct your day.
Remember, whatever you do, you are doing it for you and your family. However you set up your routines is up to you. Each family and circumstances will be different.
This isn’t a “see how much I can accomplish” mission. It is about finding out if you are satisfied with things as they are, or if you want to improve your options by replacing old habits.
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