Who doesn't struggle with time management? My friends always act like I am superwoman because I get so many things done. Obviously, I only share what I do get done-not what I don't. They don't know how many times I start one project switch to another and another. I plan to go to the computer for one minute and end up spending thirty. I'm very organized-that's not the issue. I have so many interests and so many things I love doing it's hard to find time to do them all. I'm never late for work, I always meet my deadlines or appointments but the things I want to do always come last.
I have to pull out all the stops in the summer to stay on track because I have a hard time staying on track with large open blocks of time-just my luck. There are a few tricks I do use that help me. Maybe they'll help someone and I hope others will share some of their tricks.
Working Backwards: This sounds strange but I came up with this because of work. After students went home - I'd settle in to do my paperwork and such knowing that I have to leave at a particular time. Then I would get so involved in what I was doing, totally immersed, all of a sudden I am grabbing my purse and keys and running out the door. Then I find out I've left without my shopping list, my journal, or the project I had planned to take home. So I started working backwards. As soon as students leave, I put everything that is going home in one area. Then when I am ready to go, I have everything. I do this on my big errand days in the summer as well. I put all my lists, coupons, cooler, and other items together first-with a plan of attack, before I start doing anything else. Working backwards has saved me so many times because I am constantly trying to do just one more thing!
Outlook Calendar: I use Outlook email and calendar at work and home. I put as much as I can on there. When I add a doctor appointment, I put it on my work calendar (if within the school year), my home calendar, and my husband’s work calendar. I do the same for husband’s appointments. This way if one doesn’t look at their calendar, we can remind the other. We know what the other is doing on a given day in case we need to schedule something. I also sync this to my iPhone.
Yahoo Groups: Years ago I set up a yahoo groups for coffee club- my girlfriend group. I set it up because we were always planning activities together. When I sat down to e-mail everybody, I had to make sure I didn’t forget someone. I love the group because when I send an e-mail out saying I want to go see a movie -everybody sees it. When someone responds with the time they can meet, everybody sees it. Everybody knows what's going on. There is also a calendar included. I can put birthday and other reminders on there for everyone.
I also have yahoo groups for my book club group. There are only seven of us and we rarely e-mail each other within the group (totally opposite of coffee club). The calendar feature for us is invaluable. We often choose our books six months in advance. I take that information home and put it all on the calendar. I can include the book title, the hostess, and hostess contact info. I set it up to remind people two weeks ahead of time and three days ahead of time. I can set up six months of info in just a few minutes and never have to think about it again. This has made my life easier. No more worries about forgetting to send a reminder.
Dragon Dictation: This is a free app on the iPhone. Right now I’m sitting in the parking lot waiting for my husband and I am speaking into my phone using the app ( I just had to close the window so a passerby didn’t think I was crazy). When I'm done I can e-mail it, send it as a text, post to FB, or twitter. You can also copy the text and paste into any application. I most always email it to myself at home. I put Dragon Dictation e-mails in one folder until I need them. This is a great app for me as I don’t write longhand because I've had carpal tunnel surgery. After a few sentences my handwriting is messy and my hand cramps. Even if I am sitting at home with other options, this is my best way to get a lot of writing down. Once on the way to school, I composed an email to teachers and sent it to myself. When I got to work, I pulled it up, did very little editing and sent it out. What a timesaver! The only downfall to the app is that it does not save your information. It only records for a short time. This blog was done in twelve sections. I just numbered each one as I sent it. Note: Sending an email while driving is as bad as texting. Obviously, I only do this if I am sitting in traffic.
Pampered Chef Timer: I know there are other timers out there but I like this one best. I can clip it on to go with me. If I set it for thirty minutes and it beeps-I press stop. The thirty is still there for me to press start again. I use this at home as I'm constantly getting off track-especially in the summer or when I have a huge block of time to manipulate. For all the people that say I'm amazing- if you spent one day with me I could burst your bubble quickly. I am fragmented as I go from one thing to the other. At the end of the day, a lot of great things get done but I often feel like I’ve failed because they weren’t the things I had planned on. I may get ten things started but none of them got finished. I use the timer a couple ways.
1. To keep from being overwhelmed: I have always found that I put things off because I think I can't do it or it will take too long or because I don't know where to start. When I came home from vacation I dumped everything on the dining room table-brochures, maps, my activity totes. Every time I saw the pile I put it off but it bothered me. I set the timer for 30 minutes and it was done! Sometimes a daunting task is completely finished because I'm trying to beat the clock. If it's not completely finished it is a lot less intimidating. This is a great thingsto do with kids when cleaning their room or dividing the day into work and fun.
2. To Stay On Task: In one day, as all women know, there are too many tasks. You could spend all day on the computer doing different things and they would all be important but there are other things that need to be done. I set the timer and switch tasks: cleaning a room, answering email, cooking, doing work for my business.
3. To have Fun: I am a workaholic in many ways. I love organizing , cleaning, and purging. It may take me a while to get to it but when I do I am relentless and I get so involved I do not stop. I actually schedule fun time to break away. I may take the dog for a walk, play on the computer or read (other than walking the dog I have done nothing else yet).
4. To eat: I admit I set the timer today so I would eat breakfast and after that set it for lunch. I get so immersed in what I am doing I could go from 6am to 5pm on nothing but a cup of coffee. This is not good for me. I should be having small meals and drinking water all day.
Monday I was home all day and I did not use the timer. I spent all day on the computer-no games. I was cleaning emails, cleaning files, doing work related to many jobs that I do-all important things but there was so much more that needed done. I knew I worked hard all day but it did not look like it and in many ways I felt like I failed. Thursday I was home all day and did use the timer and accomplished more than I thought I could. I was excited and felt like I had accomplished something and it looked like I had as well.
NOTE: I believe I first heard about using a timer through Flylady.
These tricks that work for me. I'd love to hear your comments and any tricks that you use.
Another thing I have always wanted to do is to schedule a block of time for myself that I would use differently every day-Monday writing, Tuesday beading, etc. But I have not gotten that far yet. Has anyone done this?