I said in a previous post that I really like plans (keeping in mind that they are flexible). I make meal plans, vacation plans, scrapbook plans & workout plans (although – for these I just plan which days to work out & don’t look at my actual workout until that morning or else I would just stay in bed!). Today I want to look at time plans. As I mentioned in a previous post, we all have the same amount of time in a day, it’s how we use it that lets us do more than just the daily grind. Here are some ideas that have been working for me – some ideas I’m hatching or rehashing – and areas I’m still working on.
What’s Worked – Since I’ve always been a big ‘lister’, I like to start the year by making a list of what I want to accomplish over the next 12 months. This year’s list includes – read the Bible chronologically, read 2 classics, read 3 non-fiction books, camp in 2 new places, eat healthy & exercise, have a fully funded emergency fund, find someone to replace me as the Cub Scout treasurer (woo hoo – my youngest son becomes a Boy Scout next February and I’m ready to pass the reins!), and scrapbook more.
Each quarter and also each month, I decide what I can do in those specific timeframes to move toward my annual goals and add new things that come up or just need to be done during that particular timeframe (taxes, Christmas decorating & gifts, getting the trailer ready for the summer). This is where I get more specific – I want to walk 200 miles, work out twice a week, finish reading a particular book.
One last thing I’ve found quite helpful is a timer. I learned this from the Fly Lady (http://flylady.net). Some tasks are large or I only have a few minutes to work on something. I’ll set my timer for an amount of time (or whatever I have available) and when the timer goes off I walk away & move on to the next thing. I find this to be freeing because I don’t feel like I have to complete the whole task of cleaning my office – just get done what I can until the timer goes off – and move on. This also keeps me from continuing on less important, but needed activities when I have something more important to move on to. I still feel like I’ve gotten something done, and I’m freed up to move on.
What I’m Rehashing – I used to have a Day Planner – I loved it! When I discovered the joys of technology I started using my phone for appointments, and day to day to-do lists. I especially like the phone for repetitive things (yes, I have to remind myself to meditate everyday – or I just won’t get around to it) and using Google calendars to coordinate my family’s schedule is very helpful, but I’ve found it’s pretty easy to just ignore electronic reminders and then that to-do list task falls by the wayside.
I’ve recently realized that although the technology is great, I wasn’t using my day to day planning to further my goals. Instead I was just floating along doing whatever seemed to be important (or more fun) on a particular day. Because I wanted to match my planning and day to day activities with my goals, I looked for some online (free) options – I came across Vertex42 (www.vertex42.com) – they allow you to download free daily and monthly planners (they are in the form of Excel spreadsheets) & print out the days you want. This has helped me schedule my time more effectively because I’m focusing my daily activities on my monthly and annual goals. Does it always go perfectly? – NO! But at least I’m moving forward in the right direction.
What’s Hatching – I’m still struggling with staying focused (or avoiding interruptions), and balancing life (family, work & hobbies). When I’m at my IPB (It Pays the Bills) job – I try to work for 45 minutes, take a walk around the block, then do something less mind-numbing for 10 minutes. This helps keep me from getting burned out on the mundane of the IPB. When I want to focus on my CTMH business I often struggle with the boys needing things from me, so I often have to do things in small snipits of time.
Here’s what I’m working on for these areas –
Master Time Lists – I have started a list of things that I need to do – for my family, for my business, scouts, church, etc. The only organization to this list is columns for Business & Life. This way, as something comes to mind, I can just jot it down. I also try to put an estimate of how long it will take. This helps when I only have 5-10 minutes available, I can find something on my list with a short time requirement & do it – rather than plopping down in front of the TV or Facebook. Once I have my big list, I can also move these tasks to a monthly/daily list as the time is available or the deadline approaches.
A Power Hour – I heard of this concept about 4 years ago in a business setting, but I’ve never applied it to my life activities. I want to try this in the coming weeks & see if it doesn’t help. I used to be big into multi-tasking, but have come to realize I’m not as effective as I thought. I would like to set up power hours to –
– Complete my meal plan (this includes adding recipes to the app I use, checking how stocked the pantry is, and making a grocery list) – I would only need to do this once a month (or less if I’m devoting an entire hour to it).
– Work on CTMH artwork – Bills & budgeting – Scout treasurer duties – Church duties
Wouldn’t it be nice if I could do a power hour for laundry & it would be done for the week!
What would you do for a power hour??
Hopefully, my time plans will improve as I transition back to planning my days to meet my goals. I’ll keep you posted if there are any major improvements or huge failures (like Mother’s Day & Teacher Appreciation are this week & I haven’t done anything yet! Amazon don’t fail me now!)
I would love to hear what Time Plans you use, how they’ve helped you or any ideas you have that could help me. OR – do you just wing it?
Thanks for reading along with me. Hope you have a great week!