Category Archives: time management

Stop Wasting Time

How much time do you waste on a daily basis? Are you aware of how much you procrastinate or put off a task because you don’t want to do it or are not clear on the next steps? A 2015 time/work survey showed that 70% of people waste time because they feel stressed or uninspired. And 50% spend too much time procrastinating. Does this sound familiar?

Stop Wasting Time

I’ve noticed my kids fight doing something they don’t want to do. They spend more time arguing with me or coming up with excuses to get out of doing something, like taking a bath or picking up a few toys, than if they’d just do the task. In most cases, watching TV is waiting for them at the other end of this task. And if they’d just do it, they’d have more TV time. They’ll be running around the house. I’ll ask them to pick up a few toys. Suddenly they’re laying on the floor, too tired to help!

Think of the emotional and mental drain of this!

Stop Wasting Time!

So how do you work through this? Here are a few ideas.

  • Identify the next steps. Break any overwhelming projects down into small steps. Then you take the next step, then the next, until you complete the project
  • Set mini-deadlines. Take the small steps you identified and set deadlines for each one. Hold yourself to those deadlines. Make yourself accountable to someone else or set up payment to a non-profit you can’t stand. If you don’t make the deadline, your payment goes!
  • Set a timer. Work for 30 minutes or any predetermined amount of time. When the timer goes off, you can stop for the day. Or, you can keep working. Sometimes getting started is the hardest part.

Are You Avoiding Something? Figure Out Why.

Maybe you’re avoiding a project or task for a specific reason. It’s boring and tedious. Sometimes, you have to power through something to get to the good stuff on the other side. Maybe it’s challenging (break it down into doable steps). Maybe it’s something you don’t like doing for your own business but you’re not at the level yet where you can outsource it.

Spend some time figuring out why you’re avoiding something and you can likely figure out a solution. Also, think about what you could be doing with your time if you’d complete those tasks. Your future self will thank you!

For support with your relationship with time, schedule some time with me or send me a message!

Feeling Uprooted? Start Planting New Seeds.

Feeling uprooted? Plant new seeds.

Are you feeling uprooted? Like this pandemic has turned everything in your life upside down? Me too. I’ve lost track of how many weeks we’ve been home. And although our city and state have lessened restrictions, we’re still staying home as much as we can.

I can sense that people are aching to get back to normal. But I don’t think things are ever going back to the way they were before this pandemic hit. And I’m ok with that. Why? Because now is the time to rethink everything. It’s a blank slate. A time to start fresh.

A time to plant new seeds.

Where do we start?

We have some work to do first. We need to grieve the life that once was. So many people have lost loved ones, jobs, livelihoods, innocence, a sense of security. Maybe you’ll come out of this mostly unscathed, but I bet it’s touched you somewhere in your life. Spend some time grieving.

I’m grieving my youngest having her preschool graduation without her friends. Surrounded by her teachers, her sister, and her parents, it was only her, wearing her cap and gown. During a timed ceremony so we wouldn’t interact with too many others. I can only imagine how parents and kids who didn’t get their high school or college graduation ceremony feel. These rituals bring such closure.

I’m grieving the last few months of spending every Tuesday with my daughter before she heads off to kindergarten. I’ve spent every Tuesday of the last 7 years with one or both of my girls. Although I was tired of figuring out how to entertain a small child every week, Mommy and Ellie days were special.

What do you need to grieve? Spend some time sitting with it and working through it. Mourn the memories that never were.

Once we’ve grieved, we can begin planting new seeds.

Next comes the part I’m most excited about. There is such an opportunity here. It’s time for a shift in thinking. Instead of longing to go back to the way things were, let’s reinvent. Let’s look at our schedules and priorities and figure out what really matters. How do we want to be spending our time?

I want to see our society have some big, deep discussions about so many things. Work, education, the division of housework and parenting. Generally, the way our society functions.

I’m not looking to have a big political discussion here. But we need to start with learning how to have deeper discussions. Instead of constantly complaining about how things aren’t working or dismissing someone who thinks differently, we need to listen and work to understand each other. Maybe once people start feeling heard, we can come together to fix things. People won’t dig in their heels and refuse to hear someone else because they won’t feel attacked. One place I’ve started is by reading Crucial Conversations and taking this quick mini-course.

Let’s start with work.

I do understand that not every job is flexible. You have to show up for a shift at the grocery store, hospital, just about every job in the service industry. Maybe there are ways to put more flexibility into these jobs. I’m talking about knowledge workers here. There are plenty of jobs focused solely on how much time you spend at your desk in the office. It doesn’t matter how much you do while you’re there. But you better be in your seat.

My husband was let go from a job many years ago because he wasn’t in the office by 8:30am every day. He was working close to 70 hours a week, but some of that was at home. He had young kids and wanted to be around to see them. This company couldn’t see that the amount of work or the quality of work is what mattered. It didn’t take the time to notice anything but when he was at his desk.

The shift in thinking here comes from defining success for these positions. Then, setting expectations and a deadline, and letting employees make it happen. I bet there will be a lot more creativity that comes from that freedom. Plant some new seeds.

Also, take a look at how many meetings are necessary and how people are communicating. I’m guessing some things can change there too. Does every meeting end with defined next steps? Or are they just a waste of time? Watch this quick 1-minute video about one thing you can do for more productive meetings.

The workload for women.

And what about the workload, both at work and at home, for women? Why is it that women are asked how they balance working and parenting but we never ask the dads? Why is it women are expected to do it all but we don’t expect it from the dads? Don’t tell me it’s because women are better at multitasking (I’ll get into that some other time). Think about what we’re teaching our kids – that it’s ok for the men not to help and the women need to do it all because no one else is capable.

There needs to be a shift in thinking here. A shift that we’re all in this together. That we all succeed or fail together. We need to stop with this thinking that we need to do it all by ourselves. Plant some new seeds.

Let’s rethink how we spend our time.

Have you created new routines during this pandemic? Maybe you’re walking the dog every morning or taking family walks before dinner. My husband and I are taking one night a week to play cards after the kids are in bed. I’ve wanted to cancel my gym membership and have more flexibility in when I work out but never made it happen. I’m exercising more now that I’ve made space for it in my living room.

Are you finding yourself enjoying more leisurely family dinners? Taking the time to watch your kids play in the backyard? Is it nice to not be rushing from one activity to another? Or maybe you’ve been so overwhelmed by work and remote learning and having the kids home that you’re exhausted.

I hope there’s been more quality family time. I hope that as activities begin to resume that you don’t go rushing out signing up for everything. I hope you find some peace in not rushing from one place to the next. In having family dinners (or breakfasts!) on a regular basis. Before you start filling up your schedule, figure out how you truly want to be spending your time. Commit your time carefully. Plant these new seeds meaningfully.

What about our stuff?

You’ve likely spent the last few months surrounded by your stuff. Is it driving you crazy? Are you finding it useful? Have you spent time sorting through and organizing it? We’ve rearranged toys to make them easier for our kids to use. We have a table just for arts and crafts now. We have a charging station for tablets and computers. We have learned more about how we use our space. That we really don’t need a big house and that when every toy is on the floor, it feels like a lot.

When we have less stuff, it’s easier to maintain an organized home. And it’s easier to use things because it’s not so overwhelming and we can find what we’re looking for. If our house is too cluttered, we can’t find what we need.

So take a look around your space, figure out what you love and need, and let the rest go. How do you want to feel when you are in your space? Comfortable? Content? Happy? Work towards getting your space to create that. Plant some new seeds with your space.

And related to our stuff, what about our spending?

Since you’ve been home, have you saved money because you’re not wandering through stores buying things you don’t need? Or are you just overbuying on Amazon? I’ve loved not spending money buying things we don’t need. It’s been nice to think about repurposing something we have in our house to fulfill a need. Or knowing that we don’t need more stuff in our lives. Plant some new seeds around spending. It relates to clutter as well. Retail therapy leads to short term relief. The stuff you buy takes up space in your house. It needs to be maintained or it just creates clutter. Take some time to figure out what’s behind that and find new ways to fill your cup. Plant some new seeds.

Time to plant some new seeds.

We need a shift in thinking. Let’s do things differently. Let’s move forward into something better. Let’s plant some new seeds.

If you’re ready to plant some new seeds in your life, let’s talk! And, if you’re an overwhelmed working mom, ready to take back control of your time, join Chaos Contained, an online community providing support in productivity.

Stop Surviving. Start Thriving.

When my kids were younger, I remember a friend asking me how I was doing. My usual answer was hanging in there. Suddenly, I was tired of that being my answer. When does just surviving stop? When do I start thriving? My kids aren’t going to get easier. I think they get more fun as they get older, but there will always be something we’re working on (arguing about?!). So enough with this hanging in there

Don't be busy, be productive. Start thriving.

Part of this hanging in there was how busy I felt. I don’t think busy is always a good thing, yet we cram every minute of our days with activities. We need to be crossing items off our to-do list. We have so much work to do that we don’t know where to start (or when to stop). Our kids are signed up for every activity under the sun because we feel they need to be enriched and entertained all the time (pre-pandemic). 

Stop Overcommitting

I get it. I’ve looked at my schedule and wondered how I committed to so many things. What happened? When did I get so busy? I’ve looked at how much I crossed off my to-do list and wondered if those were really the tasks I should’ve focused on today. Or did I just do what was the easiest to cross off? Let’s call me a recovering over-committer

I’m on a mission to help end the mom guilt. To help moms shift from putting out fires every day to feeling more proactive and in charge of their time and to-dos. Because I’ve been there! So let’s stop with the guilt. Let’s focus on our big rocks. On the choices we make with our time, where it goes, and how we spend it. Let’s start thriving. And let’s see the amazing things we do accomplish every day. Let’s tame the chaos. 

Join Chaos Contained today! A virtual community for overwhelmed working moms to help you tame the chaos. Your future self will thank you! 

Tips For Time Management

manage your timeUpdated on May 12, 2020. 

Are you feeling overwhelmed, like your time is managing you instead of you managing your time? Are you feeling busy but not productive or you’re just not sure where your time goes? Then read on for some ideas on better managing your time.
  • Say No. Saying ‘no’ (politely) is one of the most important skills out there. No is a complete sentence, it doesn’t need an explanation, and it can be said kindly.
  • Write down all your tasks in one place. This helps you see all your tasks. Then, you can see if there are tasks that you can renegotiate, delegate, delete, or knock off your list.
  • Ask for help. Talk to your boss about your workload. What deadlines can change? Is there someone else on your team who can take over a project? What are the most important tasks you need to focus on? At home, can you hire a house cleaner, have groceries delivered, hire a laundry service, get your family members to help out more? Stop doing it all by yourself.
  • Streamline your decisions. Where can you simplify tasks? Use a rotation menu? Have a simple work wardrobe? Have certain days of the week to complete tasks (marketing Mondays, phone call Tuesdays)?

And, if you’re feeling overwhelmed and need some help with time management, productivity, or routines, call in a professional! Sometimes a little outside perspective is all you need to get headed in the right direction. 

Why Are We So Busy?

I’ve been hearing many people talk lately about how busy they are. I’m not sure they’re complaining or enjoying how overwhelmed they feel but it’s said with a tone of ‘I’m overwhelmed and there’s really nothing I can do about it.’

busy, overwhelmed

In our society, it seems like we’re doing something wrong if we’re not busy. If you don’t have every minute full of fun, adventure, play dates, activities, you feel like you’re missing out. But can you sustain that? And is it true? What’s wrong with simply sitting still and watching nature, watching your kids entertain themselves, or letting your mind wander?

Read this blog I wrote several years ago, as I think it still speaks true to this day. You do have more time than you think, but you don’t have to cram that time with every activity possible. It is ok to say no.

And your action for today is to say no to something, cross something off your to-do list that you know you’re not going to get to (or don’t want to do), or simply sit and watch your kids play (or your pets) or watch the sun set. Just sit for a few minutes.

Then call me and let’s chat about where your time is going! Or schedule an appointment.

You Do Have More Time Than You Think!

Preparing for the Holidays Series (Post 3 – Gifts)

preparing for the holidaysWe are preparing for the holidays so you can enjoy them! This week we are going to look at gifts. Start shopping soon so you’re not left scrambling for something at the last minute.

  • Make a list of everyone you need to buy gifts for and any ideas you have for each person.
  • Make a plan of when you are going to shop for the gifts. Are there items that need to be mailed ahead of time? (If yes, get started on those first). 
  • Check your gift wrapping supplies. Do you have enough wrapping paper, gift bags, tags, tape, bows?
  • Can you challenge your loved ones to buying experiences instead of things? Memberships to the art museum, trips to a water park, time spent together?
  • Create lists for you and your family of things you want / need. When people ask for gift ideas, it’ll be easy to share.
  • Stock up on host/hostess gifts for any parties you might attend. These could be bottles of wine, homemade cookies or a package of cocktail napkins. 

It’s even better if you can shop throughout the year. At the beginning of the year make a list of gifts you know you will need. Think of people when you’re traveling or spot something on sale. Then have a specific place (a labeled box) somewhere in your house to store these items. And make sure you label them so you remember who they’re for!

Action item: Start a list of people you need to buy gifts for and schedule a day (or 2) to do some gift shopping.

Wishing you a fun and happy holiday season! If you need some help figuring out how to prepare for the holidays, schedule a call with me or send me a message!

Preparing for the Holidays Series (Post 2 – Decorations)

This is the 2nd of a 4 part series on preparing for the holidays. Last week we talked about food for the holidays. This week we’re going to take a quick look at decorations.

  • Plan a time to sort through and put up your decorations.preparing for the holidays
  • Create a list of decorations you need to replace or supplement. Do you need more outdoor lights? Do you need more pumpkins for your centerpiece? Can you wait until after the holidays, when items are on clearance or do you need it before? Set a budget!
  • Plan time to take down and sort through your decorations. Purge items you haven’t used, are broken, or don’t enjoy anymore. Do you need more storage boxes for your items? We buy our kids Christmas ornaments each year to represent that year. This year, I’d like to start storing these ornaments in their own boxes, so when the kids move out, the ornaments are ready. 

Your action item for this week is to schedule time to put up your decorations! And while you’re at it, schedule time after the holidays to take them down.

Next week:  Gifts!

Wishing you a fun and happy holiday season! If you need some help figuring out how to prepare for the holidays, schedule a call with me or send me a message!

Preparing for the Holidays Series (Post 1 – Food)

It’s October. It’s time to start preparing for the holidays! You may still be figuring out what you are going to be for Halloween but Christmas decorations are creeping into stores (or have been there since August). That means the holidays are right around the corner. If you’re hosting Thanksgiving, a New Year’s Eve party, or just want to be able to relax with your family, start preparing now!

The next few weeks we are going to look at different tasks for preparing for the holidays from food and decorations to gift buying and spending time with your loved ones.

Let’s start with food.

If you’re hosting a meal, dinner party or holiday event, keep reading! These are the tasks you need to get on your calendar!

  • Clean your oven. Do that now before you are putting your turkey in the oven or baking your favorite holiday treat!
  • Check the state of your linens, dishes, glassware, stemware, and serving dishes. Does anything need to be repaired? Do you need to buy anything? Make a list of what you need and schedule a time to complete this task.
  • Plan your menu. Do you provide the main meal and everyone brings side dishes? Or are you doing everything yourself. Figure out who is doing what and let everyone know ahead of time.
  • Write your grocery list. Watch for sales and stock up on items early.preparing for the holidays
  • Identify what can be made ahead of time and schedule time to prepare as much as possible before the big day.
  • Plan when you will start preparing those items that need to be made the day of. If people are bringing food, will they need the oven? Make sure there’s time to warm up everything before dinner. Can you use a crock pot or roaster to save room for other items in the oven?

Your action item this week is to start thinking about these tasks and get them on your schedule. It will help the holidays be much smoother!

Next post: Decorations!

Wishing you a fun and happy holiday season! If you need some help figuring out how to prepare for the holidays, schedule a call with me or send me a message!

Simplify Your Decision Making

Today I want to talk about meta decisions and guiding policies and how these can help simplify your life. Lisa Montanaro describes meta decisions as umbrella-type decisions impacting the smaller decisions that follow. Having guiding rules and policies, as described by Lorie Marrero at the Clutter Diet, is also helpful in decision making.simplify your decision making

Let me provide some examples of how I use these in my own life. Many people are raising money for various charities. While I know they are all worthy charities, we decided several years ago to only give to 2-3 places of our choosing each year. I simply say no to any other requests. My family is considering making Sunday our family day. We will simply say no to any invitation we receive that is for an event on a Sunday. Before we had kids, my husband and I had a date night every Tuesday. We said no to any event that fell on a Tuesday. I work out on Monday afternoons and don’t schedule anything else that might interrupt that time.

Having these decisions made ahead of time sets boundaries for your life. It leaves breathing room and keeps your schedule from being too overwhelming. Maybe your kids get 1 sport and 1 other activity each semester (baseball and guitar lessons). Maybe you are only gone 2 nights a weeks (PTA meeting, dinner with friends). When something comes up that goes against these decisions, you can say no. No need to explain why not, just say no.

How could this benefit your life? What meta decisions can you implement today? Schedule a call or send me a message and let’s talk about how to incorporate meta decisions in your life!

Organize Your Home Office

organize your home officeThe second Tuesday of March is Organize Your Home Office Day. So this post is all about organizing your home office. You can plan to organize yours on Tuesday, or take a little bit of time each day or on the weekend to make sure your home office is working for you.

  1. Gather any tools you might need: a shredder, trash bags, a box for any paper that needs to be sorted and filed, sticky notes or label maker, pens, markers, and any cleaning tools you might need. 
  2. Pick one corner of the room, a spot on your desk, a shelf, whatever spot makes sense to you. Work around the room, sorting into piles (like with like) everything that you come across. This helps you see what you have and allows you to start identifying what needs to live where.
  3. Once you have worked your way around the room, take out the trash and shred everything that you’ve piled up near the shredder (unless you were shredding as you went along).
  4. Then work through each pile and find homes for everything. Think about how close you need it to you as your working. Archived files can live in the closet. Your inbox should be convenient to your chair. Keep in mind how you work and what items you need access to when.
  5. Make note of any supplies you need to restock. Keep in mind that you don’t need all of your sticky notes to live on your desk. You can have a couple of pads out and the rest can be in your closet or on a shelf with other overflow supplies.
  6. Get in the habit of ending your day by cleaning up your desk. Put items back in their appropriate places and prepare for tomorrow’s tasks. This way you can start each day with an organized workspace.

Make some time today to organize your workspace and create habits to keep them organized! Happy organizing! 

If you want some guidance in getting your office organized, schedule a call with me or send me a message!

Let’s Be More Productive!

be more productive

As we wrap up February, I thought I’d share a few productivity tips. I don’t know about you, but my to-do list seems to grow longer each month instead of shorter. Somedays it’s downright overwhelming. Maybe it’s being home with a 14 month-old who doesn’t like to nap. Or maybe it’s me. Either way, I could certainly use to follow some of the advice below to be more productive!

  • Find a calendar you love and commit to it. It may be on your phone, on your iPad, or a paper version. Find one and use it. 
  • Create a list of everything you need to do. You can have separate lists for work and home, but don’t keep too many separate lists. Things get lost this way.
  • Manage your technology, don’t let it manage you. Check your email at certain times each day and have a specific time to respond to emails. Make sure the blogs and other items you receive are supporting you, not taking away your focus from something important.
  • Schedule downtime. Otherwise, that elusive spare time will never happen. It’s perfectly fine to put it on the calendar.
  • Break down tasks in to smaller steps. I’ve been wanting to work on my scrapbook for months now. As a whole, it feels very overwhelming. But I sat down a few weeks ago and put everything in my scrapbook box in order. Then I sat down and over a week went through pictures (all on the computer) to see what to print. Then I printed them. Next, I need to take those prints and get them mixed in with everything else. Then I can sit down and start scrap booking. Tiny steps means I’m on my way to catching up with it.

These are just a few productivity steps to help wrap up February. Start thinking about how you can use them in March. If you want some guidance in how best to use your time, schedule a call with me or send me a message!

You Do Have More Time Than You Think!

you do have more timeYou have 168 hours every week. You’re in charge of how you spend those hours. Are you using your time as best as you can? According to Laura Vanderkam, you have more time than you think. And I agree with her!

We have dishwashers, washing machines, dryers, microwave ovens, and many other devices to help us get more done quicker. So why does it feel like you still have more to do than you have time?

Maybe it’s how you’re using that time. If you’re watching 23-30 hours of TV a week, like the average American, that’s a lot of time you could be doing something else. Or maybe you’ve signed your kids up for every activity imaginable and you’re rushing around to 1-2 activities every night, trying to figure out how to get your older child to swim practice at 4:00 and pick up your youngest from karate across town at 4:30, all so you can get home, figure out what to make for dinner and head out to choir practice at 6:30.

Maybe you struggle to get everyone out the door in the morning because lunches need to be made, you need to sign a permission slip for your son, your daughter needs help finding her soccer cleats for practice tonight, and you need to gather paperwork for an important meeting.

Or maybe you feel exhausted come Sunday night because you had 3 birthday parties, grocery shopping, errands to run, a house to clean, and a family dinner to attend. You’re left wondering where your weekend went and still feel like you have a million things to do, let alone spending any time relaxing with your spouse.

So What Can I Do?

So how do you fix it? Can you? I’ll give you a few ideas to get started. Then read Laura Vanderkam’s 168 hours: You Have More Time Than You Think for even more.

Start by keeping a time log. For one week, log everything you do and how long it takes you. Once you know how you’re spending your time, you can identify things that you can change or tweak. I’m guessing this task will be eye-opening.

Think about your morning and evening routines.

What can you do at night to make the morning run smoother? And vice versa. Pack lunches and gather paperwork, sports equipment, etc. at night to save time in the morning. Conduct nightly clean ups, putting all toys, books, and laundry away so clutter doesn’t pile up. Plan meals out for the week so you’re not scrambling to feed hungry family members at the end of the day.

Don’t pack your schedules so full that there’s no room for emergencies, last-minute changes, or even spontaneity. Maybe each family member gets one activity per semester. Have one day a week with no technology, unless you’re watching a moving together. Or if your family enjoys being so busy, see if you can share carpool duties with 1-2 other families so you’re not driving all the time.

Plan your weekends a day or two early if possible.

My husband and I will talk about the things we need to get done (errands, groceries, cleaning) and things we’d like to do (go hiking, go out for ice cream) and anything else that’s already planned (birthday parties, family dinners). We’ll identify who’s doing what and when we’re doing it. Then we’ll check in throughout the weekend to see how we’re doing on our tasks and if anything needs to be tweaked. I by no means am saying our weekends are always perfect. I have many Sunday nights where I wonder where the time went and why it feels like I got nothing done. But planning our weekends makes them easier.

See what other tasks can be outsourced. Can you hire a cleaning service? Find a way to have your groceries delivered? Automate your bill payments? Delegate tasks to your kids? Depending on their age, they can empty the dishwasher and help clean up meals or put away their own laundry. Maybe they can even be in charge of their own laundry from start to finish. Maybe they’re old enough to help with dinner or make dinner for the family every now and then. It may feel like a bigger hassle to teach them these things, but in the long run, it will be helpful.

There are numerous other tips I could provide, but these should get you started. Think about how you’re spending your time and what changes can be made so you feel less overwhelmed. Remember, you do have more time than you think!

If you want some guidance in sorting out where your time goes, schedule a call with me or send me a message!

Just One Thing

just one thingJust one thing is how I get through a week when I’m feeling overwhelmed. When I add three tasks to my to-do list for every one task I cross off. I just pick one task to accomplish each day. I know I can send an email, pay a few bills, or put away the clothes in the laundry basket. If that’s all I get done from my to-do list in any given day, I’m ok with that. And sometimes, just one thing is all we need to get us moving forward in what we want to accomplish.

If you want some guidance in identifying your daily priorities, schedule a call with me or send me a message!