Top Ten Tip List – Time Management Skills (a.k.a. Survival Skills)

As “My Call to Action” outlined, I have a lot I want to accomplish. So many goals, so many expectations, I want to fulfill. I thought writing them down was a difficult process. Little did I know that trying to actually achieve those goals was going to be a challenge I was not quite prepared for.

Lately, I have been feeling like I am treading water. Just trying to stay afloat. Hoping I don’t go under. Now, you might not realize how this analogy is even more frightening for me, since I am not a good swimmer and the thought of trying to tread water scares the crap out of me.

Trying to care for a family, keep an orderly household and run a business is starting to take its toll. I knew the stress was becoming an issue when my complexion began to resemble that of a teenager working in the fast food industry. Another sign of my malfunctioning is my constant need for an afternoon nap. I have come to the realization that changes need to be made.

My hope in sharing all this, is that I might be able to help others that have also found themselves over their heads in life.

So what better way to implement a new strategy than to place it into a nice, neat Top Ten Tip List.

1. It’s a Myth

I had to start the list with this one. I read this on, “No matter how organized we are, there are always only 24 hours in a day. Time doesn’t change. All we can actually manage is ourselves and what we do with the time that we have.”

So true. Once I stop trying to fit 30-36 hours of “things to do” in 24 hours, the faster I will be on my road to sanity.

2. Time Log

I am starting this one on Monday and will continue to make one throughout the week. This is going to be a great way to answer the ever so familiar question, “Where has the day gone?” I will follow these steps, given by

Take a sheet of paper and divide it into columns named like

  • Time
  • Activities
  • Scheduled
  • Interrupted
  • Urgent
  • People (involved)

Then continue with activities you would normally do that day. On the way, update your time log. Do it either every time you switch to new activity or at some short time intervals, like 10-20 minutes. Add entries to your “Time” and “Activities” column, and try to put marks like “Yes” or “No” in the “Scheduled”, “Interrupted”, and “Urgent” columns. Where relevant, make short notes on what people you spend time with too.

I’ll tell you right now where most of my interruptions will be, Facebook and email. They are definite time traps for me. Step 5 is going to be crucial in preventing me from being sucked into the black hole, we call the internet.

3. Plan in Advance

I love the concept of this step. I always want to implement this step. However, I always find excuses not to do it. In the beginning of the school year, I planned on picking out all the kids’ outfits the night before. Such a simple goal. Instead I opted to wait until the morning and have numerous discussions on wardrobe. You would think the stomping around and the tears would have been enough for me to start planning in advance.

When I have a photo session planned, I think to myself that it would probably be a smart idea to gather everything I need for the session the night before. Go through the checklist and make sure everything is ready to go. Rather, I wait until the day of the session to make sure my batteries are charged, my memory card is formatted, all equipment is functioning properly and the list goes on.

This is why I sometimes think I must enjoy added stress in my life. Why else would I not follow such a simple step?

4. Use Charts 

As mentioned on your activities for an entire week, then fill them up on a spread sheet. This could be used for a number of things like the food menu, the household chores that need to be done etc. Then stick this sheet up into a place where it can be clearly seen and all that last minute planning is taken care off. You could make this interesting by drawing up a separate sheet for your kids with their own activities planned for them. They’ll love it.”

I used to create a calendar for meals. It was great knowing what the day’s meal was. There was no guessing or discussion. It was a done deal. Then I stopped doing it and dinnertime became my least liked time of day. Guess what’s going back up this weekend.

5. Set Time Limits

I am going to start using the timer on my phone. As mentioned before, I have my time wasters that really wreak havoc on my productivity. Once the spreadsheet is created, I will be placing time limits on each activity. There might be times when activities go longer or shorter, and that’s OK. My main goal is to avoid the countless distractions that prevent me from accomplishing my work. A t-ball game that runs long will not cause me to go into heart palpitations, because it has put me off schedule. The main culprits, Facebook and email, will have to be limited and timed closely.

6. A Task a Day

I will never complain about being busy with work. Being busy means, I’m doing something right. However, the busier I become the worst shape my house becomes. I have fur balls the size of Texas tumbleweeds, piles of laundry that resemble skyscrapers (I was going to say mountains, but I do live in Chicago) and a thick layer of dust on every flat surface. As I sit at the computer editing images, blogging, and implementing marketing tools, I cringe at the thought of my long list of household chores.

It won’t seem so overwhelming once I give each chore a specific day during the week. Laundry days, vacuum days, and clean the bathroom day will once again feel doable. I even plan to do the same with my work load. I believe designating things like blogging or marketing to specific days will help alleviate the feeling of being spread to thin.

7. Organized Systems

Whether it’s your computer or an actual filling cabinet, if you have these organizational tools in disarray then there is no hope for a less stressful life.

I’m not a fan of paperwork and keeping the books straight, but I do realize it is a key component in running a business and a household smoothly. Knowing where your money goes every month will cut back on a lot of needless sweating, especially when it comes to paying the bills.

8. Don’t Waste Time Waiting

Another great tip from, “From client meetings to dentist appointments, it’s impossible to avoid waiting for someone or something. But you don’t need to just sit there and twiddle your thumbs. Always take something to do with you, such as a book you need to read, a checkbook that needs to be balanced, or just a blank pad of paper that you can use to plan out the next day. Technology makes it easy to work wherever you are.” Did I mention, I love my iPhone.

9. Break it Down

There are times when certain projects seem way to large to deal with. I have found it so much easier to put these off, indefinitely. Though house projects can be easily pushed aside, work projects are not that easy to overlook. You have been hired to do a job and do it well.

There are plenty of times I come home from a shoot and have hundreds of pictures to go through and edit. I have found myself taking a few days off and then starting the editing process. This usually ends with me completely frustrated trying to keep deadlines.

So, the plan is to take those huge projects, home or work, and break them down into manageable amounts, spread over a period of days or weeks (whatever the case may be). Allowing me to avoid my biggest bad habit, procrastination.

10. Shut it Down

These three words are spoken to me by my husband on a nightly bases, “Shut it down”. Even as I write this blog, the time is quickly approaching midnight, a typical bedtime for me (if not later).

As I approach the big 4-0, I am finding that my body has a lot more limitations then it use to. I am realizing I need more sleep. I need a healthier diet and I need to exercise more. The thought of trying to achieve all those things, makes my heart race a little. I already have no time for anything and now I want to sleep more, eat better and exercise.

When it comes down to it, without focusing on this last tip, I will be unable to achieve the other nine.

So, the big transformation begins on Monday! I will keep you posted on my progress. If you plan on taking on a new life strategy, be sure to let me know how it is going. I wish us all, great success!

3 thoughts on “Top Ten Tip List – Time Management Skills (a.k.a. Survival Skills)

  1. Jaime May 16, 2012 / 9:27 pm

    These are great! I want you to add something to your list: RELAX! One thing that I read which I didn’t totally agree with: “take something with you to do while you wait”. Why not take that time waiting as a chance to quiet your mind for 15 minutes? Adding some time like that to your day will help you feel less crazed too. Below are some links, the last one is a blog (Mike told me about) that you might find useful as you begin your new organized lifestyle.

    Quieting your mind:

    Time Management Ninja:

    • sharongaiettophotography May 17, 2012 / 3:49 am

      What do you mean, relax? Didn’t you read the one tip, where I will be getting more sleep. Thanks for the links. I will check them out

  2. Kathy May 17, 2012 / 12:28 pm

    I’m with jamie, I’ve read several articles that say just 15 minutes of quiet can boost your mind and body. The problem I have is that nobody in my house recognized my 15 min of quite time. They just keep on going. I think you will find the same thing. My 15 minutes came it i locked the bathroom door.! Not what I had in mind or the author either. Good Luck! just remember to enjoy today – no matter what gets done.

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