Have you ever considered that how you spend your day is how you spend your life?
Yikes. That can be a pretty powerful thought as our days are often filled with work, bills, groceries, appointments, laundry, and the list goes on. Many women move through the daily juggle, live a little on the weekends, and dream about retirement. Well ladies, retirement is not a guarantee; even the weekend is not a guarantee, so we need to make me most of our time now.
Now, I am not suggesting we all quit our jobs and throw caution to the wind. What I am saying is know your priorities, value your time, and take steps to accomplish not only what you need to, but what you want to.
This particular topic, managing time to ensure we are living our lives, is one I could spend days discussing so for now I will offer three important tips.
Make a Plan
It seems obvious, but we often skip this step or only partially do it. Take a moment to look at your day, or week, and write down a plan. There are a lot of different options for creating and sticking to a plan, my favorite being Origami Day sheets. Regardless of how you do this, ten minutes of planning can save up to two hours of wasted time. I am certain there is something important that you would do with an extra two hours (hint: date night, play time, workout, spa session, etc.). Know before you go if you want to maximize your efficiency and live a little more of your life.
A few more points to consider when writing down your plan:
- Know tomorrow’s plan today
- Leave a little buffer time
- Keep it simple – put personal and professional on the same list
- Cross off as you go
- Include ALL important items – don’t make yoga class a dream, make it part of your plan
Establish Proper Expectations
This can be the hardest part, especially for women. Many women refuse to let the ball drop, often at the risk of themselves. Instead of running ragged trying to complete the 48 items on your to-do list, you should focus on the three to five most important items each day and knock those out of the park. When you begin to realistically and strategically plan each day, you can expect success versus setting yourself up for failure and fatigue. It’s also ok to say no entirely to some things or ask if they can be completed on your timeline. You’d be surprised how often a compromise is just a question away.
Yet even with a solid game plan, things change and it’s important to be ready for that. The more prepared you are for change, the easier it is to make quick modifications to keep on track.
Embrace the Pause
Life moves fast. In a blink, summer becomes another school year and baby fat becomes a cherished memory. It’s very easy to get caught up in the commotion and forget to take in the moment. When you take a moment to pause, you can recalibrate and refocus to make the most of your days and ensure you are on top of your game.
This can be a deliberate pause like Monday morning coffee and planning for the week ahead, a personal favorite of mine. More often, this is a spur-of-the-moment pause to re-evaluate the to-do list, walk away from your email for a moment, or simply think through your next steps. Whether scheduled or sporadic, remember a pause will make you more peaceful and productive.
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed with all there is to do in life, but small steps can add up to big rewards when it comes to managing your time. If you must, begin with just one item and once you have made it a habit move on to the next. Before long, you will be making the most of each moment both personally and professionally. Remember for many of us work is a necessity, but life is the priority.
Samantha Lane is the founder of Origami Day and helps others make the most of their lives through time management and personal productivity tips and tools. She is proudly a MomSource Network Expert Mentor.