After our second son was born, our family had to get into a working routine a month after his birth, all by ourselves. My mom stayed with us for a month, and I was quite nervous about handling everything after she left. My husband would leave for work in the morning and return in the evening. That meant I had to take care of the kids by myself for the most part of the day. That’s when I really had to evaluate the way I spend my time. Attending to the needs of a newborn, a toddler, and cooking for our family meant that I could not afford to while away my time on trivial things. That’s what I thought, but here’s a confession: On my busiest day, I sneak in a few minutes to idly scroll through my Facebook home page. That’s not part of the plan, but perhaps I need some break?
I have not mastered managing time, but I have definitely come a long way from where I was. In the process, I have found some principles that have helped me prioritize. I would like to list them, and briefly explain what I mean by each. Though I view them from a home management perspective, I guess these principles could be applied to other areas of life as well.
Clarify your objectives
Are you doing what you want to do? Some of my objectives are a happy home (that includes quality time as a family), a tidy house, regular blogging, and home-cooked meals. What are yours? Make sure the way you spend your time aligns with your goals and plans. Have a long-term plan and make sure you are working towards it regularly. For example, do you feel like you spend all your day in the kitchen when you actually want to spend more time with your family? That might just be fine if your objective is to experiment with your culinary skills.
First things first
What are your priorities in life? Putting the important things first could mean doing them the first thing in the day, or it could also mean that you do it at a set time in a day, and nothing else could come in at that time. I try to read a passage from my Bible the first thing in the day. I consider it important, and if I don’t do it earlier in the day, I tend to get busy with other things and let it go by. I need to be reminded about this, but taking rest is something that needs to be prioritized as well.
The busier the better
Let me clarify this one. I don’t mean you agree to do everything and keep your schedule too full. Learning to say ‘no’ is definitely valuable. Since I already mentioned about ‘objectives’, keep yourself busy with what actually matters. I have experienced this for myself and many others agree that we tend to get lazy when we don’t have enough to do. So being busy in the right way could actually improve your productivity.
I am not an organization freak — though my husband thinks so — but I think some level of organizing your space and time can actually help. If your house or work space is quite organized, it will be easier to find something in its place. Taking some time to plan meals and daily/weekly activities can save time figuring out what to do next.
A Stitch in Time Saves Time
I learnt this the hard way. Actually, I am still working on this. Putting things back in their places right away is much easier than waiting for a golden opportunity to clean the entire house. A bathroom that needs cleaning seems like a daunting task when I keep postponing it, but doesn’t take too much time when I set to the task.
I now think that it isn’t really about time management, but a matter of prioritizing well within the time available. We all have the same amount of time – yes, 24 hours in a day, though we sometimes wish we had more – but it is just that we all choose to spend it differently.
Have any of these principles worked for you? What would you add to the list? Feel free to leave a comment about time management principles that you have used or found useful.