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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Time CRUNCH: Easy Tips for Making Your Time Work

It's the one thing everyone I know wishes they had more of: Time. If you could buy it on Etsy, it'd be the hottest product listed, especially as the holidays approach.

But despite modern attempts to get a handle on our time with everything from computers to iphones, we often find ourselves with to-do lists that never seem to end. Add owning your own business to the mix of family and daily demands and its a wonder that we get as many things done as we do!

Marcia Ramsland comes to our rescue with Simplify Your Time: Stop Running and Start Living, a book that aims to help you organize and prioritize your life without going crazy in the process. She takes us back to basics with some useful sanity savers:

  • Use a Calendar - this simple tool can help you keep everything together at a glance, and that can be invaluable. Hanging calendar, computer, planner, blackberry, i phone- WHERE you keep it isn't important. Keep it in a way that makes it easy for you to refer to and USE.
  • Use a List- your short term memory can only handle 7 things before it begins throwing out tasks. A list helps you take control of your day and to-dos before they take control of you, and also helps you see where the pitfalls are. Are you overscheduled? Do you need supplies or to prepare for a meeting?
  • Plan Ahead- At night, take a break to think about tomorrow and what you will need- or want-to do the next morning. At noon, plan your afternoon. Assess what works and what doesn't, and adjust your list to fit what works best for you.
  • Make 1 day each week Free Choice- one day or night a week, write "free choice" on your calendar and STICK TO IT. Do something you WANT to do, whether it's spending time with your family, shutting the computer off, taking a walk in the woods, or just relaxing. This recharges your inner batteries and gives your brain a quick vacation. The extra energy you have after doing this will help you accomplish more in the long run, as well as handle stress more effectively.
  • Prioritize- everyone from our parents to our teachers and bosses remind us to prioritize. Decide the three most crucial tasks for that day, and do them FIRST. Not only does this give you a sense of accomplishment, it also insures that you won't be putting out fires later on something urgent that just "didn't get done" while you were working on other, less important things.
  • Do 1 action per day that will help keep your life simple and in order
  • Don't Be Afraid of a Routine - I freely admit that routines make me want to run screaming for the door, but having a few routines is actually as good for adults as it is for kids, and takes some of the stress out of your everyday life. Grocery shopping, bill paying, gym time, errand running, etc are all good tasks that can be scheduled for the same time each week, taking out the guesswork.
  • Write in Pencil - this is good to remember, because life happens to all of us, and the best laid plans can be scrapped by emergencies, suddenly urgent tasks, and a host of other unexpected events. Writing your calendar in pencil makes it easier to be flexible.
  • Control your Email- Schedule times to check your inbox ( 7am, noon, 4pm, for example). Invoke the 2 minute rule. If it can be handled in under 2 minutes, do it right then. Your inbox should be kept empty, so delete it, file it, or answer it. Longer responses can be addressed the next time you open your email.

Focusing on how we use ( or don't use ) our time can help us pinpoint stress and eliminate it long before crunch time hits, and that is the best sanity-saver of all. Well, besides an emergency stash of chocolate, of course!



Avlor said...

Truly excellent advice!

tamara! said...

OMG, i wish i could get a handle on my crazy email inbox. that last tip is perfect for me. thank you for this great article!

Linda said...

This is a terrific post. Thanks, Kristen.

How many hours are in a day again? I need about 3 more.

Anna Liesemeyer said...

ahh so helpful. muchas gracias por todo!!

tricia mckellar said...

Love this advice! :)

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