Are You Making the Best Use of Your Time?


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I started my mornings as a working mother with an alarm waking me. I would get up immediately without hitting the snooze button for fear of sleeping in and would take a shower to get going. As soon as that was accomplished the rest of the morning turned into a race with time to get us, myself and the kids, out the door to school and work. Invariably each day would turn into a shouting fest, me yelling at the kids to get dressed, brush their teeth, eat breakfast, pack their bag, and asking questions (the same every day) such as do you have all your school work, where are your shoes, where is your coat, did you grab your lunch. When we were finally loaded in the car, especially after getting my son out of the bathroom (not a day was missed when he would enter the bathroom just as we were ready to leave), I would feel lots of guilt for being such a bad mom yelling all the time.

What I learned to do, after some analysis of my poorly planned mornings, is that I needed to schedule my time. I realized I wasn’t allocating the proper number of minutes for each necessary item and I didn’t plan out the day on the night before. When I did, I realized I no longer needed to yell (so much). To learn what I used and how it works for your kids and school check out my blog post from January 3, 2016 at raisinggoodhumans.com.

At work it made sense to use a schedule to ensure I met deadlines and attended important meetings but I didn’t know I could use that same schedule to organize all the minutes of my day. And once I did this, it was as if I created more hours in the day, something we all hope for.

Are you making the best use of your time? Do you reach the end of the day and realize even though you went in early, and worked late, you didn’t get everything done?

With endless appointments, lots of interruptions, and so many unexpected last-minute tasks, it’s easy for the day to unravel. To make progress on what is most important and feel you are moving toward goals, a serious look at the daily schedule in mandatory. 

As a working parent, we often get overwhelmed with all there is to do and we can’t seem to get ahead of our to-do list. It is important to learn how to schedule time properly, especially since it will improve your work life balance. Let’s work together to find more time in your day.

First look at what it takes to make time for your work, the activities that are most important, and still have time for yourself, your family and your friends. 

Creating a schedule is a planning process of how to use time and making sure what you want to accomplish can fit into the time you have available. When we look at scheduling time we realize we must say no when needed. We focus on our personal and professional goals and plan time for family, friends and personal development. What this means is we develop a good work life balance. When we are in balance, life is more enjoyable.

I have always said, time is most important because it is one thing we can’t make more of. Scheduling helps us make the best use of our time and ensures we get the most out of it.

When looking at what you must do each day work out a schedule of what is realistic. Prioritize what is essential. A good schedule includes not only what is priority but also allots time for the unexpected.

Scheduling time. At the start of each week, take time to set out a schedule.  You can use pen and paper if you like to keep a physical calendar or planner.

I struggle with keeping track of paper so I like to use digital resources that are connected on all my devices. I use Google Calendar and I have also used Microsoft Outlook calendar. I am so attached to my calendar, those that work for or with me know that if it isn’t on my calendar, I won’t be there.

Choose the type of planning tool according to what works best for your job. It can be organized according to day, week, month, etc. For those of us in the service industry, day planners are usually the best. For me, hourly day schedules work best.

In addition to the type of calendar consider using color coding to separate activities. I use color coding for different parts of my day so that I can analyze hours spent on each type of activity.

No matter the method or type, it is important you choose the one that fits with your lifestyle. Even more important, you must remember to read your schedule on a regular basis and keep it current. 

To create your schedule, lay out the hours available for work.

1. Depending on each work day, section out your work.

2. Schedule the essential work activities (color code)

Each day has must-do activities that define a job well done. Define what it means for you to stand out as an excellent employee, business owner, or colleague and schedule time to complete those. Each of these activities can be color coded for later analysis of the amount of time spent doing each. Remember to allot time each day to communicate with clients, teammates, and those for whom you work.

3. Schedule those activities that are High-Priority (color code)

High priority and urgent tasks are best done at times of the day when you have the most energy. For many people this is in the morning but for night owls, they work best at night.

4. Schedule time to handle emergencies (color code)

Plan for extra time to handle emergencies. As you live out your days, you know how many times something “comes up.” With that in mind you know how much time to plan for each day. Planning time in your schedule for such things will ensure you can be flexible and have no need to work late.

5. Schedule time for your goals

Once you have the other hours scheduled set aside time to work on you and your goals. Evaluate the amount of time you need to work toward your goals and schedule that. Even if you are short on time, simply working 15 minutes each day means almost two hours per week. If you have 30 minutes each day, you will spend 3.5 hours each week.

6 No time to spare?

After working through one to five are you left with no time for you? Go back through steps two to four and look for tasks that are not necessary. Rework your schedule and delete what you can. If you can delegate some of your tasks, do so. If you can outsource others, do that. Free up what you can.

As you focus on your schedule you will learn how to be more time efficient. Each week as you plan the next, look over the past week to see where you spent time, and where you wasted it.

When you organize your work day, you can do the same with your family time. Planning ensures sure you will make time, and creating a good work life balance is essential to your happiness and the joy felt in your family.