5 Tips for Better Time Management

posted by Andrea | 03/21/2014

better time management

The following is a guest post from Crystal Paine of Money Saving Mom.

NOTE from Andrea:  I’ve been working with Crystal for over 2 years now — and let me tell you, this lady knows how to manage her time! Not only does she run a wildly successful blog, author multiple best-selling books, and travel around the country speaking; she also home-schools her 3 kiddos, makes most of her food from scratch, and keeps her house relatively clean and clutter-free!

It’s definitely safe to say Crystal is a time management guru — but she wasn’t always that way. Today’s post shares some of her tips for better time management. Also, I should mention that as Dave proof-read this post, he said, “Wow, it’s amazing how similar both of your time management tips and philosophies are!” 

Time…

It’s something we all have the same amount of, but something that very few of us feel like we have enough of.

With three children and a successful (and ever-growing) home business, I’ve learned quite a few different tips and tricks that have helped me to be more productive and efficient over the years.

Here are five of my top tips for better time management:

1. Create a Prioritized List

A few years ago, I set up a time budget for my daily activities. This has been revolutionary for me!

I include everything on this plan — from showering to making dinner to homeschooling to work projects. I try to cover all of the bases and leave 2 hours of margin time for those inevitable interruptions.

This might seem like a lot of work, but because each day is different and there are different project deadlines and must-do’s that vary with each day, this helps me to be able to stay organized and manage my time well — all while being flexible.

NOTE from Andrea:

If you’re interested in hearing more how this works, watch Crystal’s video on How I Do It All — Or Not.

And if you’re wondering how I personally handle my daily schedule, you can read this post about why I write everything down and how I do it!

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2. Do One Thing At a Time

I know, I know! Multi-tasking can seem like a very efficient way to do many things. However, when it comes to most work tasks, if you want to get concentrated work done in an efficient manner, you need to shut out all the noise and just focus on one thing at a time.

If it’s your time to email, work on emailing. Go through your emails in order of priority and don’t stop until your time is up. If it’s your time to research something, only work on researching that thing. If you need to make a phone call, just make the phone call. If you’re baking or cooking, just focus on that specific recipe.

If you’re used to trying work on 5 things at once, you’ll likely be surprised at just how much work you can get done in a distraction-free 20-30-minute concentrated block of time.

And once you get in the habit of doing one thing at a time, you’ll learn where your fizzle out point is. This is the point when you need to stop and take a break or stop for the day in order to come back to your project refreshed and energized.

Personally, I’ve found that I do best by working in 20-30 minute blocks and then rewarding myself with a short 5-minute break. If I’m working on an in-depth project that requires a lot of brain power, I’ll often set the timer for 20 minutes and work on it and then set the timer for 15 minutes and work on a cleaning project or play with the kids.

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3. Tame the Email Monster

I shoot to have no more than 5 emails in my inbox at all times. This might sound crazy, but it’s one huge way that I stay organized and efficient as a business owner and working parent.

When I check my email, I aim to deal with emails immediately. Here’s how:

  • If an email can be deleted, I delete it immediately (I’m pretty ruthless when it comes to using the delete button!)
  • If an email only requires a quick response, I respond immediately.
  • If no response is necessary, I archive the email.
  • If an email can be handled by someone else on my team, I forward it onto that person.

I’ve found that this system covers the majority of emails. For the emails that require a longer response, I save them in my inbox and try to get to them as soon as I can — preferably that same day.

NOTE from Andrea:

Here’s a very detailed post about how I (Andrea) manage my email.

Here’s an extensive post on how Crystal keeps her inbox to fewer than 5 emails.

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4. Get Enough Rest

I used to think that burning the midnight oil would make me more productive, but I’ve actually found that I’m much more productive if I get at least seven hours of sleep almost every single night. I usually am most productive in the mornings so I make it my goal to go to bed by 10 p.m. and get up between 5 and 6 a.m.

It’s hard for me to shut things down at night but I’ve found that I’m much more prone to dawdle and waste time at night than I am in the mornings. You might be the other way around. Do what works best for you, but whatever you do, put getting enough rest high up on your priority list.

You’ll feel better and more energetic and I’d wager to guess that you’ll also find an extra hour or two of sleep at night helps you to be more productive than if you spent that time trying to pry your eyeballs open with toothpicks and get more work done.

NOTE from Andrea: 

For those of you in a season of life where “more sleep” is not always possible (yes I can relate!) here’s a post I wrote about How to Deal with Exhaustion When You Can’t Get More Sleep.

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5. Say “No” Often

As women, we’re often afraid to say no. We fear we might miss out on a big opportunity and we worry about what other people might think of us. I know, because I’m there a lot.

I just want to encourage you (and myself!) to guiltlessly say “no”. If an opportunity is going to require time you don’t have, or going to oblige you in a way you don’t feel comfortable with, or is just not a good fit for you, your family, and/or your business, say “no”.

Before committing to anything, count the costs. What will you need to give up in order to do this thing or attend this event or write this post or participate in this project? Is it worth what you’re giving up? If you’re not 100% sure that it is, then say “no”.

What your best time management tips?

For more encouragement on managing your time and life, grab a copy of Crystal’s book, Say Goodbye to Survival Mode. It’s packed with strategies and inspiration to help you live your life with purpose and intention.

Crystal Paine is a wife, mom of three, founder of MoneySavingMom.com, and author of the New York Times bestseller, Say Goodbye to Survival Mode.

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2 comments

  1. shilpa

    03/21/2014

    My life revolves around making lists and sticking to them. I can’t tell you how much they have helped keep my family on schedule. I’m glad this post came up, it was good to show hubby that I wasn’t the only one out there. Happy Friday ladies

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  2. Chrissy

    03/21/2014

    I’ve always made a list, but in the past I wouldn’t stick to it. Recently I’ve been making my list more ‘do able’ and I’ve found I stick to it a lot better, and get tons more done in my day. With 3 kids and 1 on the way (5weeks left!) My lists have been a life saver! Thanks for the post! :-)

    [Reply]