Time planning makes or breaks my week. It’s a life saver to keep me on track with so many things to take care of, especially since I solo parent very often. I have tried various time planning tricks over the years and these are the one which has stayed with me until now. I hope you benefit from them too.
- Prioritise Deadlines
I put in all the deadlines in my calendar as a priority, as soon as I determine them. Then I work backwards after understanding approximately how much time I need. This blocks out time needed and I won’t over schedule myself.
2. Break Things Up into smaller tasks
“You can’t swallow a steak whole, but you can eat it entirely if you cut it up and eat it in smaller portions”
I’ll always remember this and it’s is a time tested strategy for me. It would be most ideal if I can sit down and finish something at one go but I normally don’t, so I’ll break things up into smaller tasks if I cannot afford a whole stretch of time.
3. Identify the best times
Find out what is the best times to do things and do them then. Sounds like common sense but this strategy is so underused. This dictates the sequence with which I do my tasks each day.
For example, the best time for me to take out the meat to thaw might be before I start working on something else because the time I use to work on that something else can be the time taken to thaw. Don’t waste the waiting time.
Another example. The best time for me to have lunch is not 12 or 1pm but 11am. This gives me an uninterrupted stretch of time to work with for the next task.
4. No Social Media (or whatever that distracts you), unless scheduled
Depends on what your poison is, mine is Dayre, Instagram and Facebook. I used to check social media whenever I have pockets of free time, but it takes up time I could use for being present and doing stuff concurrently (see next point) and so I’ve decided to stop. It works, really, to schedule time for social media each day. Just pick times which are good for you and stick to it.
5. Do things concurrently
This is a big time saver for me. It takes care of things I would normally leave for “later” and never get done.
For example, it takes 6-7 minutes for me to boil water and I don’t have to watch it because I use an induction cooker. While the water boils, I don’t sit around and look at my phone like I used to, I go water the plants and keep the cleaned laundry.
Another example. I don’t wash the dishes in the sink right away sometimes. I do it when I’m in the midst of cooking, or when I’m boiling water because sometimes, there is some waiting time and I need to be in that area anyway. It makes sense for me to group tasks to be performed in the same area and do them concurrently.
Last example. The best time for basic floor cleaning is when I’m walking up and down the house doing one thing or another. Like when I bring soiled laundry to the service yard, I have a handheld vacuum with me as I walk along, or I would pick things up from the floor as I do so. This way, by the time I’m back to the bedroom my floor is cleaned without me having dedicated special time for it.
6. Errands and Outgoing
I work from home and going out for anything means disruption in my day. I only stay out after dropping Joy in school when necessary but it’s still disruptive, so I plan for them all in one day as far as I can help it. Having said that, I sometimes do plan for brunches, lunches etc with friends. I like to have one whole stretch of time to work but one has to learn to relax as well for balance.
7. Plan week by week
I used to plan on a daily basis but it wasn’t good enough because you don’t get to see an overview of your week or the things that you could have adjusted to make your week more fruitful. Planning on a monthly basis gives you an even bigger picture, but I often have to add tasks unexpectedly and it’s not practical or as useful for me to plan on a monthly basis.
8. Use Tools
You’ll need tools that are easy to update, even on the go, because that’s how your time planning can be adjustable as and when necessary. I used to use an excel sheet together with evernote but excel sheets are a pain to update on the go. I now use evernote for lengthy information, wunderlist for lists and google calendar to schedule appointment. All of them are available for free. They work super well together and are easy to update on the go.
My bestie uses a notebook with daily squares to fill in general things and it works for her. My ex boss uses a piece of recycled paper to list randomly what she needs to do that day, numbers it according to priority and then strikes off each task as they are done. It all works and you just have to find out what suits you but do use a tool, it really helps.
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