If only we could store up time in a time bank…
I’m guessing since you’re here, you have a bazillion things on your to do list and you want to know how to make it all happen. You’re struggling to juggle all the wonderful things of life. And you’ve come in hopes that I have answers. Well, I hope at least one of the things you read here might help you feel a little less stressed, get more done, have more free time, have less doing and redoing, give you more opportunities, help you to have less wasted time and put time where it matters most- which brings JOY!!
There are and always will be 24 hours in a day, 60 minutes in an hour, and 60 seconds in a minute. Time can’t be saved up in a time bank, or stretched to make things fit. You can’t slow it down or speed it up. Time is always the same, for everyone.
…Or Just Stop Time
Whenever my visiting teachers ask me if there’s anything they can do for me, I always tell them that all I need is more time. Maybe if I had Hermione’s time turner or some kind of remote that could stop time while my kids are at school. With time stopped (only outside my home of course) I could clean the house. Enjoy the clean house for more than 20 minutes. Do some things I would like to do (sew/craft, read a book for more than 5 minutes at a time). Take a nap and bake a snack for my kids to come home to. Then I can un-pause time just as the timer on the oven beeps to tell me this delicious home made treat is done. Afterwards this happy, energized, mama could go pick up her kids and worry about nothing else but her family. Oh the dreams I dream.
Now thinking back to our 24 hour day, of those 24 hours, (if you’re lucky) 6-8 of that is sleeping time. So really you only have 16-18 hours to get things done each day. We have to understand that we can’t manage time, but we must manage ourselves in the time we have.
First of all, let’s see how you’re doing with the time you have. Take this little test created by University College, Illinois State. This test will “help identify trouble spots and guide you toward the goal of becoming successful time managers.
How did you do? When I took the test, I thought I would be in at least the good range but surprisingly I was just inside the poor range UGH! Well, looks I’ve got work to do. Many of my answers were “sometimes” or “usually”. Looks like I need to work on getting to the “always” section of many of these areas. Let’s talk about some things that can help us all get there.
Tips to Help Manage Time Wisely
- Involve Heavenly Father- When you start your day, begin with a prayer. In the bible Matthew 6:33 says “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” I believe that if we put God’s will first, other things fall into place or we realize that it’s just not important and can scratch it from our list. As you pray, you might ask Him to be with you as you go about your day. To help you to know what is most important and guide you as to the things you should spend your time on. At the end of the day, report back in prayer, tell Him how your day went. After your morning and night prayers, take time to be still for a moment and listen, allowing Him to speak to you. Sometimes when I do this, I’m grateful for a piece of paper and pen close by to write thoughts down when I’m feeling that flow. Take a moment to kindof regroup and take a few moments to review over your day. What tasks have you accomplished or not accomplished. Decide what you did well and what can be improved—this can possibly save you time in the future.
- Take time for weekly and daily planning- Every Sunday my family and I do our best to have Family Council where we plan together how our week is going to work with getting everyone where they need to be each day and making plans of family activities we would like to do. We go over the each persons calendar items and sync them on google calendars as well as write it on our calendar. If we don’t have family council, we tend to feel a little lost. It’s also important to take time to make a daily plan using the following tips as you go. I know when I don’t take time to make a plan for my day, I get lost and do random things, hoping to accomplish much, but in the end I find that I’ve wasted the day away with hardy any results.
- Focus on results– What do you want at the end of the day? Once you decide what you really want in the end, it’s easier to pluck out unnecessary tasks and only do those things that will bring you closer to your objective. Think of the 80/20 rule (which is 20% of your tasks will produce 80% of positive results. A few tasks will bring you large reward, where many of the tasks will only bring you only small reward. What’s the point of doing more, if you’re not doing the right stuff. If you accomplish twice as many useless tasks, at the end of the day you will feel like you got nothing done. If one day you choose to focus on your family, make each task reflect that focus and forget about the things like laundry and dishes.
- Make lists. How often do you feel burdened down because your list of things to do builds up in your head. You feel overwhelmed buy this clump of tasks and have no idea how it’s going to work out. Write it down! So often I will be laying in bed trying to sleep and I have all these things swimming around in my head that I need to do the next day. Because I don’t want to forget, but want to not think about it as I’m trying to sleep, I like to have paper and pen by my bed so that I can write them down and release it from my mind. My lists are often long and I know I won’t get everything done in one day, so after I’ve crossed out everything from today, what’s left goes to the top of my list for tomorrow. Which leads to the next tip…
- Prioritize. Once your list is made, go through and put numbers next to each task, showing which ones you need to accomplish first. Arrange other tasks around these high-priority items.
- Batch tasks together. What tasks can be grouped together? tasks that are similar or that require the same space to take place should be done together so that there is less distraction and time wasting. It is said that 15-45 min are wasted when switching between tasks because it takes that long to refocus. Batch anything that is done at the computer for one time each day, so for me I would check emails, do blogging related stuff or make phone calls together. Do all your cleaning related chores during one time each day. Batch your errands together, my son has baseball which is near the fabric store, why not wait to go to the fabric store when I’m already out for baseball rather than spend time going out, earlier in the day, then going out again for baseball?Experience with taking the boys out for fast offerings. My son called me and asked if I could drive them to their fast offering homes. I was happy to because it was cold outside and he didn’t have a jacket. When I went to pick them up, the Young Men’s President came to the car and said in so many words that I was taking away the experience for them to prepare for their mission. “He’s got a point boys. Next time be prepared and plan to walk.” Feeling a little guilty, I drove them around thinking they only had a handful of homes to go to. I asked them where first, my son looked at his stack and told me … ok where next, they told me… and so on. The list kept going, and then they would tell me one that was is the last circle we were just in…then we would go back to the same area we were. When we finally finished the stack my son was holding, the other boy pulled out a stack and said, ok now we can do mine, which is back in the area we were just at…FOR REAL!! Why didn’t they look at all of them together and put them in order to make it faster? LESSON LEARNED, next they will try to put them in some kind of order first. Although they don’t always know the streets and where they are…another thing they can learn that will help on a mission, even if it’s how to read a gps/map. I wasn’t feeling so guilty any more. It took me an hour to drive them to all the homes they had. I’m sure it could have been done in much less time if they had planned better.In our lives are we just scurrying around randomly knowing the tasks that need to be done but not accomplishing as much as we could if we would just take time to organize them?
- Know when to multitask and when not to– Often we can do two things at once to save time like listen to the scriptures while exercising or making lunches for the kids. Clean out the car while waiting to pick up the kids from school. Check emails while waiting at the doctors office or in line at the store. But sometimes multitasking can take our focus away from needed tasks which makes that task take longer to do. When I’m writing a blog post, I need full focus on that, I can’t go in and out of other things otherwise I’m taking that 15 min each time to refocus and it’s taking longer than needed.
- Set goals. Assign a realistic deadline to each project, and consider breaking them down into smaller tasks. If you have Clean the Kitchen on your list, choose a realistic time frame to have it done. Then break it down- sweep and mop floor, clear counter and table, unload/load dishwasher. Not only does a broken down list help me stay focused but it also gives me a sense of accomplishement along the way. As a mom, we are often pulled away from tasks because the kids need us. SometimesI dont get the whole kitchen cleaned because of it and I hate not being able to cross tha toff my list. By breaking down the list, I can feel a sense of accomplishemnt when my alotted time to clean the kitchen is up. It also helps me to more quickly get back on task when I am pulled away but still have time to work on that goal.
- Cut out time-wasting activities. If you really want to see where you’re spending your time keep a log. Set a timer for every 15 minutes and log what you’re doing each time the timer goes off. You may be surprised at where some of your time goes. Just like our money, our time can be used up a little bit at a time on unnecessary things that just don’t matter. Consider changing things up to be more effective with your time.
- DELEGATE- If you are feeling overwhelmed by the tasks that need to be done but time isfleeting, go through your list and decide what has to be done by you and what doesn’t. Could someone else make dinner tonight? Can someone else rotate the laundry or run that errand? It’s amazing how much it helps to have someone else do some small tasks adding 15 minutes or more to other tasks. My husband came to me this week stressed out because of some unexpected things he has happening at work along with everything he has for his church calling and he was feeling SUPER overwhelmed. All the things he needed to be doing this coming week seemed physically impossible. Funny thing is that I was writing this up when he came to me, so with time management on the brain I told him to write it all out and go through each task and decide if it’s something he has to do or if he can delegate it. And then to decided what can wait till the next week.
- Give yourself wiggle room. Don’t be scheduled to the second with all the have to’s. That way when something unexpected comes up, you can take care of it without throwing you off too much. I don’t know about you all but I am really good at procrastinating. So many tasks get bumped to the bottom of the list until they become required and then I’m overwhelmed with time sensitive obligations and I tend to neglect my family and other things more important to me.
- It’s ok to say no– Even though we want to , we just can’t do everything. We have to be ok to say no to some things that aren’t helping us reach our end goal or that are one of those unnecessary added stresses. The other night I was at an Eagle Court of Honor at the same time as our Relief Society activity- in the same building even. I wanted to go and planned to go right after the court of Honor, just for the last little bit. But during the court of honor I realized my youngest wasn’t feeling well and he needed to get home and taking a bath would be helpful. My baby needed me. As much as I wanted to go tie quilts with friends, I was needed at home since my husband was at meetings and I couldn’t pass the task onto him.
Even with all these tips, we can still become overwhelmed by all we do. We have wise men and women leading our church and they give excellent advice when you feel that life is just too much.
Of Things That Matter Most
Dieter F. Uchtdorf gives great advice in his talk from October 2010, Of Things That Matter Most
“it is good advice to slow down a little, steady the course, and focus on the essentials when experiencing adverse conditions. Let’s be honest; it’s rather easy to be busy. We all can think up a list of tasks that will overwhelm our schedules. Some might even think that their self-worth depends on the length of their to-do list. They flood the open spaces in their time with lists of meetings and minutia—even during times of stress and fatigue. Because they unnecessarily complicate their lives, they often feel increased frustration, diminished joy, and too little sense of meaning in their lives.
Brothers and sisters, indeed we have great reason to rejoice. If life and its rushed pace and many stresses have made it difficult for you to feel like rejoicing, then perhaps now is a good time to refocus on what matters most.”
So when you feel like you’re at your limit and want to close up and hide away from everything, take a minute to think about what really matters most. Go back to the basics those being relationships with God, our families, fellow men, and oursleves.
Elder Dallin H. Oaks, in October 2007 general conference, taught, “We have to forego some good things in order to choose others that are better or best because they develop faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and strengthen our families.”
In a presentation given at a BYU women’s conference, Sister Aburto (of the Relief Society General Presidency) says, “One day, I realized I will never be done. My lists will never be finished. It isn’t possible. I want to tell every woman what I have learned. You don’t have to do it all, and you are never done, and you can be okay with that, and you can accept that. Do what you can each day, ask the Lord to fill in the gaps, and then a new day starts and you begin again.”
I am blessed daily with following these tips and the advice of the leaders of the church. I hope and pray that you can find direction and comfort in these things I’ve shared. May you be blessed in your efforts to manage your time and feel accomplished each day.
I would love to hear how these tips have helped you or if you have tips of your own to share. PLEASE SHARE in the comments below.
SEE THE HAPPY!