There is a pop culture quote being circulated around that says, “You have the same amount of hours in a day as Beyonce”. Not sure where I saw it for the first time, but once I did I noticed it everywhere! But here is the thing, Beyonce is beautiful, talented, hardworking, and an icon. But she also very, very rich. Most likely she has at least 20-50 people on her personal payroll including a personal assistant, a makeup and hair artist, stylist, chef, housekeeper, nanny, money managers, accountant, business partners, and so on and so forth. Think about all the time that would be freed up if you didn’t have to meal plan, grocery shop, clean your home, take care of your kids, and do your own taxes! So to say Beyonce has the same 24 hours in a day as you is, in my opinion, totally misleading and frankly borders on women shaming. It is akin to saying you should be as beautiful, successful, and talented as Ms. Z and there is something wrong with you if you aren’t some kind of superstar because “we all have the same amount of time in our day”.
But just because you don’t have the ability to delegate your “to-do” list in the same way as Beyonce doesn’t mean you can’t find a time management strategy that will help you get more done in less time. I have been working on fine tuning my time management system and so far it is really working for me. It does include some delegation, but not to the same extent as one of the richest women in entertainment!
Follow A Routine
I put this as my first time management strategy because I believe it is the most important. I am a huge believer that having a routine is key into getting things done. For example, my weekdays all follow the same general outline
- 5:30-6:00am- Wake up, make a cup of tea, surf the web. Includes “work” time because I read all of my blog comments from the night before, go over my Facebook, and spend time on Pinterest.
- 7:00- Wake up the boys. Usually Ella is awake by now and we have been cuddling on the couch while she watches a show and wakes up. Make Ella and Mason’s lunch.
- 7:30- Make sure the boys are almost ready for school.
- 8:00- Boys are on their way to school and Lucia, my housekeeper arrives. I take a shower and get ready for the day.
- 8:30- Done getting ready, get Ella dressed for school.
- 8:45- Take Ella to school
- 9:15- Because I am already out and about, I often use this time to run errands, which includes purchasing anything I need for the blog.
- 10:00-3:00- Work on the blog.
- 3:00-4:30- Family time! Watch Ella as I putter about, talk with the boys, etc.
- 4:30-5:00- Make dinner
- 5:00-5:20- Have family dinner
- 5:20-7:00- More family time. Help the kids with homework. Schlep kids to whatever sport they are doing, etc.
- 7:00-9:00- This is “my” time. I go into my bedroom and shut the door. Usually I watch tv or work on the blog.
- 9:00- Lights out
As you can see, it is a fairly basic schedule of an upper income woman with a part time job who works out of her home. It has taken me a long time to get to this point, and I do have the luxury of a housekeeper 5 days a week. I totally get this is not something that the vast majority of women out there have and I know this is a true blessing. Lucia has been with me for over 10 years, and she really is my right hand! I also don’t have any babies to contend with. My schedule looked a lot different when I had babies and frankly, my time was spread a lot thinner. But I still had a routine in place.
It might look like a boring life, but it works for me! I am not interested in a daily adrenaline rush that comes from winging it. I have a good friend who literally has zero routine and is always wondering why she is late and frazzled! A schedule adds structure to your day so you aren’t always wondering what comes next. I already know what is next because I did it yesterday and I will do it again tomorrow.
Make A List
I am a list kind of gal. If I don’t write something down then it doesn’t get done, simple as that. I have a few different notebooks that I use to keep things organized including a main book where I take notes for my blog, and another for my homemaker duties. Then each day on a separate piece of paper I make a list of what needs to be done that day. I start by doing whatever is the most important task (discussed further below) and then move on to the second priority and so on and so forth. If something doesn’t get done it gets transferred to tomorrow’s list. If it is on my list for 5 days and hasn’t gotten done, then I just don’t do it or I figure out a way to delegate it to someone else. I figure if it wasn’t important enough to get done in 5 days, it probably isn’t very important after all and I need to move on.
I have also found lists help keep my scattered brain on track. I am pretty sure I have ADD so there are always a million things running around in there. If I write something down then I seem to have the ability to let it go in my brain. It also gives me a way to prioritize and move on from one thing to another instead of forgetting about what I should be doing and surf the net instead.
Eat The Frog First
The other day I read this amazing time management book called Eat That Frog and it changed my life! The premise is you should do the biggest and ugliest task first. I have a terrible habit of pushing off the things I don’t really want to do until ‘later’ and then important things weren’t getting done. For example, before I started writing this post I hadn’t made my daily list yet and was getting distracted because what I really wanted to do was bake cranberry bars. But the cranberry bars weren’t the most important thing I needed to do with my day because they were something I could do when Ella and the kids were home, and writing isn’t. I have learned to discipline and force myself to write when the house is empty because that is when I do my best work. Writing this post was the frog I needed to eat first.
When I make my daily list I will star the three most important things I need to accomplish that day. Then I figure out which of the three items is the most important of the most important and start with that one. When I am finished with that task I move on to the second, and so on and so forth. I have found this gives me the ability to get more done in less time because I have stopped wasting my time on minor issues and can knock the major projects out of the way.
If you go back to my daily routine you will notice I didn’t go over the time between 10:00am and 3:00pm in great detail. The reason for this is I use a time blocking method during those hours. Once I have figured out the frog I need to eat, I write down how long I think it will take for me to finish that project. Then I schedule out the next items on my to-do list and so on and so forth. I have noticed I tend to lose focus after 45 minutes of working, so I make sure to take a 5-15 minute break for every 45 minutes of intense work. If I haven’t finished whatever was the most important thing on my list in the 45 minutes of allotted time, I decide if it is important enough to continue working on it. If the answer is yes, I continue. If the answer is no I stop what I am doing and move on to the next task on my list. I have found this keeps me from getting too involved in projects that can be strung out for a few days and helps me focus on a few different aspects of my work within the 10-3 work schedule.
The Pomodoro Technique
Have you ever head of the Pomodoro Technique? This is a fairly popular time management strategy where you set a timer for 25 minutes and when it rings you take a short 3-5 minute break. Then you start back up for another 25 minutes and so on and so forth. After four 25 minute increments you take a longer break and then get back to work. I have found this to be a fantastic technique when I don’t want to be doing whatever it is I am working on- usually cleaning or organizing. Even though I have a housekeeper I still have to keep things running smoothly which includes various organizational tasks like cleaning out the basement or the junk drawer and other tasks of the same ilk. I get very little enjoyment from these chores, so knowing I get a break every 25 minutes helps me stay focused.
By using these five time management strategies I have found I am able to get a lot done during my days. It might not be as much as Beyonce, but then again I am not an international superstar! I figure being a glamorous housewife is the perfect life for me and something I wouldn’t give up, even if it meant being Miss Bey! Just kidding! I would totally give it up to be Beyonce! But until that happens I will continue using my time management systems to create the life of my dreams.
If you enjoyed this article, check out my three part series on keeping your home neat and tidy: