If you’ve ever said the phrase, “I wish there were more hours in the day,” this blog post is for you. I’m honestly super pumped for this post; it’s been a long time in the making. I’ve talked quite a bit about time management in the past as it’s always been a topic near and dear to my heart. I find that if I don’t have a good time management system in place, my mind is all over the place and I get *very* little done.
But about 4 months ago, I started working with a time management coach, and it has helped me SO much. So I thought it’d be helpful for me to write an updated post on how I am managing my time and calendar. My coach, Anna, has given me so many tips for changing the way I work and live that I feel like I’m finally able to focus on work when I’m working and life when I’m not. It’s been the most refreshing change in the way I approach my time!
Here’s a look at some small changes I’ve made in my day-to-day life that have had BIG results in the way I manage my time. I promise these tips are extremely easy to apply to your life (if I can do it, anyone can) and you’ll be amazed at how much more productive your day becomes.
Block Your Time
One thing I do every week that has changed my time management significantly is blocking my time. This is a tool Anna taught me that I will 100% be using for the rest of my life. Every Monday morning (or Sunday evening depending on how my weekend plays out), I set 30 minutes aside to go into my Google calendar and time block my days.
Basically, I take my goals and priorities and put those into my week, then figure out what’s left for other stuff. This has really allowed me to be more aware of where my days are going and make sure I’m spending time on what’s important to me. My goals for the week might be small like shooting a campaign or big like planning our next trip. If I have a big priority, I always try to break down my bigger tasks into small things I can do easily and cross off my to-do list.
To give you an idea of how seriously I take this, I actually have a different Google calendar with a different color for each of my priorities and goals. For instance, one of my priorities is my relationship with the Lord. This includes reading scripture and taking intentional time to pray. This year, I set a goal for myself to improve my prayer life and reinvest in my relationship with the Lord.
In order to reach this goal, I’ve had to prioritize this time. I know that I can’t get up an hour earlier. It just won’t happen. After work, I want to spend the time from 5-7 with Four. So that really only leaves my workday to get this done. I’m thankful that I have a flexible job. So an action step for me to accomplish this goal is that every weekday I take the first hour that my nanny is here (9-10) and have it be phone-free. I don’t always devote the entire hour to this goal, but I use this time to do non-work things that fuel my soul with the first priority being scripture or prayer.
Batch Your Tasks
This has been another tool that’s helped my productivity level x 100. I’ve started basking my tasks based on like activities and doing those activities all at once. Basically, this prevents me from having to switch back and forth between tasks that are in no way related and having to re-calibrate my mind to focus on the new task. I’m able to get into a groove and I find that I become as efficient as possible so I’m making the most of my time.
The way my coach explained task batching to me is this: Whenever we wear a shirt, we don’t put the shirt in the washing machine all by itself, dry it by itself, iron it by itself, etc. Can you imagine how much time that would take if we did that to each individual item we wore!? Instead, we wait until we have enough clothes to put an entire load into the washing machine, dry them all together, fold them at the same time, then put them all away (or let them sit on the dryer folded… but that’s a different conversation for another day :P).
So in my day-to-day life, task batching for me looks like batching 3 hours on Monday mornings to my laptop. Because my job is different every day, I’m not always in my office (aka my closet) and able to sit down at my computer. By setting aside time at the beginning of each week, I can read, send, and reply to any email I need before I start shooting, filming reels, styling looks, etc. This is also the time I review my project management tool to make sure all of our blog posts, sponsored content, etc., is on schedule. I try to drown out any distractions and truly focus on what’s happening on my laptop in front of me.
In my personal life, batching tasks looks like running all of my errands for the week at the same time or scheduling my doctor and dentist appointments on the same day so I’m not out of commission for more than a day each month. There are so many tasks I do on a regular basis that I was shocked how easily I could batch them together and give myself way more time for other things.
Set Strict Boundaries
This was a tough one for me to start doing, but once I got into a habit of setting boundaries for my time, it’s been a total game-changer. The best thing I did was buy myself a timer that I set as soon as I start each task. Because I time-block my calendar now, I know exactly how long I should have to work on each item on my to-do list (this will take some time to figure out, but you’ll get SO good at it, I promise).
Here’s a great example of how this has worked well for me is this. If I’m styling looks for the blog, I can end up taking hours putting together fun outfits for y’all. I get so carried away with it that I can waste a lot of time on this task each week. But now, as soon as I start pulling looks, I set my timer for 1 hour. I keep the timer somewhere close so I can see how much time I’ve got left throughout the process, but knowing the clock is ticking keeps me on task and prevents me from getting distracted.
When it comes to setting boundaries, I love the analogy of building a fence around your time. With this job (or really for anyone working from home), it can be difficult to separate your work life and personal life. In the past, I had a horrible habit of working all hours of the day. But now, I stop whatever I’m working on at 5 pm and go get Four so I can spend 2 uninterrupted hours with him.
When I’m with him, I don’t have my phone out, I’m not scrolling on social media, but I’m present with him instead. I get so sad that I don’t have more time with him during the day (I know you working mamas hear me!) so giving him my undivided attention for 2 hours before we put him to bed helps with my mom guilt a ton. Then from 7 until bedtime, I switch my focus to Duncan so we can spend quality time catching up on our days or even just vegging on the couch. It doesn’t necessarily matter WHAT we’re doing, it’s just the fact that we’re doing it together, uninterrupted, that matters.
I think for me, I’ve always thought of time management as a way to be more productive during the day while you’re working or doing tasks at home. But realizing that it bleeds into your personal life and family time has been so eye-opening to me. I feel like all of my time is used intentionally now and I don’t feel guilty when I’m doing something that might not be deemed “productive” because I’ve already blocked my time for it!
Here’s a look at a few of the blog posts I’ve written about this topic before if you’re craving more:
PRODUCTS TO HELP WITH TIME MANAGEMENT
Brighton Your Day
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