Friday, December 18, 2009

Time-Starved #2

Remember how you spend your time is all about choices. You decide how you are going to spend your time, and as much as you can, make choices that are aligned to support your priorities.

To continue from my blog yesterday, a few more time management strategies are:

  • Do your most important task first. I met with a productivity coach a few months ago, and she said she tells her clients that most days we have 90 minutes of concentrated work time. So start out your day doing what you have determined is your most important task and then if your schedule unravels because of a "fire" you will have accomplished your priority.
  • Don't multitask or switch from task to task. It takes your brain four times longer to recognize and process each thing you're working on when you switch back and forth among tasks. This of course, means your work will take so much longer to do if you are hopping from task to task instead of grouping like tasks and staying focused.
  • Create short cuts for routines. Anything that you find you repeat regularly, that you can automate in some way, will save you time.
  • Carve out 10 minutes of planning time at the end of the day. This is one of the most important time management strategies because it allows you to regroup, access where you are and identify your top priority task for the next morning.
I don't recommend attempting to adopt all of these strategies at once, but try out a few that speak to you and see how they can help you create realistic daily schedules that lead you on the path to having the 2010 you desire. Good luck and let me know what you think...

Thursday, December 17, 2009


I think a good topic to cover in the month of December is time management, as we all pack our holiday to-dos in an already full schedule. It is top of mind for me because I recently gave a presentation on the topic of time management to a group of Alexandria parents of special needs children. I knew that the group would be small, and it was, because it is mid-December and many of us are feeling stressed and time-starved!

My presentation centered around the thought that time management is really about clarity and time. The month of December naturally has us thinking about the year that is drawing to a close, our accomplishments and our hopes and expectations for the new year. This kind of thinking helps us to develop goals that support our priorities. With clarity a person knows what is important, what are their life priorities, and how they want to spend their time. After self-reflection and introspection, then a person can utilize several time management strategies that support the fundamental desire we all have to live a balanced life.

A few time management strategies I talked about are:

  • Become a better estimator of how long tasks take. We all tend to underestimate how long work and personal tasks take. In so doing, we over schedule ourselves, which can leave us feeling like a hamster on a wheel and stressed. Try keeping a time journal, much like a food journal when a person is trying to lose weight. The time journal will help you see how long tasks really take so that you can more accurately plan a realistic schedule.
  • Get organized. On average we lose an hour a day looking for things or trying to figure out what we need to do. This hour adds up to a staggering 14 days a year of time thrown away.
  • Understand your workload. Make sure you fully understand everything that you have to do and that you track it all in one place. I recommend keeping business and personal actions/to dos on separate lists. The reason why this is so important is that you can't know what your priorities are unless you have a total picture of everything you have to do.
I'll post more time management strategies tomorrow...

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Tree Stand Woes

My husband and I hold our breath each year when it comes time to place our Christmas tree in the stand, and we always hope that it is going to be a good, hassle free year for us. This year was a tough one getting our tree's trunk to go all the way down in the stand because it was too wide for it. Another issue we have had in the past is sometimes the trunk isn't tall enough to get close to fitting in the stand. We sometimes remember to talk about these issues with each other and the tree guy as we look at our selected tree, but inevitably we think the tree is fine and discover it isn't when it meets the stand.

I started to get flashbacks to last year when "we", I mean my husband, had to saw off many branches of last year's tree to get it to fit the stand. I remember thinking at the time that next year I'll remember to bring the stand so that we can have the tree guy saw off the right number of branches, instead of us doing it laboriously and with some difficulty.

Somehow my memory of our issues last year were forgotten when we picked out our tree this year, and we were dealt both tree stand issues. It was a bit of a struggle, but next year we won't have to deal with tree stand woes as I have marked the stand with permanent marker with the appropriate tree trunk dimensions to fit the stand.

Our tree is up and it is in the tree stand straight and now we just need to finish decorating it!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Our 1st Thanksgiving as Hosts

We hosted Thanksgiving this year for the first time ever. Usually we are guests so there was a lot of pressure on us (self imposed) to make it a good one. Being the organized person that I am, I had set the table two days in advance, I had planned out the menu, I knew what guests were bringing and I had a pretty good idea of the meal timing. My husband's aunt generously catered part of the meal including the turkey, and I made another turkey and some more sides.

The day before Thanksgiving I did a lot of cooking and finishing details to get ready for the big day. I thought that I was ready. Now mind you, my husband and I just finished a major home renovation, including a new kitchen with lots of counter space. Some how on Thanksgiving I felt like I didn't have any counter space. I felt a little disorganized because I had lost my sense of knowing where everything was suppose to go, because there was too much stuff!

In hindsight, I made too many extra sides and I realized that though the food is important, what really is important is gathering as family and of course, making sure there are leftovers for turkey sandwiches the next day!

I hope your Thanksgiving was a memorable one.