We all have our challenges in life and for many, it’s time management. I wish I could say my love for time management developed out of my desire to just be a great human being – for me it was a matter of survival. As a new mom with two kids (18 months apart), 2 dogs, a full-time job at a top consumer goods company and a husband working nights as a police officer I found myself sinking fast. I knew I had to make some changes to get myself and my family back on track. I thought that other working professionals may face some of the same struggles and I’m making it my mission to help you, we are all in this together.
Sinking or Swimming?
Have you ever found yourself in one of the scenarios below? Maybe your mornings are just more stressful than they should be?
You roll into work 25 minutes later than planned – running into your first meeting that you are now 10 minutes late for, your boss gives you “the look” that means they’ve had it and it’s been mentally noted that you are late, yet again?
You may be sinking.
Your friends know you well enough that they lie to you about a start time in order to get you somewhere on time?
You may be sinking.
The thought of getting up and getting yourself and the kids out the door gives you an overwhelming case of anxiety?
You may be sinking.
Tossing you a life raft.
First thing’s first – take some pressure off yourself. We are human beings, we aren’t perfect. You are already moving in a positive direction by reading this article.
- Minimize distractions and multi-tasking – If you are one that is easily distracted, it’s probably not a good idea to turn on the TV in the morning or start on a project. Multi-tasking is one of the top contributors to ending up late. You always think you have time for “just one more thing.” Save it for when you don’t have somewhere to be. If you are one that needs to check Facebook or Twitter make sure you allow time for that when building your routine. And, more importantly, stick to your schedule!
- Develop a morning routine – Do the same thing, in the same order. Make a list of these steps. Once you’ve practiced the steps (I’d give it two weeks) take note of how long each step takes you. This schedule will help you learn when you need to start getting ready and out the door on time. You know yourself if you realize you are the type to need “buffer” time, add it to the schedule.
- Plan ahead – This sounds obvious, but many of us don’t put it into practice. If you pack your meals, gym bag, car etc. and even plan your wardrobe for the next day the night before, you are cutting out crucial amounts of time the next day.
- Know where you are going – This applies more towards places outside of your normal workplace. If you’ve never been somewhere, take a few minutes to be familiar with where you are going and how you will get there. Take note of potential traffic situations that may extend your driving time.
- Alarms – Set alarms on your phone that indicate when you should begin getting ready or maybe when you have 10 minutes until you MUST leave. Being more aware of what time it is and how long things take is a critical aspect of time management.
- Plan for uncooperative children and pets – Have kids to get out the door as well? Plan for the occasional tantrums, plan for the 5 outfit changes or the dogs not wanting to come inside… In other words, the unexpected is expected with children and pets. I find if you put these obstacles on your radar you are going to be better at managing them when the time comes.
Practice Makes Perfect
The above steps may sound like a lot of work but adding one step at a time can make life a bit more manageable and before you know it, you’ll notice that you are not sinking. Practice each step until it becomes a habit. There may still be occasions when things happen that you couldn’t have prepared for – that’s ok! Be easy on yourself and try again tomorrow. Being punctual and managing your time not only makes you a great friend and a reliable employee it will reduce your stress level.