Time isn’t the main thing. It is the only thing. Miles Davis
Life is made up of seasons. There are times that are hectic and times when you can breathe a bit easier. How to keep up with everything during moments that test all of our time management skills? That is to say – what to do when ‘Winter is coming’.
People often say that they have enough on their plate and couldn’t possibly handle anything more. However, I believe that life doesn’t give us anything we cannot handle. When you feel like your fuse is about to short circuit and everything is just TOO MUCH then I think that is actually an opportunity to grow as a person. That is when good time management; thought out systems; the synergy of our priorities and goals become extremely important. People do not fail but their systems may be ineffective. So stop pulling out your hair and hear me out.
Years ago, I learned from Rory Vaden and his idea of Focus Funnel that we should view every activity using the following three courses of action – can it be eliminated, automated or delegated? If we absolutely must do something ourselves then we need to decide when would be the best time for it – now or later?
There have been quite a few different seasons in my life and I honestly can’t say which season I am currently on. Work wise, I have never taken it easier than I am now. That is due to our newest family member who graced us with her presence a few weeks ago (YAAAY for team Girls; it was about time I got some backup to balance the level of testosterone in our house).
However, I’m not exactly dying of boredom since the men of the house are spending most of their time at home. Nor am I on track with the housework – the little rascals make sure of that:) I also signed up for several online courses before giving birth to our baby girl. I know, optimistic much? Everyone knows how much free time you have on your hands with a new baby, right:) So how to get all the important stuff done?
How to reasonably divide your time? What to eliminate, automate and delegate?
I’m sharing some ideas on how to do it based on how I have organized these categories in my own life.
What to eliminate?
EVERYTHING THAT IS NOT IMPORTANT RIGHT NOW!!! You find out what is important once you determine your long term goals. I believe that it is rather difficult to focus on more than 2-3 goals at a time. There have been moments in my life when I have eliminated working out in favor of simply working (I DO NOT RECOMMEND IT!!!).
I recently learned something interesting when talking to my midwife. She said that we tend to eliminate activities that actually keep us sane whenever we’re faced with stressful times. Sports and alone time are often the ones being sacrificed. This doesn’t mean; of course, that you should spend hours in the gym while your life is hectic and you have other goals to reach but finding a little time for yoga or a brisk walk in the morning would only do you good.
Therefore, I wouldn’t eliminate good morning routines that keep our energy levels up (believe me, I am already feeling the side effects from having done just that for the last couple of weeks). So what should be eliminated?
For years, I have eliminated watching TV because it is an activity that certainly doesn’t get me closer to my goals. However, the boys made it official a little while ago when they eliminated our TV screen (I knew we should’ve done a better job mounting it on the wall). There went the rare movie nights on the big screen. Kids, am I right?
What to automate?
AS MUCH AS HUMANLY POSSIBLE!!! The less you have to think about the things that you could automate, the more time and energy can be spent on things that matter.
All the regular activities are on repeat in my calendar. For example, if I talk to someone on a regular basis then the next time we communicate is already automatically set in our calendars which we can change if necessary. That way we don’t need to waste time on figuring out when and what time to talk again. If we had to find a time that would suit us both then I probably would never speak to anyone again.
The same can be done with things in our personal life. For example, my husband and I have penciled in date night and have set it on a weekly repeat. Super romantic I know but finding time for you and your partner is so important and if you need to schedule it to make it happen then so be it.
Monthly bills. Use direct payment systems whenever possible and if that’s not an option then I deal with those e-mails when I know I have the time to make the transactions. Have you ever seen on TV shows how they sit with their bills, their check book or cash and a pile of envelopes? Could you imagine having to spend time on mailing in checks/cash??? Nightmare material.
Food. If you’ve been reading my earlier posts then you know that cooking is not exactly one of those activities that I’d cry over if I couldn’t do it anymore. In fact, I’d probably be swinging off lamp posts like Gene Kelly in Singin’ in the Rain. I’ve been pretty successful at avoiding cooking and I often ordered in when our family was a bit smaller.
However, I felt like having better quality food as our family grew and I was fortunate enough to find a wonderful person that made the best food in the world and to top it off, brought it home to us!!! How lucky can a girl get? Now that I’m home more and the boys are bigger, we cook together but I have automated it as much as possible.
I don’t shop but order the groceries home (such a time saver, not to mention it saves me from extra grey hair because I don’t have to deal with fussy kids while shopping). I put together three-week menus with recipes which are in rotation and I saved them in a file.
All meals are something all of us really like and most importantly, are easy and fast to make. Momma’s no fool 😀 but this makes ordering food super simple and quick. In addition, it eliminates having to spend time thinking about what to make for dinner every night. I simply open the file and see what’s set for dinner on Friday while knowing that I have all the necessary ingredients in the fridge.
Dirty laundry. Every mother with small children knows the feeling like you’re working part-time (if not full-time) at a laundromat. Unfortunately, you cannot eliminate this duty for a longer time unless you keep buying a week’s worth of clothes to replace the dirty ones.
I haven’t been able to completely automate it but I have come up with a simple trick. I have two laundry baskets – one for the whites and one for the dark clothes. I separate them immediately so I can just empty the basket in the washing machine without having to spend time picking through it. It is such a simple thing but a huge time saver. I absolutely recommend using the services of a dry cleaner if that suits you better. Fortunately, I have eliminated the clothes that need ironing from our wardrobes.
In general, whenever I do something, I ask myself if I have to do it again in the near future. If the answer is YES, then I try to find a way to automate it. Even if it’s only partially.
What to delegate?
EVERYTHING YOU CANNOT AUTOMATE BUT TRUST SOMEONE ELSE TO DO AT LEAST 60-70% AS WELL AS YOU. To be honest, they can often do things much better than you. I have used the help of assistants for years and it is simply wonderful. If you struggle figuring it out then think of how much your hourly rate is and then how much should you pay someone to help you.
Although, it is not all about the monetary value. For example, if you get to spend more time with your children then that is not something you can put a price on. Plus, you get to pay someone for something they actually enjoy doing.
What have I delegated? Professionally – everything I don’t need to do personally. I have a very talented and good assistant who can do so much on her own. You can easily delegate arranging meetings, sending out and paying invoices, answering selected e-mails and about 80% of your to-do list, to be honest.
Clothing and other necessities for you and the kids. I also had an assistant to help me keep up with domestic duties when I was busier with work. For example, she bought clothes and shoes for both me and the kids. If there was something that had to be ordered online then she looked for the best offers and solutions and got us everything we needed. There are a lot of people who absolutely love shopping but I am not one of them so I am happy to delegate that and similar duties to someone else.
Cleaning the house. Cleaning is an amazing task (yes, you can definitely sense a hint of sarcasm) that I have trusted upon a professional who visits us once a week. Of course, you cannot escape the smaller daily cleaning jobs when you have small kids. Like finding the floor under all the toys and clothes that are keeping it warm 😀 or scrubbing their masterpieces off the walls but it is soooo wonderful when someone seriously shines up the place once a week.
You have to find the best time to do things if they cannot be eliminated, automated or delegated.
The way I divide things is by seeing whether or not I can do them with the kids. For example, we can do the laundry together and they get the honor of spraying their clothes with the stain remover. Trust me, that is a workout since you can barely see the clothes under all the stains 😀 We can also cook and clean together.
I listen to audiobooks when the kids aren’t around; I am out for a walk or doing household chores. There are activities that demand more focus and I have scheduled them in at a time when I know that I can delve deep while sitting at the computer. I make a to-do list for every day/week and then I plan out a timeline for getting them done.
It takes time and effort to create those systems but by doing so you create more time tomorrow so it is a great investment!
What kind of activities have you eliminated, automated and delegated? Let me know in the comments!
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