A resource that needs to be forever managed and maintained. If we don’t tell our time what we’re going to do with it, then it will scatter and dissipate into a black hole. OK, maybe that’s a bit extreme, but we really do need to be intentional and deliberate about how we spend our time, our most finite and precious resource. It is 24 hours, each day, day in and day out, that we have and that we need to make a plan for.
In this blog post, I want to share my top four tips for managing time and to-dos! This falls under the Calendar Pillar, which is one of the four pillars of my concept called “Home, Inc.” (Click on these links to read more about each pillar: Clutter, Cash, Calendars, and Cleaning). Are you ready to learn some tools and methods for managing your time and to-dos more effectively! OK, here we go!
1. Time Blocking
If you haven’t read my blog post on block scheduling, please do so ASAP! Time blocking is a very important concept that I think everyone can benefit from. It is essentially creating a framework for each day by setting up blocks of time. Within each block, you have certain activities you perform. This system helps you to develop routines, stay focused, and know where to schedule things. For example, Wednesday mornings are my “Errand Block”. This is when I take care of returns, go to the ATM, get groceries, and run around town. I save up my errands and make a list of what I need to do, then when Wednesday rolls around, I’m ready to rock. It is a much more efficient use of time.
2. Google Keep
I LOVE Google Keep. It is effectively digital post-it notes that you can share with your household. My husband and I have a shared shopping list, to-do list, and household project list. I also have notes that are just for me (work related, content inspiration, etc). Any time I think of a to-do, a grocery item we need, or I want to start organizing my thoughts, I pull up Keep. It is my “to do repository”. A place to capture the things I want to accomplish. By putting my to dos in Keep, and getting them out of my brain, I feel less stress and gain a LOT more headspace. The other thing that’s nice about Google Keep is that it serves as a dialogue tool for our weekly family meetings. Every Sunday night, after we tuck our toddler into bed, my husband and I sit down to discuss the week ahead. One of our agenda items is going through our to-do list and taking the “do-delegate-delete” approach. I have a tendency to over-populate our to-do lists, so my husband helps get me on the straight and narrow during our weekly meeting.
3. Google Calendar
This is another Google app that is integral to our lives. We live and die by our Google calendar. We each have our own calendars, in their own color, (Jill is purple, Logan is green, Grace is pink) and we put ALL of the things on our calendar. That way, when we sit down for our weekly meeting on Sunday, we can pull up our calendar and know exactly what’s happening. I also love using the reminder feature on Google Calendar. You can schedule a reminder that will pop up on a specific day/time, and they will continue to roll over, day after day, until you either mark them as done or delete them.
If we have things that we do NOT want to forget, or we have to-dos/projects that we just want to send off into the future a bit, we schedule a reminder. Reminders are different from events because events are set for a specific date and time, but they do NOT roll over. Once that event has passed, the event does not carry over. Also, reminders in Google do not share, so it is nice for routine things you don’t want occupying space on the shared calendar. If you have something you definitely do NOT want to forget, put it as a reminder!
4. Weekly Family Meetings
Last but not least, our weekly family meeting is a scheduled event that occurs every Sunday at 7:00pm. We have an agenda and everything. To some, this may sound very regimented and business-like. And to that I would say – it absolutely is! I believe that our homes should be run like a business. That doesn’t mean we can’t have fun and flexibility, it just means that we have systems and routines in place that keep everything running like a well-oiled machine. When a home is chaotic and structureless, I find that stress increases dramatically and morale plummets. By having this weekly meeting, my husband and I are able to touch base on our budget, to-dos, upcoming events, general feels, and current projects. I envision a modified version of this with my kids once they get older.
I think it’s so easy to get in the routine of just turning the TV on at night and zoning out without connecting. This meeting ensures that we talk and connect, at the VERY least, once a week for about 30 minutes. Sometimes our meetings are 15 minutes tops, and other times we need an hour. Whenever we end up talking for an hour, I think – well THAT was super worth it. We had an hour-long conversation about something that pertains to our home and life! That is gold.
So, there you have it. Four tips for creating structure around your time, capturing to-dos, syncing your calendars and making sure everyone is on the same page with a weekly meeting. These are my gold standards in the Calendar Pillar, these are the tools that I use to manage our lives. Without these tools, I would feel a bit lost. I know and believe that every household is different and has its own unique needs that make it tick, but I would encourage you to implement these systems and watch it eliminate some stress in your life!