I’m pretty bad at time management. So bad that I make myself, and often my husband, crazy. Granted, I tend to have more things to do than are possible in a given day. But somehow I find time to read blogs and watch television and take naps.
My bad time management affects my teaching, the quality and frequency of my blogging, my cooking and the cleanliness of my house, among other things. I have a lot of worthwhile things I want to be doing–reading my book, fixing my blog, keeping in touch with friends– but at the end of most days they haven’t happened and I feel frustrated. Certainly I have time to make progress on some of the above, so why don’t I?
Lately I’ve started being more intentional about the way I use my time. It won’t be the first time, I feel like I restart this quest for better time management every few months (like after I read 168 hours). Over the past couple months and weeks I’ve made a few changes that have made my time better spent and my days less stressful.
10 Things I’ve Done Recently to Improve My Time Management
- Creating filters for my inbox – I made a filter in my Gmail account that automatically moves all the emails from stores (Amazon, Gap, Loft, etc) to a folder. I never see them in my inbox, which keeps me from looking at them unless I really have the time and need to buy something. Granted, I could probably unsubscribe from some of them, but I’m just not there yet.
- Preparing lunches the night before – I can’t really take credit for this one, Brian does all the work. But having our lunches made the night before cuts down on dishes because I wash them when I do the dinner dishes. It also makes the mornings run much more smoothly. Actually having time to think about what’s going into the lunches also results in better meals.
- Making an appetizing breakfast for the week – Whenever possible, we try to leave the house by 6:30 am. That’s generally too early for my stomach to want anything to eat. Of course, the moment I get to school, I’m starving. Making a breakfast over the weekend, like a loaf of really good bread, helps me remember to eat or take some with me.
- Getting out of bed when the alarm goes off – Previously, I was a really big fan of the snooze button. But my decision to start getting out of bed when my first alarm goes off has been excellent. I don’t feel any more tired than usual, I start actually getting ready (after hanging out and checking blogs for a bit) a half hour earlier than before and, as a result, we actually leave on time.
- Creating content before absorbing content – It shouldn’t be news to anyone that my Google Reader is sort of ridiculous. I love reading other people’s blogs and keeping on top of the news. But once I start going through my Reader it’s hard to get anything else done, including writing my own posts. I’ve been working hard to try to finish my own writing before spending hours reading other people’s.
- Using a to do list app – I may have a lot of things to do, but I also do a pretty bad job of remembering them. I’ve tried a lot of different to do list apps for the web and my phone, but I think I’ve finally found one that’s stuck. Astrid allows me to sync my tasks between work, home and my phone; it’s definitely helping me remember to get things done on time.
- Spending most of my prep period in my room – After teaching several classes in a row, I really just want to take a walk and not think for a little while. I have several good friends at work and I really like touching base with them during the day. Unfortunately, when I do that I don’t get a lot of work done. Staying in my room except for essential errands means less grading and preparation that has to come home with me.
- Using a Google Document to brainstorm posts – I love writing posts in Windows Live Writer, but we only have it installed on our desktop computer. Sometimes I don’t want to use the desktop and sometimes Brian’s already using it. So I have a Google Doc that I use to draft, brainstorm and list post ideas. Then when I’m ready to turn them into real posts, I just copy them into Live Writer, fix the formatting, add photos and publish.
- Sitting at the kitchen table instead of on the couch – Sitting in a real chair makes me so much more productive than lounging on the couch. At the table, I can’t see the television or be distracted by what Brian’s doing on the computer. I’m also less inclined to decide that a nap seems like a good choice.
- Going to bed at a reasonable hour – This one is, hopefully, a no-brainer. If I’m well rested, I’m more focused and motivated during the day. As a result, more stuff gets done and I don’t feel the need to sleep in the middle of the afternoon. If going to bed before 9:00 makes me an old lady, I’m okay with that.
image via Candie_N on Flikr