This advice does not apply to you if you feel footloose and fancy free with a bunch of extra time on your hands. This advice is for you if your plate is full and you’re not sure how to find the time to do just one more thing, even if that one thing is important or worthwhile.
We only have so many hours in the day to use. When something gets added to our to do lists, we could make ourselves crazy and try to force it in there and still get everything else done. Or, we can be kind to ourselves and realize that if something new gets added to our list, something should be taken off our list. Good time management means carefully considering what is the best use of our time.
When the declutter challenge or spring cleaning challenges comes out, I always get questions about how to fit it in the new set of daily tasks into your already busy life. And the answer is, something must go. Balance is a Myth, but you can kind of fake it by letting different things go different days, so the same thing isn’t always on the chopping block. You have to know where your priorities are and what you’re willing to sacrifice, and what you will not sacrifice.
Here are some thoughts –
I’m a big fan of family dinner time and sitting at the table together to eat at least 5-6 times a week. With six different people’s schedules to work around, it takes planning ahead to make sure we eat together. In my opinion, eating together is more important than eating at the same specific time every day, so we eat at different times every night. That time together is a priority that I won’t sacrifice, but there’s a lot of wiggle room in what we eat.
Grab a piece of paper now and make a list of simple dinners and add to it as you think of more ideas. Keep this list handy in your planner or in your kitchen. If you need to pull from your list during the next few weeks while you put your time and energy into a challenge or project, it will be okay. Maybe occasionally over the next few weeks, you might slip a nicer meal in as you have time.
I don’t normally use the grocery pickup services because I’m that crazy person that wants to pick out my own meat and produce. But, when I’ve got a sick kid or an especially crazy week, it’s a tool I keep in my back pocket to save a little time when I need it. When you’ve got a big project you’re working on, that saved time can be spent making progress!
Cleaning routines have been a big focus on this blog. One of the most important things I teach about your cleaning routine is not to play catchup! This can be such a difficult concept for people to really grasp. We are trained to feel guilty about unfinished tasks and that guilt often snowballs, which causes more unfinished tasks, not less. When you skip dusting this week, I don’t want you to spend even 5 minutes feeling bad about it, I want your energy to go towards making sure you dust next week. Only visit the past briefly to think about what went wrong and how to do better next time. We want our momentum to be forward-thinking because dwelling on past mistakes is such a huge waste of time. It does nothing for us.
Now this is where I’m going to get a little wild and suggest something crazy: skip some chores on purpose while you’re fitting in a big project. You know dusting day will come around again next week. Definitely don’t skip every chore every week. Make sure you’re still hitting areas every few weeks at least, but the dust and cheerios lingering a few extra days is an acceptable sacrifice while you’re working on projects that will bring a lasting impact on how your house feels. Like, if you’re decluttering, how much easier is it going to be to dust when your surfaces aren’t cluttered?! Keep your eye on the prize.
Just Say No
When you need to create time in your schedule, utilize the most effective tool you have – the power to say no. When you understand what falls in or out of your area of responsibility, you can stay focused on what matters. My rule of thumb as a volunteer and friend: if an actual emergency comes up, I will drop whatever I’m doing and help. If the “emergency” is caused by laziness or poor planning, I’m not available to help. Good boundaries are so powerful.
Make Rest Time Count
Take a holistic approach to managing your time. You are not a robot and can not go from dawn until dusk never stopping. Rest is not a waste of time, but some forms of “relaxing” definitely are a waste of time. I tell my teens when they come home exhausted from school not to go waste time on their phone for an hour to “relax.” At the end of that, they’ll have wasted an hour and still be tired. I tell them to go lay down and actually rest – to set a timer, dim the lights and actually close their eyes. The hour is going to go by one way or another, might as well make the best use of it.
Working around little ones: If you need specific tips for getting things done with small kids in the house, I give some ideas in Decluttering with Children Underfoot.
Our time is valuable, let’s make the most of it! I hope these tips help you remember that you are in control. You get to decide how to use your time. You don’t need to run yourself ragged to get things done, some small adjustments can have a huge impact!
From my home to yours,