Time Management: Increasing Efficiency

Ever wish you had more time?  We each have the same amount of hours (168, to be exact) in our weeks but not all hours are spent equally.  Most, while wishing we spent more time working out, with our families, on friendships, or preparing for our volunteer roles would confess the occasional hour wasted on TV or social media.  Time management is a term thrown around offices but how do we manage our time to keep our lives full but avoid feeling ‘busy’? Last week we promised we’d tackle time management in more detail so we can all avoid burning out.

Every January I read one book on time management and determine new ways I will manage time for my best year yet.  Among my favorites are books by Laura Vanderkam, an author and writer for Forbes and Fast Company.  Here are a few recommendations I’ve tried and found true from my reading of her books.

Track Your Hours

On her website Laura provides a sheet for tracking your day in 15-30 minute increments.  She suggests doing this for a week to ‘check up’ on how your hours reflect your priorities.  The first time I tried this exercise I was disturbed by time I couldn’t account for.  Is writing ‘mindlessly cruising the internet’ really worth filling a 15 minute window with?  The trick is to be as honest as possible.  After the second day I noticed that I was spending 15 minutes watching my coffee drip when I could set the pot the night before.  Even simple solutions like this gave me back time previously wasted.  If you’ve ever looked through your bank statement and added up your spending by category then you already know how revealing these types of exercises can be.  If not, you’re in for a treat.

Time Management Requires Planning Ahead

Hopefully you’ve been following our blog over the past few weeks and will remember that we offered Morning Pages as an option for helping plan your days.  Not ready to commit to daily planning through journaling? Start with using one hour on Sunday evenings to decide how you will spend your week.  Want to make sure you get in 3 workouts? Schedule the time.  Need a date night with your spouse?  Get it on the calendar.  Need to make time to plan how you will spend your time with your I Matter Too child?  Schedule in planning time.  Also, make a list of the top 3 items that must be accomplished this week and tackle those in the mornings when you’re freshest, if possible.  Having a plan will limit the time you spend trying to remember what needs done or deciding what to do next.

Maximize Bonus Time

Perhaps my favorite tip I’ve found through my yearly study of time management is to have a list of items you’ll do when you find bonus time.  While we can plan to the minute the time we know we’ll have, sometimes we have unexpected time!  A dinner cancelled, a friend running late, a meeting that gets moved. Keep a list of items you’ll use this unexpected gift of time on!  If you’ve been meaning to work on your quarterly goals for IMT or finish a book – make sure you keep those with you to work on during these lulls.

Often when we have 10 minutes waiting for someone running late to a meeting, we use them checking e-mail.  Resist this habit and use the time for something important. Text a fellow volunteer, come up with ideas of where you will take your child, even read our latest blogposts with info to help you succeed not just in your role here but beyond.

‘Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established’ – Proverbs 16:3, ESV

Additional Reading and Resources

Want to learn more? Here are some great resources to help you continue to use your time wisely.

168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think

Organizing Your Day: Time Management Techniques That Will Work For You

What The Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast

Present Over Perfect (this ones for my over planners, who want to make sure they’re not missing what the Lord ultimately has for them by being too scheduled!)

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