If you want to get more done, ask a busy person. While I eschew busy-ness as a badge of honor, there’s no doubt that there are folks out there that get a lot done AND don’t succumb to overwhelm or burnout. Though you could argue that personality and responsibilities have a lot to do with that, the truth is they have taught themselves to better manage their time by using tried and true time management strategies.
While I know that sounds simplistic, there’s a reason why folks will tell you that organization is your friend. That’s because often women are overwhelmed at the sheer number of tasks they expect themselves to do. And the stress of juggling all the many responsibilities is the root of so much stress. Because I get that you want to pursue your ambitious goals, have a stellar marriage, be a great mom, delightful daughter, and trusted friend.
Though I will always tell you that you don’t have to do it all, I get that sometimes you just want to at least get more done. Or else you’re in a season of your life where there are just more demands. That’s why utilizing good time management strategies will go along way in reducing your feelings of overwhelm.
Here’s six time management strategies for you to utilize so that you’re less stressed:
One: Utilize the Urgent/Important Matrix as a Time Management Strategy
If you’ve ever read The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, this will be familiar process of better identifying your priorities
- Urgent and important: These are the most essential tasks that you need to do on a priority basis.
- Non-urgent and important: These tasks are also important, but you have some time to complete them.
- Non-important and urgent: These are the tasks that contribute little to your overall achievements but require your presence nonetheless.
- Non-important and non-urgent: These are the tasks that can be deferred or deleted.
Two: Dive into the “four Ds.”
The “Four D’s” of time management can be a terrific strategy to defeat deluge of tasks. Because when you identify the real importance of tasks, you’re better able to prioritize, right? That’s why I love using the “Four D’s” to clear my commitments: delete, defer, and delegate.
The First “D” is for Delete.
Look at your goals and then look at your commitments. Now be honest: What is on your calendar or to-do list that won’t help you reach those goals? Those things will waste your energy and your time. Darling, you may object, but if you’ve dug down deep in step three and figured out why you want your goals, you have already figured out for yourself what matters most to you. Don’t waste your energy on things that don’t matter.
The Second “D” is for Defer.
Sometimes we think that deferring is procrastinating, but they aren’t the same thing. When we procrastinate, we are looking for excuses not to do something we know we need to do right now. Deferring a task is an intentional choice. Look at your to-do list and identify the non-urgent tasks that you don’t have time or energy for right now. Decide to save those tasks for a time when you do have the time and energy, or when you really do have to do them.
The Third “D” is for Delegate.
You simply can’t do everything on your list all by yourself. So, often it makes sense to share tasks with others. Can you hire someone to take some things off your plate? Delegating housekeeping, yard work, or grocery shopping can go a long way into freeing up your time. I’m sure I’m not the only person that is keeping grocery pick up even though we’re returning to a post-pandemic life.
Also, who in your family can you allow to help? Yes, kitten, I said allow. It is a privilege to be invited into someone’s life this way. When you ask someone for help, it strengthens the connection you have with them. It builds intimacy and trust while giving you time and energy to love them.
Delegating also gives us the opportunity to learn how to receive help in a gracious way. It sets an example for others, giving them permission to ask for help one day, instead of struggling alone. So, darling, don’t feel like you have to get off the merry go round on your own. Give others the chance to assist you by asking for help when you can.
The Final “D” is for DO.
It can be so easy to simply get distracted or wrapped up in planning. Or procrastinate But in order to reduce stress, you need to just DO the stuff on your list. Start with the small stuff and soon you’ll build momentum.
Three: Planning is a Stellar Time Management Strategy
One of the things that exacerbates feeling overwhelmed is that many of us – and yes, I include myself in this at times – passively move through our weeks and just hope they go well. When something unexpected comes up, we just don’t have the emotional bandwidth, let alone time, to deal with it. Or, if we do have to deal with an emergency of sorts that demands our time and attention, something has to give.
Yes, I know you want to be open to serendipity. But, darling, without a plan there is no clear direction for the trajectory of living. And if you’re here, then I know that creating a life of your own design is a priority. But though creation sounds loose and free, conscious creation requires focus.
Carving out time for planning is a time management technique that will always reward you with more available time to work on your goals and get those tasks done. Planning is also a great way to break large goals down into doable tasks.
If you really want to reduce stress and overwhelm in your life, then set aside a half-hour or so once a week to plan for the week ahead. During your dedicated planning time, you can get ahead of all your responsibilities and actually create a schedule for yourself. Going into a Monday morning knowing what your week looks like is a huge stress reliever. Oh, and while you’re planning, you may as well do your meal plan for the week too.
Also, set aside five or ten minutes at the end of the work day to tweak plans for the following day. Especially if you’ve had to defer something. Or an emergency arose that demanded your time.
Planning allows you the freedom and permission to pursue your desires. Planning means you are defining success on your terms. And, my dear, choosing to create a plan means that you are taking responsibility for your own happiness.
Four: Identify Your Chronotype to Find Your Best Times
While almost every productivity article you read says you need to be a morning person to be successful, that isn’t always the case. That’s because everyone has different rhythms that go beyond habit. A study on chronotypes found that certain genetic markers make us predisposed to feel more alert in the evening or the morning, meaning people are genetically coded to be more productive at different times of the day. Some of us are true morning people, others are night owls.
This is why I am a big proponent of identifying your natural productivity cycle as a time management strategy. Learn your own natural rhythms, and schedule your tasks accordingly. By doing the tasks that require the most concentration during your peak energy times and saving the more mindless tasks for lower energy times, you’ll be better able to better maximize your body’s natural productive periods.
For me, personally, I’ve found that I am the most productive before 11 AM and then get another burst of energy around 2 PM in the afternoon. And I no longer commit to activities at 4 PM because by that point, I’m just mentally and emotionally done. This has helped me tremendously when it comes to time management and the reduction of stress.
Five: Create Nourishing Morning Routines
Even if you aren’t a “morning” person, you can maximize the first few hours of the day in a way that helps reduce your stress levels. That’s because smart women understand that time is a precious commodity. And while the day can quickly get away from you, ensuring the first moments of your day are nourishing can go a long way into managing the rest of your day.
Studies show that early mornings bring a source of willpower that is lacking throughout the rest of the day. We tend to be more energetic, positive, and ready to take on tasks, think, and move our bodies after a good night of sleep – and before the day sets in with its distractions. And while you may be tempted to rush into demanding tasks on your list, spend some of your morning on self-care.
Because often a course of stress is the lack of time to take care of our own needs. Just a half-hour with your journal and coffee can go a long way into setting yourself up for more resilience no matter what the day tosses at you. That’s because you’ve ensured you are filling your cup instead of only spending your time on the care of others.
So, create a nourishing morning routine as a way to set yourself up for a better mood all day. That, my darling, is gold level time management.
Six: Limiting Your Priorities is a Great Time Management Tool
Yes, I know that you want it all. But, that’s not practical. That’s why it’s good to not only set your priorities, but also limit them. A good way to limit your priorities by first identifying your roles. Then ask yourself what’s important for the particular season of your life? By ranking your roles in order of importance, it helps make your real priorities clearer.
And, it will help you recognize what to weed out when it comes to priorities. So, ask yourself if your daily habits and tasks align with your top priorities. And use this as a time management tool to align your actions and habits with your goals.
But in order to do this effectively, you’ll have to also recognize that some roles in your life are going to have to go on the backburner. And while that may be a blow to your ego, it will go a long way to reducing how you feel on the average day. And trust me, feeling less stressed and overwhelmed will be worth it.
Time management is an art – and a science – that can make your life easier and more efficient.
Because No matter where you’re at in life, you can always make life less stressful, more nourishing, and overall better through utilizing good time management strategies. Life is too precious, my dear, to spend your time feeling overwhelmed.
Creating a Life Plan is a great process to help clarify your priorities
so that these time management strategies can be put to stellar use.
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