This weekend someone referred to my time management skills as pristine and not only is it one of the best compliments I’ve ever received, but it’s also true. I am a master of managing time. Here’s some of my best time management tips and a “typical weekday schedule” so you can see how these tips work in action.
Wake Up Early
Hate to break it you guys, but the expression “the early bird catches the worm” is an expression for a reason. Nothing boosts productivity more than waking up earlier than most. It’s not simply because you’ll have more hours to actually get stuff done, but if you’re like me that early morning time will give you time to focus on you. Whether that’s working, exercising, having some quiet and reflection time, or using that time to prioritize your day. Start waking up 15 minutes earlier than normal and see how much more you can accomplish.
Learn to Love To-Do Lists
I’ve been making to-do lists since I’ve been using pen and paper. Yes, they take up time to make them. Yes, they can often be redundant. But, nothing forces you to streamline and prioritize better than a to-do list. If being a time management maestro is the destination, a to-do list is the roadmap. Make them. Love them. Learn to live by them.
Become More Self-Aware
Here’s the thing about time management: what works for one person isn’t going to work for everyone. You have to know what works best for you and then stick to it. For example, I know I’m most productive first thing in the morning, so that’s when I tackle my important tasks. I also know I need some alone time to not be a human trash bag to people, so I try and make sure I get that time throughout the day/week/whatever. Knowing these things about myself help to shape how I prioritize my time.
Prioritize, Prioritize, Prioritize
Also knowing what your priorities are helps you figure out how to best spend your time. Having a kid really helped me figure that out. Basically, my son comes first and everything else comes after that (usually). If I’m working on a script for work, that takes precedence over anything else. Each day I try to figure out what my top three tasks are and then build the day around those. It keeps things in perspective and keeps the trains running on time.
Schedules, Deadlines, and Goals… Oh My
If a to-do list is a road map, these tools and skills are the faithful companions to becoming a time management savant. A schedule is a tool that shapes your day/week/month/year in the most effective way possible. A deadline gives you an end date to accomplish something by so you’re not floundering in the “when” of it all. And goals are the friendly little reminders of what you want to accomplish. Together they work in tandem to give your life shape and structure. Neat!
Give Me a Break
At the end of the day, we’re not robots or machines. We need breaks. We need to say “no.” We need to delegate. We need to relax. We can’t be 100% effective all of the time or we will crash and burn (maybe literally). So, while it may seem counterintuitive to take a break, it’s an important and vital skill of time management, and well… life.
Typical Daily Schedule
Here’s what my typical day looks like, which incorporates everything above (kind of):
6.15am-Wake up, Morning Routine (to-do list, meditate, stretch, get dressed, basic chores)
7.15am-Wake up my son, Baby Morning Routine (nurse, get him dressed)
7.45am-Walk the Dog
8.15am-Breakfast (for me and the baby)
8.45am-Get Ready to Leave the House (always give a little cushion time)
9.15am-Daycare Drop Off
9.45am- Work (Check emails, respond to texts, be social)
10.30am-Office and Personal Tasks
11.30am-*Morning Creative Time (Blog posts, screenplays, research, notes drafts… but just one project at a time)
1.00pm- Lunch Break (actually take a break! Get outdoors! Check social media! Call a friend!)
2.00pm-Afternoon Check in (reprioritize my to-do’s, if needed)
2.30pm-*Afternoon Creative Time (continuing the morning project if I didn’t reach my “goal” or editing what I worked on, or starting something new if I finished and am balancing multiple projects at once)
4.00pm- Break! (eat a snack, move my legs, stretch, send a flirty text to my husband)
4.15pm- More writing! (This time is usually reserved for working on my novel)
4.45pm- End of day “check-in” (get ready to leave the office)
5.00pm- Leave the office
5.30pm- Pick up my son at daycare
6.00pm- Get Dinner Ready (I meal prep on Sunday, so all I have to do is reheat and give my dog his food)
6.45pm- Baby Bedtime Routine (Bath! Storytime! Cuddles!)
7.30pm- Evening Meditation (this turns off my “mom” and “work” brain and allows me to transition to “me” or “social” time)
7.45pm- Evening tidy-up (15 mins to do my daily chores)
8.00pm- Evening Activities (exercise! Hang with my husband! See a girlfriend! Read a book! It’s time to take a break, babies. I will use this time to work, if needed)
10.00pm- Evening Routine (lay out clothes for the next day, take vitamins, skincare routine)
10.30pm- Get in Bed and Read