Throughout my life, I’ve always been a very organized person. Organization brings me peace and serenity, whereas chaos, clutter and mess give me stress. Unfortunately, as time goes by, life gets in the way, and when we prioritize our kids or our work over housekeeping, chaos and clutter will ensue. On my journey to regain my joy, however, I have felt the need to find a happy medium – less clutter and running crazy (aka: less stress) while making my family and my passions my priority.
That being said, here’s my list of five strategies I use to more efficiently manage my time and (hopefully) keep the stress at bay.
- Write it down and refer to it often. There was a time when I could keep a calendar and never refer to it because my young brain could remember it all and keep it all straight. Schedules didn’t stress me out! Okay, those days are just memories now – when I can remember back that far. So, what do I do now to manage my schedule? I keep a detailed calendar. Old school you say? Well, I keep it in my iPhone calendar with alerts set to remind me daily for one week leading up to a calendar event. I know that may sound extreme, but having that reminder daily keeps me from planning something else over a scheduled event AND it keeps me prepared.
- Use your evenings to your advantage. I have to start this one by saying that I am a product of the TV generation, and at the end of a day, all I really want to do is sit in front of the TV and turn-off my brain. Unfortunately, wasting this time in front of a TV that rarely has anything captivating to watch, adds stress to my life. Most of us have at least a couple of hours each evening to be productive or share quality time with our significant other. A great resource for learning how to better use this time, is Make Over Your Evenings by Crystal over at Money Saving Mom. This short course has taught me how to use the evening time in a way that leaves me feeling successful.
- Plan Your Family Time. I will be very honest with you here…I am just learning how to do this well. Ten years ago, when our boys were little, family time was easy to plan; they had sports practices and games, we went to zoos, parks or to visit with friends/family on weekends, we planned fun vacations, or we stayed in and played – easy-peasy! Now, they are teenagers, in high school – they pretty much want nothing to do with us. They love their devices, playing video games online with friends, or sequestering themselves in their rooms – not easy anymore. Planning time together, device-free, is how we are dealing with that. I think the family dinner table is sacred, and I have ALWAYS insisted on the family sitting down together, without devices, every night. This is the time we talk, catch-up on school, and attempt to break through the teenage-boy shell to stay close. More than anything, take time alone to keep your marriage strong. That example is what your children will take with them when they leave your home and go into relationships of their own. Love each other first and foremost!
- Don’t stop giving time to your passions. This is so incredibly important! We women especially, tend to lose ourselves in the everyday life of caring for others. But, when we stop putting time into the things we love to do or the things that give joy to our hearts, we slowly lose our identity and become resentful. Nobody should live like that, but often we don’t realize that’s how we’re living until that’s become our life. Schedule time for yourself and be sure to give that time priority! Whether you are uplifted by exercise, music, crafting, or just taking a hot bubble bath – DO IT! And don’t just do it when you happen to have a minute free. Because , let’s face it, how often do we have a minute free. Take time every week for you and know that when you are filled, you are much better at filling those you love.
- Finally, take time to pray. It doesn’t matter if you are a Christian, Jew, Hindu, or anything else. When we give our cares and needs to our god, we share our burdens and free ourselves to use our time more effectively. The hardest thing to do is to let go of our stresses and ask for help. But, I can tell you from my own life, when I do not pray daily (and sometimes many times a day), I feel burdened, scattered and less capable of doing the things I need to do without a heavy heart.
That’s it! I am going to focus on implementing these five strategies every day. I hope you will join me and let me know what is and isn’t working for you.