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Milk Another Hour or Two Out of Your Day - Time Management

By Lisa Jay
Posted Sunday, December 12, 2004

Time management seems to be an issue in almost everyone's lives. There never seems to be enough time in the day to complete all of the day to day tasks. Whether you are a stay at home parent, a work at home parent or you work outside of the home, I am sure that you could use a few more hours in your day.

Here are several things to help you manage those few precious hours that you do have;

1. Get organized! I cant stress this enough. This is the first thing that absolutely needs to be done. Think about all of the time that is wasted looking for things. Looking for papers, phone numbers, supplies.....your desk top. Use the first 15 minutes of your morning to organize your work area. Go over your "To Do" list and organize the things needed to accomplish them.

2. Identify your most productive time. You may be a morning person or an evening person. I do all of my most difficult tasks when I am fresh, in the morning. Use your child's nap time to do your most difficult tasks. Use one hour of "TV time" for your kids to do your most difficult tasks. Make the most out of your child's best time. My child is an angel in he morning, and is grumpy and wants a lot of attention in the afternoon.

3. Make your "To Do" list the night before, and know what you will be accomplishing the next day. That way, you start out with a goal in mind first thing in the morning rather than wandering around aimlessly. Divide your "To Do" list into several pages. One list for things to do tomorrow, this week, and one for things to do this month. As you accomplish these goals, cross them off. I write my monthly goals on my calendar.

4. Need an extra hour in the day? Get up an hour early and have your first cup of coffee or tea sitting at the computer going through your e-mails, answering your e-mails and posting to forums. I call these my "day wasters".

5. Schedule it and stick with it. On your calendar, write one thing that you will accomplish on each day of the week. For instance, I file every Monday, do my on-line banking every Wednesday, update my web site on Friday......

6. Decide when you will check your e-mail. I check mine in the morning (with my cup of coffee) after lunch time, and in the evening. I try to turn off my e-mail the rest of the day. For the longest time I left my e-mail on at all times. My little envelope would pop up and I immediately stopped doing what I was doing to check my e-mail and write back. I totally lost my train of thought and it took several minutes (and sometimes an hour) to get back to where I was.

7. Avoid the big "day wasters" such as forums, TV, surfing the web, and talking on the telephone. These are all great things, when used in moderation, but can become very addicting and you can seriously lose hours and hours of your day with all of them. Limit them to the morning hour of your day.

Forums are a great way to chat with others about your same interests, or to network and get your business name out there. They can also become a huge waste of time. If you are on the forums to network, only post on relevant threads that may bring you new customers. If you are on the forums to learn your trade, read and post only about things related to your trade. Do not post on every subject that comes up and definitely do not post on the controversial threads.

TV? You are supposed to be working! Turn it off. Surfing the web is great for many reasons, yet can take you off in other directions that are unrelated to your original search. Stick with your search at hand and bookmark interesting pages that you come across that are not related to what you want right now. You can go back to those pages another day, when you need them. Talk on the phone after work hours. Let the answering machine get your calls until after 4:00 if your business does not require you to answer the phone. Tell your friends and family to call during your lunch hour.

8. House hold chores and house cleaning: Clean one thing every day. Clean the kitchen one day, vacuum one day, clean the bathrooms one day..... Wash one load of cloths every day. Load the washer the night before. Start the load of cloths washing as you head to the coffee pot first thing in the morning. Dry the load while you are doing your other household chores, then hang and put it away. One load is so much more manageable than three! Make your bed and do the dishes before you "go to work". Tidy the night before so that you wake up to a neat house and are ready to start working.

9. Use your time wisely. Do double duty - Do two things at once. Do you sit in the carpool line for half an hour? Read your longer e-mails, or newsletters that you have printed out from your computer. Read your mail that you saved for this time.

Do you have a small child? Try to schedule time for work and time for play. I work most of the morning, fix us lunch and then we head outside. We play for a while, then I sit outside while our daughter swings or rides her bike and use this time to read, study or draft ideas for my newsletter, jewelry or website.

Have your smaller children do their daily reading while you are cooking. I have my 1st grade daughter sit on the kitchen counter and read to me while I am cooking. I can hear her read, and can help her with any words that she is having problems with.

Have your child do their homework while you are cleaning up the dinner dishes. This way you are already in the kitchen and can help if your child needs it.

10. Learn to say NO!! I have run into the problem of people assuming that since I am a stay at home Mom, I don't do anything all day but read or sit on the couch with my bag of potato chips and watch TV. I am often asked to run errands, watch someone's kids or volunteer. If I have a full week I simply tell them that my week is overbooked as it is and I can not do it.

11. Avoid interruptions. Let the answering machine pick up your phone calls. Do your call backs while you are sitting outside with your kids or sitting in your car in the carpool line. Double duty! Turn e-mail off. We have already discussed this. E-mail is a major interruption.

If you are trying to work at home, explain to family and friends that you have work to do and will not be available between the hours of 8-4 but would love to hear from them after that. You choose your hours.

By following a few of these simple suggestions, you should have another hour or two of time in your day to run your business or to just spend it enjoying your family.

About the Author
Lisa Jay is a stay-at-home mother of four and entrepreneur juggling home and family successfully. Newsletter: ( Website: (


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