Since we have already shared organizing ideas and Christy shared our best tricks in her post here, I thought today I’d share some different things I do to manage my time throughout the day. I find it gets harder to focus the older I get (or maybe it is just the constant distraction of the phone and social media) but I am always trying to do better about staying focused, prioritizing and taking care of what has to be done each day.
January is a great time to look at systems and spend a few minutes fixing those things that pile up during the rest of the year. I try to stay on top of my email as much as I can but my inbox always seems crazier after the holidays when I am on ALL the holiday retailers email lists. It is worth the time to take a few minutes and unsubscribe from anything that is sales related or not useful on a daily basis. Not only does it just cut down on how many emails I have to dig through, but it saves me the temptation of spending money just because there is a VERY BIG SALE (!).
Meal Planning + Grocery Shopping
If there is one thing that I am always striving to gain control of it is how much time I have to spend going to the grocery store. With two teenage boys and a family of five, it seems to be a constant struggle to keep food in the house. Over the last few years I have made a serious effort to be diligent about meal planning and I can’t tell you how much of a difference it makes. I wrote a whole post about it here and am hoping to do a follow up one soon. I find my evening is so much easier now that I am planning ahead, but that still doesn’t change the fact that I have to actually get the food that I am going to cook into the house.
It sometimes seems frivolous to pay a fee to have someone else shop for me, but I have finally made peace with it. I try now to place one large order on Sunday night (after I have meal planned for the week) and have it ready Monday to pick up. I use Harris Teeter but most grocery stores offer this service now, and I am sure in impulse purchases alone I probably save that $5 fee, plus my time and energy is also worth saving. I also try to make one large warehouse store trip a week to 10 days, but since I pretty much buy the same things I can get in and out of there fairly quickly.
Other simple steps that really help me:
1–limit phone conversations during the “workday”, that can be hard but I have obligations to complete each day and if I am not careful, my day is gone before I know it. I let calls go to voicemail if I don’t recognize the number like most people these days too, texting for logistics, plans and quick questions is just so much faster!
2–I make a list of my daily to-do’s and prioritize them (especially if I am feeling overwhelmed) each morning while I drink my coffee. I find that helps me stay on task throughout the day. Rather then jump to the next thing that occurs to me, I go back to my daily list which helps me stay focused. I try to avoid social media as much as I can during the day, there is nothing like Facebook to suck you into a hole and leave you wondering where an hour of your life went. I do this planning in my DayDesigner calendar, of which I am a devotee!
3-Bullet Journal, I was doing this before it had an official name but I did a whole post on this here. It’s just basically a notebook where I keep lists of projects and such, anything rattling around in my brain gets jotted on a list, which means I no longer have to remember it. Things like blog posts, house projects, party menus, volunteer related notes and longer term lists all go in a notebook. I usually grab a new one at HomeGoods in January and use it throughout the year.
I have never blogged about photo management because I have never successfully managed to do it, but this year I am WINNING at it. I had heard of Chatbooks but never made one. I now regret that so much because it is so easy to knock out a photo book of your phone photos. It is a great thing to do in front of the TV on a weekend afternoon. I made both our 2019 and 2018 books in an hour, maybe two max, and it feels amazing. My kids loved looking through them and now we have a complete record of the fun stuff we did over the year. I didn’t stress about organizing them perfectly, but since they load in time order they automatically are pretty chronological. I just added our family name to the front, captioned the photos I wanted to, and boom—done! This is a huge accomplishment to me, now I hope to go back to work on the previous years of the photos on my phone to catch up.
I am not going to pretend I have a perfect cleaning routine, far from it, and I do have my house professionally cleaned each month so that helps tremendously BUT there are a few things that I do that helps me feel like I am not totally drowning in dirt all the time. I keep supplies on all levels of the home, this is our main floor mudroom “cleaning” closet and I also keep a set in our bathroom. It makes it easier to grab something and spot clean when I feel like I need too. Like Christy, I use Grove Collaborative to keep supplies on hand. Cleaners are expensive at the grocery store and who wants to make an extra stop just to get Windex? This service works so well for me. Plus the products are naturally based and come in seasonal scents which makes cleaning a little more enjoyable!
The two tools that make cleaning my house easier to me are the Bona Hardwood Floor mop which I use on all my hardwoods, and my Dyson cordless vacuum. I can’t imagine going back to using a corded version now, I have been spoiled by the convenience of the lightweight Dyson. Especially having pets, this is so easy to use and it works great.
The recent updates we did in our laundry room have made this task so much easier. The large over-washer shelf gives me plenty of space for folding the clothes right out of the dryer, then I just stick the clothes into each person’s basket. They are responsible for putting it away, and while that often takes a few threatening texts on my part (if your basket isn’t back empty by 10PM (insert consequences!)) but for the most part I find if I do two loads every other day (again, family of 5 and boys in sports) I can pretty much stay on top of it all.
Those are my best tricks, but I am sure I am missing some ideas. If you have any great time management tips please leave them in the comments!XO,