This week, I signed up to do a time management challenge. Every day we keep track of what we're doing. Like every minute of the day! We have ten minute blocks to fill. I've pre-filled the time slots that are already determined: driving kids to practice, going to games, dentist appointments, work meetings, etc.
Since it's still summer break, I have a lot of time on my hands (to make up for NO time until the end of June). All summer I've been filling the days with outings with the kids, errands, chores, writing, editing, marketing, exercise, and even naps (the luxury!).
I do have writing and editing deadlines, school work to do (preparing for the first teacher day and student day), and projects that need to get done around the house. Thankfully, I'm a good multi-tasker otherwise nothing would get done.
And even then, the chart really made me look at how much time I was spending at each task. When my husband got home from working 10 hour days and then coaching 3 hours at our son's football game, he'd ask what I did during the day. I'd say, "I did laundry and dishes all day long!" Home with three kids...yeah, the clothes and mess pile up quick.
But how much time did I really spend on each thing? Laundry, come to find out, only takes 16 minutes from start to finish. We have an industrial sized washer and dryer and can fit a LOT of clothes in each load (our king-size comforter and sheets, easily!) so our loads are huge. However, here's what I learned:
Bring clothes down from bedrooms and put in wash: 2 minutes (that's rounding up)
Moving clothes from the washer to the dryer: Less than a minute
Folding clothes (I timed a giant load): 8 minutes
Putting clothes away: Months. Kidding! Not really, but I did it right away for chart purposes. 5 minutes.
So all in all, 32 minutes of my day doing two loads of laundry, even though it felt like I'd been doing it all day. The same was noted for cleaning the kitchen (which takes hours in my mind). Only a few minutes to clean up after breakfast. A few more to clean up after lunch. Dinner prep is 20 minutes. On the first day of the challenge, I caught myself going for my phone in between chores. Because I knew I had to write down what I was doing, I put it away and did something productive (I felt like eyes were watching! In a good way).
I feel I'm always busing doing something. I don't watch television except for America's Got Talent in the summer. It's our family show. Even while we're watching the show, I have my laptop and am catching up with emails, scheduling posts, or making teasers. Other than that, the news may be on while I'm making dinner. I don't watch You tube videos or play online games, yet I'm ALWAYS on my laptop. This ten-minute block challenge made me pay attention to what I was doing while on my laptop for three hours.
When I wasn't writing, I paid attention to what I was doing on the computer or my phone. Come to find out, when I wake up and check my phone for messages, that's a thirty minute time suck. I feel like it's just minutes. But it's okay. That's how I wake up in the morning in the summer. (School mornings I have no time).
We all know scrolling through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest are time-sucks. So, I had to ask myself, WHY? What was I looking for? In the morning I'm using it to help me wake up. In the afternoon I may scroll to fill a slot of time I actually have. Or maybe I actually want to interact with others. Sometimes I'm looking for a recipe. But what I started doing this week was thinking about WHY I was going on to social media. There isn't anything wrong with it, but I wanted to have a purpose, a reason to be on that instead of doing something else.
My time--your time--is precious. Make every minute count. What I've learned through multi-tasking, lists, and being organized, is that there IS time to do it all. I work full time (summer's off), have three kids who are super active and into sports, a husband, a constant list of house projects, a writing career, I exercise 4-5 times a week, two children with medical issues, and I must have 8-9 hours of sleep every night.
Many ask how I do it all. I don't waste time. I make every minute count. I make priorities. My family is first, but I also make time for me.
My advice to those struggling to do it all: keep a daily journal for one week writing down what you're doing every 10 minutes. I kept post it notes on the counter and filled them in when I could (every hour or so) and kept one by my laptop so I could write down when I was writing, editing, or playing. Doing that made me get off social media and back to my work.
It's a great tip that even the most organized multi-tasker can benefit from!