3 Ways to Treat Time Like Money

time management is moneyThey say time is money, and if that’s true, we can learn a lot about time management from the way we manage our finances. We take such care to manage and track our money and it’s not even a finite resource. There is always a possibility of getting more! That’s not true for time. We only have a set amount, so we should treat it with the utmost care. Here are three ways to treat time as carefully as we treat our money…

 1. Track it diligently

To keep from overspending, many people keep a budget. Whether you save your receipts, keep a spreadsheet, or categorize your credit card expenses, tracking where your dollars go is a good way to keep more of them in your pocket. The same is true for tracking time. Track your time for a day or two to see where you’re over or under spending.

 2. Avoid impulse purchases

Ever walk into a grocery store for milk, and come out with milk… and a soda? Impulse purchases are those pesky little unplanned expenses that add up so gradually we don’t realize they’re derailing our budget. Time killers are the “impulse purchases” we make with our time. Not work, not planned relaxation, but rather mindless distractions we allow to steal our focus. Get rid of those distractions so your work finishes sooner!

 3. Save for a rainy day

It’s important to save for emergencies so you can pay for that flat time or busted water heater when you least expect it. It’s just as important to save for time emergencies. Have your support network in place so you know who to call when you’re faced with a sudden time constraint you didn’t prepare for. Have your materials organized so it’s easier to ask for help. Anticipate when your hectic times will be and ask for help in advance.

Be sure to treat your precious resource of time carefully!

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Photo credit: Freedigitalphotos.net

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Who Is On Your Time Management Team?

TIme Management team“If you want something done right, do it yourself.” Haven’t we all said that before? What a waste of time. If you want something done your way, do it yourself, but if you want it done NOW, for goodness sake, recruit some people to help. Here are three things to consider when recruiting for spots on your team:

1. Play to People’s Strengths

You wouldn’t ask the slowest person on your team to be your star running back, so don’t ask your disorganized coworker to help you clean up your files. Figure out people’s strengths and delegate accordingly.

2. Replace “Right” With “Accurate.”

We tend to think there is only one “right” way to do things (our way) but there can be many ways of doing a task accurately. Just because you do it differently doesn’t mean it’s wrong. Instead of trying to get someone to do it your way, explain what the end product needs to look like and let them find the way that’s best for them.

3. Plan Ahead

Asking for help can seem like more work in the beginning when it seems easier to just do it ourselves rather than explain to someone else how to do it. Don’t get caught in that trap. Think of it as a time investment. If you invest the time now to train someone else, you’ll save tons of time later when the task comes up again!

It takes practice for a good team to work together, so don’t give up if your first attempts at delegation are rocky.

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The Importance of the Last Five Percent

time management emptyHow many almost-finished tasks do you have on your to-do list right now? For some reason, we tend to do all the difficult parts of a task and then leave the last details unfinished. Lucky for us, when WE do this, we don’t have millions of football fans watching us around the country. Watch what happened when Utah forgot one small detail at their game against Oregon this Saturday…

http://scores.espn.go.com/ncf/recap?gameId=400548304

In the video, you can see Utah almost score a touchdown, but the player drops the ball in celebration before he actually crosses the goal line. Oregon picks up the ball and runs 100 yards the other way for a touchdown.

Whoops…

Our almost-completed tasks may not be that public (or embarrassing) but they can really slow down our time management.

Why do we save the last 5% of tasks until the last minute?

1. We want it to be perfect. Keeping a task “not quite done” gives us the option to come back and fix something later to make it better.

2. We’re lazy. A large task might be intimidating enough to schedule it into our day, but once it’s become a small task, it’s easy to infinitely put it off until later.

3. We lose momentum. If we’re forced to stop a task before we’re done, sometimes it’s hard to get back into the groove of it to finish up.

This week, take a look at your to-do list. Do you have any tasks that are 95% finished? Make it your goal to see them through to completion…before someone else picks up the ball and gets the credit!

Speaking of college, check out “The Time Diet: Time Management for College Survival” for the high school or college student in your life! The holidays will be here soon and it makes a great stocking stuffer.

Time Management Book for Students

Time Management Book for Students

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The Difference Between Rushing and Efficiency

time management rushing“Be as efficient as possible!” they say. “Oh, but don’t rush.” “Don’t waste time trying to be perfect!” “But measure twice and cut once.” There is a difference between rushing and being efficient, but it can be difficult to figure out when you’re in the middle of a busy day. I was abruptly reminded of the difference this week…

My Breakfast Disaster

A few days ago, I was trying to get out the door as quickly as possible so I threw a breakfast sandwich in the microwave while I made my coffee (efficient.) Then, while grabbing all my stuff with one arm, I hastily shoved the sandwich in my mouth before I gave it time to cool (rushing.)

I immediately spit the sandwich out with a yelp of pain. A stray piece of overheated cheese had seared my bottom lip. As I held an ice pack on my poor blistered lip, I had a lot of time to ponder the difference between rushing and being efficient.

Product Quality

When we rush, the end product tends to suffer. We neglect key components and complete our work sloppily. This results in even more work later as we try to cover up for our hasty mistakes (or facial burns as the case may be!)

Accurate, not Perfect

While rushing makes us careless, being TOO careful can be just as damaging to our schedule. When we’re efficient, we make sure things are accurate without wasting time striving for the impossible level of perfection.

Being efficient is the perfect balance between doing something carefully, accurately, and as quickly as possible. It’s important to note that “as quickly as possible” might be relatively slowly, depending on the task, so we can’t measure all items on our to-do lists equally.

Don’t let a silly mistake derail your day because you tried to rush through something that simply required more time.

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The Three Words of Organization

Time management organizedLet’s talk about time management organization for a second. Some people are naturally organized. Beautifully labeled file folders and neatly kept calendars come easily to them. The rest of us have to work hard to keep all of our deadlines and obligations from falling through the cracks. No matter where you fall on the organization spectrum, I’ve found there are three simple words that solve most organization problems…

Write. It. Down.

I know. Seems obvious right? But I like to keep things simple, and if we distill most time management organization problems down to the core of the issue, difficulties arise when we don’t have a good system for writing things down.

You might be asking, “Where?” and “How?” Then you’re developing a system, make sure it has the following three characteristics:

1. Easy

Writing down your tasks should be simple and only take a moment or two. If you use a paper calendar, that means keeping a pen clipped to it at all times. If you’re using an app or some sort of digital calendar, that means making sure it’s accessible at all times, and only requires one or two clicks to enter an event.

2. One place

Everything should be written down in one place. Writing things down does no good if you have to remember where you wrote it. I recommend having one list for short-term tasks and one calendar for long term tasks. The calendar is where you keep track of long-term obligations and deadlines. You use your calendar to make your daily list of tasks to complete. Remember, your list is not a collection of everything you have to do, it’s a collection of everything you plan to do today.

3. Consistent

Whatever system you use, make sure you use it consistently. Every appointment gets written down every time. The moment you start thinking, “I’ll just remember this one, it’s no big deal,” that’s when the system begins to break down and disorganization creeps in.

When I start to feel disorganized and out of control, sure enough, it’s because I stopped writing things down. Keep your organization simple for the best success!

Need help staying organized? Check out The Time Diet task planner! Or watch the instructional video below!

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The Simple Secret to Overcoming Procrastination

time management nowHave you procrastinated this week? A huge reason we procrastinate is because we see big tasks on our list and assume we don’t have time to tackle them right now. This week, I was faced with a large task that had been on my list for a while. I FINALLY crossed it off my list by doing this…

Large Tasks and Small Tasks

Large tasks can always be broken down into smaller pieces. When you see a big task on your list, your first thought is, “Oh goodness, that will take forever. I’ll have to do that later.” But when you see a small task, it’s easier to think, “I can easily knock that out in 10 minutes or so.”

My Decal Dilemma

My sister in law gave my daughter some adorable Monkey decals to put up in her room. They are really cute, but come in about 100 small separate stickers that need to be put together on the wall to make the desired scene. (And they are in no particular order on the sticker sheet. Of course not. Why would they be.)

After a long day of work, the last thing in the world I want to do is spend a few hours sorting through all these stickers and applying them to our textured wall, which is definitely NOT sticker friendly. So this big task kept being added to the “later” pile.

One at a Time

Finally, this week, I decided the decals needed to happen…one sticker at a time. Every time I walked into her room, I placed one or two decals on the wall. It took about 30 seconds. It became sort of a game. Over the course of the whole week I watched the scene grow until FINALLY, yesterday, I put the last sticker on the wall.

As I stood back and admired my work, I was reminded that I can replicate this process with other tasks in my life.

How are books written? One page at a time.

How are presentations put together? One slide at a time.

Your Action Plan

What BIG task are you facing this week? Stop putting it off, and instead, break it into smaller pieces. What will you be tackling this week?

Do you have a procrastinating STUDENT in your life? Why not get them “The Time Diet: Time Management for College Survival” on Amazon.com today!

Time Management Book for Students

Time Management Book for Students

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My Quick Time-Saving Lunch Solution

time management pack a lunch“Packing a lunch every day is a great way to save money…” says everyone. And it’s true. I conjure up imagines of healthy, crisp salads, immaculately chopped red pepper slices, fresh fruit, and hummus and crackers packed in an adorably small Tupperware container. Sounds delicious…if someone else is making it. I don’t have that kind of time in the morning and I’m sure you don’t either. I used to tell myself, “I guess I don’t have time to save money and eat healthy” until I stopped making excuses and did this instead…

My Realization
At first I tried making my lunches the night before. This worked for a little while, but then I realized, “I hate finding a few minutes to do this after an exhausting day just as much as I hate waking up a few minutes earlier to do this in the morning.” I had the astonishing realization that there are other times to make lunches other than 10:00pm or 6:00am.

My Sunday Ritual
I now make all of my lunches for the week on Sunday afternoons. It’s wonderful. I make a big batch of something that can be put into a wrap. Last week it was chicken salad. This week it’s quinoa and kale salad. I put aside 5 granola bars and 5 pieces of fruit and call it a day. Then, all I have to do in the morning is throw the salad in a wrap, put it all in a bag, and walk out the door. It takes 30 seconds. I checked.

I’ll admit, this is not a revolutionary idea. I mean, seriously. Read ANY money or time saving blog and they talk about this. But it’s revolutionary to me because I wasn’t doing it. You know that awesome feeling of finding a 10 dollar bill in your winter coat you forgot about? That’s how I feel, only with time. I found extra time in my morning I didn’t have before and it feels golden!

Again, The Time Diet is so not a food blog, but if you care to join me in my time-saving culinary endeavors, here is what I’ve been eating this October. Can’t promise it’s healthy, but it’s quick and delicious!

Procrastinator’s Chicken Salad

2 cans of Kirkland shredded chicken ( I love Costco so much I can’t even tell you)
2 apples, diced
A few handfuls of grapes, halved
A half cup of slivered almonds
As much or little mayonnaise as you desire

Snooze Button Quinoa Salad

1 package of quinoa, cooked
1 can of Kirkland chicken (again with the Costco…)
1 bag of “Cruciferous Crunch” salad (It’s from Trader Joes. It’s basically shredded kale and Brussels sprouts)
A bunch of slivered almonds
As much or little sweet poppy seed dressing as you desire

Put either salad in a sandwich wrap. I’ve been buying “Flat Out” Flatbread from, you guessed it, Costco, and it’s great.

Good luck on your time saving lunch experience. If you have your own favorite quick lunch, please leave a comment.

For more time management tips, check out my book on Amazon.com

The Time Diet: Digestible Time ManagementPopular Time Management Book

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My Routine Was Holding Me Back, Is Yours?

Time management holding backWe are creatures of habit. Once we get into a routine, we tend to keep doing it. But what happens when those routines end up derailing our time management plan? This week I noticed a few habits in my schedule  had become outdated, but I never thought about changing them before because they were so engrained. Here is what I changed and how you can identify similar needs for improvement in your own schedule.

My Sunday Schedule

Every Sunday evening for the past 4 years, I’ve written a time management blog to post on this site and email out each week. It’s become such a routine part of my schedule that I hardly think about it.

Since having my daughter however, I’ve noticed that my weekends are packed with much more “family time” than they were before. My Sunday evening blog sessions became more difficult. I struggled to find a moment to sit down in a quiet place and peck out my thoughts. “Maybe I can find a different room to work?” I thought. “Or put a pot of coffee on? Or ask my husband to watch the baby while I work?”

Making a Change

I’m embarrassed to admit, it took me three months to realize “Oh wait, maybe I just don’t do blog time on Sunday evenings anymore.” When habits are so engrained in our schedule, we often keep doing them, even after they’ve outlived their convenience. Sunday evenings used to be the time I collect my thoughts and prepare for the week ahead, but I do that on Fridays now so I can have my entire weekend to myself and my family.

This week, I wrote the blog you’re reading on Friday. It felt strange, and will probably continue to feel strange until this, too, becomes a habit.

What have you struggled to fit into your schedule lately? Are you letting a habit or routine cloud your search for a solution? What if you had NO routines set and had to start over from scratch. Would you do things in the same order and at the same time you currently do?

Over the course of the week, look for ways to update your routine. Think of it as “ongoing system maintenance” of your schedule.

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Time Management Revelation in Aisle 1

time management checkoutI’m not proud of this blog I’m about to write. In fact, I debated whether I should even share this experience with you because it makes me feel like kind of a jerk, but I have a feeling I’m not the only one who has encountered this situation. This week, I almost let my hectic schedule get in the way of my kindness to other people and I’m making a vow to never let it happen again. Here is what happened…

My Grocery Store Encounter

On my way home from work on Tuesday, I stopped by the grocery store. I had finished a long day of meetings, workshops, and phone calls, and had just picked my daughter up from preschool. I was in a hurry to get home and was irritated that I hadn’t made time to go to the store over the weekend.

Check-out Chatter

As I was searching around in my purse at the check out counter, I suddenly become aware of the fact that the cashier was trying to talk to me. “Mm…looks like you’re making spaghetti for dinner! That was my favorite meal growing up.” He then looked over at my daughter, “What do you think little one?”

Now, here’s where I’m not proud of myself. My immediate thought was: “Oh my goodness, I’m here for some pasta and butter, not a conversation. Every moment you spend making adorable small talk with my 3 month old is a moment you aren’t swiping my credit card so I can get the heck out of here.”

Mean, right? But haven’t we all felt like that sometimes?

Snapping Out Of It

I let my brain go down that train of thought for a moment until a snapped myself out of it. Oh my goodness Emily, who are you? Is your schedule really so tight that you can’t allow five seconds to smile at someone being a kind person? To engage in some small talk with a stranger?

We are not so busy that we can’t at least smile at the people we meet during the day. And if your schedule is such that you don’t have a moment for these interactions, then you have some adjusting to do.

I vow that I will be much better at taking a breath and not rushing through every transaction and conversation in my life. I’m not that busy, and I don’t want to be.

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The Root of Your Time Management Trouble

time management rootI like to think of time management struggles like gardening. Cutting down weeds does nothing. It’s not until we pull them out by their roots that we’ve solved a problem. In time management, we spend a lot of time dealing with the results of problems – an over packed schedule, a disorganized calendar—and forget to find where the problem stems from. Here are three questions to ask to uncover the root of your problem.

1. Why am I in this mess?

Instead of dwelling on the fact that you’re always late for work, or keep forgetting about appointments, look for WHY that might be the case. Are you going to bed too late? Did you over schedule yourself? Then look even further…Maybe you’re going to bed too late because you save all your email replies until just before bed and then get lost in your inbox. Often the cause of our troubles lies with a decision or habit we made long ago.

2. Is it likely to happen again?

Is your time management trouble a one-time issue? If so, stop worrying about it and move on. But if this situation is likely to come up again, how can you alter your habits? Looking for patterns in your day and in your year can help you assess what needs to change.

3. What can I do about it?

When looking for a solution to your dilemma, it’s important to accept the fact that the solution might be drastic. You might not like it, and it might mean making tough choices or sacrifices. But the alternative is to keep having the same problem over and over again. We simply don’t need that in our lives!

If you’re having difficulty uncovering the root of your problem, ask someone close to you for help. We don’t see ourselves the way others see us and sometimes our friends and family have insights into our lives that we could never grasp ourselves.

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