Thursday, November 10, 2011

Step 10 - Use Your Time Wisely

Day 10 of the National Blog Post Month challenge where I’m writing a blog post every day along the theme of 30 Steps to Happiness and Contentment.

Today I'm going to talk a little about time management.  'That's rich coming form you', I hear you say! OK, I got yesterday's post in at 11.45pm, but hey, I'm only human!

People often say to me 'How on earth do you manage to do it all' and the simple answer is 'I don't!'  How can one woman manage caring for 5 children of varying ages and varying needs, keep up with a house the size of a football pitch (I kid you not), run a garden centre and landscaping business, manage 3 gites and organise a gardening club (amongst other things) and blog and write a book .......  It's simply not possible to do it all!!

So, what do I do?  I write lists (lots of them), I prioritise and I am always looking to save time.  For example, if I have to visit the accountants in St Gaudens (about a 30 min drive), I'll tie it up with some shopping or a visit to the bank (or both).  If I have to give my teenage son a lift somewhere over the weekend (which is invariably at least an hour round trip), I'll try and do it in the afternoon and take my 4 year old with me so she can have a nap in the back and whilst I'm driving I'll be thinking about my next blog or planning a new advertising campaign at the shop or ideas for our Christmas fayre etc.  I try to never waste a single journey.  

In the summer when we're really busy with gite guests as well as working full time at the garden centre and trying to organise activities for my 3 youngest children, for the past 3 years I've had an aupair - just in the Summer and this has made an enormous difference.

I prioritise and do what I can, but my house is not spick and span (except in the Summer when I have extra help), my washing is not always done and many things are done 'last minute'.  But, the majority of things do get done when they're meant to be and if not they'll get done eventually and those that never get done probably weren't worth doing in the first place!

I do try and think ahead as much as possible.  For instance my eldest son is coming home from Uni for the weekend with a friend to chop up a tree for us for our winter fuel.  It's bank holiday tomorrow so no shops will be open and I've got to make sure we've got enough food in to feed us all.  It's no easy task feeding a family of 7 +1 especially when it includes 5 males who can eat for England (and France)!

I try to set aside 10 minutes every morning to think about and plan my day.  It's not always a written list, sometimes just a mental one, but I find I'm usually more productive if I've written it down.  I write a list of everything I have to do, then double star what must be done, single star what should be done and leave blank the things to do if I get time.  It's very satisfying crossing things of the list.  If it's a particularly busy day where I have to get things done by a certain time, I'll even schedule it into time slots! 

So, in summary, my top tips for managing time efficiently are:
  1. Plan ahead
  2. Prioritise
  3. Save time wherever possible
A lot of it is down to judging what takes precedent and accepting you often can't do everything.  Once you accept that, it makes everything much easier.

Time is precious, so use it wisely!

You might be interested to read the other posts in this series
Step 30 - The Key to Happiness and Contentment
Step 29 -You are the master of your own destiny
Step 28 - Don't give up on a good relationship
Step 27 - Don't Judge , Live and let live
Step 26 - Don't Worry, by happy
Step 25 - Never give up
Step 24 - Get by with a little help from your friends
Step 23 - Go with the Flow
Step 22 - Enjoy the moment
Step 21 - Love what you do
Step 20 - Forgive and Forget
Step 19 - Unconditional giving
Step 18 - Smile and the world smiles with you
Step 17 - Work to live, don't live to work
Step 16 - Surround yourself with Positive People
Step 15 - Always look on the bright side of life
Step 14 - Where there's a will there's a way
Step 13 - Silence is Golden
Step 12 - Feed your Soul
Step 11 - Follow your Dreams
Step 10 - Use your time wisely
Step 9 - Don't be too hard on yourself
Step 8 - Consider what you value most
Step 7 - Find time for Yourself
Step 6 - Make time for Family and Friends
Step 5 - Don't take yourself too Seriously
Step 4 - Feel the Fear and do it Anyway
Step 3 - Love what you Hate
Step 2 - There's no such word as CAN''T
Step 1 - Find the Best in Every Day


  1. Great tips. I am discovering that prioritising is even more important that I ever realised--and also letting go of the anxiety of not getting the lower priority jobs done!

  2. This is all good advice.
    To do our best each day and list and a calendar are paramount

    Wishing you joy today and a beautiful weekend with you family

    Helen x

  3. Hi Michelloui - The prioritising just comes naturally now, but you're right, it does take effort to not get worked up about not getting the lower priority jobs done!

    Thank you Helen, hope you have a lovely weekend too x

  4. I love lists and I will try your tips on prioritising. The first priority on my list will be to try and get my husband to be as enthusiastic about lists as I am!

  5. Time management is my nemesis - too many distractions along the way.

  6. ... and when you work from a list then look at it before you go to bed, you can congratulate yourself on the enormous amount you've achieved. If I have a really heavy day ahead, I put times against the listed items and do my best to stick to them. But all this stuff, doesn't it just make you want to take the odd day and go on strike?

  7. Ha ha Lorraine, no my husband's not as enthusiastic as me :)

  8. Ah distractions Midlife Singlemum, perhaps we should allow for those in the list lol

    I don't need to go on strike Sue, as there's always my 'Meday' :)