Time management: a conversation

A week or so ago I received quite a compliment. My friend Carrie asked what my secret is to getting so much done every day! After I assured her that I am not and never will be SuperWoman... we agreed to get together at Applebee's for dessert last Thursday and talk further about time management.

This got me to thinking. How do I manage my time? What do I accomplish in a day and what have I placed into my life to help get more done? I also asked my husband and my daughter about it. Here are some things we came up with, which I shared with Carrie.

1) We don't watch TV. I firmly believe that is how we have been able to accomplish so much, especially in terms of home improvement, part-time work and pursuing further education.

2) We get 8+ hours of sleep every night. My kids sleep 10-12 hours each night and function well during the day because of it (I have often heard of both my kids - Are they always this happy? Are they ever fussy?" - and I attribute a lot of the good attitudes to getting enough sleep every night). My hubby and I aim to get plenty of sleep each night too, helping us be more productive, more focused and in a positive mood during the day.

3) Make a list and check it twice. I am a list person. I love lists and love crossing things off my lists! Having a list of what I want to accomplish each day helps me stay on track. It is a goal to shoot for. And I can feel good at the end of the day because I know what I got done. We have a daily schedule for my daughter for homeschooling. We have a weekly menu plan for meals. We have a master calendar hanging in the kitchen, which tracks all birthdays, anniversaries, appointments and any other plans we need to remember.

4) Even if you're staying home all day, get dressed in the morning. Being dressed (even dressed up, above and beyond casual clothes) helps me feel like I have a job to do. If I lounge in my PJs all day, I feel unproductive and tired all day. If I shower and get dressed up nicely by 9 am, I feel in control of my day and ready to tackle whatever the day will hold. Not to mention, then I am ready for any visitors who stop by and any unexpected trips we need to make out in public.

We also discussed ways to cut grocery costs. I shared the following basic steps.

  • Set a budget and stick to it, no matter what
  • Use cash to pay for purchases - it hurts more to lay down cash than to use a card, so you're more likely to only buy what you really need
  • Always have a list of what you will buy and allow yourself less than 5 impulse purchases
  • Always shop the sales and use the weekly ads to find the lowest possible prices
  • If possible, use coupons to make the lowest prices even lower (like FREE)
  • Keep a price comparison book, noting the lowest possible prices of items you frequently buy. For example, Kroger has boneless skinless chicken breast on sale this week for $1.87 a pound. Is this a good deal? Do you know? If it is low, then it's the time to stock up. If it's high, then wait for a better sale and then stock up.
  • Make a menu plan for the week based on what you already have in your freezer and pantry. Your grocery store trip should be the time to restock your surplus. This way, if you don't have the money for a trip this week or just don't make it to the store, you can carry on with your menu plan and you're not going to starve.
That's what I shared with Carrie. No secret, really. Some basic things that I've been able to implement to keep our family functioning well and to make life productive (and enjoyable too).

For Carrie and anyone else out there, I encourage you to consider these ideas and seek out others too that might work for you. Then add one at a time to your life and see how it fits. And don't forget to come back here and let me know how it turns out!


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