Our lives are busy. That is just a fact of modern life. With family, church, work, kids’ activities, volunteering, and more, most people are so busy they hardly have time to breathe.
As a work outside the home mom (I’m a middle school teacher), wife, mother to three little ones, writer, blogger, and church school director, I completely understand. In fact, many people ask me how I do it all. I generally tell them that I don’t do it all, I have just learned a few strategies that help me manage my time well.
Over the years I have developed some routines (like my Morning Routine and my Sunday routine) that help me keep organized. I have also read a LOT of books, taken courses, and listened to podcasts that provide some great tips. Today I wanted to share a few of those resources with you in the hope that you will find them helpful and encouraging.
The Top 10 Best Time Management Resources
1. 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think by Laura Vanderkam
Laura Vanderkam’s book 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think is the reason that I started The Orthodox Mama. No, it isn’t a book about how to start a blog. The book did convince me, however, that despite the fact that I am a working mother of three young children, I really did have more time than I thought. And, I should use that extra time to pursue my passions–in my case writing. Through keeping a time log, evaluating my priorities, and identifying my core competencies, I was able to begin focusing on my goals. We find time for what we prioritize. So, with the help of Vanderkam, I decided to follow through and make time for writing. You can see my full review of the book HERE.
2. Say Goodbye to Survival Mode by Crystal Paine
In Say Goodbye to Survival Mode, Crystal offers practical tips for the overwhelmed–specifically for moms, though the principles could apply to other populations as well. I found two principles particularly helpful. First, Crystal points out that when we say yes to one thing, we are saying no to something else. Secondly, Crystal offers some simple solutions to help tame the clutter monster and eliminate household stress, which allows us to focus more on completing tasks that bring us closer to achieving our goals. This is an easy read, as the writing style is very straightforward and simple. Don’t let the simplicity fool you, though. There are many gems inside.
3. The Fringe Hours: Making Time for You by Jessica N. Turner
“Once I freed myself from the bondage of perfection and embraced a lifestyle that made time for my passions, I was happier in all of my pursuits and responsibilities.” Yes, yes! Turner’s book completely resonates with my experience this year. Making time for my priorities and interests (in my case reading and writing) has helped me become a better wife, mother, teacher, and person. If you feel like your life is too busy for “me” time, or that you don’t even remember the passions and gifts you used to have, The Fringe Hours is a must-read.
Crystal Paine (of Money Saving Mom fame) has created an incredible course that will change your mornings. Complete with a 70 page workbook, 14 daily videos and challenges, and many printables, the course is the complete package. Crystal walks you through the process of creating your own morning routine that will actually work for you. After taking this course, I began getting up with a purpose. I knew what I would be doing each day, had a goal, and was even able to spend time on myself. Because of this course I have been able to write two manuscripts and am almost finished with my e-book!
5. Google Calendar
This next one seems so simple I’m almost embarrassed to put it on here. However, learning how to use Google Calendar as a time management tool has been invaluable to me. Google Calendar is a free resource for all Gmail users. It is like an online planner–but so much more! I use it not only to record appointments, school meetings, vacation plans, etc., but also to create lists of items I would like to get accomplished in a day. I can block out amounts of time for a task on my Google Calendar, but then easily move it if other things come up. I also love to I can share my calendar with my husband’s, so we are able to see what the other is doing that day.
I am at heart, though, an old fashioned girl who loves pen and paper. I still make out all of my lists on paper in the evenings. Here is my current strategy: On Sunday night I sit down, look at my goals, look at my calendar, and write down every single task that I need to accomplish that week. I make three categories: Writing, Blog, Homemaking. Then under each category I fill in the tasks. For example, this week I wrote down, “Blog: create three weeks’ worth of content, update Pinterest image on four posts, update SEO on four posts, and watch the Pinterest webinar.” Next, each evening I will look at my week’s worth of tasks and choose a few to do the next day. I write those down on some pretty stationery and use that list to guide my schedule the next day. Simple but effective!
7. A Timer
Another one of my favorite time management resources is a simple timer. I have recently begun focusing on one specific task for a certain amount of time by setting a timer and working hard until it goes off. Then, I reward myself with a set amount of time for “fun” before I set the timer again for work. I have found that working for 50 minutes and having fun for 10 minutes is a great balance for me. This gives me enough focused time to actually accomplish a task or make some headway, especially when I am writing. Also, having ten minutes for fun is enough time to make a cup of tea, go on a short walk, read, etc. in order to take a break. You can use a timer on your phone, online, on your oven, or purchase an inexpensive one like this one.
8. Eat That Frog: 21 Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done by Brian Tracy
Eat That Frog gets its title from the quote attributed to Mark Twain that if you eat a frog in the morning, nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day. The idea is that if you do your most difficult tasks first thing in the morning, the rest of your day will go much easier. There are many practical ideas for how to do this along with other time management tips. Definitely a quick read that you will think about for a long time after!
This is another course by Crystal Paine that has helped me manage my time and tame the stress of a busy household. The course is designed to help you end your day calm and relaxed, ready to take on the next day. Each day’s lesson can be completed in 15 minutes and contains a video and a workbook exercise and action plan.The videos are high-quality. The workbook is full of practical advice. And, Crystal, as usual, is an excellent teacher!
10. Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin
Finally, Better Than Before is Rubin’s study of and reflection on habits. If you are trying to get into the habit of becoming more disciplined with your time, her insights might be useful. The most helpful part of the book for me was her identification of four personality types when it comes to habits: The Upholder, The Questioner, The Obliger, and The Rebel. I am an Upholder–I make lists and goals and hold myself to them. I realized while reading this, though, that my husband is a Questioner. He will follow any habit or routine if he understands and accepts its importance. He needs to question first and then follow through. By understanding this difference, I feel like I have a new insight into his personality that helps me interact more effectively with him.
What books or other resources would you add to the list? Tell me in the comments!
(This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and purchase a product, I will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting The Orthodox Mama.)