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Tag Archive: Time Management

Books Read in January: 168 Hours, Calm My Anxious Heart, Today Matters

168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think is definitely one of the best time management books I’ve read. And that’s saying something, because I’ve read a lot of books on time management. It was right up there with Tell Your Time.

The principles and real-life examples very much resonated with me. I often get emails from people asking, “How on earth do you do all you do?” This book basically lines out how I do it: I choose not to do many things so that I can do a few things well (or, at least, attempt to do a few things well!).

We all have 168 hours in every week. When you think of it, that’s really a great deal of time. So why are so many people completely overworked and out of time? Well, 168 Hours would argue that not only are you trying to cram too much into your life, but you’re probably also not wisely using the hours you already have.

If we prioritized our life (i.e. sat down and really determined what we want our main priorities to be) and then we lived life according to those priorities, we’d be less tempted to get so distracted with non-essentials. Priorities give you freedom to say “no” more often.

One of the biggest takeaways from this book for me was to focus on my core competencies. It’s easy to feel like we don’t measure up if we’re not doing everything (or most everything) that we see others doing.

For instance, I could feel guilty that I don’t make homemade tortillas. I could beat myself up for this, constantly feeling like a failure if I feed my family storebought tortillas and wasting hours of time trying to perfect the art of tortilla-making when it’s just not a skill I possess. Or, I could guiltlessly buy tortillas at Aldi for $0.99 deciding that making homemade tortillas is not something I’m gifted at and is something which takes much more time than it’s worth.

All of life involves choices. When we say “yes” to one thing, it means we say “no” to something else. Using our time wisely doesn’t mean that we never have margin in our life and run around like chickens with our heads cut off so that we can get 331 different things done every hour. No, it means that we are choosing to use our 168 hours every week in a way that gets us closer to our goals and priorities.

This book gave lots of practical outside-the-box ideas. It is written more for those who work at least 30 hours each week, but even if you’re a stay-at-home mom, I think you will find it encouraging and applicable.

Also read in January:

Calm My Anxious Heart: A Woman’s Guide to Finding Contentment — Loved this book and would whole-heartedly recommend it to any Christian woman who is struggling with anxiety, fear or worry. Very thought-provoking.

Little House on the Prairie — Finished reading this aloud to the children. We’ve already read Farmer Boy, so we’re jumping ahead to On the Banks of Plum Creek. I’m so excited because they are really getting into chapter books these days and will sit and keep begging me to read another chapter and another chapter. I love the questions and discussions that books spark, too!

Today Matters — This was my first audiobook ever to listen to and it was excellent. I’ll likely be using some of the things I picked up from it in later posts, but I loved it and would highly recommend it for anyone who could use some inspiration in their life.

24 Books I Plan to Read in 2011

Business and Financial Books I Plan to Read and Review This Year:

January — 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think
February — Organized Simplicity: The Clutter-Free Approach to Intentional Living
March — Becoming a Person of Influence
April — Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking
May — Life on the Wire: Avoid Burnout and Succeed in Work and Life
June — Debt-Free U: How I Paid for an Outstanding College Education Without Loans, Scholarships, or Mooching off My Parents
July — Have a New You by Friday: How to Accept Yourself, Boost Your Confidence & Change Your Life in 5 Days
August — Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… and Others Don’t
September — America’s Cheapest Family Gets You Right on the Money
October — Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity
November — Shift Your Habit: Easy Ways to Save Money, Simplify Your Life, and Save the Planet
December – Personal Investing: The Missing Manual

Other Books I Plan to Read This Year:
January — Calm My Anxious Heart: A Woman’s Guide to Finding Contentment
February — Pour Your Heart Into It: How Starbucks Built a Company One Cup at a Time
March — The Possibilities of Prayer
April — The Blessing of Boundaries
May — Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace . . . One School at a Time
June — Honey for a Child’s Heart
July — One With Christ
August — A Charlotte Mason Companion: Personal Reflections on the Gentle Art of Learning
September — Womanly Dominion: More Than A Gentle and Quiet Spirit
October — The Rose Conspiracy
November — Disciplines of a Godly Woman
December –Benjamin Rush: Signer of the Declaration of Independence

What books have you read recently? Any you’d highly recommend?

Time Management Tips for Parents with Special Needs Kids

Guest post by Lisa at Warrior Mama

I’m a mom of two special needs kids. I make all of my kids’ foods from scratch to avoid their combined 35 food allergies and sensitivities. I also manage multiple specialists, food supplements, medications and education IEP’s.

Here are a few things I do to make my days run more smoothly:

Take time to write down a master checklist for your day.

Place the checklist in a plastic protector to be reused. Managing special food diets, supplements, medicines and therapy appointments is overwhelming! A checklist frees your mind to take care of your family knowing you are not going to forget the details.

Designate a box for completed school papers.

Your school papers box will do double duty. Kids with learning disabilities sometimes need to revisit old worksheets to remember how they learned a school skill. These papers will also help give you concrete examples of what skills your child still needs help with to take when you go to their IEP meeting.

Keep all your supplements and medicines in one location.

Our kitchen has often looked like a small pharmacy and health food store! Go ahead, I give you permission, devote one whole shelf or cabinet to your child’s needs. And don’t get rid of those old baby food carousels; they are perfect to hold pill bottles.

Keep good tax records.

Children with special needs qualify for additional tax benefits. Keep all your receipts from supplements, doctor’s visits, special schools, foods bought for food allergies and the mileage for each of those events. Just like the school papers, just keep them in a box so you have them if you need them at tax time.

Color-code your calendar.

I put all our chiropractor and NAET appointments in green on my calendar. They are easy to find when I am planning my week so I don’t miss any appointments. It also makes it easier to go back and make a mileage list for taxes.

Buy extra medicine spoons.

I have at least 20 plastic medicine spoons. I keep them in the kid’s bathroom and the kitchen. What items do you always run out of? Parenting special needs kids is stressful. Anything you can streamline or duplicate may make your day run more smoothly.

Keep a diary.

Keep a small notebook to record daily events. Special needs children can be affected by foods and medical changes. I found that jotting down what my kids ate, when we changed supplements or medicine dosages and unusual behaviors overtime helped us make better decisions in managing our children’s needs.

Lisa is a Cincinnati mom who has struggled the last 10 years to give her kids the best education, food and treatments money can buy. Raising special needs kids is taxing emotionally, relationally, financially and physically. Her dream is to break down the walls isolating special needs families and providing them with information to help them achieve their goals. Lisa blogs at Warrior Mama.

5 Time Management Tips for Busy Families

Guest post by Jennifer from I Heart Organizing

1. Invest in a Great Daily Planner

My daily planner is my lifeline. It goes with me everywhere I go.

Color Coding Daily Planner

Planners have been around forever, but they are really the most genius way to keep it all together. Every paper that comes home from school with a date on it, instantly gets written in the planner.

What’s for lunch on Wednesday? It’s in the planner. What should I blog about on Monday? Oh yes, also in the planner. What night is garbage night? Family night? It’s all written down in the planner, and color-coded by category (i.e. blog post, meal plan, school event, etc.) When the planner is not physically attached to me in some way, it’s sitting on our counter to be viewed by anyone in the family.

If budgets are tight, with a little creative thinking, a spiral notebook could be transformed for anyone looking to adopt this idea.

2. Make Family Night a Priority

Family Night gets scheduled in each week at our house, just like an appointment.

Schedule Family Night

Family comes first and with the hustle and bustle of all things entertainment, family functions, school activities and sporting events, important family bonding can quickly become obsolete. Making sure to pen it in each week and learning to say, “No” to other obligations that may come up on the same night, is extremely important to us spending quality time together on a weekly basis.

3. Solve the Schedule Equation

On top of tossing all of our important schedules and appointments into the planner, we quickly found that it was still easy for us to get lost in our nightly routine. A quick video game or blog post writeup could simply turn into hours of lost time.

Trying to juggle homework, making dinner, baths, one-on-one time, story time and blogging was definitely a lot to manage without any type of direction. I knew I had to figure it all out, in order to completely maximize our evenings together (not to mention our super speedy wake-up-and-get-on-the-bus mornings!)

Something I found incredibly easy to do, was to break out the day in half-hour increments and plan out a “typical” day in our life.

Daily Schedule

Just looking at all the times slots paired up with all the things that I was dreaming of accomplishing in any given day was great for ensuring we get time to do all the things that matter, from time with our little ones to personal time on our hobbies or interests. I popped my visual breakdown right on the side of the fridge, because it’s great to have a time management reference point if I ever feel like we are getting a little lost.

I was beyond surprised that when the day was broken out there was so much time in the day that I then instantly wondered how I had been wasting it away in the past! Of course not every day is laid out perfectly as there is such a thing called life, but having a plan for our days has definitely proven to keep our daily goals in check and ease in our time management prioritization.

4. Create a Meal Plan

A very obvious time saver for us is meal planning. We have a meal plan/shopping list that hangs inside our pantry door, ensuring that when something runs out, we can it right to the list. Using the coupons that we have clipped along with trying at least one new recipe each week, we plan out our weekly meals before we head off to the grocery store.

Meal Planning

Only spending time shopping for what we need, saving some money not buying what we don’t need and then doing as much of the preparation ahead of time means all we need to do is peek at the planner each day and make whatever is on the list!

5. Set Up a Dump Zone

We use a memo station to stash kid’s papers that we get home throughout the week, along with all of our mail.

Sorting Station

Each Sunday I take a quick 10-15 minutes and recycle or file all the papers in each slot. We also have a dump basket with the same philosophy.

Dump Basket

Since piles can form so quickly, and as much as I believe in the “return things right where you found them” idea, it’s not always practical. Keeping one basket or bin dedicated to dumping our “stuff” each week, is easy to stash away when company comes, and is gone through at least once a week to return items to their home. This is also a great task for little ones looking for ways to become more helpful around the abode!

Jennifer is currently a stay at home mom, that not only cares for her own children {three uber beautiful little boys}, but also has the opportunity to spend her days with a couple other little ones as well, as a daycare mom. She is also currently working to start up an in-home organizing business, manage an organizing blog {where she talks about things like managing cleaning schedules and creating easy ways for kids to get organized} and working on expanding an Etsy shop as well.

Managing Your Time When It’s “Just You”

Guest post by Becky, a single woman from Washington State

If you’re only taking care of yourself, how can it be that you still cannot find enough hours in the day?

Value your time

It’s easy to over-commit to work, volunteer or social activities. After all, you don’t need to go home and take care of anyone else. But it’s still important to remember that you do have someone to take care of – you!

You need to eat healthy food, wear clean clothes, maintain your house, pay bills and so on. You may have more time to share than someone with additional family obligations, but nobody expects you to live in chaos because you have no time left to meet your own needs.

Figure out what motivates you

When you’re single, you don’t have to answer to anyone. That can be freeing, but it’s also a lot easier to waste time. Sometimes it can be motivating to have to answer to someone or be working together toward a goal or lifestyle.

When it’s just you, you could spend the entire weekend eating chips in your pajamas and nobody would know. Figure out a way to hold yourself accountable – setting personal deadlines for projects, creating a daily/weekly routine, sharing goals with friends or family; whatever works to keep you productive and using your time wisely.

Be creative

Tweak existing time management ideas to work for you:

A twist on “Freezer Cooking”

Cooking an entire new meal every night for one person isn’t a good use of my time and leads to wasted food. At the same time, I can only eat my favorite black bean soup so many times in a row.

I work to find recipes I like that freeze well and then freeze the leftovers in single-serve containers. These are great to take for lunch or to reheat on nights I get home late and don’t have time to cook.

I cook a couple times a week and then rotate through my leftover “meals” for variety — you can easily add a side salad or vegetable.

A twist on “When your child is napping”

Many articles on time management for moms talk about accomplishing small tasks when your child is napping or you’re waiting to pick up a child from an activity. You can apply the same concept to work.

Instead of chatting with co-workers, you can use your lunch hour or coffee break to pay bills, write a letter or e-mail or run to the grocery store. (Please note, I am not advocating that you multi-task and do these activities during your work hours.)

A twist on “Delegating tasks”

You don’t have a spouse or children you can ask to help you, but depending on your circumstances, you may be in a position to hire help.

I have a friend who works in a well-paying position (with long hours) that she loves. She’s happy to hire someone to do her deep cleaning a couple times a month.

If you’re currently single, we’d love to hear your tips and tricks for time management! Share them with us in the comments.

photo from Shutterstock

Free Customizable Daily Docket now available for download!

Update: We changed a few things and you should be able to save the edited form and re-open it. Sorry for the issues some of you were having!

When I did the Time Management 101 series, many of you asked if there was any way I could make my Daily Docket customizable so that you could add your own chores and section headings to it.

Well, thanks to the help of Jessica from and Joy from, I’m excited to be offering a customizable Daily Docket — for free! The Customizable Daily Docket allows you to type in your information directly to the form and print it.

You can update the information and print as often as you’d like. Here’s how to customize the new Daily Docket:

1. Download the new Daily Docket here and open it in your PDF reader. (If you don’t have a PDF reader, you can download Adobe Acrobat for free here.)

The sections of the document highlighted in yellow in the image below can be customized with your own text. Please note that your document won’t be highlighted like the image; this graphic simply shows you the sections that are customizable.

2. Click on the section you’d like to fill in.

3. Type in your text.

4. Print out the document when you’re done typing in your text.

5. Save your document if you’d like to save your changes. You’ll be able to open the document again to add different text at any time.

Family Travel: Plan that trip without exhausting yourself!

Guest post by Kay at

When you decided to take to the road with your family, you imagined smiling faces and photo ops at roadside nature parks. Only after making reservations did you become overwhelmed with preparing your family for even a short trip!

When I worked outside of my home full-time and commuted three hours each day, every minute was precious! I had to develop a system for careful time management before a trip. By planning your time, you can:

  • Get more than two hours of sleep the night before you leave.
  • Avoid the cost and time spent on last-minute trips to the store.
  • Save money on your travels by foreseeing and bringing everything you’ll need instead of buying it on the road.
  • Be relaxed and rested instead of rushed and exhausted!

A week or two before your trip, set aside an hour when the kids are asleep and your husband is occupied but available for consultation. Make four lists:

1.What to Bring

Get detailed. Think of everything you will need, down to socks and baby’s bottle. Don’t leave an item off because you think it is obvious. I have been known to forget my shoes or forget to pack diapers in the diaper bag.

2. What to Borrow or Buy

List items you’ll need to purchase for your trip and where you’ll need to get them. Also, brainstorm whether you know someone you can borrow it from instead or purchasing it.

3. Grocery List/Menu Plan

This list is mainly for campers, but making your own breakfasts in a hotel room or lunches at rest stops will save you money. If you’re camping, a thorough list will save you time at the grocery store and help avoid a trip to the nearest town for peanut butter. Don’t forget snacks!

4. Most importantly, list out each day preceding your trip and assign one or two tasks for each.

Map out which day you will do the laundry, for example, which lunch hour you’ll do the grocery shopping, which evening you’ll take the dog to the boarder, run to a friend’s to borrow a cooler and when you’ll pack the clothes.

Include time the night before you leave to pack the car. Preparations will be less intimidating if you only have one or two things to do each evening, and you’ll avoid the last-minute rush and frustration of beginning your trip stressed. Since I have only one free hour a night, this list is crucial.

Save those lists!

When you return, revise the lists from your experience, note the occasion and duration (“Christmas at Granny’s, three days two nights”) and file them away. Next time you want to get out of town, you’ll be way ahead of the game!

Kay travels Texas and beyond with her husband and toddling son, whose first road trip included camping in the wilderness of the Big Bend area when he was just seven months old. Visit Kay at

photo by chris runoff