A couple of weeks ago, we talked about my top 10 Time Management Tips and why it is so important for us to manage our time wisely. Now let’s talk about my number 1 time management TOOL.
As CEOs of our own business and moms we have a crazy amount of things going on in any given week. Add to that the fact that summer is right around the corner and we might just lose our minds.
Unless we get our time under control and use it wisely.
Let’s talk about the number one tool I use every day to avoid the mompreneur-guilt and still get things done with my kids and my business.
We all have one whether it’s on our phones, our microwaves, or our ovens we all already have a timer. There are two ways to use a timer in order to help us manage our time and I suggest you use it both ways.
We may think “oh it only takes me about 5 minutes to slap together a social media image.” Have you actually timed yourself doing it? It seems simple enough, but how long do you spend tweaking the little things on each image?
How long does it really take you to write a blog post or social media post? How long does it take you to rinse a sink full of dishes and get them into the dishwasher? How long does it take you to put a load of laundry away?
I think the answers to these questions will surprise you. Some will take you a lot longer than you thought. Others will take up much less of your time. Our assumptions of how long something takes us is often largely based on how much we enjoy the task or not. I always overestimate how long it takes me to load the dishwasher or put away a load of laundry. I despise doing these tasks, so I just make it up in my mind that it takes forever and therefore I’m justified putting it off until later when I have “more time.” Whatever that is.
Make a list of tasks you want to time yourself doing and track your time. Do them at normal speed, this is not a race you want an honest result.
This is when you use your timer to keep yourself from getting bogged down. This is especially helpful when you’re working on a task or project that you know is going to take awhile. If we focus on one thing for too long, we can lose all track of time and miss out on other things or simply drain ourselves of our brain power.
Generally speaking, you should chunk your time into 20-30 minute segments. Set a timer, go to work, and stop when the timer goes off. Get up and walk around for a minute, get a drink, eat a snack, or play with your kids. It doesn’t matter what you do in your break, just take one. This is popularly called the Pomodoro Technique.
When I’m working on a big project or series of connected tasks, I use these breaks to play with my kids. My personality wants to just keep pushing until it’s done and it’s often hard for me to randomly stop. A timer helps me save brain power and spend time focused on my kids without feeling guilty. I don’t feel guilty for not working because I’m spending intentional time with my kids. I don’t feel guilty for working because I’ve spent intentional time with my kids.
I set a timer for that time I spend with my kids too. They don’t feel cheated or hate the timer. They know that during that time, I’m focused on them and they spell love T-I-M-E so that’s all they care about. They also know that I’ll play with them again several times throughout the day around meals, naps, work, and whatever else we have going on.
How I Use It
Now, I don’t use a timer for every single thing we do across a day. That’s just one more thing for me to worry about, which would make it a terrible time management tool. I just use it around tasks that I know I have a tendency to get buried in or dislike doing.
The timer for dishes and laundry pushes me to just get it done and complete my task before the timer goes off.
The timer for business tasks and projects ensures I take breaks and removes guilt from my mind around work versus family time.
How do you use a timer? If you don’t use one, I strongly suggest that you start using one now.