How to manage your time better and be punctual

[Let's start this post off by declaring the comically obvious: I am not an expert on this topic. I am actually the least qualified person to write about time management and punctuality. However, I have steadily grown frustrated with my own chronic tardiness. I am clearly a work-in-progress.]

I asked fellow creative Mommas & searched the internet for...

Tips to increase both personal and professional productivity.

Here are ten strategies I am currently implementing in my own life that I think would be a help to you as well.

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1. Use a calendar/planner.  

I actually enjoy writing out my monthly, weekly and daily schedule; It seems to help me remember better than typing. I also record my monthly schedule on my Google calendar, which I can check anywhere. I know I can make even better use of my digital tools, yet I haven't found a way to really streamline that process. Remember, I'm a work-in-progress.

2. Set an alarm.

And then actually get up. Seems like common sense, right? Yet, how many times did you hit the snooze button this morning? Try setting your alarm just slightly out of reach, so that you will have to physically get up and out of bed to turn it off. And whatever you do, do not get back in the bed. Instead, go ahead and make it - pull the sheet up, straighten the covers, fluff the pillows. Then take six minutes to watch this video.

Make your bed. Change the world.

3. Use a timer.

After you make your bed and watch that video, you'll be feeling pretty pumped to keep going. As you tackle that to-do list, set a timer for the time you've allotted. This will create a sense of urgency and help maintain your focus. I also silence my phone during certain tasks that require all of my attention. When I do this, I am ultra productive! 

4. Save & move on.

When that timer goes off, stop. This is so hard for me to do, especially if I didn't complete my task. I'll feel bummed out that I didn't beat the clock and work is unfinished. If I'm not careful to gain control of this thought (2 Corinthians 10:5), Satan will quickly use it to discourage me in an attempt to keep me from moving forward. So, Mommas, let's be on guard for this particular attack. Don't let him accuse you of being slow, lazy, incompetent, a failure... press on! There's more work to do! You can come back to any unfinished work later. Don't get stuck here. Keep moving! We are Proverbs 31:27 women!

"She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness"

5. Plan to arrive 10 minutes early.

If church starts at 7pm, then plan to be there at 6:50pm. (I am talking to myself about tonight. Come on Kat, you can do it!) Y'all, I struggle baaaaaaaaad with this. Seriously, pray for me because I desire to be punctual, especially to worship or when there's an opportunity to share Jesus with others. Let's make it a point to begin planning our arrivals ten minutes early. We can do this!

6. Cushion your time.

I am horrible about estimating how much time a task will take me to complete! To combat this error, I am now calculating an additional 15-30 minutes to every item on my daily schedule. I mean, just because Mapquest says it will take me 19 minutes to get there, does not mean I will move from my couch to my destination in 19 minutes - there are other factors to figure in as well. (Like, getting dressed, helping others get ready, walking to the van, driving, walking from the van to my destination... so. much. time.) 

7. Work backwards.

Practicing this has been a tremendous help as I write out my daily schedule. If I want the kids in bed at 9pm, then what time should they bathe, brush their teeth, eat supper, finish chores & school work? If I need to be at the orthodontist at 8am, what time do I need to leave the house to arrive at 7:50am? How long will it take me to get ready? Utilizing tips 5 & 6 to formulate a clear plan, I'll add a 20 minute cushion and... Boom! There's my wake up time. Set the alarm.

8. Be realistic.

Remember, Rome wasn't built in a day! Don't over-book your schedule. Determine your priorities, write them down, and build your day around that. Allow for flex within your schedule. Always remember people are more important than things, and relationships take time. 

9. Set things out for tomorrow.

Do you know the rest of John Heywood's quote about Rome?

Rome wasn't built in a day, but they were laying bricks every hour.

Before you pillow you head, set things in place for a successful tomorrow. Lay out your clothes, locate your keys, tidy the clutter, be sure your alarm is set for the correct time... brick by brick, all the way to bed. 

10. Go to bed.

At a decent time. Like, before midnight. (Again, talking to my night-owl self.) The following is the National Seep Foundation's recommendation: 

  • Newborns (0-3 months): 14-17 hours each day
  • Infants (4-11 months): 12-15 hours
  • Toddlers (1-2 years): 11-14 hours
  • Preschoolers (3-5): 10-13 hours
  • School age children (6-13): 9-11 hours
  • Teenagers (14-17): 8-10 hours
  • Younger adults (18-25): 7-9 hours
  • Adults (26-64): 7-9 hours
  • Older adults (65+): 7-8 hours

You can do your own math here. According to these recommendations, if I want to wake up at 6am (because they say the early bird gets the worm, right?), I need to be asleep by 10pm. At my house, our current goal is to have the kids in bed by 9pm. I can't be too far behind! Here are a few proven strategies to help pave the way for better sleep:

  • Stick to a sleep schedule, even on weekends.
  • Practice a relaxing bedtime ritual.
  • Exercise daily.
  • Evaluate your bedroom to ensure ideal temperature, sound and light.
  • Sleep on a comfortable mattress and pillows.
  • Beware of hidden sleep stealers, like alcohol and caffeine.
  • Turn off electronics before bed.

We can do this. With some planning, we can manage our time better, and as a result, we'll become punctual and receive satisfaction in our own productivity. We can do this, together. What do you say, Mommas? Got anymore tips? I'm all ears! After all...

Friendship is the finest balm,