Once we’ve sorted out our vision, values, and priorities, how do we apply this knowledge in a practical way for better time management?
If you haven’t checked out Part 1 of my two-part interview on The Heartful Parent Podcast, head here to listen or read about our conversation for more on vision and priorities. In Part 2, I chat with Christy Keating about some of my favorite time management strategies that work to clean up almost any chaotic part of your day. Check out the episode here, or read on for a run-down.
Keep Pebbles from Taking Over
So we’ve sorted out our priorities into boulders, big rocks, and pebbles and placed them on our calendar accordingly. But how do you stop the pebbles from taking over your day?
Here are my two best time management strategies for keeping pebbles at bay:
Pebble Power Hour
To have a Pebble Power Hour, take all your outstanding pebbles and set aside a recurring time block for an hour once a week. During that time, check off your pebbles all at once.
All the little things you have to do – making appointments, submitting reimbursements, signing permission slips – will get done in your Power Hour. You’ll find you’re able to be more efficient because you’re containing all these quick tasks in a tighter window.
To keep yourself honest, set a timer… and feel free to choose a different amount of time, like 30 minutes.
Squeeze Pebbles Into a Big Rock
Let’s say you have a ton of similar pebbles. Maybe you have a bunch of financial tasks to do, like moving money between accounts, updating your budget, checking your bank account, paying bills, etc.
Instead of doing these randomly throughout the week, create a Finance and Family Admin Friday routine and knock them all out during that block. By doing all of these things at once, you’re turning them into a Big Rock and moving the needle in a more streamlined way.
Another example is a Tech Check time block. Did you know that the average American knowledge worker takes about 90 minutes to process incoming information each day? Meaning, if you look at emails, Slack messages, voicemails, and more, it can take 90 minutes every day to process all of that information – and this is a huge distraction from whatever Big Rock or Boulder you’re trying to accomplish.
Instead of reading and answering these messages as they come in throughout the day, set aside a Tech Check time block. It should be the same designated time every day where you’re only answering messages, so they don’t become pebbles throughout the day.
I personally create 3 30-minute time blocks during my day to answer messages… So when I’m tempted to check my email or Instagram DMs, I remind myself to just wait until my next Tech Check time block.
If you’re looking for ideal times for those, may I recommend Dr. Pepper time? Dr. Pepper commercials used to say “Have a Dr. Pepper at 10 AM, 2 PM, and 4 PM.” These are perfect times to check your email, instead of at the start of the workday!
3 Strategies for Better Time Management
Looking for more practical time management strategies? Here are my 3 favorite strategies that help to calm just about any chaos in your day:
Time blocking is creating a block on your calendar to represent when you will do a certain task. We know this is helpful because of the Planning Fallacy, which states that we are all naturally terrible at estimating how long things take us to do. It’s not just you, friend – it’s everyone! Utilize time blocks to hold visual time on your calendar, and then add extra time to each one, just in case.
Task batching is the act of taking similar tasks and performing them all at once during a set time frame.
To understand task batching, think of your laundry: we don’t wash, dry, and fold one piece of clothing one at a time. Instead, we hold our dirty laundry in a hamper until it’s full, then we wash, dry, and fold them all together at once.
I like combining this strategy with Theme Days. Meaning, instead of sending invoices for your business every single day, can you hold all your invoices and send them once a week on the same day (on Finance Friday)? Instead of cleaning your house every single day, can you hold all the cleaning for the same day every week?
Want more? Listen to the full episode here.