This morning I came across an item on Lifehacker, a web site that brings you all sorts of technological finds each day. It was an article written for real estate agents concerning the top time management tricks of realtors. These tips were written with career women in mind, but quite a few of them could be applied to us as homemakers, and I wanted to share with you the ones I found most helpful.
1. Turn off the tube. What excellent advice! The lady who sent in this tip mentioned that she had become "increasingly aware of how useless and inane most of the programs are." If we, as Christian homemakers, want to redeem the time the Lord has given us, we should reconsider the time we give to the tube. How much prime time (and I'm not talking about the 8-10 p.m. time slot here) do we give to this time-waster that could be better spent on something productive?
2. Keep converstions in check. There's nothing wrong with having a time to chat - either on the phone or online - but keep tabs on how much time you're spending on chatting, and get up and do something!
3. Take inventory of your time. If you feel like you're spinning your wheels, constantly busy but never getting anything done, check up on how you're actually spending your time. I've done this before, and it wasn't pretty. Lots of computer time, lots of reading time, lots of chatting time . . . but not much actual working time. Could you be spending more time than you think on unnecessary things while the important things are going undone?
4. Just say No. This advice dealt mainly with focusing on things that advance the career, but we can learn to say No to things that don't advance our "careers" of homemaking. Sure, it would be nice and profitable to participate in yet another Bible study, but if it costs you time on something else that is a priority in your life, is it really profitable? This lady stated, "I’ve learned that when you’re focused, it’s easy to decide when to say yes, and when to smile and say “no, thank you.” We need to focus on our God-given priorities, and let the rest go.
5. Do it now, not later. Ouch! Meet the Queen of Procrastination. I'm finally getting it through my thick skull that doing it now is much easier than waiting, when the job will most likely be more difficult and take more time. This realtor commented, "If you set things aside for later, you’ll find that later never comes." How much time we could save simply by doing it now! My childhood pastor, Dr. Harold Sightler, used to tell of a teacher he had who noticed him wasting his time one day. She had him write "Procrastination is the thief of time" quite a few times (I can't remember how many he said), and he never forgot that lesson. Dr. Sightler was known as a man who wasted nothing, not even a minute of his time. How I wish I had learned that lesson when he was teaching it from the pulpit 30 years ago!
6. Customize your grocery list. Yes, this was from a professional realtor as a tip to advance her business! She made a list of the approximately 120 items that she most frequently buys, arranged the list according to aisle numbers in her favorite grocery store, and printed it out. She states that her shopping time was cut in half, and if she and her daughter each take half of her list, they can finish their shopping in 15 minutes. I have a shopping list that's not quite as organized as hers, but it does help me to not only remember everything I need to write down, but to get through the store more quickly.
7. Attack the pile. This tip will be familiar to those of us who are FlyBabies! When this realtor is feeling overwhelmed with the amount of work piling up on her desk, she sets her timer for at least 20 minutes and gets rid of that pile of clutter. Many, many times the reason I feel overwhelmed with my job as homemaker is because things have piled up - clothes, dishes, papers - and all it takes to relieve some of that tension is a 15-minute declutter session. Sometimes it only takes 5 minutes to clear a desk or gather up dirty clothes, and things look so much more peaceful.
8. Save time and gas money. Schedule errands and appointments on the same day or in an orderly route, so that you're not backtracking, wasting time and gas to go back for something you could have taken care of earlier.
9. Put personal time on a pedestal. This one sounds like you're going to indulge yourself, but I found that this realtor was simply urging that you make time for the important things in your life. Schedule your priorities, and when someone wants your time during a time that you've set aside as a priority, you can simply say, "I'm sorry, but I have an appointment at that time." It might only be your exercise time, but it's important and should be guarded as such.
10. Cherish the quiet hours. This person stated, "I never, ever sleep in." His reason is that there are several quiet hours early in the morning that are so valuable to him that he will not give them up. So many important things can be accomplished early in the morning! My favorite thing to do first thing in the morning is have my quiet time of devotions with the Lord. It's so much easier to focus on the Lord when the house is still quiet! Mrs. B mentioned Laine's Letters on Be Not Conformed earlier today. Laine is the master of rising early! She accomplished more before her children get up than I do most of my entire day. Her letter on Rising Early is invaluable; reading it will motivate you to evaluate how early you rise, guaranteed! I have been mulling this over all day today. I'm going to be making some changes in my rising time soon.
11. Plan in short blocks of time. We learned this, again, from FlyLady. Tackle our jobs in small amounts, so that we're not overwhelmed with a gigantic job.
12. Turn on your kitchen timer. Sound familiar?!
These were the tips that I felt I could apply to my life and home. If you'd like to read all of them, you can read the entire article here. I hope something here will help you take a little something from the "professional" world to use in your little corner of the world, where you do the most important work of all - serving your family!