How Do You Do It All? (Time Management Tips)

How Do You Do It All?
      As a married mom of two toddlers, a full time manager in the retail world, and an at home business entrepreneur, I have been forced to become better at time management.  And I am always trying to improve my skills in this area.  I want to maximize my time with my family, but I don't want to give up the big dreams that I have for us. 

      I often get asked, "How do you do it all?!"  The answer is that I prioritize.  I am learning to make a distinction between the urgent and the important.  I first heard of this idea from Stephen Covey's book, Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.  He teaches that all of our activities fall in one of four quadrants (see the image below)


      Quadrant IV activities include leisurely things that do not add value to your life.  These are like the "junk food" of life...enjoy in moderation.

       Quadrant II activities are the most important but most often neglected because they are not pressing matters.  They include reading personal development, exercising, date nights with your spouse, playing with your children, planning your budget, etc. Many of them are the activities that we look back on at the end of our lives and wish we had done more often.  They are the things that, if we take the time for despite all the distractions, we will be able to truly get the most out of life.
    Quadrant I is usually not a problem for anyone.  If something is urgent and important, you take care of it quickly.  If you don't make time for Quad IV, you end up having more crises like this, such as marital problems, health issues, etc.  

     Quadrant III activities are urgent but not actually important.  This might seem like an oxymoron, but it isn't.  Something can be urgent but unimportant.    An example could be an e-mail requesting a response.  It might be urgent, but is it actually important?  If not, it's a Quad III. These activities should be minimized.  They are usually distractions.  We only have so much time in a day, so we must focus it on what is important.

      In my life, I have found that watching television is a quadrant IV activity that is easily cut out.  But if the kids are asleep and my husband and I have some alone time to watch something together, then I do it, because then it becomes a quadrant II activity.  We bond over that time and enjoy discussions afterwards.  This adds value to my life, so it is important to me. 

     I make uninterrupted time to be with my children because I do not want to be distracted away from them.  I wake up early to exercise, read, and write before they are awake.  I also work on my Beachbody business in the morning.  I respond to messages throughout the day.  While I am on break at work, instead of scrolling through Facebook or looking at headlines, I message people, work on this blog, or read something of value.  In the car, I listen to audio books or calls from my Beachbody team.  Not only does this save me time while I'm at home, it leaves me feeling refreshed and excited to do my best at work.  All of this allows me to be my best and minimize the time away from my children when I am home and they are awake.  Since I do have to work outside of the home for now, I need to make the most of my time with my children when I am with them.  This is very important to me as well.  They will not be young for long.

In conclusion...

     Our life is made up of our days.  Those days are already happening. If you spend your life on unimportant activities, you might just look back on life and feel like you wasted a good chunk of it.  Who wants that feeling?  However, we don't want to "live everyday like it's our last" like the cliche says, because there's a good chance that we will make it to tomorrow.  I mean, seriously...if today was my last day, I'd drain my bank account to fly to the Caribbean with my family...or something like that.  But it wouldn't be a good idea to do that today, because I'd like to have that money tomorrow.  We need to use make the most of today (enjoy it) and use today to build our future.  So you should be working on a balance between the two.

What are you doing today to enjoy your life? (Because today is your life)
Are you doing things that are going to help your future be better (especially if you aren't satisfied with your current situation)?  

For me, this translates like this:

I make time for my husband, because my marriage is important to me.
I make time for my children, because my children are important to me.
I make time for my home business, because it is important to me.
I make time for reading, writing, exercising, eating well, because taking care of my mind and body is important to me.
When a friend is available to get together, I do everything I can to make it work, because my friends are important to me.

When you decide what's important to you, you figure out a way to do it.  Decide what's important to YOU, write it down, and make time for it. Make time, because you won't just "find" it.

Figure out where you are wasting time on unimportant activities and cut it out of your daily routine.  If it's not important and it's taking time from what is, it has to go.

If you have to, budget your time like you do your money!  John Maxwell says a budget is "telling your money where to go instead of wondering where it went." Same thing with time...TELL IT WHERE TO GO! Or you'll wonder where it went.  

As you can see, a lot of my idea of time management is weeding through to what's really important.  You simply can't do it all.  You have to choose what to do or you'll end up running out of time each day and possibly missing things that you'll regret (like family time). Use your time well! It's your LIFE!