Personal time management can be a super tricky thing for some! For me, with the jobs and projects I work on, I have had to get organized and have a plan!
Let’s face it. Life is hard. And life is BUSY! There are so many things we’re expected to keep up with.
Jobs. Household chores. Lawn/garden care. Holidays. Vacations. Birthdays. Family events. Social events. School events. There’s. Just. So. Much!
If you’re like me, I can get super overwhelmed easily and I often feel scattered if things aren’t organized!
Ask anyone who knows me and they’ll tell you I am a planner and a “lister”.
I am a visual person so having it all written out in front of me helps keep my head in order.
Believe it or not, I was not always this way! Personal time management and organization used to be extremely hard for me!
THE STRUGGLE WAS REAL
Let me take you back a few years. Picture elementary school. The desks. The back packs. The books. Lining up at the end of the day.
…Are you with me?
Now picture it’s the end of the day and the teacher tells you to pack up and get your things so you can go upstairs to be picked up.
You know that poor kid who is always scrambling at their desk to get all their things gathered and put away? The one that the teacher (and the rest of the class) has to wait for?
Yep… That was me. And I HATED it!!
I never understood how everyone else could finish jotting down notes from class, finish writing down the assignments for the day, clean up their desk and pack their bag so fast!
It seriously felt like it took me forever.
Fast forward to middle school and high school. NOT much better.
Even though I was older, I now had 7 different rooms I had to get to all over the building with hardly any time to get there!
The first day of middle school I was SO stressed out! It took me weeks to figure out how to not be late to class!
Long story short- I scrambled my way through high school and college as well. I was NOT an organized person!
But I CRAVED it. Not just in scheduling but also an organized living space, an organized car, an organized purse, an organized backpack- you name it. Organization CALLED to me.
I just didn’t know how to achieve it.
But once I graduated college and started teaching, I knew things had to change. I was DONE being unorganized!
WHAT IT TOOK TO CHANGE
Looking back, I honestly think what changed for me and my personal time management was moving into our first house.
The past 3 places we’d lived were very small houses or apartments that were hard to ever keep organized or systematic.
When we moved into our old house, it was a bit of scattered mess.
We got our keys an entire week before we had to be out of our other place, so I figured it would be best to just take little trips over there all week.
Once we had all the little things, I planned to have one “quick” moving day for the handful of large furniture we had. (At the time we only had a couch, a bed and a couple of side tables and odds and ends.)
However, when our “moving helpers” had to switch which weekend they were available, we ended up doing the plan in reverse.
This meant NOTHING was ready. I had planned to pack a room at a time and take it over to the new place. This obviously didn’t happen!
Instead, as people carried things out the door, I was LITERALLY shoving things in trash bags and duffles (NOPE! Didn’t even have boxes!) and just tossing them into the cars and trucks.
I was just desperately trying to get everything out in one fell swoop! This made finding anything in the new house IMPOSSIBLE! I searched for SO long for things once we moved it.
Because life felt just so out of control, I ended up taking 2-3 days to do nothing but unpack and organize. I organized all the closets, all the cabinets, all the rooms. The house had a system!
I know… I know.. This is different from having good personal time management but it was my jumpstart!
Once my house was in order, it made me want to keep it in order. And anyone with a clean and tidy house will tell you the secret is (as my mom would say herself…) “little and often”.
MY PERSONAL TIME MANAGEMENT EXPERIENCE
If you’ve read my Who Am I post, you’ll know I have a very busy musical life.
For one thing, as a performer/director/choreographer/vocal coach I have SO many hats I wear during the week! Not to mention the fact I am a mama too!
Between lesson days, rehearsal days, choir practice evenings, performance days, etc. it’s a LOT to keep everything spinning!
Having a weekly schedule that keeps me in line with each event is a must. Also, I have to have a schedule that includes time to plan out rehearsals and dance numbers as well rehearse material.
Let’s just talk for a second on what it takes to make a show happen.
First of all there’s casting (which takes about a week), a rehearsal schedule that lasts about 8-10 weeks, dress rehearsal week or “tech week”, then the performance weekend (in some cases weekends).
Planning out what we’re doing at each rehearsal in order to get the material taught in time for the performances is a feat in itself! Not to mention coming up with the choreography for each number or blocking for each scene!
This takes a TON of organization.
I have to look at my week and place chunks of time designated specifically for choreographing at home so that I’m ready for rehearsals.
In addition to time for choreographing, I have to have to obviously make room each week for the rehearsals themselves!
Lot’s of planning!
Event planning is a bit different than personal time management, but at some point in every person’s life you will have to plan some sort of event!
In my post about Jaden’s Paw Patrol Birthday Party, I talked a bit about my history with event planning.
Coming up with a timeline for an event is crucial for a successful party!
There are so many things that need to get done, guests lists, food lists, a theme, decorations for said theme, a location or venue, things to do during the event or “party flow”. SO much!
Having time to sit down and research and write lists is great for a successful event just like it is for personal time management.
But you’ll actually need an event calendar specific to that event to make sure everything happens on time.
Think about a wedding. It’s probably the most complicated event a person throws in their life. After you choose ALL the things, you need to actually call the vendors and order or schedule the items.
This all has to have a timeline. If your venue isn’t booked a certain amount of time ahead, you won’t get that venue! If you don’t order your flowers months ahead of time, the florist won’t be available.
You catch my drift…
A successful event needs a timeline and a checklist. Each item on the list needs a specific deadline.
Here’s my strategy- start at the end…
I actually use this strategy in ALL sorts of different things besides event planning such as learning music or a dance number, planning for a trip, etc.
By start at the end, I mean go ALL the way to the deadline in your head. Then start there.
Many times it’s difficult to know where to even begin with large projects or events. So my biggest piece of advice is start at the end… more on this in a bit!
PERSONAL TIME MANAGEMENT AT HOME
So how do I apply this personal time management to my home life?
I sprinkle it in my day, my week, my month, (and even my yearrrr!- Where my “Friends” fans AT?!)
All jokes aside, it’s true! Everyday I have a plan. Each week has a plan and a list. And each month does too.
Things I want to accomplish, things that need to get finished, things that need to happen for a vacation or holiday that’s approaching, etc. There’s always a list!
Otherwise, nothing is organized or planned!
My personal time management came into play in a HUGE way at home when we moved into our current home.
Eventually I’ll get around to writing a post on the biggest moving tips, but for now here’s a bit of advice!
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Just like an event, moving has a timeline. There’s a closing day and move in day. These big deadlines need a schedule so you’re not scrambling.
Make yourself a schedule. Just like I said for event planning, start at the end! The last day on your “moving calendar” should be MOVING DAY! (Maybe it’s “clean the old place day”… but you get it!)
Don’t underestimate how long each thing will take. Decide what day each item on the list will happen and plan it out (including buffer time near the end!) all the way up until move in day.
TOP 6 PERSONAL TIME MANAGEMENT TIPS
There are several different methods I use when planning a large project or event. I pretty much use each one of these tips for every type of project or event schedule.
1.EAT THAT FROG
Ok… Hear me out…
This term is from a book I read called Eat That Frog. Yes. The title is SO confusing but the logic behind it makes perfect sense.
The book suggests you do the hardest task on your list first to get the ball rolling, so to speak.
Picture this- if the hardest thing you had to do today was to eat a frog… nothing would be worse, right? Everything would come easily.
SO! Start your day by “eating that frog”! Meaning, whatever is the most difficult or the “biggest mountain” on your list- tackle that first.
It is so easy to procrastinate when there’s a big “to-do” on the list. I often feel super overwhelmed and “dance” around starting because it’s hard to know where to start.
HERE’S where to start!
Once you’ve crossed that hardest item off your list, you’re usually all geared up to knock something else off too! This gets the ball rolling and gets you into a super productive action mode!
Who doesn’t love the feeling of accomplishment!? So get up and EAT. THAT. FROG!
2. START AT THE END
I mentioned this a bit before. Start at the end!
If you ask my students, they would tell you I almost ALWAYS start things at the end whether it’s a dance number or a song or scene we’re learning.
Since the end of a song or dance number is usually the hardest part, it’s a good strategy to start there and backtrack. That way the most difficult portion gets the most coverage!
Starting at the end applies to planning as well.
When you start to plan a large event or project, write down the deadline or the “end date” first. This is when you are completely out of time and the event should be happening or the project must be finished.
Start there. Back track your “to-do” list from your deadline.
You can think about it like a vacation too.
- When does the plane take off? 7pm.
- When do you need to be at the airport? 5 pm.
- How long does it take to get there? 30 minutes.
- So when do you have to leave? 4:30 pm.
- How long will it take you to pack up and prep the house? 3 hours.
- When should you start? 1 pm (Making sure you have buffer time!)
You get the picture. For large events and projects, you’ll not only need a list, but each item listed will need a designated time to be accomplished.
It’s not enough to just have everything written down and you decide “before the event, this list must be finished”.
You’ll need to sit down and think about how long you estimate each item taking and how far in advance something can be done.
For example, you can make centerpieces months in advance but a cake or food would go bad if not made fresh.
Once you’ve listed what can be done in advance and what needs to happen on the day of, put these items on a calendar with enough time to accomplish them all before the event.
The best way to plan that out is to start at the end.
3. THE SLIGHT EDGE
His philosophy is about baby steps. Success comes with consistent, tiny steps forward. Over time, these little steps compound into a “mountain”.
When things seem large, breaking it down into small pieces makes it much easier to achieve.
Ever heard the saying “how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time?” The same principle applies to the slight edge.
Of course, it doesn’t happen overnight, but if you continue to take little steps consistently, it will pay off!
That is one of my favorite methods to use when planning an event or working on a project.
I know that I can work on several small portions of the project every day or in little windows of time and it will make the job much easier in the long run.
This is also a great practicing technique I use too. Spaced repetition is much better for memorization and skill building than trying to do it all in one day for hours.
I used to be the person that would be up all night sewing this or painting that because I MAJORLY under estimated how much time something would take.
However, with the slight edge, I’ve learned to break things down which makes that “elephant” oh so much easier to tackle!
The slight edge is extremely beneficial to personal time management.
4. USE EVERY PIECE OF TIME
This goes right along with the slight edge.
So many times before I “got organized” I would save things I needed to do until I had “time” or (like I said above) I would just have a to-do list that had to be done by a certain point with no action plan.
I found when I was busier, I was actually more productive in every area of life. When I only had 1 hour in a day to get chores done and food cooked, it got done faster than if I had 2 days to do it.
Schedule out your day and squeeze in your “to-do’s” in those little windows.
Just like the slight edge, take baby steps each day. Don’t just save your “to-do” list until you have a big free day (those don’t exist! HA!).
When I’m working on a project, I try to do as much as I can ahead of time little bits each day. Even if it’s a half hour or 20 minutes. It will get you further quicker!
Using every bit of time is so helpful for personal time management!
5. USE A TIMER
So you’ve made your event or project calendar, you’re ready to do all the things. Now how do you go about staying on schedule?
My best advice is to just set a timer! I can’t tell you how amazingly productive I am if I set a timer for 20 minutes and tell myself “see how much you can get done around the house in 20 minutes”.
This helps a ton with using every window of time you have and will keep you on schedule.
If you only have an hour to do “XYZ” then set a timer, put your phone and other distractions away, crank some tunes and get to work!
I like to set a warning timer for 5-10 minutes before I have to actually move on to my next item on the list. It gives me time to wrap up what I’m working on and come to a stopping point.
Setting a timer is key for personal time management!
6. PLAN YOUR DAY BEFORE IT STARTS
This one is self explanatory. If you don’t plan the day the before it starts, you spend half the day (or at least half your morning) figuring out what you’re tackling that day! Such a waste of time!
These large projects or event schedules take constant planning and adjusting.
If something took longer than expected or you were ahead of schedule, you’ll need to add or subtract things to the list accordingly.
Whenever I have a plan for the following day, I accomplish so much more. I jump out of bed and get to work on my “schedule”.
Without a plan, I find myself wandering and a bit aimless. The more detailed the daily schedule, the more I get done! Such an important piece of personal time management!!
Plan that day before it starts!
YOU CAN DO THIS!
I hope these tips are helpful for your own personal time management! I also hope this article showed you that even if you’re not organized or scattered now, you don’t have to be!
You can change! I never thought I’d be as organized as I am today. The hardest part is starting!
Even if you don’t “Eat that frog” like I suggested above, choose a place and start. If the largest thing on your list is too daunting, pick the smallest thing and get going.
Starting is MOST of the battle! Just get started! You can do it!
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I’d love to hear from you to know if this helped you and what you do to stay organized! Shoot me an email! Be sure to subscribe below so you never miss a post! Also follow me on Instagram and Pinterest!