How I’m finding more time in my day

One of my goals this year is to try and be more mindful of my time. Knowing where my time is going, being more intentional with it, and getting ahead of our schedules.

For so long, as a mom with four kids and a husband who travels a lot, I always felt reactionary to my days. Like I was constantly on the defense, responding to whatever emergency popped up or whatever ball seemed to have dropped (which seemed to always be the case) and I hated it.  It’s a lot to juggle six people’s schedules, plus manage my own personal schedule.  But I knew I could do better.

So this year, JonPaul and I together as a team, are trying to change that, and for the first time really be mindful of where our time is going, and hold ourselves accountable, and find more “time” in our day.

So here’s what we found that works….

One family, ONE online digital calendar

I feel like I was probably the last person to still use a paper calendar, but you guys, for the past decade (at least) I’ve been a paper calendar fanatic. Falling on a sword to JP that I would NEVER go digital.  I’m totally eating my words. My biggest complaint is that I didn’t do it years ago.

Here’s how we’re making it work and why I love it.

    • We’re using google calendar (there are a lot of great online calendars, but after a lot of research this was most compatible with all of our other online systems)
    • Everyone has their own calendar and color (which is key).  We have six calendars, which sounds like a lot but it’s actually easier to manage it this way. 
    • EVERYTHING goes in the calendar, and I mean everything. From JP’s flight itinerary, all of the kid’s activities, doctors’ appointments, down to who has “hot lunch”, pizza day, or early dismissal. 
    • We have a clear understanding of who’s using it, and how.  This meant clearly defining who was in charge of “inputting” everything.  So for us, that meant JP takes care of his calendar and all of Asher’s school and extracurricular activities (Asher goes to a different school than our other kids).  And then I handle my calendar and the three other kids.  We mutually share all family travel, house visitors, and misc.  
    • You can see everyone as a whole, or break it down by a person, week, day, there are so many options.  Here’s an example of what a month looks like for us…

Early to bed, early to rise

The next was finding more hours in the day.  Which seems like an impossible task, but they’re there.

We’ve always been early risers in our home, but now we’re just more mindful of it, and it’s a priority.  JP and I both get up every day at 5 am (he’s actually up earlier than me, he’s so competitive that boy.  Whatever.  He wins).  And it’s not because we like it – it’s because it’s the only time of the day that’s actually “ours”.  That we’re in control of. Which as so many of you can relate to, is so important.  

But here’s the thing, it only works because we GO TO BED EARLY.  Just like getting up early is a priority for us, so is going to bed.  We aim for 9 pm every night, and we almost always can do it (there are, of course, exceptions).  This means if I want to be in bed, sleeping, by 9 pm, I have to start getting “ready” for bed by 8:30.  Which usually means not going back downstairs after I put the kids to bed.  (Which means not sitting on the couch mindlessly watching TV – see I just found two hours!)

Sleep is a priority.  And preserving that early morning hour to ourselves is a priority.  

Committing to a morning routine

Since that 5 am hour of the day is like gold to me, I want to make sure I’m using it to its full potential.  Which for me, meant setting a “morning routine”.  

For a long time, my morning routine varied, and I felt like there were a lot of times I didn’t take full advantage of my “hour”.  So this year I committed to a new routine (which you can read in full detail about here) and it feels amazing.

The idea is that you can wake up, and without thinking, go through the same process every morning to get you ready for the day.

There are so many different ways you can create a morning routine.  The key is to find something that works for you and STICK with it.  Make it work by actually doing it.  Every day.  

Time Batching

This has been really helpful for me, but sometimes hard for me to stick to, so it’s still something I’m definitely working on.  The idea is that rather than start and stop so many different things, you do ONE type of task, all batched together.  

So for me, that means batching photo editing, responding to e-mails/texts, blog writing, sending out proposals.  It can all be batched.  Carving out large chunks of time to do just “one thing” (I like anywhere from 30-90 minutes).  

The key is that when you’re doing this – you don’t start and stop, or jump into something else.  You just focus on that one task.  Which also requires my final item…

Turning my phone to airplane mode  

You guys, listen to me. It’s ok to not respond to things immediately.  It’s ok to preserve your time.  In fact, it’s more than ok.  You owe it to yourself.  

Because every time we respond to that text message “ding”, we’re taking ourselves out of our headspace, away from whatever it was that had our attention, and it’s that much harder to get back into our “work”, or back into that conversation, or back into that workout.  Which means we are constantly starting and stopping.  AND it means we’re never truly present in the moment.  

There are VERY few true emergencies. In fact, in 10 years as a mom, I can’t think of ONE time there was a true emergency.  (sure there were times kids got sick at school, etc, but even then, it’s ok if I called the school nurse back 30 minutes later, they were in GOOD hands).  My point is, it is ok to step away from our devices and not live so responsively.  

I turn my phone to airplane mode every time I’m writing, every night before bed, and every time I go out with JP (and a lot of times I don’t even take my phone).  (But when I turn it back “on”, you better believe I “batch” those texts..lol)  

I think the biggest learning lesson for me through this exercise is just realizing that we actually do have enough time in the day.  None of us are “too busy”.   If 24 hours is enough for Beyonce, then you better believe 24 hours is enough for me.

The thing is finding out what’s important to you.  Focusing on that.  And then LEAVING THE REST.  24 hours is enough time to do the things you love, accomplish the things you love, and be with the people you love.  

I hope this was helpful for some of you as you are getting your year organized and setting up new routines.  If you have any other tips on how you help manage your time, send them my way.  I love learning from this community and always love hearing from you.  xoxo

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