Last week I released a blog post about how to improve your planning in order to achieve everything that you need to in your week. If you didn't catch it, read up here as it is a great precursor to this post.
Now that you have a grand plan in place and have an idea of everything you need to achieve, (if you haven’t already done so) you need to put in the times that these things will occur. Ideally start and finish times would be helpful, but if that can’t be achieved, you will at least need start times to know where you need to be and when.
An old adage we lived by in the Navy was if you’re 5 minutes early you’re on time, if you’re on time, you’re late. I like to call this contingency planning. There is, without a doubt, always something that comes up at the last minute, especially if you have children or pets. Missing socks, shoes, nappy changes, forgotten hats, wee on the bed (that goes for pets and children alike). Having that extra five minutes up your sleeve gives you the breathing room you need to factor in life’s little bits and pieces and allows you to stop screaming from one end of the house to the other like a fishmonger's wife!
Often too, it is hard to manage the kids' concept of time. If your child is one who struggles to get motivated in the mornings, the absolute first thing I would be doing is to hide the remote or if they're old enough, shut off the wi-fi. The TV, for all its good points, is the king of distractions when you’re trying to get out the door. It stalls breakfast, it stalls getting dressed, it stalls everything!!! If your child is old enough to read the clock, give them timeframes — bed made and dressed by 0730, breakfast eaten by 0800. If they can’t read the clock yet, grab yourself a cheap clock that you can take the face off and colour in the segments of time. Breakfast must be eaten when the big hand is in the purple, teeth are to be brushed by the blue, hair brushed and bags at the door by the green. So many people respond better to visual cues than verbal cues as we all have so much going on in our heads.
Large, in your face, visual cues serve as an excellent reminder of what is important..... See what I did there....large and in your face? :)
So you might be wondering how all of this contributes to making your routine a breeze? After you have sorted out what you need to achieve by implementing the ditch, delegate or do planning system, you will have an idea of what needs to be achieved. When you’ve got a plan in place, you know what is coming next. Certainty brings confidence, and both of these bring a calmer state of mind. Uncertainty is a surefire way to bring chaos into a household.
When everyone knows what they need to be doing and when, I can assure you, things will run smoother. There will be no more last-minute questions and arguments about who was dropping the kids at school or work, no more arguments about the last-minute excursion fees that no-one knew about, no more surprise travel for your husband —"Oh didn’t you know I was going to Canberra tomorrow?" Sound familiar? Certainty and planning are essential in reducing stress levels and ensuring everyone’s mission is achieved. Sure, you’re not firing missiles, or chasing submarines like we did in the Navy, but running your life can feel just as hectic. When you know what is going on, your morning will run smoother and you can get out of the house on time because everyone knows what they should be doing.
What are some other time management tips to get you out of the house on time?
- Prepare the breakfast table after you clean up from dinner
- Make lunches the night before
- Lay out clothes — this has a two-fold benefit — no arguments or morning deliberations about what to wear, and the knowledge that you actually have everything ready to go. If you don't, you have time to wash overnight
- Leave your bloody phone in the bedroom! Sooooo much time can be wasted checking Facebook and emails in the morning which can serve as a huge distraction from actually getting things done.
- Don't sweat the small stuff. Contrary to popular belief, no one is actually going to die if you aren't fully made up before you leave the house...
- Don't do anything that doesn't actively contribute to you getting out of the house on time or isn't absolutely necessary. Folding washing can wait until the evening...get the drift?
In essence, there will ALWAYS be something that can be done around the house before you leave in the morning. But the truth is, most of it can wait. Enjoy your mornings as best you can, while you can, and set yourself up for a positive day ahead.
What's your favourite time management tip? Let us know in the comments below!