When you’re deciding how best to use your time, you need to keep an eye on the big picture. It’s all too easy to get caught up in the small stuff. You need to know what is important in your life, not only now, but in the future.
A good exercise can be to write down your short term and long term goals. These are both very important to how you plan your time. It is very easy to lose sight of either the short or the long term in your day to day living.
As a parent, balancing your personal and work goals with raising your children is not always easy. There are things you have to get done as a parent and things you have to get done to reach your goals.
Writing down your goals in all these areas - personal, professional and as a parent, both short and long term - can help you to see where you need to focus more of your efforts and where you are doing well.
Identifying the areas where you are falling short of your goals is a major step toward improving your time management. Knowing the problem will help you find the solution.
Let’s take running a home business as an example. Every day you need time to be a parent, keep a reasonably tidy house and build your business. These are some of the goals you are likely to have:
The list could go on and on; this is just a short version. Each of these activities takes a certain amount of time out of your day. Some of it can easily be cut down, but other parts cannot be so easily limited.
Let’s take a look. Obviously, you need to spend an appropriate amount of time with your kids; otherwise what’s the point of working at home? However, it need not all be play. It is just as good for the kids to help you keep the house clean and help as appropriate in meal preparation as it is to play with them. Younger children in particular tend to love helping out. Likewise, helping with homework can’t be rushed, but you need to be aware of how much help is appropriate.
In keeping your home clean, you need to decide how much time is appropriate to spend and if there are any ways to cut back on the time without leaving your home a disaster area. You can experiment with new rules on how often the kids pick up after themselves or consequences if they do not. You can review their chores and make they have an appropriate number of them. You can decide how many times a week you really need to dust, vacuum, etc., depending on your family’s needs.
What about time spent watching television? This is one area that can often be cut. If you find you are just mindlessly watching certain shows it may be time to cut back on television watching. With technology such as TiVo available these days, you can even cut back the time it takes to watch the shows you do really enjoy.
Online activities such as checking email or surfing forums can take up a tremendous amount of time yet be relatively unproductive for many businesses (for others it may be a major source of new leads - you decide). Try limiting yourself to checking your email or favorite discussion boards to no more than once or twice a day most days. If necessary, limit the actual time spent as well.
Just as with children, there are some things in your business that should not be neglected if you want to encourage it to thrive as well. Most businesses will fade away if you don’t pay attention to them, in the form of finding new customers, advertising and so forth.
Thinking about how you spend your time and finding the most productive ways to use it will really help you in time management. Don’t just look at the small stuff; look at the big picture of what you want to achieve with your time. And don’t forget to save some time for fun!
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