Three Ways to Reduce Your Time Management Stress

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Sharon collapsed onto the couch wondering, “Where did the time go?” She looked over her to-do list from the day, and saw only half of the items completed.

The list seemed reasonable when she wrote it out this morning, but she went to bed feeling like a failure.

Has that ever happened to you?

A stuffed calendar and an overflowing to-do list can lead to stress, meltdowns, and discouragement, but there are ways to refine how you manage your time, so that there’s more time for an unrushed walk with God and for building healthy relationships. Let’s look at three.

Develop an Evening Routine

What we do toward the end of the day is the most important foundation for the next day and week. Flylady.net calls it the “before bed routine.” I call it “FINISH” and am working on getting more disciplined with an evening checklist that will set me up for a better tomorrow.

You can do the same. Make a list of a few tasks that would positively impact the next morning if you could do them consistently. These may include:

  • packing lunches
  • getting clothes out (including accessories)
  • having a bit of quiet time
  • reviewing tomorrow’s calendar
  • packing up extra items like gym bags, computer items or coupons for shopping

For me, I use the word FINISH as an acronym to represent certain steps:

  • F–fill humidifier/diffuser
  • I – inspirational reading
  • N – next day prep of clothes, bags, etc.
  • I –  in-box zero (email and snail mail gone through)
  • S – self care (grooming, vitamins, etc.)
  • H – house tidying

Do whatever works for you to consistently finish your day well.

Develop a Morning Routine

An effective evening routine is enhanced by a smart morning routine. Again, write down what would make for an ideal morning, with items such as:

  • having a quiet time with God
  • exercising
  • eating a good breakfast
  • tidying the house
  • checking mail

I use “BEGIN” to note these items. For me they include reminders of components of my morning such as “neaten the house” and “grooming.”

  • B – breakfast
  • E – exercise and email
  • G – grooming
  • I –  inspirational reading, praying
  • N – neatening up

Again, make a list that’s realistic and that works for you, and be willing to adjust it. Try to get into a daily routine, using your list as a guide.

Plan for Transitions

One of my weaknesses is a tendency to not allow enough time to transition between appointments. In this season of my life, I spend a lot of time at home. Because I live in a somewhat rural area, it’s more efficient to stack appointments when I do go out. That means it often takes planning. I need to have gather what I want to bring along, take a few moments to leave the house in decent condition, and touch up my personal appearance.  Therefore, I am teaching myself to allow at least 15 minutes of transition/pack up time. If I need to be somewhere that is 40 minutes away at 11:00, I need to stop working on the computer at 10 and take 15 minutes for the transition, not push my computer work to 10:15.

Overcoming our time management struggles takes intentionality. They won’t fix themselves. Getting a handle on these first three will be a tremendous help toward significant improvement!

Question: Which of these three suggestions would be the best one for you to start using?

This post originally appeared as a guest post at Take Heart Ministries. I will be doing a breakout session on this topic (and adding seven more tips) at their conference on March 29. There is still time to register.