Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Time Management

image via weheartit

I've received a few requests to do a little blog on two topics: time and money management. Before I even begin, I need to tell you that I am NO expert in either thing. In regards to time, sometimes I find myself stretched way too thin, and I'll be the first to admit that I am a recovering flaky teen, who would flit from one idea or person to the next! Bad habits fortunately died way back when, but even though I do manage to get a lot done in a day, sometimes I need to take my own advice, like anyone who feels comfortable enough to dole it out. And on the subject of money...definitely not an expert, but I've been on both sides of the coin (literally, haha)- I've had debt, and also been, like now- debt free.

Today I thought I would talk a little bit about time management. Again, I am no expert but I am more than happy to share some tips and tricks that have worked for me! I'm going to pretend that I am talking to someone who who has little to no organization in their life. Also- none of this will be new to anyone, but perhaps it will give you a little inspiration in your life!

1) Get a simple planner. I have been using a planner since I was in middle school, when they would give us the big spiral-bound ones with my school's logo on the front, and my teacher would force us to write down our homework each day, for points. Back then it was a chore, but as time went by I found myself gravitating towards planners and feeling absolutely lost without mine. Now, I write everything in it; to-do lists, gym plans for the day, appointments, you name it. Carry it with you at all times, and write everything in it! Look at it often.

2) Get into the habit of making what I call "Sunday lists." On Sunday morning I will sit down with my planner and make a few different lists: large to-dos for the week, bills to pay, shopping lists, meal plans and workout times/plans.

This doesn't replace the smaller to-do lists in your actual planner, and I actually take some of the info and copy it right into my planner. I don't copy over my meal plans, shopping lists or workout plans, but I do rewrite my due bills and to-dos in there. What I will write in there for the larger lists are things like "gym: 6-7pm" or "stop by grocery store," and after my workout, I'll write a quick rundown of what I did in my planner so I have it to look back on as time goes by to see what weeks I worked hard, almost as a bit of a motivator on weeks I feel like just staying in bed.

As far as meal plans, it's easy. All you have to do is figure out which days of the week you won't be going out. For us, we have a fairly large family base in town and once a week we typically find ourselves going out with them for a meal. On the weekends we do more of a free-for-all, and cook what we feel like at the moment or just graze leftovers, etc. But during the week it's nice to know what we're having and also having all the tools and supplies to make it. Secondly, we both work at the moment so it's nice to be able to bring some left-overs to work the next day.

So, first thing is to figure out what you want to make and serve. An example:

Monday: black bean tacos with soyrizo and homemade guacamole
Tuesday: Ezekial tortilla pizzas and salad
Wednesday: veggie soup and black bean patties wrapped in lettuce
Thursday: broccoli/tofu stirfry
Friday: out to eat with family

Then all you have to do is figure out what ingredients you need for each meal (lots of overlap helps with cost!) and then make a grocery list. Done!

If you want to be even more organized, you can do this on Sunday and also pre-make meals for lunch if you bring it to work everyday. Lots of planning, but makes your week so easy.

3) Schedule YOU time. If there's one thing I'm good at, it's making time for me! Luckily Hank is someone who also loves time to himself as well, and we definitely aren't the kind of couple that needs to be curled up on top of each other on the couch all night. We'll usually eat dinner together, but then go off for a few hours and do whatever we need or want to get done. I like to spend my free time on the weekdays at the gym, reading in bed, or blogging. All three of these things are very relaxing to me. Hank spends his time doing school work, working on work stuff, fiddling around online, or playing/writing music. After we've both got our fill of doing whatever we feel like doing, we usually find our way to the couch, or somewhere together where we wind down together before bed. I couldn't ever imagine being in a relationship where I didn't have time to do things for me. You have to make time for you, in order to feel motivated to do anything else. Now, this is all about to change for me in just a few months when our son is born...but for now I'll luxuriously enjoy two straight hours of uninterrupted reading in bed, with a bowl of popcorn next to me.

And as far as actually scheduling this time, I actually write my gym times as if it's an appointment. On Sundays I'll look at my whole schedule and say okay, we have a family dinner Monday so I need to workout right after work. Tuesday I have parent teacher conferences all night so I need to go at 5am before work, and so on. This way I know when I need to go, and it happens. When things get busy, it's imperative I do this, because for me, working out is my biggest stress and anxiety reliever. Exercise is my favorite thing to do, and if I don't do it I just start to feel...off. Having an entire week planned out is such a relief to me. All I have to do is get there.

4) Break up cleaning on specific days. Nothing's worse to me than having a totally messy house. I HATE it and it makes me crazy. It's hard to know where to even begin! Now, if you were to come into my house this summer, you'd be hard-pressed to find a room that's perfectly organized and put away. We haven't been home much, so as I type there is an open suitcase at my feet and two brown packing boxes to my right. We're in the process of buying and moving sometime soon (cross your fingers that the tail-end of this short sale house we're trying to purchase works out!) so we've been slowly packing things up. But anyway, I digress. During the school year when we are home and settled, what works best for us is breaking up chores on particular days. By no means do we have a chore chart, but when you vacuum every Monday it becomes habit. Just look at the main things you have to do to keep your house tidy, and do one major thing everyday. Monday- vacuum, Tuesday- laundry, Wednesday- organization, Thursday- bathroom(s) and kitchen quick cleans, Friday- dust and small chores (this is just an example I just made up). Then when the weekend comes you have a wonderfully clean house and you can enjoy! It takes just 30 minutes a day, and for instance with the kitchen/bathroom "quick cleans," means that you are wiping down all of the counters, applicable appliances, making sure your fridge is up to date, etc. If you keep these rooms clean all week you won't have much to do. Deep cleaning can happen when you have a lot of time, but if you do these things once a week nothing ever builds up and always stays fresh!

5) Know your weak areas and use your planner to help you get past them. Let's say you never call people back- well, write down in your planner "call so-and-s0 back." If you continuously miss a bill deadline, figure out which day it's due, then write it in your planner for the entire year with reminders the week before. I'll talk more about this in my money-management post but when I get my new planner I write the ENTIRE year out, in terms of pay days, what's due, etc. It's so, so helpful and I've never had a late payment or bill in my life. You should be writing down every appointment you have, the moment you make them. Whip out your planner at the dentist, schedule your hair appointments, even hangouts with friends right in those pages. I can skim through the next few months and know exactly what's coming up, who is visiting, where Hank will be on tour, etc. It's wonderful.


In terms of planners, you should pick something simple but also something you think is pretty! I prefer to use the planners that have ample space for each day. I don't use the actual monthly calendar, so the daily space is most important to me. I don't get anything fancy, just a small Dayminder one from Target for like $6. I've had super pretty ones I've ordered from Etsy before, but when it comes down to it, I love simplicity and these cheap ones give that to me.

for my blog on time management

So, overall the main thing is to just get the planner and start writing in it. When a week has gone by and all of a sudden you realized you've made such great use of your time, you've gotten so much done, and you've been on top of things- it's a GREAT feeling. You'll get used to feeling organized, reliable and put together, and it will become a habit. Start today if you've never had a planner or done this before. Head out to the store, pick one up, and start scheduling your time. At first it may seem weird to write all of these things down, but as you cross or check off your to-dos, make payments on time, I promise you'll love it. AND if you're a student, this will make your life one million times better.

Let me know what YOU do to stay organized. I'm sure my readers would love to hear what you have to say in the comments. Good luck and have fun!



  1. Great advice. I am a lot like you in the whole planner thing. That thing is my life!

    I don't plan nightly meals, but I think I should start b/c then I wouldn't be like uhhh what should I make today... you know?

    Thanks for the good advice!

  2. Awesome post! I've always been an avid list/schedule maker, but have kind of strayed lately. I can't wait to use our move next month as a way to get organized all over again!


  3. This is great, thank you! I am super organised at work, but so unorganised at home so I will definitely be using some of these tips! xo

  4. Great tips! I already have planner cuz i am young (20) but when i started to go to college and started to have more things to do, not just on college but got some problems at home and i could say, came into adult hood for good, just had to get a planer. But also as a designer i get ideas all the time so it's good to have something i can quickly sketch.
    I love the way you marrige works! i would like to have that one day!

  5. Great post! I'm a big advocate of the daily planner and wouldn't be without mine.

    I look forward to the money management post!

  6. i used to rely on my planner and be so organized, but then life got really messy for some reason. now i am finding my way back. i really enjoyed this post!

  7. Wow... I wish I felt the same way you do about exercise. Not me. I hate it and basically don't do it. Maybe scheduling would work; not sure. Ditto for meal planning. Question... How do you know what you will be in the mood to eat on any given night?

    Your discipline is an inspiration! Thanks for a great post!


    Karen Beth :)

  8. Karen Beth- sometimes we switch meals up if one day something sounds better, but usually it all sounds good. Plus, I'm usually the one cooking while Hank is at work so I just make the executive decision. ;)

  9. i think the 'sunday list' is the key. while i do keep a pretty detailed planner, sometimes i'll simply forget to look at it at a specific/important time. having super important things in a list makes it easier to keep track of those things!

  10. Really good advice! Can I please come over to your house for dinner?
    I think you should do a separate 'veggie meals' post!
    One thing that helps me plan is having nice stationery. I just picked up a really nice back-to-school planner from Big Lots for $3(it even has tabs for the months).

  11. Great advice! I think it would really help me to plan out meals, but with my crazy schedule I dont always have the time for regular meals, or feel like cooking. But I guess I could plan for my laziness as well.

  12. Love it! Really great advice. :)

  13. back when i was in college my planner was my best friend... everything was colour-coded and organized and i wrote everything down! i even used a calendar on my macbook to keep track of things. when i graduated last year, i stopped using one... worst decision ever! i've realized that i will always be one of those people who needs a planner with them at all times, because i'm SO scatterbrained! ;) i can't keep track of anything, and my schedule ends up all over the place. i've definitely learned my lesson... haha!

  14. I so need to start doing this in my life... Minus the working out part, gosh this one seems impossible to reach yet! Thank you for this great post!

  15. Oh my gosh! Thank you for this! This is so so great!

  16. This is great advice! A lot of my days are filled with a very hectic schedule so I will definitely have to try this out. Thanks so much!<3333

  17. You have noooooooo idea how grateful i am you posted this. I have always admired how you have a chance to work, blog, take care of yourself, your family, relax, i wanted to know your secret! this is great advice. i've read something like, "just make a list" but it takes a bit more and this is exactly what i needed to read.

  18. I seriously feel like I could have written this whole post. I do pretty much everything the same as you've mentioned. I am in a state of panic without my planner, lol.

    If I ever leave it at home and someone asks me if I can do something on a certain date I always tell them I can't make any commitments until I can look at my planner! Most people laugh - but without it I would be a mess!

  19. I really need to get myself organised more, I suffer from a highly active Monkey mind and am always on the go it feels! I've just bought myself a planner, My whole life is synced between my phone and computer but for some reason it sticks in my mind more if i write it down lol

  20. So glad you did this post. I follow you on twitter and think to myself- wow! She makes times for everything. I am definitely feeling inspired. :)

  21. Ha, this is amazing...We use the same exact planner.

    I absolutely LOVE the plan ahead planner, and kind of panic if I feel I need to use something different, mostly because I like the large amount of room it gives me for each day. (I write out my big bill due dates in the month section, and keep my scheduling in the week pages).

    Good advice!

  22. I am very unorganized at the moment but I think that's mainly due to my age. I am trying though! I really should invest in a planner especially with a baby on the way, these were really good tips.


  23. Holy shit! (excuse my French) can you say angel sent from heaven? You seriously answered and basically helped me with what my boyfriend and I have been stressing about. We ways stress on what we will cool fir the week and seriously sometimes it's so hard the we don't eat ANYTHING for dinner :/. And spend money we shouldn't spend on for lunch. Danielle, you've helped and opened my eyes like you wouldn't believe. Thanks! <3

    Denise :)

  24. Hi Danielle - I love your super organised post, the recipes ideas have me salivating - are they recipes you have made yourself or from a book? Love carly x

  25. I'm always trying to find ways to get MORE organized and this helped me a lot. Especially planning meals for the week. Thank you!


  26. What a great post. Something I'm dealing with right now. Loving your blog hun!

  27. thanks for the great tips on time management..I will share this to my friends..looking forward for more posts from you...