You’ve all been there. You work all day, come home and by the time you’ve gotten almost everything done on your checklist, it’s time for sleep. You wake up and repeat the same thing over again. After four or five days of this, you’re completely exhausted. What happened to the week? …. And what happened to the year?
Along with being a working professional comes a speediness to life. Everything is due ASAP. Everyone needs you right NOW. You barely have a moment to be mindful and collect yourself — so how do you balance your time effectively?
We don’t have it down. Our lives are anything but perfect when it comes to time management. But we’ve learned some tricks along the way, and we want to start sharing those with you. That’s why we’re starting this new feature called “The Balancing Act.” Each Friday, we’ll talk about work-life balance through a short Q&A. After all, that’s why we started this blog. Please share in the comments.
Q. How do you manage your time? What tricks or tips do you use to “get it all done?”
Jenna: I try to manage my time but making a list of everything that needs to get done, and then putting it in order. After that, I assign deadlines and spread it out on a monthly view calendar. My planner is my go-to. Mostly, I use the whole month view which helps me manage all my obligations outside of work. For work, I utilize Outlook which syncs to my phone and color code meetings, working time, and personal appointments.
Rose: The first tip — I never expect to get it all done. That usually doesn’t happen. So, I decide what I can do in a given week, and I write it all out on my Erin Condren planner. I use this book for my health coaching biz, but I also add appointments throughout the day — both work and personal. There is a monthly view, too, which is good longer-term goals. Beside this journal I keep a notepad. Throughout the day I jot down personal things I need to accomplish like “Buy a gift for Aurora” or “Email Mom.” Having it on a list means I’ll do it that day. It also means I can go down the list on my lunch break and get it all done. As far as work stuff, Outlook is my savior. I save emails in my INBOX that need to be addressed. I also have an IN PROGRESS folder with all of the stories I’m working on during a given month.
Q. Do you have a process when it comes to deciding what to do now versus what to accomplish later?
Jenna: For work, that is usually dictated by the business needs and asks from my boss. For personal, it is all about priorities. Very rarely do personal activities assign you a “deadline” but I like to make my own. For example, if I want to get 4 things accomplished over the next week, I start back-filling my calendar to be sure everything gets accomplished. I also write reminders for steps like “buy tickets for that concert” so I get it on the calendar and have a plan.
Rose: I’m with Jenna. At work, this is usually dictated by my boss, and we have a loose editorial calendar. In terms of personal priorities — like running a challenge group or helping out with the lit journal I co-run — I look at what I need to accomplish in a month and then break those tasks down week-by-week.I have regularly scheduled hours for my hobbies, which sounds crazy, but really helps me to get things done in a timely manner.
Q. How do you say “no” to free up more time in your life for other things?
Jenna: At work, it is hard for me to say ‘no’. I certainly can, but I usually try to do everything that comes my way. Personally, there are certain people I have trouble saying no to and I’ve really started to work on that. Rule of thumb: if something isn’t going to bring me joy, I nix it. OR if I’m going to be more stressed if I say yes. Example: I know if I spend a few hours in the evening on Sundays prepping food for the week, I feel less stressed. I’ll often say “no” to Sunday night get-togethers for this reason.
Rose: I don’t quite say “no” at work unless I’m really under the gun. Instead, I might ask for help. In my personal life, I choose my hobbies carefully. I have many passions, and there is not always time to feed them all. So I go with what’s working at the time. This summer, it’s been all about fitness. In the spring, I was much more creative, working on books. So if something doesn’t feel right for that season, I say no. And I try to really listen to my gut on that one.
Q. How do you manage your time differently at work versus at home?
Jenna: I actually think I managed to answer this already, but specifically, I love the flexibility and ability to say ‘no’ in my personal life. I have my priorities and know what brings me joy, so that’s what I go with. Sometimes it is hard to “fit it all in” and be sure that all relationships in my life feel nurtured, but we can’t do everything.
Rose: I am regimented in both spaces and create a lot of lists. At work, I am usually much more focused — but that’s because I’m less tired! At home, I try to actually manage my time less … if that makes sense. That’s a space where I can be organic and not have to worry so much about accomplishing it all.
The Balancing Act is a weekly series written by the authors of the Nine to Five Balance. Check back next Friday for a discussion on balancing and achieving health goals while working full-time.