Time management

6 November 2008

We had 45 mm of rain (just under 2 inches) yesterday. Here are some of our chooks drinking the rain caught on their wire fence.

You are more likely to build the life you want for yourself if you use everything you have at hand. One of the things we don't always think of as an asset is the time we have available to us every day. Time is intangible, sometimes we forget it's one of our treasures. One of the many things I had to learn to give me the full measure of each day was time management. I have to know that the time available to me each day is used productively.

It's too easy to sit down with a good book or my knitting, it's too easy to read blogs for hours and it's too difficult to recover from it. My simple life is about a mindful rhythm of work that bubbles along at an easy pace, it's about consistency of purpose and it's about focus and getting my jobs done. In a nutshell, it's about time management and if I keep to my plan I know that everything I have to do, as well as those things I want to do, will be done.

I work harder in my home now than at any other time in my life. There are chores to be done here that in past times would have been done by others – I, like many others, bought convenience and freed my time to work for money to pay for it. I've seen the light now – I know that I can still have all I need and want in my home if I do the work for it – and to fit it all in the time each day affords, I need to manage my time effectively.

The vegetable garden, next to the chook house, from the other side of the backyard.

Here are a few things that I do that might work for you too:

I have goals. Every morning when I rise, I know what I want to do that day. I used to write it all down but now, with the experience of so many days and the rhythm of my work built into my days, I know what and when I will do my work. But this is one of the things you can do to organise yourself - write a list of what we need to do tomorrow. Write your list in the order you will do your tasks, or the most important tasks first, but we flexible enough to change it if it doesn't all go to plan.

This is a difficult one to develop. I started doing this when I was much younger and my boys were in primary school. Then, I was working full time and studying for a degree, as well as being a mother and a wife. I discovered that if I rose early I had a few hours of time when I was alone to study or write. I still do this but now it's the time I write my blog - so what I want to do doesn't impact on what I have to do.

Having your meals organised will help you relax enough for your other tasks. You'll know what you'll be preparing for dinner that night and have all the ingredients waiting for you. No last minute panic, no rushing to the store to buy something that is missing.

I believe children benefit a lot if they grow up knowing they contribute in a practical way to the welfare of their home. From an early age, give them tasks, within the limits of their age and ability, that help with the overall running of the house and teach them how to look after themselves in the process. They can start off putting their dirty clothes in the laundry hamper, picking up toys and feeding the cat, and progress to more involved tasks as they mature.

My days are made up of housework but for those of you who work outside the home as well, get into the habit of doing a few tasks each day. You might clean the bathroom, wash a load of laundry every morning, or vacuum the family room. Whatever it is you can manage during the week, it will keep your home in order and give you more time on the weekend to spend with the family.

Turn off the TV, walk away from the computer, say no to the neighbour who always pops in for morning coffee. Say no to whatever temps you away from today's list.

Saying no to time wasters will free up time for yourself. It will give you time with your family or to spend on sewing, or a spare 30 minutes to sit alone with your thoughts and a cuppa.

Stockpiling groceries has turned my weekly trip to the supermarket into one that I do maybe once a month. Shopping once a month instead of weekly will free up quite a few hours for other things you need or want to do.

Doing a few extra things at night will free up time the following morning. Most families are in a rush in the morning - if you can do a quick tidy up, make tomorrow's lunches, put on a load of laundry or pick out clothes to be worn the next day before you go to bed, you'll free up time the following morning.

The chook house from the other side of the yard.

We all have different demands on our time but one thing is common to us all, if you can manage your time effectively, delegate and make the deliberate choices that your own life requires of you, you will live well and have enough time for your family and for those things you want to do. I have no doubt that many of you have developed ways of managing your time to suit the life you live. I'd love to know what you're doing so please share if you can.

On the subject of time management, I received an email this morning from a reader who was very upset that I hadn't yet replied to her email sent a week ago. I haven't yet replied to emails sent three weeks ago, however most of you know that I try to reply to a few each day. I've been ill and then trying to catch up with my work, not to mention my book, and some things remain undone. I am sorry you all have to wait but I can only do what I can do. I'm taking the email address down again and hope that things settle down soon. And to that reader, I will reply to your email but there are others ahead of you.


  1. Rhonda
    Good idea on taking down your email... computer time can take away too many minutes of a day, can't it?!
    YEAH it's a good day here, the day after electing Obama.
    We are so excited.
    Thanks so much for your post today. I really enjoyed it.

  2. You are so right! Time is 'easy' to waste as it is not something we can see, touch, taste, hear, etc. I once set my watch to beep in minute increments - it really put me in touch with how quickly a minute passes!

  3. Rhonda I almost feel like you wrote this post in repky to my "getting things done in bursts" comment. Either way I am glad you wrote about this today.

    With nine people in out household it only takes one day of unexpected something to throw all my carefully thought out routines and lists into chaos.

    I think I will post today about what I do do and how I can overcoem the hurdles and roadblocks more easily.


  4. Well, I'm not great at time management. I used to be good when I was at work but somehow that didn't translate into the home. But there is always food for the table and clean clothes so I guess I must be doing ok.
    How rude for someone to be 'chivvying' you regarding emails. If I emailed a blogger I'd be pleased to get a reply but I wouldn't absolutely expect one and I certainly wouldn't be chasing it!

  5. Rhonda, your posts are always welcome to us, but take time for you. If somebody is so impatient that they are rude enough to chase you for a reply, then they really are missing out on some of the points that you make regarding simplifying lives. We are grateful for the time that you take out of yours and Hannos' time to spend with us through your postings.
    Big hugs to you both and I hope Hanno is feeling better now. xx

  6. This made my day, or should I say evening, I'm going to bed soon:)

    You are so right, and now I'm inspired to make lists and weekly dinnermenues again. I have made it before and know how good it feels to know what's for dinner and what I need to purchase at our weekly trip to the store.

    I agree with everything you write, and thank you for reminding me of these thing! :D

    Best wishes, Kristin

  7. Rhonda, you are correct that time management is important. If I find myself rushing from task to task on the list, I always remember Robert Frost who said

    "We have all the time in the world."

    That makes me pause, slow down, breathe, and be still to see the beauties around me. Then things seem time-less.

    I hope you and Hanno have recovered from your illnesses, and don't worry about the emails.

    My best,

    Anna Marie of the bread (baking some now)

    PS: Yes we can! We can overcome! Thank goodness America did the right thing.

  8. This was a great post as this is one area I am pretty good at. Time management. I find that before I go to bed, that if the kitchen is cleaned up, the bathrooms tidied and a load of laundry in the washer ( all of this takes me less than a 1/2 hour ). I have my to do list by my puter for the next day. Menus are planned a week in advance so my grocery shopping is easier and when I work later in the day, the family is left instructions on how to make or finish dinner.
    I am an organizing freak!

  9. Rhonda, thank you so much for writing this. I needed to hear this today.

  10. Hi Rhonda,
    This is a timely (excuse the pun!) post for me as my time management has gone haywire and I'm drifting at sea. I do know that when I write 'to do' lists I'm more productive and focused. They work for me every time.
    Thank you for this post, and so glad you're feeling better - I hope Hanno is too.
    Diana xx

  11. Great post,
    I'm a stay at home mom. I'm the world's worst at putting things off. I have it in my head well I won't be doing anything tomorrow so I'll just do it then, of course come tomorrow I have another excuse. I really need to get better and spend my time more wisely, also grocery shopping, we're so bad about going everyday. Ughhhh....
    The computer is something that takes up so much of my time. Once my husband and I were talking, I talked about how my grandmother always had such a neat house, big meals cooked, she gardened, put up veggies, she even ironed her sheets! I asked my husband how on earth she had time to do those things, he replied to me "She didn't have a computer".


  12. I struggle so much with time management :( I have so many books on that subject (and procrastination!).
    I work outside the home (commute an hour each way) and am always missing deadlines at work and am always trying to catch up and fight fires. Similarly, my home life is entirely chaotic. I feel that if I could start with a clean slate then I would be ok but there will never be a clean slate! I was feeling panicky today but reading this post makes me feel a teeny bit calmer. Rhonda - can I ask you how much sleep you get? I never feel as if I have enough sleep and wonder about the people who get up early. Sparkly

  13. Me again! I also wanted to say (whinge!) that when I get home I feel so drained of energy and wired from work that it is as if I cannot switch into housewife mode. Does anyone else feel like that?


  14. Good post! You are so right about the time wasters. I know computer time is a sort of sore point with some bloggers, but I honestly think we all spend waaay too much time on the computer (me included)!
    Sorry someone is bothering you about answering emails!


  15. Time gets lost for me while I am on the computer lol.. I really needed to hear this today! Thank you Rhonda, once again!

  16. I love the picture of the hens looking at the grass. I guess to them it is greener on the other side, LOL

  17. Thank you for this post and I want to know if somehow you were in my front room last night?!? I was just wondering to myself how I could possibly get everything done that I need to do.
    I will take your advice and make it fit my life style and go for it! Thanks again!

  18. Thank you so much for replying to my query I do appreciate your good council. I was unaware of your being ill Rhonda. I do hope your health pursues and and catches you in an embrace. I will try the water trick in the morning. What a delight and joy it was to serve the family the foods I have grown. Rhonda I am so grateful I did not give up on my dream and made it happen , even if it was to be here in the suburbs.

    I use a life balance wheel. A pie chart of type and note each aspect of my personalty. Education, physical care, parenting, homemaking, spiritual, Relationships, Art/crafts (creative outlet), finance, pet care, and Menu, Gardening/yard care and my newest slice...the "I matter to me" slice. As you can see my pie is cut thin so...I just make a bigger pie! :) Management is as important to me as balance.
    Each slice of the pie overlaps another.
    Perhaps this will help foster ideas for your writ.

  19. I found your blog via several others. I like your canning skills and stockpiling.....so we have several things in common. I'm a Rhonda too. Take care.

  20. Snap - I was a mature student - with a young family - so the only time I had to work on my essays was when I woke at 4.30 a.m. and cracked on with them. Fortunately I've always been an early riser, and it's a habit which is still with me. I come on the computer first thing, and then the rest of the day is for "doing" - currently reclaiming a big chunk of paddock and doubling the size of our soft fruit plot and vegetable garden.

  21. Just wanted to share this with you and fellow readers:

    On Melbourne Cup day my paretns asked us to attendd a function at their retirement village. What a joy to see people well into their 80's and some even 90's having fun and dressing up, hats and all for a special lunch. Some of the men had been prisoners of war and worked on the Burma railway and others also had fought in the 2nd world war. Many of the ladies are now on their own so rely on each other for company and fun. So many were an inspiration. Then I found out that two of these 'old fellas' ( one of whom is my father), have taken on a section of the communal vegetable garden to grow vegetables for their little community. Both have their own plots in their small backyards but this is an extra. I thought how lovely it was that even though both well into their 80's there is still that old fashioned ideal of looking after your neighbor. Another gentlemen turned up on the day who had been very ill and his daughter and son-in-law bought him along. The warm welcome and clapping and hugs he received bought tears to my eyes - which is not always hard to do.

    I do hope we can all have this same caring philosphy as we get even older, I guess it is what we have been teaching our children and grandchildren, now we know it was passed down to us without even realizing it.

    Wishing everyone a happy day.

  22. I have found FlyLady (a free website and mailing list) really helpful for structuring my days, and there is lots of helpful stuff on her website. However, I do
    killfile a lot of e-mail that doesn't apply to me or that I find annoying. Disclaimer: I'm one of the co-moderators of a FlyLady-related list.

  23. What a great post Rhonda, and a reminder when life seems to want to overtake us with all its demands and you can't work out what to tackle first and you find yourself in a big pickle just worrying about getting through the day! Thanks.

  24. Great blog!

    I heard someone once say that a key to good parenting is to "beat your kids up" every day.

    I like the idea of making lists, but I always forget where I put them.

  25. Good post Rhonda! It's always a shock to my entire system when daylight savings goes away for the winter (where does it go I wonder!?). My "at home" time seems mostly to be in the dark and cold. I don't mind the cold but it does seem that I have to readjust to the dark times of the year. I'm struggling to be more productive when I get home from work and just know that watching trash tv is the culprit.

    At the risk of being a "post killer" (and forgive me) I'm reflecting on all those comments from your last post. Winston Churchill once said "A 20 year old person who is not a liberal has no heart. A 40 year old person who is still a liberal has no brain". I guess I have no brain! Then again it was Mark Twain who said "the liberals of this century are the conservatives of the next".
    It's as hard for a liberal to tolerate a conservative's ideas as it is the reverse. Always will be - and we always must try.

  26. I really like this post. It made me think, and I am going to try to incorporate a couple of your suggestions. Thanks!

  27. Rhonda...we are just the opposite. Since I worked for so many years and raised 2 generations of children for 40 years, now I like to live without schedules. I work occasionally to supplement my retirement, but when I am at home, I have no schedule and just take life as it comes. If I want to sit on my porch and read all afternoon, I do. Sometimes, I take long walks on the nature trail for inspiration and some days I work on my crafts. I also love to bake and cook, but if I don't feel like it one day, we have pancakes or eggs for dinner.

    I feel so grateful to live simply so that I can indulge in my simple pleasures.

  28. Helpful and thought provoking post, thanks Rhonda!
    For time managament assistance I have looked to my grandparents who have been a wonderful inspiration, Laura Ingalls as they had a rhythm to their days, flylady dot net has helped me to not be overqhlemed with the housework and to do little bits each day; and finally gather little bits here and there.
    We have the tv off ALOT, it's wonderful! I have cut down my computer time and when I haven't been up most of the night with little children I love the early hours of the morning - the peace, the solitude and the ability to achieve so much before the children rise.
    My husband and father are also a help - they are the ones that tell me to do a little often.
    Thankyou again for writing such a helpful post!
    Bec xxx

  29. thanks for the time management suggests.

  30. Time manageent is something I've always had problems with, but am working to improve on. I'm getting better but have a long ways to go. I found giving up my afternoon soaps (really only 1, occasionaly 2 a day) was the biggest time saver for me. I told myself it wasn't a waste of time, as I would do my knitting then as well, but I've found my knitting has picked up speed (and quality!) by switching from TV to the classics on the radio. Thank you for this post. Some great tips on how to get started or improve on where we are at the moment.

  31. Hi Rhonda

    I can't believe people can be so rude as to 'demand' a reply from you.

    Had a quick squwiz at this post but will come back for a slow read later. From the looks of it, another great post to make us think.

    Cheers - Joolz

  32. Rhonda-- Just wanted to post and say how sorry I was to see that the comments in your Yes We Can post turned into a ideological debate. It was a beautiful post and deserved more respect. Take care.

  33. Thank you Rhonda for a great post. I also think it's great to make list of your goals, it really helps you to stay focused. I also make sure that i get time in there for meditation and fun things too. sometimes if we feel we have a lot to do we forget to do those things that brings us peace and joy :)

  34. Excellent Post! One to come back to and ponder.

    Oh, I know what you mean about e-mails. I am at least a month behind but I'm chipping away at them.

    I so love to hear from people but having been ill along with having to prepare our place for the soon coming winter made for little e-mail time.

  35. WOW! I just found you through Ravelry and I'm so, so glad I did! I just wrote a post last night on how scattered I feel. I can't seem to get myself back in order after all the election obsession (thank goodness is wasn't for nothing!!!). So, I am starting with new lists and a bit more focus. I will need to bookmark this post to help with that last part. ;)

    Our lives could not be more different - I'm a city mouse living in a concrete loft in the sky - but WOW, this blog is inspiring. I do live frugally, and hope someday to have my own little piece of land....until then I will dream through this site.

  36. Wonderful post, as always, Rhonda :) I have a terrible habit of jumping from one thing to another, and leaving tasks undone. And, I have a tendency to be absentminded...

    I think a bit more organisation is just what is called for in my life!

  37. I LOVE waking up early in the morning. I am usually up by 5, but if I feel 'called', you will find me up at 4. Oh how I cherish these times. I've been praying to be wise with the time I have been given each day, to spend my time productively and with a joyfilled heart. I loved this post..Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom..((hugs))

  38. Hi! I just found your blog. These tips are really great. Simple but it helps to be reminded.

  39. I love all that you have written here. A pet peeve of mine is when people use the excuses "I'm just too busy" or I don't have time. We all have the same amount of time in each day, it's about prioritising, time management and planning.



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