The Procrastinator’s Guide to Transforming Your Time Management Skills

Raise your hand if you’ve ever said the words, “There just aren’t enough hours in the day!” Now raise your hand if you say that phrase almost every single day. *Raises both hands and feet*. Guys, life is BUSY. Each and every one of us has an overflowing schedule filled with a million to-dos and a thousand different moving parts. As much as I try to cut down, it seems that there are always more tasks than there is time.

Outfit details: Blush Tank Top, Mug (also love this similar “wife, mom, boss” mug), Frame Jeans (similar here | Bonus: under $40), French Press (also in copper here), Milk Carafe, Marble Side Table (similar here with gold legs), Quote Wall Art 

If we are being completely honest with ourselves, there should be enough time in the day if we rearrange how we approach two things: our time and our priorities. Much like the art of saying NO in business, I’ve been inspired by the way Laura Vanderkam sees time: Instead of organizing life in blocks of time, look at your tasks as mosaic tiles. All of the tiles fit together to create the mosaic of what you want your life to look like. 

As women, our roles in life are extensive and full of responsibilities. From managing our homes and households to running businesses and our careers, life in this day and age can truly be a challenge! Let’s take a close look, though, as it might be that we aren’t arranging our tiles in the best way possible to balance our time, energy, and focus. We have to ask ourselves: What tiles am I filling my life with? Are they the tiles I want to have taking up my time? Here are my top tips for a new look at successfully managing your time and your tiles and ultimately creating your best life!

Use a Physical Calendar (In Addition to Digital)

Although I am an avid user of iCal, it’s easy to fill the calendar to the brim when the box for each day can just endlessly expand as you type in more and more details! Keeping a physical daily calendar (or even a paper insert that is super easy to carry around) will stop that temptation because you can visually see how crammed your day is starting to get. The act of physically writing things down with a pen also makes you realize how much you are trying to fit into each day! Bonus: Research shows that the act of physically writing something down ties it to memory stronger than simply typing it out, making you much more likely to remember all of your commitments. 

Hit the pause button on your day as soon as your list gets TOO long (if you’re writing all around the edges and the margins it’s a sign that you’re doing TOO MUCH!). Instead, schedule that additional activity or task for another day. While it’s a temptation to jam pack everything into one single day, I love Laura’s idea of letting go of 24 hour time periods. Instead, she promotes understanding that there are 168 hours in a week with lots of space to fit in all of the important tiles. 

Find Your “GO” Time & Pour Your Joe! (Or whatever gets you fueled & going!)

My GO time is usually at night once I put my kids to bed. I will usually pour a cup of coffee or run through Starbucks (wink wink!) (Also…don’t judge me drinking caffeine at night!) I get fueled by my cup of heavenly caffeine and am SO productive for the evening. I look forward to this time at night because I know I can check many things off of my list each day during this set period of time.

People often ask Chris and me how we find time to work out. The biggest thing for us is scheduling the work out ahead of time and planning it in advance. We tell people that if they can work out first thing in the morning, that’s a formula for success! The same applies to your task management. Recent research shows that the morning is the most productive time of the day for most people. Trust me…the 3 PM afternoon fatigue is real, and it’s MUCH easier to talk yourself out of doing that workout than it is first thing in the morning. That’s not to say the morning is the best for everyone—it’s important to find that gem of time where you get the most accomplished. For me, the nighttime is actually my “GO” time. It’s quiet with fewer interruptions since the kiddos are in bed, so I set the tasks that require the most mental focus for later in the day or at night. If you’re working a traditional job and you know that 3 PM starts to feel like a struggle, set your most important tasks at the beginning of the day for maximum success. You will feel way more accomplished and less like you are struggling to get through the day!  

Declare Your Daily and Weekly Goals

You’re probably familiar with one of our transformation tools: SMART goals. Making sure your goal is SMART— Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound—is step one to conquering the day and achieving success over the long haul. It’s also important to set realistic time lines around those goals! Realizing change will not happen in a few short weeks or months is vital for long-term success. For many of us, we have NO idea how long it takes to accomplish something. It’s like that phrase, “I’ll be ready in five minutes.” Well, we all know that five minutes is never actually just five minutes. For a realistic measure of time, use a time tracker like Toggl to understand how much time it actually takes to accomplish each individual task, and you’ll have an even deeper understanding of what it will take to accomplish your goals. 

Take a Break (a Real One!)

For many of us, taking a break means scrolling quickly through Facebook or Instagram to check in with the world (I’m guilty of it too). Research shows the more connected you are on social media, the more likely you are to have an increase in depressed feelings. Put down your smart phone and/or close your Facebook tab and try to create a definitive physical split between work and breaks. It’s so important to set our minds up this way to alleviate that stress we feel from always being connected to the virtual world. To take a true break, physically stand up, walk away from your computer, and do something as simple as getting a glass of water in another room, stretching, or walking down the hall. While these tasks seem overly simple, do them for no other reason than to clear your mind and physically separate your break space from your work space. This is especially important for those of us who don’t work a traditional office job where the home/work life gets even more blurred (not to mention the working with your spouse aspect!). If you can, set up a space in your house dedicated to work. It can be a chair with a lap desk or a desk somewhere in your house if you don’t have a separate home office.

When it’s time to take a break, get up, leave your phone on the desk, and make yourself a healthy snack or just relax for five to ten minutes. You will likely come back to your space with more mental clarity than if you continued to blur the spaces by scrolling through your phone in the same mental and physical space you utilize for work. 

Exercise

I bet you didn’t see this one coming! But it’s true. While some people can ride their bikes or walk to work, those of us who have to drive can add small things to our daily routine by replacing a one-on-one sit down meeting with a walking meeting or by taking a quick walk outside after lunch. These small breaks in your day allow you to decompress, refresh, and start anew for your next task. It’s a brain break that’s also good for your entire being. It’s easy to push exercise off until later, but later turns into tomorrow, and the cycle goes on and on. What you’re truly missing out on is that time to put your brain on pause (this is SO necessary) and focus on yourself in the now without the push-and-pull of your daily life. 

Flipping the script on time management, in addition to saying no to the tiles that don’t fill your mosaic, allows you to see what’s really important—it’s a major game changer. While it might seem necessary to apologize for this shift and how you place your tiles, it’s important to remember that you and only you are responsible for how your mosaic looks, and if you’re getting the tasks done, what are you apologizing for? The sooner we stop trying to squeeze bits into every facet of our daily lives, the sooner we will walk away feeling more balanced and accomplished.

xo,

Heidi

Related reading:

The Art of Saying NO! My 5 Tips for Saying “Nope” in Business + Life
A Lotta Tabata || 4-Minute Total Body Toning Workouts
Sharpen the Saw || Unplug and plug IN to LIFE!
Fit On The Job! 6 Tips + 14 Exercises for the Desk Bound Professional
Just say NO! My Less Is More Resolution
Fit in 9 Minutes: The Busy Woman’s Workout


5 Comments

  1. Elizabeth Allen - August 15, 2018

    This is one of my favorite posts. I’ve come back to reread this several times this summer. My job is demanding, my family obligations are demanding, and I’ve found this post makes all these seem less daunting. I make a priority list everyday of what is most important to what is less important. I conquer the bigger stuff in the morning during my go time and though I don’t get a scheduled break I make sure to find a few brain break minutes.

  2. Pat - May 22, 2018

    Hi Heidi!

    Can I have a body like yours at 58 after invasive spinal canal surgery 8-25-17? I’m still walking with a cane and the nerves are coming back on line. I have been fat most of my life with the typical ups and downs in weight along with all the newest fads. I have in my heart the need and desire to finally find that goal and keep it. I know I can do it.

    You and Chris are very inspirational. I love watching you both help others.

    Pat

    • Team Powell - May 23, 2018

      Hi Pat: So sorry to hear about your surgery, and we hope you continue to recover. 🙂 You might want to check out Chris and Heidi’s program, and you can learn about it here: https://heidipowell.net/9060. And be sure and discuss any nutrition and exercise program with your healthcare team first and then follow any recommendations they may suggest. You can do this – we wish you all the best! 🙂

  3. Beatrice - May 14, 2018

    Hello Heidi
    Am Beatrice from Kampala Uganda in Africa. I love your TV program and I pray always that one day I will be one of the persons chosen for the transformation of my life. I have always been overweight compared to my peers. Am 37years now, a mother of twins 7years this year, underwent a terrible divorce with the father of the twins and this escalated my weight problems. I have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes & High blood pressure. In 2017 August 25th I remarried a wonderful man but feel my past struggles weighing me down. I really need your help to gain control of my today and have hope of a new family and life to be there to raise the twins and have children in the new marriage. Love your work and dedication to transforming lives. Beatrice

    • Team Powell - May 15, 2018

      Hi Beatrice: Thank you for your comment! You can begin your transformation journey TODAY with the tools in this post: https://heidipowell.net/9060. And you might also want to check out our app – The TRANSFORM App – which offers you a customized nutrition and workout program that adjusts as you progress towards your goals. You can learn more about the app here: http://thetransformapp.com. And please discuss any nutrition and workout program with your healthcare team first and then follow any modifications they may recommend. You can do this! 🙂

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