How to Build a Solid Time Management Foundation

The following post is from Laura of I’m an Organizing Junkie:

rocking chair sunset
source: Captin Kimo

Time management and balance are always a hot topic. There is an awful lot of advice out there about how to juggle many different balls and keep them all rotating in the air just so.

Unfortunately, though, as we try and balance this erratic tightrope of life, one strong wind could come along and send all those balls flying every which way if we don’t have our feet firmly planted on solid foundation.

Trying to find “more” time in our day in order to pack even more into an already busy schedule is temporarily just patching the crack. You might hold it together for another couple of hours or even a couple of days but it’s not a permanent fix and most definitely not sustainable for the long haul. We’ve all been given the same 24 hours to manage, that we know will never change. What we can change is how we choose to fill that time.

1. Be intentional

Know your priorities. Sit down right now and list the top three things that are most important to you and why. Don’t just say them, write them down. Make a commitment to make them happen. This knowledge is the key to every decision you make about how you will spend your time. Recognize that this list can change daily and that’s okay.

This is your set of directions for purposeful living whether it be day by day or longer. For example, family dinners are a priority for me and therefore every choice that is presented to me to fill that space with other things is carefully analyzed with that goal in the forefront of my mind.

2. Set boundaries

Once you know your priorities, go about setting the boundaries of protection. I have four hours of work time on Tuesday and Thursdays while my son is in school and I need to ensure to safe guard that time to make sure my work commitments are fulfilled. I make sure others know and I communicate the plan. Designate and protect your established boundaries.

windowsill flowers
source: Bahai Views

3. Say no

Opportunities are all around us enticing us with their glorious possibilities. I also like to call them distractions. They look attractive and they are often powerful in how they woo us away from our priorities. Many times it’s hard to say no to them and they will make you question your intentions. Stand strong and confident in your ability to make your goals a priority by saying no to everything that stands in your way from making them happen. For my family that meant saying NO to many activities that happen to fall during family dinner time.

4. Schedule it in

This goes hand in hand with being intentional. If you want to make it happen, don’t just think about it; make a conscious choice to schedule it into your day. Don’t wait for the time to magically appear out of thin air because it isn’t going to happen.

5. Eliminate some of those balls altogether

Finally, this is one of the most important foundation builder steps of them all. We often get consumed with finding more time to juggle more and more balls in the air that we forget altogether about one of the most powerful choices of all — drop some of those balls altogether. Instead of trying to do more, do less. I know it’s hard to imagine this as a possibility with all that you have on your plate but I challenge you to consider letting go of just one thing to see what happens. I’m betting you’ll be surprised at the result.

Is your foundation on shaky ground? What changes can you make today to start to repair the cracks beneath you in order to consciously and purposefully manage your time?

Laura is a wife and mother to three great kids, lives in Alberta, Canada and is an addict of all things organizing. You can find her blogging regularly at I’m an Organizing Junkie, and her organizing book, Clutter Rehab: 101 Organizing Tips & Tricks to Become an Organization Junkie and Love It!, will hit bookstore shelves in December 2010.