Anyone who has tried to blog consistently while holding a full-time job knows it’s a lot of work. In addition to the 40+ hours I spend at work, I spend countless hours on top of that writing blog posts, scheduling social media blasts, designing products for my Etsy shop, etc. Not to mention the fact that I have a husband and dog who need my attention, and a home to take care of. It’s a lot. And I know there are plenty of people out there with even more on their plate! I can’t imagine the chaos that would be my life if I added kids to this mix. But like anyone in my position can attest to, it’s all about properly managing your time and establishing priorities. You get used to the busy schedule and learn how to establish priorities so the important things get done, and the people you love get enough of your time.
We all have the same 24 hours in a day. We all have the same sized time jar to fill. I’ve developed some strategies over the years to stay productive, avoid burnout, and ensure the most essential parts of my life are getting the most attention. Here are a few tips for managing your time and establishing priorities.
Set Your Priorities
Establishing priorities is going to be your first (and most important) step for learning to better manage your time. Establishing priorities in advance is also a great way to avoid wasting time on things that aren’t important to you, and then regretting it later. My #1 priority can be found at home with my immediate family (my husband, my dog, and someday probably children). Dave gets the bulk of my free time, and his needs come before those of other people and activities in my life. Since the rest of my family (parents, siblings, and extended family) are also incredibly important to me, they’re also a major priority in my life, as well as my closest friends.
My last big priority is my blog. You might be wondering why I listed my blog as a priority, which brings in a small amount of income, and not my full-time job, which helps support Dave and I. Well, it’s quite simple actually. My full-time job is a priority between the hours of 8 and 5, Monday-Friday. And that’s it. I’m not one to bring my work home with me, and you won’t see me putting my job above other parts of my life outside of the time it’s required. My blog, on the other hand, gets a lot of my free time. I give up Netflix time, sleeping time, socializing time, and all sorts of other time to work on my blog. Why? Because I hope that someday that will be my full-time job.
Identify the Nonessentials
Just as we need to set priorities in our life, the things that are going to get the most attention, we need to identify the things are present in our life but really don’t need to be. They are nonessentials. Nonessentials might be things like spending endless hours scrolling through Pinterest or Instagram. Nonessentials also might include your inability to say no, and therefore getting roped into things you don’t really want to do. Nonessentials could also be people. You’ve identified the people in your life who are priorities. I’m not saying anyone who isn’t a priority is nonessential in your life, but there are likely people you spend time with who are mentally or emotionally draining to you, or who demand too much of your time.
Saying no can be difficult, which is one of the reasons we all have nonessentials in our lives to begin with, but it’s also essential for your own well-being.
Once I’ve set my priorities, I like to take things one step further and set specific goals for those priorities. For example. Spending time with my family is a priority for me. I’m lucky that most of my family live within two hours, but my brother, sister-in-law, and niece live in Alaska. Therefore, one my specific goals in regards to that priority is to travel to Alaska next year for a visit. Now that I have a specific goal, I’ll be able to identify what steps I should be taking, such as saving money and making sure I have enough vacation time.
My blog is also a priority for me. So I regularly set specific goals that I want to meet with my blog (such as traffic and monetization). Have these goals make it so much easier to really make sure I’m giving my priorities the attention I hoped to.
So you’ve set your priorities, eliminate the nonessentials, and have set your goals. Great! The next step is to get organized. Because even once you’ve identified what you want to work toward, you still have to make a plan and put in the work. Identify steps you’ll need to accomplish in order to reach each and every one of your goals. I do this two different ways. First, I keep a to-do list with the long-term tasks I need to complete. Then each week I use a planner to break down the tasks I’ll get done that week. Though I don’t break down my day hour by hour (though you certainly could), I do designate each task to a specific day. I do that using this notepad. If you prefer a daily planner where you break your day down further, you’ll love this daily notepad!
Automate When Possible
Most aspects of my life, I’m not able to automate. There’s nothing I can do to automate spending time with my husband or caring for my dog. There’s no button I can press to have the house automatically cleaned before I get home each day. Little of what I do in my full-time job can be automated. Luckily there are plenty of things I can do to automate my blog! I schedule all of my social media for a week in one sitting. It takes me 30-60 minutes, and I don’t have to do it again for seven days. This way I’m not spending my entire day on social media. I also write and schedule my blog posts in advance, and design several Etsy products at a time that will be put up for sale over the course of several weeks. I also use things like templates for images for my blog and social media, so I’m not starting from scratch with each new image.
What are your biggest struggles when it comes to time management and establishing priorities?
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