Moms and business owners everywhere are in full swing “busy” mode armed with journals, planners, time blockers, all with the same goal: trying to create balance and perfect the elusive calendar system.
While there is no "perfect" calendar system (or planner or app), time management is the cornerstone to easing stress and creating a life you love. And the best news?
Managing your time can be simple when you focus on these three things: reflection, setting goals, and implementing a system. This allows us to align our time with our core values, honor the agreements we make with ourselves and relentlessly time block like a champion.
After all, time will go flying by whether we decide to plan for it or not.
You already know how easy it is to get caught up in day-to-day activities, emergencies, and demands on your time… even when we have clear goals with the best of intentions to reach them! Before you know it, six months (or even six years!) have flown by and looking back, you are no where near the progress you had intended to make. Instead of all the empowerment you felt when you set your goals, you’re now filled with regret, maybe even embarrassment, so you stop reviewing your goals (and forget making new ones!)
It’s common, but just because it’s normal, doesn’t mean that you have to repeat this cycle. In this blog, I’m going to show you the way to really create more time in your schedule, so you can not only hit your goals, but create the freedom you really want… even in the busiest of schedules!
This system I’m giving you consists of just three practices: establishing core values, aligning these core values to make agreements with yourself, and time blocking to make these agreements happen.
Let’s get started!
First Practice: Establish Your Core Values
As a mother, business owner, mentor and coach, I’ve discovered that identifying your core values is essential to cultivating fulfillment in your life. If you are not aligned with your priorities and values, your focus is off kilter and negative results reveal themselves mentally and physically.
However, by taking time to simply identify your core values allows you to recognize what isn’t “quite right” in your life or business right now, giving you the power to adjust it.
When we honor our core values, we honor who we are and where we are going by letting your priorities lead the way.
Here’s how to start:
Write down your normal, running to-do list.
Now look closely: What top 3 themes emerge? It may be working out, meal planning, kids' activities, client check ins, work tasks, etc.
Or maybe it’s attributes you value such as being a present parent, supportive wife, consistently working towards business goals, being healthy and in top physical shape.
Now take those top 3 and use those as your guide when managing your time, making sure your top tasks during the day align with these values.
Hint: you can still have a running “to-do” list .... it feels good to check things off! However, we ALWAYS need to do our top three things first.
If your to-do list isn’t aligned with the core values you identified, write a new one and see how different it feels seeing and knowing your values are at the top of the list.
In fact, here’s a personal story of what not to do. Before I intentionally established and ran my time based on my core values, the days/weeks/months/years ran me. I was in full blown career-mode with a long distance job, five kids, and felt crazy busy trying to do EVERYTHING. Even though I was a high performer and looked like I was checking things off on the outside, I was running on empty. I felt unfulfilled and frustrated because no matter how much I “did”, my to-do list was getting longer and longer every day. That’s when I discovered how critical this piece was to living a life and building a business I wanted to create, not just the one I had.
Next, chunking tasks together and identifying the top three tasks with aligned values has been a lifesaver for me, and don’t just take my word for it. Lindsay Goss-Honnold, Nurse at Diabetes Center describes that her work with this type of strategy is something she implements on a daily basis. These practices give her space to not only prioritize and chunk time, but to help her feel more in control as a creative with a fast paced work environment and help to control her self -proclaimed scattered tendencies.
Second Practice: Agreements
The agreements we make with ourselves help us understand why we let ourselves off the hook. In most cases, it’s because we say “yes” to others when we should be saying “no” without guilt. The skill of saying “no” is important in honoring ourselves and the core values we identified previously.
First, I want you to ask yourself, “What agreements have I made to myself in the past that I then broke and let myself down?”
Example : “I know one of my core values is being healthy, but I let myself off the hook when I don’t work out.”
Then ask yourself, “What excuses am I using to break these agreements?”
Example: “I was too busy.” (most common one!)
Now that you’ve seen what has knocked you off course in the past, use your 3 core values and list 3 new agreements that you will no longer allow yourself “off the hook”
For me, “getting organized” was one area where I continually let myself off the hook every single year, one constant was that it was one of my failed New Year’s Resolutions! That’s why I had to flip the system so instead of making a resolutions, and failing at it, I made “Organization” a top core value and made an agreement for myself to create a system to keep the chaos under control.
The skill of keeping 3 Agreements that are aligned with your 3 Core Values is the key planning piece to managing your time to create the freedom to live the lifestyle you desire.
Third Practice: Putting it All Together with Time Blocking
Here is the action to put behind your core values and agreements. You master your daily calendar by intentionally Time Blocking.
Now that you have identified your core values and agreements, these tasks (or what I call non-negotiables), need to go into your calendar first in an effort to create a system of time that is aligned and centered. Time blocking is just scheduling your to-do list against your calendar. You block off the time you’ll be working on a specific thing ahead of time, and during that time, you work on that thing.
It’s really that simple!
Adrienne Violette, Underground Catering Co-Owner, stated that understanding time management and how to use time blocking effectively with her core values work has created a feeling of freedom. She feels done at the end of the day and previous to this practice her ‘running to-do list’ as a busy wife, mother, and business owner ran her.
I know firsthand from my own experience and working with thousands of women, that work-life balance is a pressing topic. It is easy to believe that achieving it is all about a meticulously organized schedule and throwing on your Superwoman cape so you can be everything to everyone.
However, it is not true. So ladies… it’s time to throw away the cape. Setting ourselves up to achieve impossible standards by being everything to everyone will just leave you crying tears of exhaustion, overwhelmed with a list of to-dos we just cannot possibly keep up with.
Balance is not something you can achieve. It’s something you DO
Establishing a time management system founded on clarity of core values, agreements with yourself, and time blocking enables you to create balance on your own terms through a system of checks and balances. By doing this, you take back your time and give yourself the freedom to live an aligned, intentional life with freedom!
P.S. If you are looking for a little extra guidance, we have a framework for you to set the foundation for a profitable 2023 with Intentions