How to Get More Done in Less Time
‘Where did the time go?’ How often have you caught yourself asking that question? If you are like most people, you probably ask it more often than you care to remember.
The following presents suggestions from a woman’s viewpoint, but since both women and men have the same amount of available time each week, the question, ‘How can I get more out of my available time?’ is one that both men and women would like answered.
Since every activity of life takes time, there are some things that just naturally take precedence over others. For example, on a cold winter morning, there is nothing a mother might want to do more than stay longer in her warm bed. But the clock signals that it is time to fix breakfast and send her husband off to work and the children to school.
Priorities also have to be set if your household is to function properly. There is a time to shop for food and a time to cook it; a time to clean the house and a time to do the laundry; a time to relax and a time to study; a time to oversee the children’s homework and chores—and the list goes on and on.
Do you work outside the home? If so, with added duties to perform, time becomes even more precious. You cannot afford to waste it, nor can you always put things off for another day. That is why many women acknowledge that a schedule is absolutely necessary if they are to get their work done.
“Without a daily schedule,” says Josephine, mother of six children ranging from 2 to 15 years of age, “I just couldn’t accomplish my goals for each day.” Sandra, who has three children, works outside the home 25 hours a week, and she agrees: “Why, if I didn’t have a schedule, I think I’d go out of my mind.”
Furthermore, your priorities are undoubtedly set by the value you put on time itself. They are for Lola. She not only has a husband to care for but also devotes from 90 to 100 hours per month to her Bible educational work. She states: “Time is very important to me. I feel it’s only right not to keep people waiting. And when those who may be lax see that I value time highly, they tend to respect my time more.”
Organize the Tasks
Why do some women never seem to get their work done? Or why do some always complain about the lack of time? Could one reason be that they fail to organize their work? In past generations it took women one whole day to wash and a second one to iron, while they daily shopped and cooked. In most countries today, however, a woman can clean the house, wash and dry the clothes, and cook simultaneously if she is organized. Modern conveniences have freed many women to work outside the home and still care for the family’s needs.
But what about the time spent away from the home? A good part of it, besides the time actually spent working, is spent traveling to and from work, waiting in doctors’ and dentists’ offices and elsewhere. Could much of this time be utilized? For example, do you knit, crochet, needlepoint, or embroider? Could you schedule some of these talents at such times and places? Many women read, make out shopping lists, or write letters. In fact, the next time you sit down to watch TV, why not do some sewing or make things for the family? They may appreciate these more than store-bought ones, and you will have tangible proof of not wasting time!
There is another side to the matter, however. One should avoid becoming too rigid in trying to exploit every minute. You can become a slave to time, and that will rob you of joy. There are times when one wants to sit quietly and reflect on what one has done. Such moments can be precious indeed!
The same principle would apply when it comes to saving money. Balance is needed. You may drive all over town to save a few pennies, only to spend more time and gasoline doing so. Of course, when you are on a strict budget, saving is important. So perhaps shopping in one central store might help. You know where items are (which saves you time), and you know when the sales are on (which saves you money).
Picking the Best Time
Each woman has her own inner clock. Some work best in the morning; others do not function well until afternoon. If you are a morning person, by all means schedule your difficult chores then. Use your resources at your peak periods. If you work outside the home, why not talk to your employer? It will be to your advantage as well as to his to delegate your work accordingly. If, on the other hand, you drag in the morning, save your most important work for later when you function better.
Mary is a morning person. She considers the time she spends in her ministry to be the most important part of her day. So she got part-time work in the afternoon. This enables her to devote her best hours to her Bible-teaching work. Could you do something similar with your schedule?
For a schedule to be practical, it must not include too many activities. Trying to be Super Mom, Wife, or Worker can lead to disappointment and frustration. This is especially true if you have health problems. Learn to work within your limits.
Dolly, who has a chronic illness, explains: “My time is centered around my husband’s activities. He is a traveling minister. Since we live in a small mobile home, when he’s done his work, then I do mine. My illness prevents me from doing all that I’d like to do. But when I’m able, my ministry gets preference. Other things around the home are left undone that day.”
A test of a woman’s mettle is how she manages under stress. If she can stay calm in a crisis, she will accomplish far more than going to pieces emotionally.
Sandra found the secret for controlling stress. She says: “When emergencies arise and I feel crowded on all sides, I just relax. I know that sounds strange, but it works. Once I’ve got myself under control, then I can determine what has to be done first. If I don’t relax, I can’t set the right priorities. When these are set, then I speed up my activities to meet the emergency and things get done. For example, once some guests arrived hours early for dinner. Instead of panicking, I merely cooked while entertaining them as best I could. All relaxed and enjoyed themselves.”
Someone once said that the best executive is the one who surrounds himself with competent help. Do you engage the help of others on the job? When coworkers know that their help is appreciated, they volunteer it more readily. The same is true at home. Unfortunately, some women are such meticulous housekeepers and cooks that they discourage help. And that very attitude could be the reason why some wives and mothers are always overloaded while their family members sit around seemingly unconcerned.
Now what about you? When you need help, do you encourage it? Do you ask for help, or do you demand it? “Would you please” sounds more appealing than “I want you to”—whether you are speaking to your children or to your husband.
One woman, commending her husband for the help he gives her, says: “He’s really good about that. When I’m not well, he sends me to bed, and he cooks dinner; he and the children all pitch in and help do the chores. I really appreciate that!”
What a fine attitude for a family to have! But the key figure in this situation is the mother. She can train her children to realize the value of time and to develop a positive attitude toward work. Such children will generally want to help because they get joy from contributing to a common family goal.
Needless to say, some people are going to waste time no matter what others say or do. We cannot change them; we can only improve ourselves. We can resolve to be realistic about time, become better organized, set proper priorities, and get help when needed.
[Pictures on page 15]
Priorities must be set if your household is to function properly