TIME MANAGEMENT is one of THE MOST frequently asked questions around here, but I had NO IDEA how many of you/us were thinking about it until I asked the question this week on Stories. I get emails, DMs, blog comments about it daily, but when I opened it up for questions, I was blown away by the number. Honestly? It told me that like 99% of us are struggling with it and want someone to help us sort it out. I totally don’t want to come across as any authority on time management today…really, I’m just going to answer your questions and then maybe you guys can comment and together, we can help each other better manage our time. Sound fair? There were SO MANY questions of different varieties, that I finally decided to split this post into two…so here is PART 1 and then later, I’ll share PART 2.
Disclaimer to start: I really kind of love and hate this time management question. I think people see that I have a whole bunch of kids, a whole bunch of dogs, a whole bunch of hobbies and a whole bunch of jobs…so they don’t get “how I do it”. What they don’t see is that I drink a whole bunch of coffee, delegate a whole bunch, complain quite a bit, am often a little tired and have a FANTASTIC PARTNER IN LIFE…Andrew Shull. Also, I manage my time pretty well and consistency most of the time, but there are FOR SURE days when I’m a hot mess way behind on work because I can’t stop scrolling around on Instagram and so please know, I don’t always follow my own advice well either. I can easily get caught in the poor time management merry go round too!
I love to be busy…that is my JAM, but I know it’s not for everyone. I have tweaked the heck out of my routine over the years and changed it as my life has changed, so some things I do today, I didn’t do when my kiddos were little.
For many people, having the same routine each day would get super old and boring, but for me, it energizes me and allows me to do a lot in an efficient way and not waste a lot of time. The downside? If my day doesn’t go as planned, I have a HARD time recovering. I’m not a “go with the flow” person, so one kink in that routine throws off the whole system and makes me feel anxious/frustrated/annoyed/sad/all the things.
Here we go…on Monday, I asked you on Stories what specific questions you have about my time management, and I put answers to all of them below…
No way. I would love to share a calendar with him…but he is no fool. He understands that I keep up with not only my stuff but four kids’ stuff…and he doesn’t want to clutter up his calendar with five other people’s things. Bahaha! IT’S SO TRUE!! For me, it would be easier to have him on there, but for him, the thought of pulling up his calendar and seeing all of the STUFF would drive him crazy, so instead, we check in with each other the day before and make sure we have our ducks in a row. In an ideal world, we’d have one color-coded family calendar…in the real world, Andrew Shull prefers for me to just let him know when and where he needs to be regarding the kids. 😉
The older my kids get, the more I work. When Kensington and Smith were little, I only worked early in the morning before they were awake and then about 2.5 to 3 hours every afternoon when they napped. Now, I work way more than that, but my kids are all older. Madeley went to preschool more than the other kids did, so I would work when she was at school or during her nap time/early in the morning. Now, my kids are all four in elementary/middle school, so I work during the day while they’re not home. When it’s summertime, I plan our day to allow for us to “play” a bit and then for me to work when we’re done. For the most part, my kids respect my office hours during the day, but sometimes, I have to gently remind them that it’s my work time and they need to allow me that space.
We have someone who helps clean our house once a week but other than that, the rest of the inside stuff, we do ourselves (laundry, meals, dishes, sheets, etc). I try and stay on top of it daily. For me, that’s the key to success…if I do one or two loads of laundry each day AND PUT IT AWAY, then it never piles up. Same thing with cleaning…if you tidy up as you go, it doesn’t become a bigger issue.
I block out three sets of time a day to answer email…Mix and Match Travel Agency email always goes first and then, with whatever time I have left, I am able to answer Mix and Match Mama emails. I use an out of office assistant reply on both emails as well so that people know that I did receive their email and am trying to return it as quickly as possible.
My day is completely scheduled out to help me maximize every minute. I even schedule in working out and stopping for lunch…because those are priorities for me, and I don’t want to miss them. I’ve been writing this blog for 13 years and owned my travel agency for 8, so I’ve had plenty of time to figure out a good balance. I always look ahead on my calendar too because if I know I have an appointment/something coming up, I can work around that in the days before, so that I don’t get behind.
This is something we work on all the time! Our kids are typically in bed by 8:45 or 9, and then we go to bed around 10 or 10:15, so we always make a point to hang out during that time if we can (sometimes, it’s just him watching the Yankees while I sit with him and read a book…it’s not always us talking but we make a choice to do those things together). During the week, we build in at least one or two charcuterie chats where we make a little board, grab a little drink and sit a minute and talk about our day before dinner. On Thursdays right now, all four kids have after school activities, so once they’re all dropped off (and because of Covid, parents can’t come inside), we head home and meet up for a mini-date before we turn around and pick them back up. There are seasons when we’re better at this stuff than others, but really do try and make an effort when we can.
I get up earrrrrrly. My alarm goes off at 4:10 and then I go to bed around 10. I get so many comments when I post this from people saying that’s not enough sleep, but honest to goodness, for me, it works. If there is ever a day when I feel really tired, I sleep more! I personally feel that I operate better when I have that downtime in the morning to focus on things without any distractions. This energizes me and then also allows me to really focus on my kids when they wake up because I’ve already checked off my to-do list. Smith had a very late baseball game on Sunday night, so I slept in until 5:00 this past Monday morning, so there are times when I make adjustments because I know I need the extra bit of sleep…but for the most part, grabbing my coffee and settling in to a quiet, cozy house early in the morning speaks right to my soul.
You bet I do! I write down on my daily to do list every minute detail from going on a run to an errand, picking up prescriptions, etc along with a time for me to do each thing. I write it out before I “leave work” each day so that the following morning, I have an organized list already waiting for me on my desk.
I think you have to set boundaries. I have a time when I “go to work” and a time when I “leave work”. I try really hard to only work during those times (and not do laundry, empty the dishwasher, etc) and then vice versa, when “I leave work” for the day, I don’t go back in later and answer emails, do other work related things. I try and pretend my office is away from home, so even though I have that extra 15 minutes, I don’t spend it on work if I’m not “at work”. I keep my home office very cozy and inviting as well to stay motivated…I play nice music, have a candle going, there’s a blanket and little heater…it’s just a cozy space.
Okay, this answer ended up being so long, so instead of typing it out, I made you a little video that explains the method of my madness 😉 …
1: I don’t do it all. 2: I definitely wasn’t doing nearly as much when I had two babies at home! Girl, you don’t need to try and do it all. You need to focus on your sweet kiddos and enjoy this time with them…it will go by in a blink, so sit there and enjoy it. My routine/daily life/responsibilities looked much different 10 years ago. You should go back and read those posts. Truly, I did a lot less.
Trust me, I don’t! There are some days when I’m dragging…please understand that! I think the basics like drinking coffee, working out, staying active help me stay energetic, but I have my sluggish days too!
You guys are going to think I’m nutty, but I have two rules for checking Instagram: 1. I only check it when I’m sitting down. I realized a few years ago that I would aimlessly walk around scrolling and well, that’s just stupid. So, I only check it if I’m sitting down (which isn’t very often). 2. I set a timer on my watch and only give myself 3 or 5 minutes. When the timer goes off, I turn off the app. I don’t post on my personal FB very much at all and haven’t used Twitter in years, so for the most part, it’s only Instagram.
Over the years, I’ve struggle with this too. I am quite the control freak about things and always certain (especially when it comes to my house) that I can do it better and/or faster…BUT I really try and constantly remind myself that 1+4=5 and so does 3+2. Just because someone (cough, cough, Andrew) isn’t unloading the dishwasher like I would do it…it still gets done. I am really working on delegating in all areas of my life.
Cleaning…they’re hiding from me so they don’t have to help. Sigh.
Working out…I always do that in the morning before they wake up.
Working…they’re playing independently. Now that my kids are older, this is much easier. When they were smaller, I had to fit work in during the day when they were napping or early in the morning. Now, they’re all old enough to entertain themselves from time to time,
I aim for very little! I must be on my phone for work stuff, but in my head, that’s “work” so I build it into my day. I try to pick up my Kindle instead of my phone as much as possible when I have downtime. Try setting a timer on your phone when you start looking at social media…give yourself some time to enjoy it (don’t feel guilty for being on your phone a few times a day!), but then when the timer goes off, move on and do something else.
Why do I feel like I still have more to say???
A few things before we go:
1. I feel like the fact that I received SO MANY questions tells me we’re all on the struggle-bus of managing life and honestly, I hope your takeaway from this is that I like to wake up early and I just try my hardest. No one has it down perfectly, and I fail CONSTANTLY, so please don’t forget that.
2. I have the most amazing husband. Andrew does fifty percent of everything. He has a very flexible work schedule and helps with so much. My dad was always super helpful and clearly, I married a man just like it. If you think I do a lot, well, Andrew is doing half of it.
3. I have a wonderful team at Mix and Match Travel Agency! My travel agency is BOOMING which is amazing but requires a team that can help me with every aspect. I could not own or operate my agency without them. Seriously, they’re amazing.
4. I have Caroline! Sweet Caroline doesn’t get enough time in the spotlight, but she is my other half. She is the office manager for Mix and Match Mama LLC and under that umbrella her job is basically making my job easier. She helps me stay on top of everyone’s vacations we’re planning, she processes trips, makes payments, gets my travel pics edited, oversees the team and then also does random daily things like add links to my blog posts (for instance, that Mix and Match Travel Agency up there…I just typed it, she’ll go back and link it). I want to have all the personal contact with my travel clients, readers and also create all of the content, but she does the technical stuff for me behind the scenes as a full time job. She needs credit 🙂 .
So, that’s PART 1!
I’ll share PART 2 later on and maybe even break down my day into minutes so you can see it all laid out. In the meantime, YOU go out and have the very best Thursday! xo