Mama, Realtor, assistant, student, business owner, wife, board member, homeschool mom. These are all roles that I’ve held, most of them simultaneously. So how do I manage to keep everything straight? How do I ever get anything done?
- I (almost) never sleep 💤
- time blocking ⏰
- the four minute rule ⏲️
First, I wake up just after the witching hour, otherwise known as 4:30am, every day. Even when I don’t want to, which is most days. I start my day by feeding the cats (I have too many and they swarm me as soon as my feet hit the floor), starting my coffee, and throwing a load of laundry in the washer.
Having a few hours in the morning to keep up with the laundry, empty the dishwasher, answer emails, prepare for the kids school day and do my own homework is essential. Once my family wakes up it’s very difficult to stay on track.
Next, I plan out my week every Sunday afternoon. I block off specific times to get tasks done. If it’s not on my schedule, it doesn’t happen. I block off time to work, spend with the kids, family time, grocery shop, have coffee dates with friends, even balance the checkbook, you get the idea. I have two planners, one for real estate, and one for everything else. It’s the only way.
Finally, I follow the four minute rule. I have to start this by saying that when I first starting doing this, I thought I was a genius. That is until I read about some guy and his tomato who figured it out way before I did. If you haven’t heard of Francesco Cirillo or the Pomodoro technique, forget the last sentence and trust me, I’m a genius 😉.
The basic idea is that every task should take no more than four minutes. I literally set a timer for 4 minutes and only focus on a task that amount of time (Pomodoro gives you 25 followed by a 5 minute break). This scheduling method stems from the idea that tasks will expand to the time you allow for them. Have all day to write that report? It will take you all day. Have four minutes? You will focus and get it done in four minutes. I carry this through just about everything I do. Of course some things take more than that. Those I usually break into smaller tasks or focus on beginning, middle, and end. For instance washing, rinsing, and drying dishes are three separate activities that get 4 minutes each. Wondering why 4 minutes? That’s how long it takes to brew French-press coffee ☕.
Things that take 4 minutes or less: emptying the dishwasher, making your bed, answering two emails, calling a client, balancing the checkbook (if done every day), paying bills, showering, folding a load of laundry, watering the plants, making scrambled eggs and toast.
It turns out I’m in good company, Elon Musk also uses this technique, he gives himself 5 minutes per task.
How do you manage your time? Is it effective? What tips do you have to be more productive?