Are you trying to more effectively manage your time so that you can fit in more DIY projects and other things that you were hoping to create, bake, and grow? There are some specific steps that you should follow for simple time management to create that life that you are dreaming of.
Time Management in s Simple DIY Lifestyle
It’s a reoccurring question that I have in my inbox on a daily basis. Maybe you can identify with some of these emails:
My biggest struggle is time management. I never seem to have the time or energy to get DIY projects done.
My biggest challenge for living the “simple life” is time management
As I try and transition from a typical modern American way of doing things, it feels like the simple life takes twice as long as my old ways of doing things.
What do you do so that you are organized enough to get all your cooking and work around the house done every day?
Some days I am just so tired, I can’t keep it all up. My #1 challenge would be lack of time. I work full-time, average 8-10 hour days, 6 days per week.
The biggest challenge to me seems to be time. I long for the simpler way, but good things do take time. I want to do things from scratch but feel overwhelmed timewise.
Do any of those comments sound like you? I know that you probably jumped into this simple living journey head first thinking that it would only have benefits. But perhaps you’ve discovered some sources of frustration and you just aren’t getting to do the things that you hoped this lifestyle would produce.
This article is for you.
Now, I’m not going to reinvent the wheel here. If you want an in-depth study on time management, there are many books that you can check out on the subject such as:
But today I will be sharing with you the methods that I have found effective to help with time management in our own home.
I will also tell you that I have been laughed at outright for the schedule I keep in our home. We follow a time blocking method because that’s what we’ve found to be the best fit for our family and our children totally thrive on being on a schedule and knowing what is coming next. It is the ONLY way that I’m able to work at home full time with my husband, while he goes to school online full time, homeschool, and live a “DIY” simple life. Of course, there will always be days when things don’t go as planned, but if you are good with time management, you will be able to bring it all back around again.
Let’s dig in!
While it would be nice to just get started on your new daily routine that is perfectly laid out and well managed, we first have to look at what is going on now that makes it not effective. Here’s how to start.
Evaluate what is currently taking up your time.
How are you spending your days? What do you currently do from the moment that you get up until the moment that you go to bed. How often do you have days that are unorganized and feel chaotic?
Begin by tracking your currently daily plans and your habits. Write down everything that you can think of for at least a week (a normal week) to get a good snapshot of what life is like. It will be eye-opening to see where large blocks of your time are going, no matter how well managed you think your current schedule is!
Decide what is worth the time spent and what’s not.
After you’ve completed your assessment of your day, look over all of the things that happen in your life during the course of a normal week.
Are you spending too much time watching tv? Do you spend an abnormal amount of time shopping? Perhaps it something that you didn’t even think was taking up so much time, such as a long “getting ready” ritual in the morning.
Go through all of these things and figure out what you truly WANT to be spending your time on. If your morning makeup routine is too long (per your assessment) and you actually do care all that much about wearing makeup, something like that would be a good thing to try and figure out how to simplify.
There may be bigger changes that will have to be made. For example, if you work outside of the home and are currently spending an hour each way on the commute (2 hours per day in the car), is your job worth taking up those precious hours for? I’m not saying that it isn’t (because there are ways to effectively manage those hours too!) but in some cases, it is.
Now that you’ve been able to identify your problem areas and the areas that you need and want to change, it’s time to get started with some techniques that will help any schedule.
You had to know that this would be my top way to manage your time! Did you know that the average American spends 2.5 days per year looking for items they’ve lost? That’s 60 hours every year just looking for something that apparently doesn’t have a good “home” within your house?
Decluttering and minimalizing our possession has been life changing for our family. No longer do I wonder where things are at our spend countless hours each week cleaning things that I don’t even care about. We still have more that we can get rid of (and we are working on it) but I’ve become much more comfortable with our level of possessions.
If you have no idea where to start with the decluttering or find the entire task totally overwhelming, I recommend checking out my resource, 31 Days to Simpler Living. In it, you will find actionable, step-by-step plans for simplifying and decluttering so many different areas of your home and your life.
Properly arrange your day.
I start my day out at 5 am every morning. I used to get up right before the babies and then jump into a hectic morning routine, but I changed my schedule a few years ago. What I’ve found is that I feel better about my day, I have more energy, and I get more done when I get up at 5. I’ve occasionally treated myself by sleeping in until 6 or 7 and almost always regretted it. I just feel more sluggish and tired.
Because I get up at 5, I go to bed at 9 or 9:30. This allows me to get 7 hours of sleep every night despite the fact that I’m waking up earlier.
Maybe the idea of getting up early sounds horrible to you and that’s ok. If you are a night owl, perhaps your most productive time is at night and you prefer to sleep in a little later in the morning. Whatever plan works for you and for your family is what you need to do.
Another thing that will help make your day more productive is to keep an ongoing list. This is not a list of things to do on a specific day, but a list of tasks that you want to get done in general (perhaps over the time period of a week or month). Keep this list in a place that is easily accessible and always try and tackle the tasks that you find most difficult first so that the rest of the list won’t seem to hard and you won’t avoid the things that really need to get done.
One more thing to consider as you plan out your days is time blocking. We use time blocking to effectively manage our days and I’m really thankful for the method. This post is going to be quite long on this topic so I plan to write about our time blocking method and day at another time. I will add the link here when the post is published.
Figure out what is using up your energy.
One comment that I hear quite a bit is that people do not feel like they have the time for DIY products or simple living projects because they are just too tired and don’t have the energy. I urge you to look at your assessment (that you made in the first step) and see what could be making you so tired.
If it’s nothing on your schedule that should be making you tired, you may want to speak to your doctor.
I struggled with being overly tired for a long time. At 27 years ago, I was falling asleep on the couch after lunch because I simply could not stay awake another minute. I’d had many suggestions over the years but I was finally spurred on to seek help from someone who would listen.
At age 27 I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease as well as celiac disease. Additional autoimmune diseases are suspected but not confirmed. It was a very difficult answer to get but I’m thankful to have an answer. Now, thanks to a great doctor who has put me on a new plan along with regular exercise and a special diet, I have more energy than I’ve ever had in my life. And I have 3 children under the age of 6!
Do not be afraid to seek help if you think there is something more going on than just a busy schedule. Your life and your livelihood depend on it.
Working on Your Tasks
Decide how certain tasks can be made more effective.
If you’ve already done the assessment of your week and looked over what tasks are necessary but are taking too long, this next step is for you. We all have tasks that need to be done on a weekly or daily basis, but sometimes they just take too long. Here are some things you can do to make those tasks much more effective.
Stop being a perfectionist. This was a HUGE struggle for me that I needed to overcome when we first began our journey into simpler living. I thought everything, every recipe, every project, needed to be perfect.
Newsflash! It doesn’t.
If it works for your family and you are happy with the final product, that is true perfection. Unfortunately, we live in an age of Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. No project is going to be Pinterest perfect. And you don’t need to compare your life to anyone else’s on Facebook or on Instagram. Have you ever seen my Instagram page? It’s not, and will never be filled with “Instagram perfection”. That’s not my life and never will be. If you are struggling with comparison, I suggest you stop using social media for a while to see if that helps change your perspective.
The next thing to work on is creating systems. I cover this topic in detail in 31 Days to Simpler Living so if this is something you want to work on, I recommend checking it out. Systems help to create habits and ease within our daily schedules and can be a big timesaver when set up properly.
Another thing to work on is to focus on one task at a time. As women, we multitask. It’s just what we do! But multitasking can cause stress and even panic over time and it’s necessarily the best use of our time. For example, if I’m writing a blog post, I need to be doing nothing else but writing that blog post. At the moment, I can hear my kids playing loudly and my husband trying to wrangle them into getting ready for school as well as my phone dinging. But I’m ignoring it all because it’s not the focus of my time right now, writing this blog post is. I don’t have Facebook or my email open and I’m not doing a single thing but typing. This blog post is very long but very important so in order to get it done in a timely fashion, I can’t be doing anything else.
If we can learn to focus on a single task at a time, we will be less overwhelmed and able to get more done in a shorter amount of time (this is where time blocking can help too!).
Finally, I wanted to add a note about using the time that you didn’t even know you had. Time spent riding in the car, waiting in a waiting room, or other things like that can be a great way to get things done. Each week I spend a considerable amount of time in waiting rooms since I have 3 children with special needs. And each time I head to town, I grab my work notebook and use that time for up to an hour of uninterrupted work time. It’s been great!
Don’t think you have to do it all. Priorities.
This step is really important and that’s why I wanted to mention it last so it stays in your mind.
No one can do it all. That’s right, no one. Not even me. And personally, I wouldn’t even try.
Each of us will need to pick and choose what we find the most important to spend our time on. If you can find a great inexpensive or natural alternative to shaving cream so that you don’t need to make Homemade Shaving Cream, by all means, buy that shaving cream!
Remember why you’ve chosen a simple lifestyle to begin with. To simplify your life, right? How is it simplifying your life by making something or doing something that you hate doing and can create an alternative to doing? It’s not. No one is perfect or able to follow a simple lifestyle perfectly. Do you know why?
Because the “simple life” definition varies from person to person. What I would consider to be an integral part of my simple life, you may not. In the same respect, you may find something that is of the utmost importance to your family, while I would not.
Our lifestyle and the things we choose to do, spend time on and make, all help us to get closer to our family’s goals and priorities. Your priorities probably are not the same as mine since we live different lives. Nor are your priorities the same as anyone else that you might find on Pinterest or that person that you were comparing your life to on Facebook last week. Your priorities are yours and yours alone.
As you are working through the assessment that you made of your daily tasks, you will need to decide what you want your life to look like. What is most important to you and what is not. What you really, truly, want to add into your life, and what you do not care so much about.
Life should not be filled with constant busywork. Remember, the Devil wants us to be busy all of the time so that we forget what is really important in this life! Instead, it should be filled with activities that reflect your life goals and calling, and there should always be a time set aside to rest.
Each week on one day (we like it to be Sunday but sometimes it’s Thursday or another day), I toss my block scheduling out the window for a day. That day is our family day. We put aside the busywork, the cleaning, and the work so that we can spend the entire day together. We call them our “Adventure Days”.
Because of what our family has been through, we are incredibly close. We’ve also decided that part of our family culture is to be learning and growing together as we traverse the good times and the bad times in this life together. One day a week we go on an adventure outside of our home. On the nicer weeks, this means something outdoors like a hike, on the not-so-nice weeks, you can usually find us visiting a museum or taking some kind of shorter road trips. We place a high priority on showing our children that we are not the only people in this world by showing them different cultures and different communities. That’s why we also like to travel.
These are just some examples of our family’s priorities and why we structure our days the way we do. We want to be the best stewards of our time that we can be so that we might be able to do these things that otherwise might not be possible. (Like spending the entire summer of 2018 doing mission work.)
I really hope that this blog post has challenged you to truly consider your time and how you are managing it. I hope that you will begin assessing things and looking at everything through a microscope to see how that you can best manage your time and your family’s time so that it reflects your family’s individual goals and calling.
If you are looking to simplify your life even further, you may want to check my eWorkbook, 31 Days to Simpler Living! In it, you will find 79 pages of daily challenges, info and advice, and printable worksheets and checklists to keep you on track along your journey.
How can you begin to be a better steward of your time through time management? What are some of your family’s goals?
This post on Simple Time Management was originally published on Little House Living in January 2019. It has been updated as of January 2020.