Time Management 101

Over at Money Saving Mom, Crystal is doing a great series on time management, which (brag alert!) features 168 Hours. Earlier this week, she posted an essay called “Stop Trying to ‘Do It All’” telling her readers that no, she does not actually make sweaters from sheep she sheared herself. This is good to know, since careful readers of Crystal’s blog know that she not only runs a highly-read website that employs 6 people, she has 3 kids whom she homeschools, exercises 4 hours per week, does daily Bible studies, brings food to people in her church who are going through tough times and goes on dates with her husband. How does she do it all?

Because that’s all she does, that’s how.

In 168 Hours, I talk about spending as many hours as possible on the things we do best and which bring us (and the people we care about) the most joy. Then, as much as possible, we should try not to do anything else. We shouldn’t make ourselves busy with things that don’t matter. So, today, Crystal posted a list of her priorities, and a list of things that are not priorities. Among the non-priorities? Crafts, gardening, sewing, putting her kids in activities, even playing the Drugstore Game (that is, trying to get shampoo and razors and the like for close to free at major drugstore chains through couponing and rebates). The good thing about running a successful business is that you have money, which can then buy you time to not obsess about saving a few bucks on personal care items. (Or making homemade tortillas, according to another post).

I’m glad to read this series, because I think sometimes our culture spins a certain Super Woman fantasy about moms who not only nurture their kids (and, more often than not, contribute to or earn the bulk of family income) but also do elaborate crafts to spruce up their homes, make gourmet home made meals, and feed the children kale chips for breakfast. I have never met a woman who does that. It’s not that there isn’t time, it’s just that nurturing our families and playing Martha Stewart (who I’m guessing doesn’t clean her own house) are always going to be competing priorities. I think it’s a good thing that kids, marriages and careers usually win out over spotless sconces.

In other 168 Hours news:

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11 Responses to Time Management 101


  1. Denise says:

    I like the way Crystal thinks. As I dragged the Halloween decorations to the attic, and brought down the Thanksgiving ones, I wondered if anyone even notices or cares that I change them. I do like the change of scenery they provide from my everyday decor.

    Though I’m not currently keeping a time log, I have been paying attention to how long certain activities are taking, and how much joy they bring me. Although a few of the decorations bring a smile to my face, I am going to discard those that don’t.( Do I really need a cookie jar for each holiday/season, when my kids don’t find baking fun anymore and I don’t enjoy baking without them now?) I’m finding lots of potential eBay items.

    I need to do less. I have stopped making homemade side dishes every night, when packaged ones make everyone happy. I want to make a list of things to let go of–we’ll see how it goes.

    • @Denise – that is a great idea, a list of things to let go of. Especially as we get into the holiday season, it’s easy to confuse good traditions everyone loves with traditions that no one really cares about. It’s like spending 3 hours cooking a “traditional” Thanksgiving side dish that people only eat out of politeness. What’s the point? I think we can ask friends and family members which experiences they care about most, and only do those.

      Packaged side dishes are awesome. We have fallen hook, line and sinker for the Uncle Ben’s microwave rice that takes 90 seconds.

  2. Cara Marcano says:

    Yeah all those magazine articles about how you are going to spend all day in the kitchen — I mean really is that what I want to do with my day off? HXLL no!

    It surprises me that women’s magazines especially those targeting working moms are even running those articles — I mean Redbook even has one that involves handing the kid to your hubby so you have time to break away from cooking for a shower.. I mean I do have trouble breaking away from things to shower — but it is NOT going to be cooking. I mean I can see leaving the sweet potatoes in the oven for an hour coming back and putting butter on them but the rest is totally nuts!

    You can go to a restaurant or for less than $100 you can order the entire meal!

    • @Cara – we considered ordering all of Thanksgiving dinner last year, and yes, it would have been pretty inexpensive, but decided cooking was part of the fun… however we made it very simple. No casseroles. Only straightforward dishes, and very few of them. Turkey, stuffing, gravy, green beans, cornbread, cranberries and I think that’s it. I bought a dessert. It came out very well!
      You’ll laugh that I read on Facebook somewhere that today was Men Make Dinner night. How odd is that? Don’t men make lots of dinners? Are we still in 1955?

  3. Denise says:

    I am fortunate that my family brings all the side dishes for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Everyone gets a food assignment and delivers it to my waiting warm oven.

    Since reading 168 Hours I rethought how I planned the food for my son’s recent birthday party and spent the entire time with my guests, instead of setting out the buffet. (of which I made 1/2 and bought 1/2) The new way of allotting my time allowed me to enjoy decorating the cake, which I love to do.

    @Cara–I agree, while I love cooking I don’t want to spend all day doing it. Now I prep on Sunday for about 30-45 minutes and then just throw everything together each night, which gives me time to spend with my kids on weeknights instead.
    (I follow a meal plan–a huge sanity and timesaver)

    @Laura, in my house my men make dinner every Saturday night (homemade pizza–yum!)

    • @Denise – I love hearing things like that, that the book made someone’s life better. Frankly, hanging out with party guests sounds a lot more fun than hiding in the kitchen! And, critically, makes it more fun for your son too, to have mom around and enjoying herself.

      • Theodoros says:

        I agree with @Erin, I also have a great deal of papers fliyng across my desk each day. And I tried everything to stay organized. The results are semi-effective, but I learned to do one thing very helpful make the time to organize.So my tip is every work day, I schedule 15 minutes to wind down kind of like the phase on a trend mill right before you stop your workout. And in that 15 minutes: I file away what is done, throw away what is trash, and neatly stack what needs to be completed the next day on my desk.I find this 15 minute Wind Down AWESOME for three reasons. 1) It clears my desk. 2) It prepares my work for the next day (so I always know where to continue). And 3) It gives me a moment to reflect on the day, be grateful, and have some quiet time before I transition into my after work life (if you are a parent or a social person you know what I mean).My day must always include this 15 min Wind Down. It’s a business ritual that has literally (and figuratively) helped me in a positive way.

  4. Denise says:

    I am a notorious note-taker when I read books, especially b/c I get them from the library, and then I review the notes every 6 months to a year, to refresh my mind and see how I’m doing.

    Your book has changed my thought patterns in many ways. The other day I almost went in the house when my kids flopped in the leaves after school, then realized that whatever ‘pressing issues’ I had in the kitchen were not nearly as important as the fun I could have with them, so we all raked and buried each other.

    I told my SIL about 168 Hours and she bought a copy, and I have noticed that she has changed how she is spending her time. She works full-time and is starting her own business, but kept saying she doesn’t have time to devote to it. Suddenly, she is spending most of her time on the business, as her goal is to use it to support her retirement.

    PS I did make that list of things to get rid of–physical items, ways of thinking, mental clutter, bad habits..and more. I hung it up to remind me what I need to let go of.

    • @Denise: Yay! Playing in the leaves is much more fun than anything going on in the kitchen. And starting a business is more important than other things that “have” to be done. I’m so glad the book could help with that. I’m slowly learning myself… today, I elected not to do my weekend work shift, and went with the rest of the family to go play in the (cold!) park. Payoff: seeing my 3-year-old get *so* excited about pigeons and squirrels. He’s yelling “there are so many animals in the park!” I guess I’d never thought of it that way!

  5. Denise says:

    I love the way my 3-year-old sees the world too. You notice so much more.

  6. kofte kebab says:

    Both my mother and nanny (on mom’s side of the family, the one on my dad’s side makes some pretty revolting casseroles)can make a mean BBQ Chicken casserole in addition to a creamy Tuna casserole. I’ve tried but never had the opportunity to stomach over 2 bites of Greenbean casserole nevertheless. Something about slimy onion rings and the overbearing scent of greenbeans mixed with onions never bodes well with me.