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Time Yourself: Secrets of Effective Time Management

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By Mia Bolaris-Forget

One of my biggest personal pet peeves (and I have many) is people who aren’t on time. I’m generally a forgiving person and can understand a few minutes of tardiness or up to a half hour (with a warning phone call) but perpetual perpetrators are a primary petulance.

We all know “someone” like this, and we all know who they are; and who they are is that individual, couple or family that is rarely, if ever, on time, even with plenty of advanced notice. And, of course you know they ALWAYS have a “good” excuse, nothing that ever has to do with them or their inability to plan properly. Among my favorites, is that they were busy, had too much to do, and lost track of the time, got caught in traffic (ever consider leaving early?), or have families. We all have other obligations and most of us have families (of one shape or form that demand our time and attention), I’m simply amazed at how these people maintain jobs or get their work (on time).

Please don’t use the excuse that you left home without your cell. If you have a cell, carry it, that’s what it’s for. And, if you don’t, then make sure you ALWAYS have enough change for a pay phone…but with the sparcity of those, these days, if you don’t have a cell phone (unless it’s really not practical (for you) and you really can’t afford it), “get one”.

In my family, we have a rule: if you’re going to be late, CALL. If something comes up, CALL, and if you are more than 15 minutes late, especially without a phone call and a viable explanation, we are going to get started without you. It’s all about the communication, but more so, it’s about the planning and organization.

With summer well on its way to fall, families are probably pondering organizing a few more (family) outings or summer excursions and preparing for the advent of the forthcoming school year satiated with extracurricular activities, meetings, family and holiday gatherings, etc. guaranteed to keep to busy 24-7 and then some. And most are agonizing on emphasizing the organizing.

Learn to effectively and efficiently manage your time with these very timely tips.

1. Converge For A Conference:
Establish obligatory and family priorities. Examine a (upcoming) calendar of events in addition to last year’s schedule and discuss where emphasis needs or should be placed. Allow each family member to offer his/her input and what is paramount to each. Discuss what is necessary to achieve individual and collaborative goals and how a family balance can be instituted. Hold regular meetings to evaluate success, progress and even “failure”. Re-evaluate areas that need attention and try to implement new policies and procedures to assist in bringing the whole family up to par.

2. Construct a Family Calendar and Outline Obligations:
Make it easy for the entire family to focus on the family agenda.

· Create a large family calendar and put on display in a highly visible location

· Add or remove commitments as per the family meeting.

· Factor in cleverly concealed but much needed time such as packing time, preparation time, travel time, time to eat, potty time, waiting time, etc.

· Identify the conflicts. Try to uniformly come up with an acceptable plan and solution. Consider one child carpooling with friend, freeing up time for mom or dad to prepare dinner, maybe one child can do his/her homework on the way to their brother/sisters extracurricular event. These time saving tricks can really help buy you lots of needed (extra) time.

· If a hectic, busy lifestyle is stressful or interfering with quality family time, you may want to consider eliminating some activities that imposing on sticking to your schedule.

· Ensure that all family member are in agreement with and comfortable with the schedule

· Reassess the schedule after a designated amount of time (perhaps one to three months). Determine how it is affecting and working for each member of the family and be prepared to make necessary adjustments.

3. Set Up A System:
Put each family member in charge of “something”. Let them know that each has a certain family obligation each day or week and that they MUST successful accomplish or fulfill it, in order to offer the family more time for recreation. Establish the rules and stick to them and make “slacking off” or “putting off” chores UNACCEPTABLE.

4. Make A Clean Sweep:
Enforce the idea that everything has a home and there’s a home for everything. Most of the time wasted in families is in either looking for things or trying to tidy up. If you are consistent about keeping clutter to a minimum and/or putting things where they belong immediately after you are done using them, as well, as keeping up with household chores, you will generally have more time for fun, especially during holidays and weekends.

5. Immediate Action:
One way to avoid “clutter” is by taking out the trash frequently and immediately. Go through the mail on a daily basis. Eliminate junk mail and organize bills in the order in which they need to be paid. Outdated newspapers and magazines as well as unwanted advertisements should also be discarded immediately. Papers you still need to read should be arranged neatly in a designated spot and reviewed and disposed of periodically.

6. Remember, Less Options Often Means Less Work:
Keep in mind that every family member has his/her own tastes, likes and dislikes from what they like to how they like it. Reaching a unanimous agreement with so many personalities simply can’t be expected. The best way to please everyone, while saving time and energy is to limit the option. Offer a choice of two, which would you like, A or B, rather than opening Pandora’s box by stating, “what would you like?”

7. Establish Time Constraints:
There’s a fine line between business and disarray. Families NEED to know what is expected of them and exactly the time frame they are expected to accomplish it in.

Cut back on time wasters such as television, video games, using the net (unless it’s for homework), talking on the phone, etc. Make these instead special perks for effectively completing a task and having time left over.

If you have teens, teach them about either not answering the phone when they are doing homework or house chores (if they can’t work and talk at the same time) or telling their friends they will call back when they have completed their duties. Set standards and priorities and work together to gain control of your time.

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