6 Ways to Make Better Use of Your Time

*This is the 12th day of the One Month Spending Freeze Challenge. Please click here to see all of the posts in this series.*

Since going on a spending freeze over a year ago, I’ve learned that you can save money quite easily by doing just one simple thing: staying at home.

Time is a lot like money only, once you use it, you won't get it back. Here are 6 great ways to start managing your time!© Brian Jackson / Dollar Photo Club

If you go anywhere, you are spending money by using fuel in your car.

Once you’re out, you will likely have to stop at a store and spend a little bit of money, whether on food or something else.

Thus, staying home can potentially save you hundreds or thousands of dollars a year (unless you are still doing online shopping!).

Staying home doesn’t really bother me one bit. I am an introvert anyway, so being at home is kind of nice.

But there is actually one thing about being at home that I dread.

The undone to do list.

And most of the time, it’s not even a list. It’s just up there in my brain constantly spinning around and prodding me to go from one thing to the next until I feel way too exhausted from doing just one task that I skip everything else.

There is usually one chore that I always get to on any given day, and that’s the dishes. Everything else is usually put off until it’s too late and guests have come over unannounced. Some of these tasks have been put off indefinitely. Maybe one day I’ll get to them. Like organizing the basement.

So today for our spending freeze challenge we’re going to tackle our to do lists.

No, we’re not going to do everything on our to do lists.

But we are going to find the best way to go about actually getting things done around our homes. For good. Long before unannounced guests come over and use the bathroom.

Um k?

6 Ways to Make Better Use of Your Time

Read through these 6 ways to make better use of your time and then start working on them today. Do what makes the most sense to you at this time in your life. If you already have decent habits, there’s really no need to get all nit-picky about them and change them if they already work for you.

Track Your Time

The biggest thing that has helped me spend my time more wisely, especially when I sit down to work on my blog, is keeping track of how I am using my time. I try my best to track everything I do, even if it’s just a quick two minute reply to a comment on one of my posts. Over a week’s time, I can see exactly how much time I spent on the little tasks and the not-so-little tasks.

You really don’t need anything fancy to do this. Pen and paper will work just fine. Just start by writing down the date, the time, and what you did during that time period. You can definitely use an app if you’d like. I use one called Toggl. I don’t use the app, I use the site, but it is so helpful. It even sends me an email once a week with all my times for certain tasks aggregated.

After tracking your time for a day, a few days, or a week, figure out how much time you spent on certain tasks. Are you surprised?

Prioritize

The next thing you should do to help you use your time more wisely is to set priorities. These are the things that mean the most to you. Big priorities that I can think of are family, health, home, and career. Come up with your top 3-5 priorities and write them down. Knowing your priorities will help you to more easily see where you should spend your time.

Set Goals

The next logical step after you have some priorities written down is to set goals. You will likely find that your goals center around your priorities. I think the best idea for setting goals is to start with one really big goal that you want to accomplish in a year or a few years. From there, figure out what you can do each month to accomplish that goal, then each week, and then each day. You can read more about this great way to set goals on Just a Girl and Her Blog.

As you are working on small chunks of your goals on a daily basis, the best thing to remember is that it just takes a few minutes to get going. Set the timer for 10 or 15 minutes, and you’ll see that it can make a big difference over a week, two weeks, a month, and then a year.

I love reading about what small amounts of time can lead to. Here are two great articles that can motivate you: 10 Minute Transformations from The Peaceful Mom and The 15 Minute Trick to Getting Stuff Done from Budgets Are Sexy.

Budget Your Time

If you think about it, time is just like money, except that everyone has the exact same amount of time. Those who use their time wisely will accomplish things that those who twiddle their thumbs cannot.

For this reason, we need to budget our time, a concept I first heard about on Money Saving Mom.

It makes a lot of sense, doesn’t it? When you divvy out your time and follow through with where you already planned to spend your time, you will find that you have extra time to spend relaxing or reading a book.

As you create your Time Budget, think about anything and everything that you need to get done at any point in time. This could take a few days or weeks to really get down, but once you have it done, your mind will be relieved. Isn’t it so much better when everything you need to get done is no longer racing around in your head? You can find a time management planner over on Cents and Order that can help you get all those tasks onto your calendar.

One thing to remember when budgeting your time is to do the least enjoyable task at the start of your day, if at all possible. This way, once it is done, you will already feel great for getting something done. You’ll have more motivation to complete your other tasks and you will start to get a move on with your goals.

Now, you should definitely remember that not every waking moment of your life needs to be accounted for. You will run into problems every day, so it’s best to account for a few minutes or an hour or two each day that is left blank.

Change Up Your Habits

Habits can make or break you. When you are used to doing something each day that isn’t really helping you accomplish anything in life, it will make all your goal setting and time budgeting a huge waste. Get a hold of your habits and you will find that you can do more than you ever thought possible.

What you do the minute you wake up and right before you go to bed can make a world of difference for what you can accomplish. If you are doing stuff that wastes your time, like browsing Pinterest or scrolling through your Facebook newsfeed, you will feel more and more crappy about yourself. Seeing what other people are doing is not as fulfilling or purposeful as doing what you need to do.

What it comes down to is simplifying. Only do the tasks that will put you closer to your goals and help you lead a better life.

As you come up with habits that you’d like to do at night and in the morning, don’t forget that you should get plenty of rest and that you should spend some time with yourself each day to rejuvenate, pray, meditate, or whatever it is that keeps you going.

Delegate

Finally, if you want to spend your time productively, you must think about ways that others can help you with all your tasks. Ask your husband to do a few things each day that he can turn into habits. Get your young kids to help you in the kitchen each day to learn how to cook, so as they get older they can start cooking for themselves. Ask for help from a friend or a neighbor every so often when you are feeling a lot of pressure. Whatever you do, don’t try to do everything. You are not going to get an award or win a million dollars for being woman of the year. You will feel better about your life if you learn how to delegate.

As you spend more time at home during your spending freeze, find ways to use your time more wisely, which is arguably more important than money ever could be.

What do you do to make better use of your time?

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