Remember when we became the Honey Boo Boo children of time management?


We’re all convinced we are super, uber bad at time management.

I don’t know the myth or mystery behind it but I’ve yet to meet the person who is like, “ME?! HECK YA, I DOMINATE TIME MANAGEMENT… I ROCK THAT THINGS LIMBS OFF! I AM AN ABSOLUTE ANIMAL WHEN IT COMES TO MANAGING MY TIME.”Yea, if that person does exist then I want to meet them… and maybe date them… and then marry them and follow them around drooling while I watch them tackle their day with a productive vengeance.
Time management seems like one of those weak spots. One of those things we have not quite mastered yet but we really hope to (dot dot dot) someday. But you know what? No more, friends. NO. MORE. Today I am coming at ya’ strong and saying: We are done with being the Debby Downers of Day Planning. You hear me?!?!  If you are too weak for the contents of this post then please exit my blog now. Otherwise, guzzle a 5-hour energy shot and repeat this credo after me:
“I, ____Insert name here or nickname you’ve always wished people would call you by____, do hereby swear to stop whining and walking around weeping in the organization section of Target. I am going to stop thinking that Etsy shops are my cure-all and that one more set of funky, oval to-do list sheets is going to make my time management skills any bit better. No one needs oval to-do list sheets… not even me.  I am vowing, today and for the rest of my life, to rock the face off time management like Honey Boo Boo child. I am going to be a beast with appointments. I am going to be a tank when it comes to tasks. And I am going to STOP telling people that I am awful at time management and instead tell them that I am the girl/boy on fire before diving into a rendition of notes that Alicia Keys will always hit better than me. And that’s alright… because my talent isn’t singing anymore, it’s time management.”

No frills, no ruffles- you need a system.

“Buying a new planner, and new dividers, and funky post-it notes, and sweet little stickers and these oddly shaped clip thingers that are an absolute anomaly to me but cute nonetheless are going to make me an organized person! Suddenly I am going to show up to meetings early with a coffee in hand feeling like a million-and-two dollas.”

Yea, you know we’ve all eaten that idea up like cake. Like fluffy, white birthday cake. But can I debunk the lie? And tell you it’s simply not true? No amount of cute accessories will make us better managers of our time. A day planner = tool. A rack of highlighters = tool. Babycakes, step. off. the. tools. and. get. yourself. a. system.
You have to know the inner workings of your productivity and workflow if you ever want tools to help you down this yellow brick road of time management. I may as well sacrifice this entire blog post to the gods of bad Wizard of Oz References by saying that Dorothy’s shoes, as bangin’ they looked, held no power until she knew how to click those rubies together. I don’t care how pretty we can make our organizers look, we need to get into the habit of creating a system that we go back to day after day after day. Without the system, the frills fail us.
You need to come into the ring already knowing yes, this works for me or no, that has never worked for me. And girl, it if it has never worked for you then, chances are, it’s not going to work this time around either so please spare yourself the trip to Target for a new planner and just step off for a second.

Lock + key your week before it begins.

I schedule everything into my planner on Sundays so that I can walk into my week knowing what is ahead. I sit down, with tea in hand, on a Sunday night and I map out: what are the projects I need to finish this week? Who are the people I need to see? What emails need to be sent? Do not pent this kind of info up in your head and walk into the week overwhelmed. Write it all down and go from there.
I walk into the week knowing the tasks I want to accomplish and, more importantly, where they are actually fitting into my day-to-day schedule. After Sunday, that calendar is lock + key. I don’t push my limits, I don’t cancel things, I stick to the tasks I know I need to get done.

Don’t let “Where” dictate your “What.”

Let’s just be clear: most day planners revolve around where you need to be. Martha Stewart will even go so far as to tell you what day to go to the grocery store and cheer on your son at soccer practice (Martha, I don’t have a son… please hop off my swag with your assertive planner tendencies). I know that if my week revolves around the places that I need to be then I will get way less done. To have a productive week, I must accomplish tasks and push projects forward, regardless of where my meetings lie. Therefore, I use a daily planning sheet to make sure I stay focused.

Screen Shot 2013-04-18 at 12.00.31 PM

Get my daily template here.

Printing out these sheets and stacking them in a big ol’ binder has been the key for me, especially with a crazy travel schedule. I know where I need to be (but it does not dominate my whole day), who I need to follow up with, the big tasks and nitty gritty. Gratitude is also a very important chunk of my day so I make sure I keep a running list of thank you’s so I can spread them out after the day winds down.

Know thy peaks + valleys.

Hours vary for everyone. Some of us work a 9-5 day while others are up at all hours of the night cracking away at the workload. Instead of beating your head against a wall when you lose an hour of productivity, key into when you are the most focused in a day, when you get the most things done, when you tend to slump in your chair and hate your life a little. Schedule the daily workflow into those peaks + valleys.

Be realistic. & plan accordingly.

I am a retired member of the “I used to want to do 27 things in one day until I realized it was physically impossible and my limbs were weeping” club. Time management and day planning means nada if you are constantly setting unrealistic expectations. Know your limits. Know how long a task normally would take you and schedule out from there.

I try to enter into each day with at least 4-5 smaller tasks to get done of 1-3 bigger tasks. Some days I will dedicate an entire day to 1 project while other days I am in serious need of having a bunch of mini projects done. Go at your own pace and know it isn’t the end of the world if a task is not completed. You’d rather the work be on par than frazzled but finished at the 5pm hour.

This is just the first of several posts that will trot your way on time management as I learn the crooks and curves of it myself. I would love to hear from you and gather some tips on what works and what doesn’t work in your own time management habits. Let’s chat in the comments below, boo.

12 thoughts on “Remember when we became the Honey Boo Boo children of time management?

  1. I am so guilty of falling into the “let me buy a cute new planner and that will fix all my problems” trap. Like, so much. Thanks for pointing out once and for all that that won’t fix it. {Even though I do love a good planner.} I need to develop a system.

  2. One of the reasons we have difficulty with time management is yhat the patt of the brain that handles time is the same part of thebrain that hanfles paying attention.When you’re focused on something (even on procrastination) your brain just cannot do time too. Thats why i find reminders on my mobile that make a noise to distract me a particularly useful part of my system.
    It’s also why time flys when you’re having fun!

  3. I use hb’s time management sheet ever since I “Brewed” with her in March. I get up at the same time everyday, and make my projects a priority. I also make sure to time out the tasks that are really important to me in other ways – like MLL or a nap in the afternoon if I need it. Plus, my own personal time has become extra special too. Anytime my husband is home, I don’t work, or check emails, or SM. *Thanks to your Boundaries blog for that!*

  4. I was wondering if there is a connection between managing time and the motivation for doing things, because its one thing to write down that we need to work on a project (and select for it a specific part of a day) and second to somehow avoid the work or simply not finishing it and blame ourselves that what had to be done wasn t- that tends to slow us, not even psychically but mentally too- we are disappointed twice – we haven t done the work that was supposed to be done and we also ignored our plan for the day . I thing its not about bad managing but its more about burn out syndrome and losing our motivation for things.
    There are always things that had to be done, even the boring or the less interesting but there is somehow not enough motivation for us to do it in time. And if we are not disobeying our self created system , I think its more likely that we do not have the needed portion of motivation for each task.
    Its a step forward to grasp our time and make productive creatures of us (with all those shiny plan managing time tables and bright colors to SEE what has to be SEEN and plan a time for it to be DONE) but are we really working as intended ?
    I think that if we choose to write time tables for everything we are adding ourselves one new project to all the rest of them. Its not that easy to be disciplined and really do that which is so easily written (and cost us no effort at all).
    What is your opinion about motivation?

  5. OK honey boo boo…here’s a question…what if you have this unique system that you know actually works for you, and you know exactly what you need to do and by when…but you are bitten by this procrastination bug. One of those huge, evil bugs with mosquito legs and fly eyes. And then you get nothing done and feel guilty. Again and again. Sometimes you’re sad and you can’t get out of bed. Sometimes you just don’t feel like it. Sometimes you don’t care. Sometimes it’s too overwhelming. Sometimes, it’s just a bite and you feel sorry for yourself that this blinking big bug bit your ass and now you can’t get anything done. Do you have a kick-ass solution for that?

  6. I created a sheet for myself a while back that I try and stick to. It was inspired by Randy Pausch who wrote The Last Lecture. He has/had some excellent advice on time management!!

  7. One of the best blog posts I’ve read in a very long time. A couple years ago I was reading too many articles about how to “hack” one’s life and I started feeling so down about my time management. I could be SO much more efficient with my time and do I really need THAT much sleep?! Then I snapped out of it because really, who lives like that?! I err on the side of having a mile long To Do List and always feeling behind, but there needs to be a balance: time for work, time for play.

    I love your line about a pretty planner just being a tool. I’ve also heard that called an “aspirational purchase,” like if you buy a cute new workout wardrobe because you’re hoping that will motivate you to start working out…but you most likely don’t. Like you said, you need a system, not just the tools.

  8. I agree- except with one thing. The “WHERE” totally matters when you live in Los Angeles. Because literally, you can only get to like 3 locations a day with traffic. I find myself constantly planning stuff around where i’m going to be, or else it’s practically impossible to get things done. Thanks HB, just discovered you and I love it:)

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