Monday, February 21, 2011

Time Management

Here are some resources I've found useful on the subject of managing time.  Please bear in mind that I am not very good at managing my own time at this point.  I think I've gotten worse with each child I've had.  I keep clinging to the hope that I'll improve eventually.  It's theoretically possible that I have actually improved with each child, but it hasn't been enough to counteract the greater need that each child has presented for improvement....  Regardless, I still have plenty to learn.  But I promised to post some resources, so here goes.

I have a lot of resources to list for this because I knew so little to start with.  I'm also a little, um, obsessive?, and a little slow to catch on, or some sort of thing that causes me to need probably about 10 resources where someone else might only need one. 

These aren't all exclusively about time management, as you'll see in the notes about them.  They are listed in alphabetical order by title, but because I failed to think ahead I'm functionally disorganized by nature, I didn't list them in order when I first typed them out, so in editing I added some "see below"-type references in parentheses.  That was easier than managed time better than reworking it entirely. Let me know if it's too confusing and I'll quit being so lazy efficient.  This may not be a comprehensive list, either -- but who needs this many books on one topic, anyway?! ;) 

  • Confessions of an Organized Homemaker by Deniece Schofield 
    • This book is more directly related to organizing, but has some things relevant to time management.  It was one of the first organizing books I read.  She mentions in it the concept of having a personal planning notebook, which is mentioned in some of the other books I've listed as well.  I've had one ever since, in different forms, and it's been very helpful.  She also has plenty of tips for organizing various things around the home.  She has an extensive filing system which I tried for a while and which definitely has it's merits, in that it's better referenced than some others; but as far ease of maintenance, I didn't find it as nice as David Allen's far simpler recommendations (in Getting Things Done -- see below).  I've gotten further with his method in less time and can still find the stuff I've filed, so I guess it's okay for now.  Dorothy also has a book called Confessions of an Organized Family, which I own, but haven't referenced nearly as much up to now (has a section on moving I appreciated, though).  It looks like both of these may be out of print (have I been at this that long?!), but they are still being sold by various vendors on Amazon.
  • The Disciplined Life by Richard S. Taylor
    • This isn't strictly on time management either, but since discipline weighs so heavily in time management I thought I'd include it.  My parents gave this to me when I graduated highschool, and I read it around that time.  However, I'd have to say a lot of it just didn't stick.  I read it later on and profited a little more from it, but I looked it over again recently and wanted to read it again.  It's not a long book but it says some good things and the fact that my parents gave it to me makes it that much more valuable to me.  This might embarrass Dad, but when I read the description of the disciplined it's almost like I'm reading about him.  Or Hank Rearden from Atlas Shrugged.  Ha.  (You can see selected quotes from the first chapter of this book here.)
  • The Family Manager Takes Charge by Kathy Peel
    • This one really has more to do with organization also perhaps.  Organization and time management are just so closely linked (probably a big contributor to why I feel so un-manageable right now!).  This is one of those random list books (see below concerning Emilie Barnes), and I checked it out from the library but didn't buy it immediately.  I did buy it last year though because there were a few things I vaguely remembered from it and wanted to reference.  I haven't finished with that, though. Sigh.
  • Getting Things Done by David Allen  
    • This is a detailed system for time management designed for the business professional, but it can work for anyone with some adaptations.  You have to learn the system, which is even more work than designing a Teri Maxwell-style schedule (see Managers of Their Homes below), but he's really got some good ideas even if you don't implement his whole system.  For instance, I owe the fact that I finally got a label-maker to David Allen.  And I'm so glad I did!  And my husband liked it so much that he has one too now.  :) That's just one small thing, but there many helpful things in this book, including the key idea of always asking yourself what the "next action" is on a project, and a system for processing and keeping track of your work.  Allen has other books, including Making It All Work -- some quotes from that one are at this link.
  •  How To Get Control of Your Time and Your Life by Alan Lakein
    • I liked some of the ideas in this one.  I took notes, but it was years ago that I read it, and -- did I mention I'm disorganized?  I don't own it personally at this point, and it seems like there was a thing or two in there that would make me think I needed to give it a good look-over before handing it to even an older child (just in case you want a child to read about this subject).  This is an older book, and some complain it's outdated, but that didn't bother me.  He has a system for prioritizing using letters and numbers, lots of little tips for how to make the most of time, and one key question that can be useful -- "What's the best use of my time right now?"  It can be useful, I should say, if you aren't prone to overthinking, like me.  :)  Anyway, I gained some things from Lakein, and it might be well for me to review him, but I wouldn't say he's indispensible as far as I'm concerned.  This is considered a pretty classic work, though, and you might think differently than I do about it.
  • How To Have a 48-Hour Day by Don Aslett
    • I don't own this.  I do own another book of his called Is There Life After Housework?.  How To Have a 48-Hour Day and another of his called Make Your House Do the Housework have been on my "possible purchase" list at least informally for some time, but since I've read them somewhat already and it's been years and it hasn't seemed necessary to buy them, that tells you something.  Don Aslett is fun to read; he is hilarious and has good things to say as well, plus he's had success with his methods so he has some tips worth learning from.  He's also a lot different from me.  Often, I tend to prefer the books that are written by someone who knows a little more where I'm at as a homemaker and mother, and it's a bonus if they know about being a homeschool mother.  But different perspectives are nice, and I've definitely gained significantly from some of them.  This book has some good thoughts.  One thing I remember that I'm fairly certain came from this book (but since I don't have it I can't look it up), is that the beginning and ending of a project are the most difficult, so if you can stagger various projects with that in mind it can help you juggle them. 
  • Large Family Logistics by Kim Brenneman
    • I'm reading this one right now.  I got it on sale at the end of 2010.  It's obviously not just about time management, but does have related content.  Learning about large families has been one of my big interests, and learning how to live as one has been one of my big projects, since we became a family of 7 in 2009.  I'm definitely still learning!!!  This book is so encouraging, and it's well-organized for use as a reference by a busy mom.  Kim is a homeschooling mother of 9 children herself, so she can give advice from a been-there-done-that perspective.
  • Managers of Their Homes by Steven and Teri Maxwell  
    • This book walks you step-by-step through creating a very detailed schedule for your family.  It is made with large families in mind, but would work for any size family.  The authors are parents of 8, and are also very encouraging in their writing.  This was one of those books I hesitated to buy because at the time it was hard to find for a reduced price, it wasn't at the library, and the price seemed steep to me, but I don't regret buying it.  It was and is very useful -- I still refer to it on occasion, even though I've got my schedule-making routine down pretty well now.  I use a computer spreadsheet rather than the little squares.  It's less time-consuming for me that way.   By the way, the Maxwells also have a book called Managers of Their Chores, which I knew about but haven't read, and one I didn't know about until I went over there to link up called Managers of Their Schools.  My guess is that those could possibly have time-management benefits as well, but again, I haven't read them (if you have and have thoughts on them, please do leave a comment!).
  • The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey
    • Someone gave this to my husband when we were first married.  I read it and found it interesting and useful, although I never made his entire particular system really work well for me.  The most enduring thing I got from this book was the concept of the quadrants and that we tend to spend a lot of time on activities that are Urgent but not Important if we're not careful, but it's good to try to work it so we can spend more time on things which are Important but not Urgent.  Something about that little grid has helped me.  There was other meaningful information in this book as well, and it's another of those that's considered a classic. 
  • Various books by Emilie Barnes (More Hours In My Day, 15-Minute Organizer, Survival for Busy Women)
    • I've checked different ones out from the library and been overwhelmed by the incredible amount of info contained therein, mostly in list form -- tips on all kinds of things.  Don't get me wrong, it's not that I dislike her books.  On the contrary.  I have gotten some ideas from them, but I haven't bought any, I've just returned them and noted to myself that I could perhaps recheck or buy them later.  The main thing that's stuck with me that I've read in not only from her but also others (some got it from her) is the idea of sorting items into boxes labeled with notecards and then putting corresponding notecards with lists of the contents into a card box, which works well for general organization of things you cycle in and out of storage, as well as for moving. 
Online Resources:
  • FlyLady (who I hear also has a book, but I haven't checked it out)
    • I gained some valuable things from FlyLady, even though she and I didn't entirely hit it off.  I just didn't do well with being asked to wear tied shoes in the house.  Nor did I get along very well obsessing about my sink.  Even before I had five children to mess it up.  But the concept of morning and evening and other routines is great -- excellent, in fact.  I also appreciate her insight that you can do anything for 15 minutes, and her encouraging ways, and I'm sure there were other things I'm not thinking of at the moment.  Some people are really into her system.  She's definitely worth looking into and taking what works for you.  And she's funny, too.  That always helps.
  • Inspired To Action blog by Kat
    • She has a free e-book called Maximize Your Mornings, which I gained from in streamlining my morning routine a bit.  She also posts inspiring things on her blog, some having to do with time management. 
  • Smooth and Easy Days by Sonya Shafer
    • This is a free e-book on habit formation, especially regarding how to help children develop good habits.  This is something I really need to better apply in my own life, as well helping my children in this area.  The older I get the more I see how crucial habits are, and how relevant to time management, and I wish I'd had better ones at an earlier age in some important areas.  Charlotte Mason wrote excellently concerning habits and their importance, and I've read some but not nearly all of her series, which is worth looking into, but of course only partially related to these subjects.  Here's another link where you can look inside at a bit of Mason's first volume.  Oh, yes, or you can of course go to Ambleside Online and see the whole thing online!  How did I almost forget that?  I just love that place!
  • Tell Your Time by Amy Lynn Andrews
    • This is a concise e-book with some good things to say.  It's not free, but I found that it was good for me to look at when I didn't have a lot of time but needed to refocus and think about what things were really important for me to make time for.  She uses a modified grid system very similar to Covey's for this purpose (see The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People above). 
  • Time Management for Creative People by Mark McGuinness
    • Another free e-book I read some time back.  I'm pretty sure he is the person who introduced me to Getting Things Done (above), which I appreciated.  This is kind of a basics book as well. The "creative people" facet puts an interesting perspective on it, though.  He talks about how creativity doesn't negate the need for organization, and how other creative people use certain settings or other triggers to help them focus on their work, which I found interesting (especially some of the things they do, which are rather eccentric). 

Well, after putting this list together I felt embarrassed.  With all these resources, I should be an expert by now!  Too bad owning or even reading books isn't equivalent to mastering their contents, especially application of them.  Trouble is, there's one difficulty that stands in the way of my success in this area, and that's ME.  :-/  Yeah, that's a big one....

So what are your favorite resources on time management?  Not that I need any more, ha.  Have you read any of the ones above?  Would you admit it if you'd read them all?!  

For more book reviews, follow this link or click on the tab at the top of the page.

This post is part of the Carnival of Homeschooling, hosted at Andrea Hermitt.


  1. This made me grin. The way you wrote it was funny and the fact that you have so many books about this topic. . .giggle.

    I'm certain I need to do better in this area. In theory, I strive to be organized, but in practice. . .

    I really like MOTH. I like the system, and I like her thoughts behind it. While she is more organized than I could ever dream to be, she is not a slave to it, nor does she make me feel like I have to do it just like she does. I feel a freedom to apply what works for me and then not worry about it.

  2. Yes, MOTH is good. I love the practicality and the specificity regarding the schedule.

  3. Thank you for this most excellent list! This post is organized so well - the books must be working for you!

    Ring true,

  4. Thanks, Nancy! I'd like to think the books are working! :)