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Checking email while doing your business while planning for dinner

Image from here.

I’m serious about getting organized and actually feeling like I have it together. Not just a little serious, I’m super serious. Seriously. Sometimes I can’t help but wonder if I’m the only one this crazy? The only person hard wired with traits that I both love and despise about myself. I’m intense, I do everything with a zealous vigor that rivals 2 young missionaries holding the Book of Mormon at your door (by the way – be nice to them, they are good boys who are far from home). I don’t know how to do things half way, I’m not even kidding, I have no idea how to just roll with it. I’m either flat on my back or I’m running as hard and fast as I can with no intention of stopping until the treadmill throws me off. I was asked recently how I do it all, I’ve been avoiding the question because I’m embarrassed to say. Am I alone? I’ll go ahead and jump off my soap box now. Today’s post is a collaboration of ideas I’ve found and thought up for my personal needs about better time management. I wanted to pass some of them over to you.

1. Touch it once. I’ve talked about this before (it’s something my dad taught me) and I think it’s so obvious and yet so overlooked (especially by me) that I want to say it again. Ready? Touch it once! In other words when something drops into your hands, voice mail or inbox take care of it immediately and say no to unmanageable stacks of to do’s that are cluttering your thoughts and workspace. Let’s ALL say yes to this one, because – come on – we all know it’s going to make life better, right? Of course we do!

2. Make a list and check it twice. Santa Claus is on to something and I think it’s worth our taking heed. I’m proud to say I think I actually came up with this one all by my little ol’ self. I can’t usually take credit, inspiration is usually recycled on some level. Ever since I’ve started doing this I’ve been amazed at how much better my day starts off. Before you end the workday, make a list of what you need/want to accomplish in order of priority for the next day! Think about it! Instead of sitting down to your computer and trying to flip through the mental list to figure out where you should start – and take the chance of forgetting something crucial you needed to do (we’ve all done it!) have a plan before your day begins. You won’t believe how your productivity will soar with this simple little idea. You’ll be ready to tackle the day feeling in control and mentally prepared to handle what’s ahead.

3. Stop Multitasking. According to Dave Crenshaw, “Whenever you try to accomplish more than one task that requires effort and attention, you are really switchtasking: switching rapidly back and forth between the tasks. Whenever you switchtask, you incur switching costs, the transition time and energy it takes to transition from one to the other. Anyone who can reduce the number of switches in their day will get more done in less time, with less mistakes and less stress than the person who switchtasks.”

4. Use your down time. There are things I have to do such as write blog posts, answer emails, edit photos, fold laundry, clean the kitchen, etc. etc. etc. And there are things I want to do, like take the kids to the park, read a book, blog stalk, try a new recipe. But so often I let the have to’s trump the want to’s even though some of my want to’s (like taking the kids to the park) are far more important. I have started looking for opportunities to use down time to make both happen. For example I’ve given up on paperbacks and gone to audio books – now they are loaded on my iPhone and I can listen and be inspired while I unload the dishwasher, sort laundry or make the 3 hr. drive to Seattle for shoots. Another way I’m making this happen is by using my laptop. I am very blessed to have a wonderful husband who understands and supports my desire to be able to “do” the 2 things I love – my children and photography/Go{4}Pro, so he has helped me find ways to make it all more manageable. The most recent being my new MacBook Pro that I’m typing on right now. I’m in love because I can work on a blog post while we sit at the park or search out blog ideas while I sit on the floor in the kids rooms and most importantly, work somewhere other than in my office.

5. I think I can. When I was in 4th and 5th grade I played softball. I was really, really bad. No really, they asked me not to swing and hoped that my tiny frame crouched in the batters position would be enough to get me to base because my skill certainly was not going to get me there. During these “sport” years, my mom bought me a little train, when you squeezed it he chugged, ‘I think I can, I think I can, I think I can. Chooo, chooo. I thought I could’. Try self coaching yourself (out loud) as to what you are going to accomplish and that you know you can do it. And confirm to yourself after you’ve accomplished the task – tell yourself (still out loud) when you’ve done a great job. Self affirmation is a powerful tool to make your time positive and effective. Oprah said so. 😉

6. Pray. I know that we have a loving Father in Heaven who hears all our prayers and I believe that He loves and pays special care to mothers. My mother-in-law recently told me that when her kids were small and she had an especially difficult day ahead with way too much she needed to do, that in her morning prayers she would ask Heavenly Father to slow time and help her accomplish all that was required without creating negative affect on her children. It certainly can’t hurt to try it!



  1. Deb Zorn says:

    I'm also a "go,go" person, who never does anything halfway. It makes me very uncomfortable to not have things "done." This is great.

  2. Faith says:

    I LOVE this post. There is something about it that made me feel a connection to your world through this post. Maybe it's being a mama photographer and always doing too much…
    There have been lots of times when I've written up a draft of my blog post or photography lesson on my phone while watching my kids play outside, and I always check my email in the morning while I'm waiting for my first cup of coffee.
    I love the concept of "touch it once". I try to reply to my email right away because I know I may end up putting it off for a month if it gets lost in everything else I have in my inbox! And trying to reply to blog comments all at once at the end of the day can be mind-numbing.
    Blogged about you this morning 🙂

  3. Mrs Soup says:

    Love it. The Touch It Once thing has always been my goal….but my hubby is far from that kind of person. So when sorting through things, we end up touching it way too many times.

    The list thing is great. I love lists. Especially ones that aren't on random bits of paper so I can keep track of them. That, and if it's not written down I tend to forget about it, unless it's for someone else.

  4. Ness says:

    Thank you for this, it is a very timely help to me. I think my afternoon is going to be more productive than my morning thanks to this 😉

  5. ness says:

    p.s. I am so motivated )) I have just cleared over 200 'shortcuts' on my keyboard (favourites doesnt work for me) While I have many priorities right now,like editing a shoot,this just overwhelms me before I have even get to my emails or editing software. Important things are contained within files which are now only one column! and I have found one of my photos of a flower that is simple and beautiful to relax me. Thank you for inspiring me to take action. Tommorrow I will do everything I should have done today ))

  6. Kim says:

    I need to bring you in our Google Wave. LOL I am just now starting to use it to keep everything online in front of my face. With the studio getting ready to open, organization is going to be my best friend!!

  7. Carrie says:

    I love this post. Thank you for the reminder to start my day with prayer! I think it is the most important thing I can do for my business, but most importantly, my family.

  8. Hannah says:

    I totally needed to read this today! Great advice. And boy do I tend to multi-task, and I see how much it works against me. I often have Photoshop, Bridge and Firefox up on my computer, with several windows open in that, plus my phone near me, journal sitting open, and a timer going for something in the kitchen! No wonder I feel overwhelmed so often!

  9. Maggie says:

    This post is awesome Leah! I love the ideas-some I know I can put into effect right away. I loved no. 3. I’ve always felt a little guilty because I didn’t feel I multitasked well; that it was really ineffective. I felt like I jumped from one thing to the next not getting anything finished. It’s nice to know that it’s okay and I should try to do one task at a time. I can also totally relate to finding time for the “have to do” and “want to do” things, as I am a busy mom of three with not only my photography business, but also a magazine publishing job as well. And I love that you included prayer too. I find myself talking to God throughout the day. It’s sometimes as simple as asking him to help me survive the spilled milk, tantrums and dirty diapers. Ha! But, I wouldn’t give up this time with my little kiddos for anything. Thanks for your inspiration!

  10. […] wait, was that just me who had her mind in the gutter? Anyway…enjoy. It is worth the read. Go {4} Pro N

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