Tammy’s Top Ten (t3 report) to Carve Out More Time

I was talking with my friend, Tony Smith the other day. “I’m maxed out,” I said.  He snorted a deep chest guffaw and said, “I suggest that maxed out is your preferred operating style.” Truth be told, he’s right but as I delve into a PhD program, I need plenty of tricks and tips in order to at least pretend to keep the balance.

Carving up the Schedule

Carving up the Schedule

Here is a list of what I’m trying.

  1. Plan your week. In a 90 minute session scheduled on my calendar I attempt to schedule, self care, kid care, husband time and studying. Of course that’s in addition to my full-time job but nonetheless, staying mindful about what I hope to accomplish helps.
  2. Delete the games. Oh, it’s true. Some of you reading this have been my buddies in battle in Words with Friends and anything else that centers on creating words or improving vocabulary. You may see me again in June but until then, I’m out.
  3. Ask the kids to pitch in if they are old enough. Tonight, one took the compost out. Another unloaded the groceries. This busy family schedule is a team effort and I need all the players I can get.
  4. Plan out a week’s worth of menus. It may not work out exactly as planned but with the list that I’ve generated from the menus, I can shop and feel confident that the ingredients are on-hand.
  5. Turn off the notifications – part 1. Those of us who are old enough remember the movie, “You’ve got mail.” Those of us who are busy enough really don’t need to know when fresh email is dropping into our inbox. Turn off the notification
  6. Turn off the notifications – part 2. If you carry a cell phone, while it’s fun to know who retweeted your tweet or commented on your facebook post, it’s incredibly distracting in the middle of the day. Turn off the notifications and be surprised just like we used to be when there was a letter in the mailbox.
  7. Create a sacred space. We have Hindu friends who’ve created a beautiful prayer room and alter. In my home, I’ve taken over the desk of my college freshman. I have my stuff scattered and it is all together.
  8. Practice self care. I’m intending to use this as a guiding principle although I haven’t actually been effective at it to date. My intention is to schedule this in every week.
  9. Ask for help when you need it. I need help with carpooling to school or to an event. We often don’t ask but I don’t have that luxury any longer.
  10. Take five. Start your morning with breathing or a prayer or a time to be still. It needn’t be fancy but the benefits will serve you throughout the day and beyond.

PLEASE, let me know your tricks and tips. I am very interested in human productivity but frankly, can use your help right now!

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  1. Wow Tammy, you’re an inspiration! I can’t quite imagine fitting so much in, so can’t offer suggestions but am completely with you on turning off all notifications. All the very best for your PhD and everything in between now and then 🙂

  2. Amazing list and very complete, the only other thing I can add is focus on loving yourself. Being a busy mom and student, it is so easy to become distracted by things outside of you.

  3. Thank you very much for the important reminders, Tammy! And I wish you all the best in your doctoral pursuits!

    • Thanks Mary. Wish me luck! It’s a PhD in Sustainability which should resonate with you and your business.

  4. How ambitious to add study to an already full life. You are an inspiration.

  5. I am already envisioning calling you “Dr. Tammy.” Best of luck!

    In law school, I “worked” 6 days a week from 7 am to 11 pm. And took one day a week for ME ~ doing fun things, running errands, getting organized, etc. Knowing I would have a full day without studying law or teaching legal writing or working as a law clerk or editing the Law Review helped keep me motivated the other 6 days.

  6. Lisa H

     /  August 31, 2015

    Wonderful list that all of us can use. I have started to do small things for me (getting manicures, pedicures or reading for 15 minutes in the middle of the day). At first, I felt guilty about taking the time for something that seemed so frivolous, but each week I felt calmer, better about myself, and every time I look at my beautiful nails I smile or how refreshed I felt after reading. Who knew something so small could eventually make such a huge difference in my attitude of daily the daily grind?
    Glad to hear you are taking the PhD plunge!

  7. Wow. My only advice is when something tells you to sit down, do it. Ten minutes and your preferred hot or cold beverage. You’ll be rested after.

    • Thanks for that! I’m also working to stand up more. Too much research about the ill effects of sitting!!

  8. Shelley cohn

     /  August 31, 2015

    Impressive, I know you will make it work, glad you had a good summer trip

  9. You do sound super-busy. Your list is very helpful and I can certainly benefit from this. I agree that we need to stop the games and notifications as they’re such a distraction and getting the kids to help is important for them and for you xx

  10. Sally

     /  September 2, 2015

    Single Mother of four, two in College and two in Highschool, three jobs and studied restaurant management, I relied on the kids, they could not rely on me, and we were a team. They worked and we studied and the kids were the heroes. Still are, and I have one thing to say, teamwork. You have a husband, you are a team and you are a super model of how it is done. I did not do menus, I left it up to spontaneity and friend jack who helped like a husband. Works!

  11. Tammy, this is a wonderful post as I face working frill time from November. I shall be implementing several of your suggestions! Thanks!

    • You have to be vigilant Kate. It’s hard but then, there is a certain rhythm to it and it feels very abundant.

  12. Now, I am truly impressed, dear Tammy. I had to look up the word PHD what it meant. Because English is not my own language you see! Waw! xxx Good luck!

  13. I would suggest additional help around the house. Until I quit my job, I had a part time nanny two days a week–even though my kids were 11, 14 and 18! But she got them to any early activities, ran errands, picked up the CSA box, made dinner for the two (non-consecutive) days she was there and staged dinner (cut up veggies, made taco filling, etc) for the following night. And it was amazing coming home from work to a waiting hot (organic) meal! Good luck with the PhD–that’s exciting!

  14. I put my phone onto silent every night so that it will not disturb or distract me. I also schedule ‘me time’ to ensure some time away from everything. A cup of coffee and a spa bath are my best treat 🙂

  15. HI Tammy, I am truly thrilled to learn about this new chapter in your life–which seems so perfectly suited to who you are and what you care about. Here I am, late to commenting—it’s hard to carve out that time. Priorities and boundaries are two things I consider. What is essential. What can wait. What brings me pleasure. What gets in the way. You’ve got great ideas here. When I have had too much going on, I would remind myself that 1. everything will get done 2. if not today, tomorrow 3. it helps to keep a list, cross off things done–feels good to see the accomplishments, even when you are ever-adding to the list! 4. good rest is essential 5. distractions abound—so,unplug from news, iPhones, social media/technology 6. taking a walk in nature, taking in the fresh air, if even briefly goes far to reground, refresh, renew…
    all the best to you! Nancy

    • Great advice Nancy! Appreciate all that you’ve offered up here. Rest for me is an essential to all else.

  16. Just wanted to stop by and wish you a Merry Christmas Tammy. Hope you son’s first semester went well and you have a great festive reunion.

    • Thanks so much! First year is going great except that I miss him a ton. I’ve been such a bad blogger this last half of the year.

  17. casaltz

     /  December 28, 2015

    I recently got an instant pot, electric pressure cooker, it is a game changer for me. Less time needed and more healthy meals than ever before in our home! Makes meal prep for the week easy. Plus, I can spend 10 minutes cutting up veggies and putting ingredients in the pot and have a delicious meal on the table in less than 20 minutes and I can do other things while the pot is doing its magic. Hope you are enjoying your Holidays. Charlene

    • You know… I have one of those that I used to use and then forgot about it. In fact, there was a place that some of the DV crowd used to take pressure cooker classes. Good thought Charlene. Happy New Year!


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