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All articles here are written by Melinda Briana Epler (that's me!) unless otherwise noted. I'm a documentary filmmaker, writer, and brand experience designer - I've dedicated my life to living a sustainable lifestyle and helping others do the same. Please feel free to contact me if you have questions or thoughts for articles. Welcome!

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How To Manage Time

I mentioned yesterday that I’m working on managing my time so that I can do everything I want to do.  I think time management is extremely important to talk about and share ideas about, because we are all busy with “life.”  And it’s tough to make time for our “simple” and sustainable lives – like cooking, cleaning, baking, sewing, and all of the other things we do at home – let alone make time for community building.

But… it’s important.  I wrote the other day that Voluntary Simplicity + Building Community = Saving Our Children.  This is something I firmly believe and I know many of you believe this as well.  So… how do we make time for these important things?

Some Of The Things I Do (Or Don’t Do) To Save Time:

  1. I don’t watch television (occasionally we do watch dvds).
  2. We have many of our groceries and locally-farmed veggies delivered by a great local company.
  3. I live in a neighborhood where I don’t have to drive much – I can walk or take the bus quickly to most anywhere I need to go.
  4. I work at home and near home.
  5. My volunteer work is all within walking distance.
  6. My doctor, dentist, and just about every business I frequent is within walking distance.
  7. I have a good working calendar, and a good working to do list which I consult and update often.
  8. I prioritize my to do list so that the things that are least important are the ones that get put off if necessary.
  9. I set short-, mid-, and long-term goals and focus on accomplishing those (which helps prioritize my to do list).
  10. I work with my husband so that when he works late I cook, and when I work late he cooks (I work late more often – ha!).
  11. I’m learning my limits, learning to say no to some things that are less a priority.
  12. I consolidate errands and meetings into similar locations and consecutive times.
  13. I stay healthy by eating healthy food, having regular physician check-ups, and exercising every day (by walking to my meetings!).
  14. And, probably most importantly, I have a loving husband with whom I can relax and unwind.

I LOVE my life.  I am so happy doing all that I do.  But I would really appreciate hearing ways that you manage your time, too, so that I might be able to do a better job of keeping everything in line and moving forward, without stress.

How Do You Manage Your Time?

What tricks to you have?  What have you read?  What are you working on in terms of managing time?  How do you do everything that you do?

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11 comments to How To Manage Time

  • Hi Melinda, Thanks for popping into my blog. Love this post about time managing. I write lists – lots of lists – and then I cross things off when they are done. I plan meals and sometimes cook the evening meal at lunch time as evenings are so rushed here. I have learnt to say no and have down scaled my kids out of school activities. We love free time so I make sure we have plenty of it.
    The other Melinda

  • I follow many of the recommendations from I bless my house once a week, write menus, has a master grocery list, shop once a week and so on.

    Living a sustainable life does take time at home. I am learning that I really have to decide how important even the sustainable items are to do.

  • Earlier this fall I was feeling a bit overwhelmed and it took me awhile to get out of that slump. I made a list every night of the 3 things I needed to get done the next day. These were basic things like tackle the laundry, pick up/dust/vacuum the living, can the rest of the apples, etc. After a few days the house looked way better and I felt a lot better too. Now I just automatically pick a few things to do, and once I start I usually get on a roll and end up doing a lot of other things do.

    I also try to think in terms of efficiency. If I start the laundry first then when the dishes are done I can go hang the first load on the line and start another load, etc.

    One last thing that works for me – it really helps when my husband and I discuss the next days plans ahead. Even if I just plan to bake something new and he’s going to work in his shop, it helps to know before we get home from work so we don’t have other expectations from each other. You’re right – having a supportive guy around is a great help!

  • I found the site both fun and helpful as well. If you’ve dug yourself a deep hole when it comes to cleaning/clutter she gives great, non-threatening advice about how to get out of that hole. Even if you are fairly organized you’ll probably find things there that are helpful. She isn’t focusing on “green” housekeeping necessarily, but you can add that element yourself with no problem. There is also good advice there on organizing your finances, your shopping, etc.

  • Selling the car helped me become better at organizing my time. What I’ve found is that when you have to walk or bus or find a ride, organization becomes so important. I really have to prioritize what I need, when is the best time to get it, or whether it really is worth the time to go get. It’s also helped with exercise. :)

    I’m a list maker too. One list that I like to make occasionally (I got this idea from a book by Julia Cameron) is a “ta-da” list. That would be everything that was done over a period of time.

    Saying “no” is really important. I think, in general, that Americans tend to over commit their time.

  • Your No. 1 is the right one for that position in the list. As a nation we have stared into those things enough to have whiled away millions of human lifespans — to no very good purpose.

    We watched the inauguration, that’s been about it for the last while. And DVDs occasionally.

  • monica

    I love the picture of all of the clocks!

    I manage time best by knowing how my longstanding commitments (family), fit in with things that I know I HAVE to be there at a certain time (work). That leaves more time for spur of the moment and fun time for doing activities with friends and family. We want lots of good memories, but we need to make enough time for them.

    I just turned 39 a few weeks ago and intend to next year and probably the year after. Ha. Who says I have to get old?

  • I was just curious which company/csa you use to deliver your groceries. We’re in West Seattle, and our regular CSA just ended, so I’m looking for something to fill in for the winter.

    The no TV thing is our most recent time-saver, and it’s amazing! I read so much more, listen to more music, get my news on the radio and internet. Who has time for TV with a two-year-old anyway?

    We find using google calendar is great for my husband and I to keep track of each other’s schedules.

    And as a stay-at-home-mom to a toddler, my biggest time saver is getting a lot of dinner prep done during the little dude’s nap. After all the veggies are washed and chopped and the menu is planned, dinner comes together a lot easier and with much less stress on my part. Especially since he would love to “help” me with chopping if he were awake.

    Love your site! :)

  • Lesseeee- I started organizing my shopping trips so I can go down the line. I atarted riding the scooter to the farmers market. I changed dentists (after going to the same one for 10 years) so I could be a little more local. I have started walking to the mega- grocers when I need something from a mega grocer. ABOUT IT!

  • Melinda, Hello there and thanks for visiting! And great time management ideas – making meals ahead of time is a big one. And yes, being able to say no! : )

    Sarah, Thank you for sharing your thoughts & ideas. I agree that prioritizing is essential. And I have learned that there are many ways to go about living a sustainable life. For instance, you don’t have to grow all of your own produce if you don’t have the time/space. You can, instead, buy from local farmers – which is also sustainable and supports your local economy.

    Jena, Great idea! I have gone through phases of being overwhelmed, where I’ve found having a list like this has helped quite a bit. And yes – efficiency – excellent point. And what a great idea to discuss your plans and expectations with your family. Thank you!

    Joyce, I will check out It has been a while since I’ve visited… though for me, clutter isn’t so much an issue as just really haven taken on a lot and needing to stay on target every day! ; )

    Deb G, Ah, we are so close to selling our car… I do only drive it once/week or so, so I completely understand your point about organizing around walking or riding the bus! I definitely consolidate my trips, prioritize, and reevaluate where I really need to go to find something (ie, maybe there is a business closer that I haven’t thought about yet). What a great idea to use a “ta-da” list!!

    Risa B, I agree. : )

    Monica, Happy (belated) Birthday! I’m not much behind you… but I think old is not the right word… how about mature or … knowledgeable. “I have 39 years of knowledge,” say? ; )

    Chessa, We use They stock local and non-local products, so we just pick the local products. We’ve found many local items there that we haven’t found anywhere else! And their produce buyer is AWESOME. Sometimes things are a little more expensive, but wow- the taste and size are just divine. It’s all organic, too.

    And yes! My husband and I just recently started using Google calendar to keep track of each others’ schedules! I love it!!

    Rob, Great stuff you’re doing!

  • I love these ideas – I definitely need to take some of them on!

    My biggest thing that helped was moving to the other side of town – closer to both of our jobs at the time. May not be practical for everyone these days, but worked for us (and was great timing when gas hit $4.35).

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