Timing Matters

Time ManagmentWhen I was little my father used to tell me, “timing is everything.” Each year this phrase has made increasingly more sense, and I’ve come to realize that when we do things can matter as much as what we do.  Reflecting on this truth, I’ve identified three time-related principles that can increase your productivity and success.

Each person has a unique internal rhythm which impacts factors such as:

  • what time of day we feel most productive (morning person vs. night owl)
  • how much sleep we need (5 hours vs. 9 hours)
  • what environment we work most effectively in (e.g. inside vs. outside)
  • how we learn/produce (e.g. sitting down vs. standing up/moving)

If we want to maximize efficiency, it makes sense to be self aware and schedule our tasks accordingly. Some musicians I know are at their most creative in the wee hours of the morning. Many athletes I know enjoy the pre-dawn hours for a workout. There is no wrong time, as long as it feels right to you. Admittedly, many of us must work within an employer’s/family’s constraints, but to the extent that we can choose when/where to work, it makes sense to go with- rather than against- what our bodies want.

We all have a series of tasks to complete in any given day. Many times we perform these tasks at the time we feel we “should,” instead of when we would be most convenient. A simple example is dinner preparation. We wait all day and start making dinner at 5 or 6 (or 7…) because this is what we’ve always done. In reality, however, the 5 o’clock hour is often the most chaotic time of day, when we may be driving kids around, bouncing a colicky baby, or dragging in from a long day at work. Instead of waiting, consider tackling the chopping/measuring/table setting/prepping at a calmer time of day. Ever watch a chef prepare a meal on a TV show in about 5 minutes? It’s because most of the work is already done. Maybe chop veggies as you are eating breakfast, or consider pre-measuring all ingredients during naptime. With a bit of planning, you can even do a fair amount of prep work over the weekend to carry you through the week

This concept can be applied to many of our daily responsibilities. Take a look at the tasks you regularly perform, especially those that seem stressful, and ask yourself “Can I do any part of this at a time which would work better for me?”

Many items on the “to do” list require participation from another person. This is a tough one, because we can’t control when & how others behave. However, we can increase our odds of success by being intentional and thoughtful.  Always ask yourself, “When is the best time to ask this person for help with this request?

- It’s probably not the moment he first walks in the door,
…but it may be when he’s stuck in the airport, waiting for a flight, and has time to kill.

-  It’s probably not the night before the complex deliverable is due,
…but it may be 2 weeks in advance, when he can meet your need without throwing his own schedule off.

- It’s probably not when your teen is trying to get to practice, study for 2 tests and tackle an unexpected project,
…but it may be on the weekend or the Friday night when she’s got no plans.

The key here is that by respecting other people’s time, you actually increase your own productivity.

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There may never be enough time to leisurely accomplish all you need to do, but a bit of intentionality can help you make the most of every minute you’ve got.

What tricks have helped you make the most of your time?


photo credit: John-Morgan via photopin cc



Introducing “Polly Tries”

Introducing Polly Tries, a new comic by Seana and cartoonist Emily Evans. Polly is a 30 something woman who is trying hard to keep it all together. She is intelligent, thoughtful and hard-working, but she struggles to get and stay organized.

We hope you will enjoy getting to know Polly, and maybe identifying with her experiences. Please let us know what you think!


Polly Tries...Inbox

Organizing Shelves

Hanging shelf

When I was designing my first bathroom, my contractor nicknamed me “shelving Seana” because I was always adding shelves. Shelves are the perfect blend of form and function, and maximize the efficiency of vertical space. Unfortunately, figuring out how to get the most of your shelves can be challenging. Here are a few tricks…

Many shelves are adjustable. We frequently set the shelves up once, and then forget that they can be moved to accommodate shifting storage needs. Every now and then, pull everything out and look at what you need to store, and then move the shelves accordingly.

Shelves = instant storage, so consider adding a shelf or two, either to an existing bookcase/closet, or to a wall.

  • If you are adding to an adjustable shelving unit, ask your home supply store to cut a piece of birch plywood to your specifications. This can be installed either with some extra peg supports (if you have pre-drilled holes) or with with wooden cleats or brackets.
  • If the shelf is behind closed doors in a closet/cabinet, it doesn’t matter if the finish matches. If you want to try and match it, you can either paint it, stain it or use veneer tape along the front edge.
  • Decorative shelves can be added to any wall, making an instant command center, mudroom, linen “closet,” etc. When adding shelves to a wall, always be sure to secure into studs with proper hardware, and be aware of any weight limitations.

Add a shelf

photo credit: Kris Kara

One problem I frequently run across is very tiny items sitting loose on a deep/tall shelf.  This is no good. Deep shelves are great for storing very large items (quilts pillows, stand mixers, etc.) not loose bottles of nail polish.  When filling any storage area, it is always good to put the largest items away first. Then, if you have tiny items….

If you only have a large space and want to put little items inside, create small storage areas inside the broader space. Affordable and effective solutions include graduated “stairs,” slip-on hanging wire shelves, and smaller bins which can serve as “drawers.” Subdivide anywhere you can: the fridge, the pantry, the closet, under the sink, in a playroom closet, etc. Also, remember to label smaller bins so coworkers and family members know where to find (and where to replace) belongings.

Graduated can holder Small boxes for toys

Put the items you use most on the shelves that are either at eye level, or directly above or below. Leave the top shelves for rarely needed items. Consider putting bins or baskets on the floor to create a bottom drawer.

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Shelves are one of my favorite “accessories” because they provide space to store and display what matters most to you. What shelf do you use most in your space?