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time management tips

Ok, so I don’t discuss my day job very often…

That is, in part, because I’ve signed a confidentiality agreement longer than the constitution of the United States, and partly because it just doesn’t often relate very much to paleo nutrition or lifestyle.

But today I want to talk about time management.  What does this have to do with anything?  Well, one of the most common excuses I hear for both a)not being able to adopt or sustain a paleo lifestyle and b) not being able to get stress under control is that there are only 24 hours in a day and we JUST.DON’T.HAVE.TIME

I hear you.  I can definitely relate.  I have a very demanding full time job, I run this blog, I’m writing my first book, I’m married and have 3 kids.  Throw in a few looney bin people in the periphery and you’ve got a pretty full day. Every day.

I’m not immune to stress and I would also love to add an hour or two but we all have 24 (yes, including every President and Oprah) and all we can do is manage it the best we can.

I’ve picked up a few time management tips and tricks along the way that I thought might be useful to you.

Time Management tips from a Celebrity Assistant

First of all, there’s no way I could do everything I do if my health, sleep and stress were not as in check as they are.  Granted, there is always room for improvement in all those areas but this is crucial for me to note for those of you that may be new to this lifestyle or perhaps still considering it from a distant sideline.  An easy example we can all agree on is that after a night of very little and/or poor quality sleep you’re not as productive as you could be the next day- amiright?

1- Batch Your Work

Technology is great, but it can often be overwhelming.  While I appreciate that I can go on a trip and have access to practically my entire computer from a small device in my pocket, the downside is that the dang thing makes all kinds of noises all day long notifying me of way more than is crucial for me to know.

Just because you have it, doesn’t mean you need to use it.

Turn off your “push” notifications for anything that isn’t urgent and check your messages at set times of the day.  In my case, the only thing that now dings at me on my phone is a text message, phone call or voicemail.  I’m pretty protective about my phone number.  It’s not on my business cards and my friends and family know to use it if its time sensitive but if they want some health advice or to plan a get together for a couple weeks from now, they know email is a better way to reach me.  At work there are only 2 people I need to engage in text messages with.  Everyone else knows they will not hear back from me via text unless it’s urgent and I’m the only one that can answer their question.  Hardcore? Yes, but also super awesome. Try it!

Do you really need to get the latest tweet or Facebook message pushed down to your phone? Or is that something you can check into later at your leisure?  I noticed a significant increase in productivity when I stopped all these notifications.  At first it was odd not to have emails trickling in all day long but I found I could work on a project for an hour at a time and then simply check my work email and send off a few replies at a time.  The bonus of this is that it also eliminates all the needless back and forth and often times by the time I check my inbox I already have a second email from that person saying “nevermind”, they found what they needed or someone else in those incredibly long 25 people chains had beat me to the answer- sweet!

I first heard about this concept in Tim Ferriss’ book, The 4 Hour Workweek.  I highly recommend it if you’re trying to increase your productivity and manage your time more efficiently.

2- Use Tools to Stay Organized.

So, although I find excessive use of technology to be a double edged sword, I love using apps as tools to get organized and help me stay organized.

I use apps that sync between my Mac and my iPhone so that the info I need is always with me.  This saves me trips back to the store for forgotten items and allows me at work to have an impromptu meeting since I always have all my notes in one place.  One of my favorite apps is Evernote– I use the free version and its been great.  I can add to it from my phone or computer.  I use it to draft a blog post if the inspiration hits when I have no wifi and it later syncs up next time it finds a signal- brilliant.  Also, if I want to take notes while listening to a podcast I start typing and it will automatically title it “from the Robb Wolf podcast date…” or something like that.

For a task list at work I also love the app called Things.  It allows me to have several checklists. For instance I have one of things I want to discuss with my boss and when he unpredictably calls me from the set overseas even if I’m in line at the coffee shop with one click I’ve got the list of urgent things to discuss in front of me.  Fumbling through my bag to find a piece of paper is so last season. 😉

I also really love having shared calendars.  I have many calendars; one for each insane part of my life.  I use both Google calendars and iCal and love them both.  No more emails or texts from bosses, coworkers or spouses asking “when are we doing such and such again?”. They can each just press the calendar icon and bam, the latest and greatest is right there.  The more you cut down the amount of pointless communication the more these minutes add up to some serious time at the end of the day and week.  Now I work with some old school people so this hasn’t been easy, but its teachable.

3- Create Systems that Run Themselves

I’m a big fan of creating systems that pretty much run themselves once you’re in the habit.  Just like you probably have a place you always set your keys down when you come in through the door so you’re not spending 30 minutes looking for them each morning every system you take a few minutes to create will more than make up for that time in the efficiency it results in.

The more you’re able to automate, the less you need to have on your plate and on your mind.  I love using subscription models so that things show up on my doorstep or in my inbox without me having to remember to order them!  Sometimes these things cost a few extra dollars, and sometimes they’re actually cheaper! One example of this is subscribing to Holistic Squid’s meal plans. They simply show up in my inbox each week and all I have to do is print and shop! I also like to use Amazon Subscribe and Save for staples we use regularly.  By subscribing to 5 items you get 15% off so this actually saves me money AND time- score!  I have a farm box show up each week with my produce and eggs and I like to have our pup’s grain free paleo-ish pet food come automatically each month from Pet Flow.  The amount of time and mental energy I save not worrying about all those things is life changing.

Sometimes it’s as easy as making things a habit that ends up happening as mindlessly as brushing your teeth.  For more great tips on habit forming, I really like the book The Power of Habit.

4- Get Help

This is coming from a former control freak who resisted asking for help and delegating like the plague but once I realized being super woman is not actually possible, I took baby steps toward making life a little more manageable.  This can mean anything from hiring help if that’s in the budget and actually allowing them to help you, to asking your spouse or kids for help. At first it seems like it’s just easier and faster to just do it yourself.  But if you just spend a few extra minutes showing someone how to do it, sometimes more than once, it might be something you can get off your plate for good.  And believe me, once you achieve that you’ll be kicking yourself for not having done it sooner.   It doesn’t have to something extravagant.  Even shaving off a few minutes off each task will really add up to substantial help. Perhaps your oldest child can make scrambled eggs for the younger ones in the morning or help get them dressed.  Or maybe you can hire a homeschooled teenager to help you a few hours a week.

5- Just Say No

“The difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say no to almost everything” – Warren Buffett

You don’t have to do everything or be everywhere.  Just because you’re invited to an event or a party doesn’t mean you have to go.   Prioritize what is important for you and your goals and clear your calendar of the rest of it.   For me this meant stepping down from being a board member of a non profit and saying no to volunteer opportunities I would have otherwise agreed to.  I declined because I’d rather be here writing for you and sharing my tips and recipes in hopes of helping others improve their health and lives.

What are your best time management tips?  Would love to hear them below!


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Sylvie McCracken is a former celebrity assistant in Hollywood turned full time entrepreneur currently living in Ashland, Oregon with her husband and 3 kids. She writes about treating and preventing health conditions with real food and natural remedies, as well as anything else she feels like writing about because she's a rebel like that. 😉 She also mentors entrepreneurs on her other site,