5 Effective Ways to Be Intentional With Your Time
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Do you feel like there just aren’t enough hours in the day? Or that the hours that you do have are spent doing a hundred things you don’t want to do, but none of the things you love?
The days can feel so long and chaotic, but then you find yourself wondering how on earth it’s Easter already, when it was just the first day of school, like, 2 weeks ago?!?!
There are so many things that compete for a busy mom’s attention – spouse, kids, home, work, friendships, sleep, shopping, cooking, chauffeuring… It never ends.
Time management can help you fit
all most of your tasks into your crazy day, but a huge part of managing your time efficiently involves understanding how to be intentional with your time.
It can be challenging to implement this type of intentionality because there’s always another thing to be done. The dog has to be walked or the dinner has to be made or the toilet needs to be scrubbed – I know I’m not the only one who finds another “something” to do every time I turn around.
What it takes is a mindset shift.
It’s anxiety-inducing to even think about pausing in the middle of a busy day to be more intentional. But it is so necessary and so worth it.
You can be super efficient – hustle hard, move fast, automate everything – but being intentional is what will bring joy and simplicity back into your life.
It’s time to change your view of productivity and time management. You CAN still get all the things done while maintaining an awesome quality of life.
What Does “Being Intentional” Mean?
The definition of “being intentional” is different for everyone. At its most basic, it means that you’re living a life that’s aligned to your values, beliefs, and passions. It means focusing on the things that truly matter to us.
Oxford Languages defines intentional as “done on purpose; deliberate.” Being intentional with your time means that you are aiming to use the hours in your day consciously and purposefully.
Living intentionally means living your life according to your fundamental values. It means that you are living a life that’s meaningful and fulfilling to you, and that you’re making thoughtful, deliberate choices in your life.
Being intentional does NOT mean that you’re perfect and have it all together all the time.
Intentionality is a lifestyle of habits and routines that form a framework for making decisions about your daily life. It means having a purpose or a “why” that you’re working toward. You set clear goals that guide your daily actions, and you do your best to make choices in alignment with these goals.
You actively interact and engage with your life. You wake up every day excited to get up and get going. You start each day by asking yourself, “How am I going to make this day great?” You’re proactive instead of reactive. You take charge of your days instead of your days having control over you.
It’s not a one-time choice. You do have to remember to make almost every single moment count.
But don’t let the idea intimidate you. It just means living life on purpose – not on autopilot.
But Won’t Being Intentional Lead to LESS Productivity?
Sort of. Being intentional with your time might mean that you get less done every day.
Especially if you are used to the go-go-go of mom life, slowing down for the purpose of intentionality might mean that you lower the number of things that get checked off your to-do list on a daily basis.
But the point of being intentional isn’t to make you do less. It’s to bring your focus onto what you’re doing so that you can make better choices with your time.
You can stop doing the things that don’t serve you, and you can start living according to your priorities. You’ll be able to streamline that insane to-do list and finally enjoy some downtime.
When you do this, you’ll notice that you’re happier, healthier, and even more efficient. You’ll find more meaning in this time well spent, and you’ll have the time to focus on connecting with the important people in your life – and with yourself!
How to Simplify Your Calendar and Be Intentional With Your Time
Your time is one of your most limited resources. If you’d like to have more time for what truly matters to you, and if you’d like to slow down while still completing your necessary tasks, here are 5 super effective tips to help you be more intentional with your time:
#1 – Choose What Matters
If you want to be intentional with your time, you have to prioritize the things that matter most to you. You can’t know what to focus on or change if you haven’t identified what’s important to you.
Otherwise, you’ll just end up with a to-do list that only gets longer, and you’ll struggle to find the time for the things you truly want to do.
Don’t know what your priorities are? Take some time to define your core values and your goals, which will help you understand what your priorities should be.
What do you need to do? We all have tasks that need to get done even though they’re not particularly enjoyable – like laundry and grocery shopping.
What do you want to do? What activities fill your life with purpose and meaning? Do you want quality time with your family, more time for hobbies, or simply more blank space in your schedule?
Once you’ve determined your priorities, also think about whether or not you’re living your life like these priorities are the most important things.
If not, it’s definitely time to make a change.
#2 – Leave Blank Space in Your Calendar
When you’re planning out your week, block out some time that has no commitments attached to it. And when this scheduled time happens, DON’T play catch-up on your chores or other to-dos.
Use the time to play or rest.
Your calendar shouldn’t be so full that you have no space for you or your family to just be.
#2a – Learn to Say “No”
Along the same lines as leaving blank space, it’s important to know how and when to say “no.”
You do not have to say yes to every invitation or opportunity that presents itself. You can (and should!) say “no” when you are too busy or you simply aren’t interested.
It can be hard to turn down these types of things when you’re a people-pleaser like me, or if you have FOMO like my kids, but if you learn to decline confidently and without guilt, you can say “yes!” to your priorities and be well on your way to being intentional with your time.
#3 – Complete Your Hardest, Most Dreaded Task First
This is otherwise known as “eating the frog.” There’s a book out there called Eat That Frog, by Brian Tracy. I didn’t love the book, but I can’t disagree with the concept behind it – do your most challenging task FIRST. This could be the most important task OR your least favorite task. It’s the thing that you’re most likely to procrastinate on, but it’s also usually what will have the most positive impact on your life.
Although being intentional involves doing things you love to do, you obviously can’t just ignore those must-do tasks that you don’t want to do. You still need to meet the needs of your family, of course – but being intentional with your time allows you to meet those needs efficiently and effectively, so you can move on to connection and quality time.
If you complete your most challenging task first, you can move on to doing what brings you joy. You can spend the rest of your day feeling awesome that you’ve accomplished something that you didn’t necessarily want to do – plus everything else that you need to handle will seem easier!
#4 – Understand Productivity
Here’s the thing about productivity: It’s NOT about forcing yourself to get work done. It’s about figuring out your needs and goals and working toward both.
Sometimes productivity means checking a ton of things off of your to-do list in a short amount of time.
But other times, productivity is a nap or couch snuggles and a movie with the kids. Or a quick walk and a bunch of water.
Productivity depends on how your body and mind are feeling. If you’re tired, sleep. If you’re overwhelmed, take a break and reset.
Pause and figure out what you need. Then do something about it.
It’s all part of being intentional.
#5 – Have a Great Routine in Place
Even if you think you don’t have a routine, you probably do.
Do you do the same things when you get up in the morning? How about before bed? Or during naptime?
These daily activities that you perform without even thinking about them are the beginning of a routine. A routine involves creating daily habits that don’t take much thought.
Now take those things that you automatically do and add a dash of intentionality, and you’ll find that your days go more smoothly and you have more time for hobbies, connection, and whatever else brings you joy.
My own days flow better when I have a bit of structure. I get up before my kids so that I can shower and have a few minutes of peace and quiet with my morning coffee. During the day, I don’t follow a strict schedule, but my day generally goes in a certain order as far as cleaning, schooling, and working. Then I close my day by getting everyone into bed and calming my own brain by reading and resting.
A routine will help you run your home, manage your schedule, and care for your kids. And the best part is that, once you’ve made a habit of taking time for yourself, your routine makes sure that you always have that quality time for what’s important to you.
But Does Being Intentional Really Make a Difference?
The short answer is YES. Absolutely. Being intentional with your time will impact you and your life in so many ways.
Having time to complete necessary tasks while also making time for the things you love will decrease your stress levels and seriously reduce overwhelm.
Aligning your lifestyle with your core values and principles means that you’re living authentically. And being you is truly the only way to live.
We live in such a crazy world right now. There is SO much to do, and it’s entirely too easy to slip into the land of mom burnout.
Mindfulness and intentional living can stop that.
It’s crucial to define your priorities and live every day aligned with them. This is where intentionality and time management meet – you figure out what needs to be done and find the best and most effective way of doing it.
And then you can focus on connection and spending quality time with that beautiful family of yours.
Do you have any additional tips on how to be intentional with your time? Leave a comment!