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the first 5

Time Management Tip: Take the first 5

I get a lot of questions about how i get things done. I’m not going to lie, it’s hard. I work a lot, and often at times of day when other people do not like to work, like the middle of the night.

Most of the time when i sit down to start working its 7pm and the kids have just gone to bed – it’s a hard time of day to start working because by that point i’m pretty exhausted from the days activities. Sometimes I work a little during the kids rest time in the afternoon, but that only lasts 45 minutes and i usually have something else pressing to do. It can be incredibly stressful when you see your tasks piling up and your time whittling away.

So i fall back on a strategy i’ve used since as long as i can remember – it worked when i was a teenager studying to get into college – it works now that i run a business – and it worked for all the things inbetween.

I give myself the first 5 minutes.

I use them to calm down, focus, get my head in gear, strategize and plan my tasks.

Generally it looks like this: When i’m getting ready to work – whether it be at night or during the kids rest time – I go make myself a coffee, and i sit at my desk and drink it quietly. I clear my head, take deep breaths, and think about the tasks that need to be completed. I prioritize and make an ordered list of what i want to accomplish. Then i begin. As i work i cross things off my list, because it registers a success. If something doesn’t get done, i leave it on the page ready to look at the next day.

It’s such a small thing – 5 minutes. But it makes a world of difference. There’s no point in attempting to work when you aren’t calm and in a good headspace. It can be hard, i know – since when you are time crunched it’s tempting to simply rush at it and throw yourself into a random task – but interestingly enough i’ve found that method to be significantly less productive than taking a few minutes to think, plan and calm yourself.

So try it! If like me you find yourself with a small amount of time, and lot of work to do – try using your first 5 to declutter your head, refocus and plan out your time. I promise it will be worth it!


About Author

Meg is the Founder and Creative Director of Megan Nielsen Patterns, and is constantly dreaming up ideas for new sewing patterns and ways to make your sewing journey more enjoyable! She gets really excited about design details and is always trying to add way too many variations to our patterns.

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10 years ago

Great strategy! Will definitely keep this in mind for those times I get overwhelmed and feel like I’m being buried under a pile of work!

10 years ago

There is great clarity in that, thank you !

10 years ago

What great advice! I tend to fly by the seat of my pants all the time and do everything in a rush. This seems like a great way to approach a busy day in a calmer, more organized fashion. Thanks for sharing!

10 years ago

Thanks Megan! That is what I need now!

10 years ago

Such great advice!
I’m a massive fan of lists, but sometimes it’s easy to feel like lists are spiralling out of control and you’re not getting anywhere…
So I love this tip to refocus before getting started :)

Parnuuna Kristiane Thornwood

Thank you very much for the advice!
I am pretty much in that situation now, where I have too much to do and too little time. :)
I’ll definitely try to calm and focus myself when I am going work.

Have a nice week. :)

10 years ago

I read this post this morning, and gave it a go. I was still a little hap hazard, trying to do my to do list, but when I crossed it off my list, it felt good! Thanks for the tip

10 years ago

Thanks for sharing. I often wonder how you get so much done! This helps, but I’m still mystified , :). You’re obviously very driven!