I know how to get shit done, and quick. But sometimes, circumstances change and you have to reset.

Start over.

Begin again.

I have a husband who travels for a living. He and I are parents to four lovely young adults. I’ve been self-employed most of my adult life, but I went back to corporate almost 15 years ago and then managed a full-time job plus a self-employed gig on the side. My perfectionist husband and I have DIY’d major renovations and additions to our home. We also manage rental property alongside everything else. I like to complete every project well and on time.

Then three weeks ago, I ditched my full-time job.

Suddenly, I had time on my hands. A lot of time.

And THAT is exactly where the problem started.

When I first left my job, I took all my energy and poured it into ideas for where I would go with all the new-found time to spend on my self-employed journey. I had so many ideas swirling in my head that I couldn’t sleep. So I sat down at my computer and didn’t want to get up until I had made a million important decisions about where I wanted to go and how I might get there.

Wait a minute.

My 9–5 had me feeling like I was chained to my desk all day. I walked away from that. And then I promptly chained myself to my desk all day (and night).

I had set unreasonably high standards. The tendency to strive dies hard.

Stop. Reverse course.

I backed off the self-imposed frenetic pace.

I took time to play and explore and was mostly enjoying it . . . UNTIL, I got to the end of a day (and then a week) and wondered . . . where, exactly, did the time go? And what did I contribute?

That was . . . unsettling. The lack of structure wasn’t serving me.

I had gone from one extreme to the other.

I looked around for someone to blame. Gulp.

Try again. Find a new norm.

Without a 9–5 job to schedule myself around, I needed to start a fresh with a new daily routine. I now had space for new things, but not EVERY THING at once. I needed to prioritize. I needed a map.

So I began by considering the best possible METHOD to manage and track a new daily routine.

Hmmm . . .

Studying the different modalities for a daily routine is avoidance as its finest.

Spend a day researching the best method for scheduling and tracking . . . a day?

The irony!

Fortunately, it didn’t take a day, because the solution quickly became obvious. I reviewed a few apps and systems and narrowed it down to the simplest and most archaic — a daily planning template in Word that looks like this:

I’m experimenting with how I want to structure all the elements within my day. Once I have my new routine pinned down a bit further, I’ll decide on the modality (the app or system) I’ll utilize for reminders and tracking. Meanwhile, this daily roadmap, in paper or digital form, is what I need to move forward.

To ensure I stay on track, I also implemented the Pomodoro technique for pushing through tasks. Pomodoro is a time management method that involves breaking your work into intervals, traditionally 25 minutes in length, separated by short breaks. Of course, you can adjust the interval to suit any given task and all you really need is the timer on your phone. But you can also use the Pomodoro app to track how many productivity bursts you have in a day for any given task. And the app is 100% free.

In all my experience managing a family, properties, a job and a business, I was floundering. I had more time than ever, and I was struggling to manage it. There are so many tech tools and blog posts and apps and books on productivity, it’s easy to become overwhelmed and paralyzed. So I went back to the time management basics. And it worked like a charm.

Reminder to self: Every time I experience overwhelm, I’ll assess where I can simplify and revert to the the most basic tools possible.

I need only two things for time management:

1). A daily roadmap (with some flexibility built in).

2). A timer (or Pomodoro app) to keep me on track.

Then, GO!

What do YOU need for time management?

Any Sunsama users out there?

How about Notion?

I’d love to hear what works for you. EMAIL ME!