Time Management Tip: It’s Not All About To-Dos

When you put a product on Amazon, you can expect reviews. Currently, my ebook, Tell Your Time: How to Manage Your Schedule So You Can Live Free (free through Dec. 30) has 83 of them. Many are good, some are not so good.

Naturally, I am extremely grateful for all the positive reviews (thank you!), but I do have a favorite not-so-good review too.

Someone who goes by the name “DB ‘1988 boy'” gave my ebook 2 out of 5 stars. This is what he (I’m assuming “he” is the correct pronoun) said:

Interesting until the last page.

This book was well written, and the author was nice enough to email me back when I couldn’t find the reference material on her web site. I actually took the book seriously until I got to the last page where she showed HER weekly schedule. Not too demanding. She has a lot of free time on her hands, which doesn’t make her the best candidate to write this book. Working 4 hours a day? 2 hours of family time a day? If I had that kind of time, I wouldn’t need a book like this. Good for her. I wonder what her husband’s schedule looks like…

I like this review because it’s honest. I like honest.

But there’s just a tiny problem.

So I responded,

Ah, but I think you may have missed the point of the book. Our schedules are not as they are in spite of the book, but because of the book! We have purposefully made not-so-common career, financial and educational choices, affording us more flexible work time and more substantial family time in our schedules. If you spent a week in our house, I think you’d find we have just as much to do as any other family of 6; we’ve just set things up a bit differently than most. :)

Thanks so much for your honest feedback.

Best,

Amy Lynn Andrews

I get what DB “1988 boy” is saying. To the outsider, our schedules might look significantly less full than the average American family.

But we’ve made it this way on purpose!

A few years ago, we were both working our tail ends off. My husband was working full time, plus he had another job on the side. I was working full-time hours from home. Our kids (now 12, 10, 6 & 4) were homeschooled 3 days a week and in school 2 days a week.

We were tired.

We were stressed.

We saw each other less than we’d like.

And then one day God surprised us with new direction, and we took the opportunity to switch everything right up.

My husband quit the full-time job he did not enjoy. I scaled back on my work hours. We crunched numbers to figure out how much we need to bring in per hour between the two of us to make ends meet. We’ve deliberately pursued opportunities with that figure in mind.

We’ve consciously decided to focus on careers we enjoy and allow plenty of time for our family too. We’ve both turned down jobs that don’t fit within our new framework. We’ve made other significant sacrifices, financial and otherwise. This is what works for us. It is a gigantic blessing and we do not take it for granted.

Now we both work part time and we tag team when it comes to homeschooling. At any given time during the day, at least one of us is at home with all four of our kids. We spend a lot of time together as a family and our work schedules are very flexible.

This is not to say it’s all butterflies and rainbows. It’s not. Some months, if money is tight, we toss around the idea of full-time job(s) again. When homeschooling is frustrating, we talk about sending our kids to school.

But in the end, we’re convinced life is about relationships, and the pursuit of good ones drives us. We’re simply trying to cut out the to-dos (even the good ones) that just take up time. It’s amazing how many “to-dos” are totally unnecessary.

And that’s the point of Tell Your Time too. It outlines my own personal approach to time management–time management with relationships in mind first. I hope you’ll pick up a copy while it’s free through December 30.

(It’s available in the Kindle store, but no Kindle is required. Read more about that in this post.)

Disclosure: There are affiliate links in this post.

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Comments

  1. says

    Amy,

    Great post. My schedule changed dramatically last year unexpectedly and is now similar to yours. I now have my own practice working from home. My wife has her own business and works from home as well. Our schedules provide a lot of flexible but require a great deal of work and prioritizing. I recently wrote a blog post about living life to the fullest. Life is short. We need to maximize the moment. Stop living like robots and wake up. Thanks again.

  2. says

    It’s great and glad that you have found where your heart is leading you. True that life is more than just our career and it is up to us to pursue the desires God has put in our heart.

  3. says

    Amy, I finished your book a couple of days after I read this post and I was amused to find I had an opposite reaction from this reader. How do you fit *so much* work time into your day? I work from home with a toddler and I look at your schedule and wonder where all the time for homeschooling is, and how you manage to get up that early and be productive (admittedly, I’m a night owl, not a morning person), and how you get enough time with your husband. I loved your book and saw a lot of the same principals I used when I was a corporate project manager and helping software engineers plan to get projects shipped and out the door. It was enlightening to realize I could use similar prioritization principles in my own personal life! I just thought you might be amused to hear that this mama is impressed at how much time you have for work, not how little!

  4. says

    I am surprised at the numbers of people who don’t seem to realize they DO have choices! So many people live their lives in bondage but ***it’s their choice***!
    Dave and I arranged our lives so we spent it together, on the farm, living our lives quietly and simply. Now that he’s died, I’ve pulled in ever closer to home and hearth and my number one job is taking care of the farm, animals and me.
    My advice is, figure out what’s truly important and then concentrate on that alone.
    Next time I go to town, I’ll purchase your book (no bandwidth on the farm).

  5. says

    I did not read all of the comments so I am not sure if this has already been said, but….
    The undertone of your response to DB is that you have sacrificed certain things in your life which most Americans are not willing to do. ;) They don’t want to “give up” worldly pleasures for “family time”.
    We homeschooled our two boys and even with “just two” at times I wanted to pull my hair out and send them to public school but I would get alone with God and He would put things back in to perspective. You see, He saw my future when I couldn’t.
    We did not live in a big fancy house; at most times, we only had one “moderate” vehicle (cutting down repair costs, insurance, gasoline, etc); we raised some of our own food; we didn’t have a boat; we didn’t have a vacation home; we didn’t have a lot of things, but what we DID have, was LOTS of fun together as a family.
    At age 10, my very healthy and active youngest son was diagnosed with cancer. I saw other children who were being cared for by nurses on the cancer treatment floor of the hospital because mom and dad both “had” to work. I am not judging them in any way so please don’t take this wrong because my heart cried for them. I could not even begin to imagine the stress that this could have caused them. I could not even begin to imagine leaving my son to go through cancer treatment on his own and the Lord knew that. God also opened a door so that my husband could be there the majority of the time as well while still maintaining his current job. I believe God blessed us in this area because we had sacrificed “worldly goods” to travel the road that God saw best for us. My son endured cancer treatment (chemo and radiation together) and then the Lord took him home exactly three months from his initial diagnosis. I would not trade the ten years we had with him for anything in this world.
    Was sacrificing the big house, fancy cars, boats, vacations, etc for a small modest home, home schooling, family time worth it? You betcha!!! Did I ever have times where I wanted to give it all up for the “worldly possessions?” Of course I did, but I am so glad I didn’t give in to those temptations and we pressed on forward.
    Today, my oldest son is pursuing a career in the veterinary and human medical fields but his highest calling is to be a servant of God so he is enrolled in Bible School full time while working on his vet/med stuff on the side.
    I have downloaded your book and plan to read it as I seem to have gotten my priorities out of order since my son has left for college this year. ;) You are always so inspiring to me and I want to encourage you to keep on “keeping on” even when the road gets hard to travel. I hope all of this makes sense and I totally “get” that you are a busy lady with lots of family time (the most important time scheduled in my opinion).

  6. Ginny says

    Amy, thank you for sharing your book! I’ve downloaded it and am looking forward to reading it (when I get the time! lol). I really enjoy reading your blog.

  7. says

    I love how you took the criticism and turned it into something positive! I see your point – you have a lot of family time each day and only four hours of work because you have intentionally set your life up to be that way. However, I can definitely understand being frustrated when looking at a schedule like that. I would love to be in a situation where I had the freedom to create a schedule where I had so much margin. I understand that you and others with that blessing worked hard with great determination and purpose to achieve that freedom. You didn’t just wake up one morning and randomly decide to quit your traditional day job and instantly have enough income from other sources to cover your bills. You worked hard and made it happen. However, for those of us who are much earlier in journey or when our best efforts to create that lifestyle don’t seem to be working it is easy to get frustrated.
    Anyway, I like your book, and I read it recently and found many of the concepts to be useful and inspiring.

  8. says

    I just ordered your book because, God knows, I need it. I overcommit on a regular basis! I’m juggling so many things that I often lament that neither can I do them all well, nor can I take the time I crave to read, study, and contemplate the works of great authors. God’s word is a priority, but I know He works through other writers as well. I’m defiitely planning to weed out the committments as they begin to come to a close.

  9. says

    Amy, this is a great post, and I understand what you are saying about choosing your schedule as it is.
    I have read your book and left a positive review on Amazon, but I’m happy to have the opportunity to thank you here, too. I loved the book, and by actually working through the activities in the book, I was able to see why I was so often frustrated with my productivity. I have tons of activities in my life that I consider to be essential, but I had no set time to perform them. By making a schedule (using your printable form), I was able to assign a set time to some of those essential tasks. I don’t know why I never thought of doing this myself instead of bumbling through each day hoping to be able to get to the things that were so important to me.
    I’d love to write about your book sometime on my blog, too.

  10. says

    Excellent post and response! You nailed what so many of us are trying to do. Find what really works for a family, not just do what everyone else says is normal. Asking questions to find what isn’t working for each of us, and finding solutions to those problems. Not just doing like the rest of the world is doing and simply existing to fill our wallets, or just get by, all the while finding no rest or true success in life. And what is success anyway? Money, cars, a big home….? I’ll vote for family and relationships every time!
    Thanks for your words of wisdom. You are appreciated!

  11. says

    I would love for this to be my family one day! Do you think you could ever do a post on how you all handle health insurance with part-time jobs? I think that would be an issue for us. My hubby is a teacher, but I keep telling him I want him to be a sahd. ;)

  12. says

    Thanks for your post. I just downloaded the book and look forward to reading it. Both my wife and I are full-time pastors, now with 3 and 5 year-old kids we adopted from Korea. Life can be pretty hectic!

    I have been a student of time management all of my adult life … because I’m still trying to get a handle on it!

  13. says

    What a great post, Amy. I had read this review on Amazon (where I got the book) and thought… hmmm, I wonder if he realizes that he probably has assumed too much and has it all wrong. It’s too easy to fill in blanks about each other’s lives without knowing the facts. I’m so glad you replied. It clarifies the misinformation in the review and your reply is gracious and kind. Go girl! By the way, I haven’t read your book yet (because I haven’t had “time” with 6 kiddos – ha!), but it’s first on my list after reading this. Thanks for what you do to help all of us out.

  14. Danielle says

    We have always preferred to live simply, and have cut back on many of the items that most would consider necessities. While I have a part time schedule, we’d still like to make some additional changes (my husband works a very full time schedule).

    The things that are holding us up, paying off the house and fully funding our children’s college fund. If we were to make the radical changes we would like to make, it would greatly impact our ability to complete those two goals.

    How do you balance a more simplistic life now and saving for the future.

  15. says

    Bravo, Amy. This is a showcase example of intentional choices of flexibility and $$$ trade-offs for the benefit of family. I shared it on my FB page for inspiration (bc my website is all about how to have flexible work that fits your life).

    Perfect reply.

    • says

      Hmmmm….my brackets made your quote disappear in my reply: ***Our schedules are not as they are in spite of the book, but because of the book!*** Perfect reply.

  16. says

    Honest or not, this person prejudged you without even giving the time management system you created a try! I think he could’ve been a little bit more tactful, but who knows? Perhaps he was having a bad day, or he’s tried so many time management strategies at that point he was jaded. I feel sorry for the guy.

    I think it’s amazing that you can work part time and spend a lot of quality time with your kids. Plus you husband is right there with you doing the same thing. What a dream come true!

  17. says

    I saw that review when I got your book. After I read your book, I was thinking the same thing as you! You purposefully plan for your life to have that time in it — and that was the whole point of your book (at least for me)! Tell your time where to go and what to do!

    I’m working on adding a little more margin to my days and more focused “family” time. Thanks for the inspiration!

  18. says

    I love this! I’ve been homeschooling for 19 years and we’ve certainly seen it all: bio kids, adopted kids, elderly parents, working and not working, family crisis, married kid, college kid, and on and on. But through it all we continue to put relationships first and go without. You will never regret that choice, Amy. Good for you and your family!
    Marty@Marty’s Musings

  19. says

    Amy, I literally have tears in my eyes. My husband quit his stressful, toxic job almost five months ago, and I increased production in my Etsy shop to make up for the income deficit. He has been doing most of the homeschooling and also helps me with intermediary production tasks. We were already out of debt, and God has totally been providing for our needs through just my handmade business. (No unemployment income since he was the one who resigned.) We have absolutely loved this set-up, and it’s been such a bonding time for our family. My husband has been interviewing for full-time jobs, but we both struggle with the thought of going back to “the way things used to be.” It is so encouraging to read that your situation is similar and that you have intentionally made it work. It reminds me that we’re not called to do what everyone else is doing but to follow God’s lead and trust him.

  20. says

    I actually purchased your book about a year ago and it has helped me very much! This last June I quit my full time out side the home job and am now making a go of working from home. Money is tight and sometimes I think I could go back to “the old job” but we made this decision for a reason and it is so our Kids can have more of our time and not just things we can buy them. It is a decision you have to work for and with. I love, love, love your book.

    • says

      Sounds like you and I have had a very similar experience. It’s hard to let go of what’s comfortable, but I know for us, overall it has been completely worth it. Thanks for your kind words and thank you for sharing, Jessica!

  21. says

    Oh I just picked up your book! This is totally where my time scheduling has fallen, though sometimes I do get off track. My family is at the moving out stages, but it’s still so important to have this mind set. Thank you for the book. I can’t wait to dig into it.

  22. Adrianne says

    Your method helped me find clarity and avoid going on the completely wrong “flight”. Thank you so much!

    • says

      Oh I like that theme, Corinne! It’s very much where I’m at too. This last month I’ve been thinking about how I can pare down…in everything from the design of my site to the things we’ve got stored in our closet. Yay for simplicity!

  23. says

    We have a similar situation. We live on a small income, and it’s a decision that we made so that we have time for our family. We don’t have all the latest electronics, new cars or go on lots of vacations, but it’s worth the sacrifice.

  24. says

    I have your e-book and it is on my “To Do” list as the new year approaches. I think any time you can achieve your goals and have time available to spend quality time with the people you love most, it is a win. As a newer blogger, time management was one of my biggest challenges last year. Looking forward to reading your approach.

  25. says

    I understand your sentiment here completely! I don’t know how deeply your reader understood your point.

    We get one life. Why not make the best of the time we have while working within social constraints and commitments?

  26. says

    I love your book! (although Amazon has been pulling my reviews lately for whatever reason) We hope to be living a similar lifestyle within the next year or so when my husband enters full time ministry: )

  27. Amy says

    Two solid hours of family time every day is phenomenal! I’m a sahm of 7 and not a wage-earner and no way could we pull that off, depending on what you consider family time. We squeeze most everything in between 4 and 8 pm: homework, dinner, bickering and so forth.
    Your book has been a life-changer for me, helping me to understand that most of my stress is from trying to fit too much in. Because I don’t bring in money, I do a lot to help that be possible; I’m a newbie healthfood nut learning the ropes, I’m constantly rehabbing our little house to make it a better fit, I sew what I can, etc etc. Add that to my love of learning and my artistic endeavors and, well, your book has shown me that I’d need another one of me. Now I’m in the process of prioritising. So thank you (-:

    • says

      What about 8a-4p? Being a sahm, it sounds like you have a lot of schedule potential, and more flexibility than those of us who work 9-5 and have to do chores in the evening. Good luck

  28. says

    Hi Amy
    I love this post. The reason your life is sensible is because you make decisions to make it so. Those of us who run around madly have just not made those decisions. Good for you, and thanks for the reminder.

    I’ll keep this in mind as I plan my new year. And I was planning to start two new blogs today (following your tips, of course); maybe need to think about that a bit more and reread your book! LOL