Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. I received payment for sharing this information, but it in no way influenced my opinion.
Daily rituals help me with time management, which matters as I find and maintain work life balance! One ritual that I tried out is a digital planner called Sunsama. It is a desktop app, mobile app, and website that helped me prioritize tasks and focus. With an easy-to-use design, it shared prompts that helped me remember to do tasks that mattered, and to move others later in the week. Although I wondered whether adding in another planning tool would create more work to do, trying it showed me the benefits.
My Thoughts on Daily Planning Rituals
To give a bit of a backstory on who I am as a new Sunsuma user, my focus lately has been on my family. In the past two years, my time management style changed vastly as I went from being a teacher to prioritizing homemaking. My work schedule, which includes teaching online, writing, and creating content, depends on me.
My typical planning style includes handwritten lists and flagging emails. I keep a family calendar hanging in the kitchen, and I add color coordinated stickers to make sure everyone is aware of upcoming events.
Now that I tried using a digital planner, I realize how much more productive it makes me. Optimistically, I even synched my family to a digital calendar. It is empowering for them to know what is on the schedule, while it also frees me of the burden of being the task-keeper. With coordinated digital schedules, I hope increase my ability to focus on tasks I need to accomplish, while also helping them have a better awareness of their schedule too.
My favorite part of this trial was the reminder to schedule in a reasonable amount of work. I tend to over-burden myself with too many things on my schedule, which leaves me never feeling happy with the tasks I accomplished.
One night, as I stayed up too late enjoying a family movie, Sunsama sent me an email reminder that I had skipped my evening planning ritual.
It was a welcome reminder to envision a reasonable workload the following day. This has been a major goal for me in the past two years after experiencing burnout as a classroom teacher.
At one stressful moment in time, my to-do list was more than I could fit in each day. I lacked strategies for prioritizing tasks because they all felt important to me. As a classroom teacher, I found it was easiest to aim to be a high achiever always hoping to make parents, administration, and students happy. I would go in early to set up and stay after hours to prepare for the next day.
Putting work off until the next day would have made me feel lazy and unprepared. Meetings would be scheduled to review grades that hadn’t been graded yet, and lessons would be expected to be taught even if the necessary materials weren’t there. Time simply had to be made to do every task imaginable. Scheduling in anywhere from 9 to 12 hours of work in one day wasn’t sustainable.
Having work life balance was difficult. Being with my family during happy times was a welcome relief. However, family means being there for one another in tumultuous times too. Managing late-night homework and emergency doctor’s visits added stress.
Eventually, I realized that family mattered more. Being a homemaker was the vocation I had always wanted to choose. As a mom of two daughters and as someone who wanted more of a traditional role as a wife, being able to care for my family mattered to me.
My priorities shifted. I provided more support for my family to maintain their schedules, knowing to trust my intuition telling me that I was needed at home. I was apprehensive, but the world provided. Now, I experience more serenity in my role as a wife and mother who can be there as my family’s biggest cheerleader.
Previously, field trip permission slips were often a last-minute discovery in the morning. Now, not only do the field trip permission slips get turned in, but I am grateful to be able to attend and experience moments reminding me of the joys of motherhood.
With family as my biggest priority, it can be difficult to balance time pursuing my own interests and work. I love being able to to make sure their day starts off great, and to be the first to hear about how school went. However, even those small parts of the day are time consuming. From 6 am to 9 am, I get my children ready for their day and drop them off at their two different schools. From 2 pm to 4 pm, I pick them up. Then, the homework help and extracurricular activities begin.
During their day at school, structuring my time is entirely up to me. Carving out time to work is my decision. Time management requires more discipline, but it pays off. The more effort I put into it, the more productive I am.
Trying out Sunsama appealed to me because I am always looking for strategies to manage time more efficiently. It was very easy to use! Prompts encouraged me to plan with greater detail, and to reflect upon how those plans went.
After setting up my own digital workspace, the prompts asked what tasks I wanted to accomplish. Both personal and professional tasks can be added, which helps to find balance between the two.
Two professional tasks I added were to finish my Enjoying Family Life editorial calendar for February and write the annual Enjoying Family Life Valentine’s Day Gift Guide 2022. One personal task was to bathe the dog.
I used the set planned/actual time feature to estimate that I would spend 30 minutes on each writing task and 15 minutes bathing the dog. Sunsama totaled the time I would spend on these three tasks to be 1 hours and 15 minutes.
After listing the tasks, I assigned a time for each on the calendar. Tasks can also be adjusted to take up more or less time by easily dragging the blue box to become larger or smaller.
Knowing that my time on writing tasks may run longer than half an hour each, I dragged the task of bathing our puppy to the next day. With Sunsama, prioritizing work is simple. If the goals don’t seem reasonable, it is encouraged to reorganize the daily plan. Anything not accomplished today automatically rolls over to tomorrow.
After outlining the day, each task can be further organized into subtasks. This helps create a plan to take on a reasonable amount of work. Even though my entire article wouldn’t be finished in one day, I could have the satisfaction of checking off tasks that helped me get closer to having it published.
Another favorite feature was the timer. After opening a task to work on, I began the timer to see how much of my day was actually spent on it. With a focused environment, I found myself being more self-disciplined. As an independent contractor, I also found it helpful to track how much time I put into an assignment.
Another feature I liked was the daily shutdown, a closing ritual for the day. This prompt provided a digital space to reflect upon how the daily schedule went. Conveniently, the old daily shutdown notes are saved in the workspace in case I need to remember something that happened in greater detail.
I also synched my Gmail accounts so I could assign emails a day to respond or follow up later in the week. De-cluttering my inbox was a relief.
With a new outlook on prioritizing and focus, I have a plan to manage my family’s schedule and to find time for my work too. Using Sunsama empowered me to make more wise decisions about how to spend today so that tomorrow can be easier to manage.