Author Topic: Mustachian Prioritizing & Time Management  (Read 5452 times)

BrooklineBiker

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Mustachian Prioritizing & Time Management
« on: March 26, 2015, 04:22:20 PM »
Hi everyone,
I am a novice mustachian and seeking the advice of the group on how best to prioritize to master this new approach to life. I am finding making the transition into mustachian living overwhelming. There is a lot to learn and do and I would like a better structure to how to do it. For example, I need new clothes for a new job. A good mustachian would buy clothes from a thrift store. Well, I have never bought clothes from such stores. My area has (fortunately) many of them. I have only been to a couple. I am told I will need to visit a few of them and probably on a regular basis to find appropriate stuff. I signed my oldest child up for 4-H so she would have some hands-on skills beyond what is taught in our local college preparatory oriented school system. She loves it and we are now involved every Saturday for at least half a day. (This Saturday and last were just about full days.) Weekends are the only time that I have for do it yourself projects. This Sunday I could do taxes (no cash to send them out to an accountant), put fenders on my bike and do some maintenance necessary for safe riding (I commute everywhere by bike and use it to pull a trailer to get my youngest daughter to preschool), or fix my iPhone (the screen is smashed, the repair is proving pretty complex and intimidating, and we got rid of our land line at home). I have read that the key to good time management is to separate what is urgent from what has impact. Then, do what has impact. The above list of issues has become pretty typical of my life since trying to change over. Does anyone have recommendations on what to do first? What do I need to learn first? Looking at the list of activities above, how do I balance having a life with a life with money in the bank?
Thanks!

KungfuRabbit

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Re: Mustachian Prioritizing & Time Management
« Reply #1 on: March 26, 2015, 07:15:30 PM »
One interesting thing i see right off the bat is you are saying you don't have time for diy projects like fixing your bike or your phone because you are taking your child to 4H to learn life skills.  How are helping you fix a bike and a phone not valuable life skills? 

The key to time management is two things: cutting out stuff you don't need (Americans always say they are too busy for this or too busy for that, yet the average American still watches 4.5 hours of TV per day...), and multi-tasking.  Teaching your children how to do chores like fixing stuff and taxes is spending time with them, teaching them stuff, AND getting stuff done. 

BrooklineBiker

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Re: Mustachian Prioritizing & Time Management
« Reply #2 on: March 26, 2015, 07:25:16 PM »
One interesting thing i see right off the bat is you are saying you don't have time for diy projects like fixing your bike or your phone because you are taking your child to 4H to learn life skills.  How are helping you fix a bike and a phone not valuable life skills? 

The key to time management is two things: cutting out stuff you don't need (Americans always say they are too busy for this or too busy for that, yet the average American still watches 4.5 hours of TV per day...), and multi-tasking.  Teaching your children how to do chores like fixing stuff and taxes is spending time with them, teaching them stuff, AND getting stuff done.
Hi KungfuRabbit,
Thanks for posting here is some more background:
a. We ditched cable over 2 years ago. I watch almost no TV. The kiddies watch less than 8 hours per week.
b. One child is 2.5 years old. She should not come any where near my iPhone or my bicycle. Way too many small parts on the phone she can break or eat. Daddy does not think its funny when she shakes my bike stand with the bike on it.
c. The second child is 8.5 years old. She and I do repairs occasionally but at that age there is a limit on a child's patience, especially after a week of school and sports. Also, they want to see kids their own age.
d. A further factor is the 8.5 year old loves animals. She aspires to be a veterinarian. We live next to a city. She is too young to volunteer at a nearby animal hospital/shelter.
Thus, I am looking at prioritizing as opposed to multi-tasking.
« Last Edit: March 26, 2015, 07:27:30 PM by BrooklineBiker »

Noodle

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Re: Mustachian Prioritizing & Time Management
« Reply #3 on: March 26, 2015, 09:05:13 PM »
Well, what I recall about time management is being advised that you should make a grid of four parts with one axis being important/not important and the other being urgent (on a deadline)/not urgent. Sort your tasks into the grid. The first priority is the important and urgent sector. So that would be the taxes (because they are due in a few weeks) and possibly the bicycle repair, if it's an imminent safety issue rather than routine safety maintenance. Most people don't have problems with that. Where they run into problems, is doing the urgent but not important (answering emails being a classic) instead of the important but not urgent, because we respond well to deadlines or obligations from others, and the solution for those is to schedule time and then treat that like deadline or obligation.  So maybe, pick a couple of blocks of time (Sunday afternoon, say, and Tuesday evening) and just work down your list of important but not urgent tasks...the iPhone or looking for work clothes. And then force yourself to consider whether the urgent but not important and the not urgent and not important tasks need to be done at all, or at least allot much less time to them.

In terms of prioritizing, I think people here would recommend putting the projects that have the greatest ROI, whether that's financial, or family harmony (for instance, if it were your wife's iPhone and it would make her really happy to have it fixed), or skill-building, or whatever at the top of the list.

And then, just don't worry if you're not doing all the Mustachian things at first. Other than the budget-pruning parts, a LOT of Mustachianism is about skill-building, which takes time. Pick one or two things to work on. When you get those to a point that makes you happy, pick something else. For instance, after visiting a bunch, you'll probably find one or two thrift stores with things you like that are convenient for other reasons. Then you can stop by weekly or monthly or whatever works for you in terms of clothing needs. And don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Even if you only went to one thrift store and found two shirts, those are two shirts you wouldn't have to pay retail on.
« Last Edit: March 27, 2015, 10:40:03 AM by Noodle »

BrooklineBiker

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Re: Mustachian Prioritizing & Time Management
« Reply #4 on: March 27, 2015, 04:27:38 AM »
Hi Noodle,
Thanks for your thoughtful answer. You have some great recommendations. I will follow up.

MrsPete

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Re: Mustachian Prioritizing & Time Management
« Reply #5 on: March 27, 2015, 06:09:28 AM »
Make lists.  Old-fashioned, but it works.  If I were in your shoes, I think I'd prioritize as follows: 

- Fix the bike; good weather is coming, and you need your transportation to be safe.
- Take the kiddo to 4H club.  Later, you can't go back in time and provide her with age-appropriate activities; however, reconsider allowing this club to take up EVERY Saturday.  I'd consider allowing it 2 Saturdays a month.  You need family time together too, and as someone else said, she can be involved in your projects at home.
- You're starting the new job NOW?  Forget the thrift stores for the moment -- you have SOME things you can wear to the new job already.  Supplement with a couple new items, which are quicker to find than thrift store items.  Also, shopping at thrift stores is something of a learning process.  Start hitting up one store per week and start adding to your work wardrobe, but don't feel as if you must have a closet FULL of things this very minute.  I personally own two pair of work pants; I wear dresses too, but two pair is plenty.  I  noticed that the seat of one pair is wearing thin, so I'll replace them soon. 
- Put the iPhone repair on the back burner.  It's working, right?  Not an emergency. 
- Ditto for taxes.  You have weeks 'til they're due and no prize for finishing them early. 

And several thoughts on prioritizing one's time and money:

- NONE of the above are emergencies.  If you did NONE of them right now, life would go on.  Part of living a frugal life is just plain skipping (or minimizing) stuff that doesn't need doing. 
- Look for time other than Saturdays when you can work on these things.  For example, do you get a lunch hour at your new job?  Use that to search out thrift shops, and hit them up once a week -- and use that time to slowly add to your work wardrobe.  Use your lunch time to search ebay for work clothes; my "new" spring flats came from ebay ($7 and now both my daughters want them).  Likewise, would an hour be enough to fix that iPhone?  Bring it to work, and fix it at your desk during your own time.  Could you fix the bike after work one day? 
- I don't buy so many clothes from thrift stores.  Most of my dresses come from Lands' End; at the end of the season they clearance them as low as $10 (though $25 is more typical), and they last for years.  I buy the same brand of pants over and over from Kohl's; they go on sale for about $20 all the time, and I tend to get 2-3 years wear out of them. 
- Learn to buy yourself time by being efficient.  We have a saying in our family, "This is a present for Future Me."  For example, if I'm cooking homemade spaghetti sauce, it's just as easy to make a giant pot as it is to make one batch -- then I freeze a bunch, and Future Me has a ready-to-go meal.  Things like that are definitely within the ability level of your oldest child (even after a rigorous day of "college prep" 8-year old studies), and your youngest can help a bit too.  This is the type of life skills that so many of our kids aren't getting! 
- If you're new to being frugal, don't feel that you must do EVERYTHING right now.  These are skills, and they require time to learn.  If you try to do EVERYTHING now, you may find yourself disappointed and burned out.  Pick one thing now, add something new next month, and the next month and the next month.  Don't worry about whether you're doing "enough". 

BrooklineBiker

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Re: Mustachian Prioritizing & Time Management
« Reply #6 on: March 27, 2015, 05:27:06 PM »
Make lists.  Old-fashioned, but it works.  If I were in your shoes, I think I'd prioritize as follows: 

- Fix the bike; good weather is coming, and you need your transportation to be safe.
- Take the kiddo to 4H club.  Later, you can't go back in time and provide her with age-appropriate activities; however, reconsider allowing this club to take up EVERY Saturday.  I'd consider allowing it 2 Saturdays a month.  You need family time together too, and as someone else said, she can be involved in your projects at home.
- You're starting the new job NOW?  Forget the thrift stores for the moment -- you have SOME things you can wear to the new job already.  Supplement with a couple new items, which are quicker to find than thrift store items.  Also, shopping at thrift stores is something of a learning process.  Start hitting up one store per week and start adding to your work wardrobe, but don't feel as if you must have a closet FULL of things this very minute.  I personally own two pair of work pants; I wear dresses too, but two pair is plenty.  I  noticed that the seat of one pair is wearing thin, so I'll replace them soon. 
- Put the iPhone repair on the back burner.  It's working, right?  Not an emergency. 
- Ditto for taxes.  You have weeks 'til they're due and no prize for finishing them early. 

And several thoughts on prioritizing one's time and money:

- NONE of the above are emergencies.  If you did NONE of them right now, life would go on.  Part of living a frugal life is just plain skipping (or minimizing) stuff that doesn't need doing. 
- Look for time other than Saturdays when you can work on these things.  For example, do you get a lunch hour at your new job?  Use that to search out thrift shops, and hit them up once a week -- and use that time to slowly add to your work wardrobe.  Use your lunch time to search ebay for work clothes; my "new" spring flats came from ebay ($7 and now both my daughters want them).  Likewise, would an hour be enough to fix that iPhone?  Bring it to work, and fix it at your desk during your own time.  Could you fix the bike after work one day? 
- I don't buy so many clothes from thrift stores.  Most of my dresses come from Lands' End; at the end of the season they clearance them as low as $10 (though $25 is more typical), and they last for years.  I buy the same brand of pants over and over from Kohl's; they go on sale for about $20 all the time, and I tend to get 2-3 years wear out of them. 
- Learn to buy yourself time by being efficient.  We have a saying in our family, "This is a present for Future Me."  For example, if I'm cooking homemade spaghetti sauce, it's just as easy to make a giant pot as it is to make one batch -- then I freeze a bunch, and Future Me has a ready-to-go meal.  Things like that are definitely within the ability level of your oldest child (even after a rigorous day of "college prep" 8-year old studies), and your youngest can help a bit too.  This is the type of life skills that so many of our kids aren't getting! 
- If you're new to being frugal, don't feel that you must do EVERYTHING right now.  These are skills, and they require time to learn.  If you try to do EVERYTHING now, you may find yourself disappointed and burned out.  Pick one thing now, add something new next month, and the next month and the next month.  Don't worry about whether you're doing "enough".
Hi MrsPete,
Thanks for your recommendations. I wish to clarify that the iPhone is not working. That said, I am going to pay for a repair and try to focus on the bike. I will back off on the wardrobe. As you say, that will take some pressure off. The 8.5 year old does do some cooking, though the pace can be slow and the amount of supervision needed high. It can be quicker to do it myself.

Doulos

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Re: Mustachian Prioritizing & Time Management
« Reply #7 on: March 27, 2015, 05:44:53 PM »
Time is money.
The whole point of FIRE is to stop wasting time on a job and start using your time for things you enjoy (which if those are still profitable, awesome).

So, I would suggest counting things you do with your time that you do not like doing in addition to your job.
And things you could be doing instead of paying for.
Then put a price on that time.  Set, your hourly rate based on your current pay, or your wife's assuming you are married, or the average to the two, Something like that.
Then figure out how much each thing is costing you.  And decide if you are willing to pay for those tasks with Time or Money.

In some cases,  unskilled hard labor can replace some of your need to work out (you exercise right?).  Thus you count those tasks as part of your time you should be exercising.
Biking to work instead of driving for instance is this kind of scenario. You are replacing some exercise time and some drive time with a bike ride.
If your drives takes 30 min each way.  But you can bike that in 45 minutes.  And you should work out for roughly 1hr a day.
- You just replaced 2 hours of (30+30 driving + 1hr exercise) with 90 minutes of exercise.
- You just saved Money AND Time.

arebelspy

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Re: Mustachian Prioritizing & Time Management
« Reply #8 on: March 27, 2015, 06:26:10 PM »
I prefer using a simplified GTD (Getting Things Done) method when I have lots of tasks:
http://lifehacker.com/335269/practicing-simplified-gtd

That being said, I just don't put much on my to do list nowadays. 

Well, what I recall about time management is being advised that you should make a grid of four parts with one axis being important/not important and the other being urgent (on a deadline)/not urgent. Sort your tasks into the grid.

This is the Eisenhower Matrix.
https://www.google.com/search?q=eisenhower+matrix

Wait But Why wrote about it recently in relation to procrastinators: 
http://waitbutwhy.com/2015/03/procrastination-matrix.html

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galliver

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Re: Mustachian Prioritizing & Time Management
« Reply #9 on: March 27, 2015, 07:08:52 PM »
For clothes: I don't know where you previously shopped, but if thrift stores seem like a leap, you could try discount stores like TJ Maxx, Ross, Marshalls, Burlington Coat Factory (not just coats!), etc. I would expect you to find something appropriate much faster at one of these. I like Burlington for professional clothes.

I think you could fix your bike during the morning/daytime and do your phone later at night. Family time is important but it doesn't have to be entertainment. Seeing you fix things, batch cook, and model other frugal habits *will* influence your kids (it's what my mom did! ;) )

BrooklineBiker

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Re: Mustachian Prioritizing & Time Management
« Reply #10 on: March 29, 2015, 09:49:35 AM »
Are you a single parent?  Because if not, a lot more can be accomplished by a "divide and conquer" approach when it comes to both kid time and maximizing results on the economic front.  If you are a single parent, then cut yourself a bit of slack.  You are navigating one of life's big changes (changing jobs is stressful) and supporting your kids as well.  That's already doing a lot.  Outsource what you have to -- the IPhone is a great example.  And share as much as you can with the kids.

One thing I have found helpful in the clothing department is that I have a few stores where I have learned exactly what sizes/styles work on me.  Especially for pants and skirts.  I have best luck with certain styles at Ann Taylor Loft, Banana Republic and Eddie Bauer.  I hit ATL and BR during my annual business trips -- there are branches in both NY and DC, where I go for work, and if I don't find anything I like during those trips I can also try in Seattle.  There are some outlet stores near where my family lives, and I go there for the outlet versions of ATL, BR and EB as well as for another outlet store that has pants/shirts I like at reasonable cost.  And then when I thrift, it is usually to top up my wardrobe with a specific type of piece, or to look for clothes in this same style/size range.  I don't spend a whole lot of time trying stuff on -- I'm very specific in what I am looking for.  Over time you also learn which brands are more durable, and can keep an eye on online sales for those. Fleece needs to be from Columbia or Lands End, for example -- those are the brands I have found stay looking decent over time (wearing a black fleece jacket and some Omnitherm fleece pants I got from a thrift store about 10 years ago, still going strong...). 
Hi lhamo,
Thanks for the good advice. When I have bought dress up work clothes new, I usually go to LL Bean because their clothes have a lifetime warranty and they do well in the outdoors.

MrsPete

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Re: Mustachian Prioritizing & Time Management
« Reply #11 on: March 29, 2015, 04:39:45 PM »
The 8.5 year old does do some cooking, though the pace can be slow and the amount of supervision needed high. It can be quicker to do it myself.
Yes, it's definitely quicker to do household chores yourself!  However, if you teach the child now, in future years she will be able to do them independently -- a boon to both yourself AND the child.  Getting through the learning curve can seem slow, but it is worthwhile.

Carnivore_Plant_Mom

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Re: Mustachian Prioritizing & Time Management
« Reply #12 on: April 03, 2015, 12:12:26 PM »
I would like to congratulate you on getting your oldest involved in 4-H!!! 

As a kid who grew up in 4H, itís a great way to practice what you preach when it comes to FI. All my 4H projects taught me how to budget time/money, as well as set realistic goals for what I planned on accomplishing in any given summer. Plus there is the added bonus of your kid making lifelong Ď4H friendsí, whoís parents usually donít mind participating in some sort of carpooling to/from meetings.