The ‘Mary Poppins’ Theory of Time Management

Written by Angela Atkinson

tumblr_inline_n1e3z28o5T1r4m9qqIf you’ve ever been a fan of Mary Poppins, maybe you’re familiar with her time management skills – or the beloved character’s now-famous mantra on the topic, “well-begun is half-done.”

I don’t know about you, but as far as I’m concerned, time management is often easier said than done. That’s why I thought it’d be fun to take a different perspective on the topic. 

What Mary Poppins Taught Me About Time Management

Whether you’re raising children or flying jumbo jets, there’s a lot you can learn about time management from Mary Poppins. Mary set the gold standard for efficiency long before nannies began starring in reality TV shows.

Take a look at what you can achieve when you’re organized, kind, and firm.

Mary Poppins’ Techniques You Can Use in Your Real Life

1. Hire carefully. The Banks’ family went through 6 nannies in 4 months before Mary Poppins arrived. Save time by focusing on work that matches your skills. If you’re good with numbers, handle the family finances while your spouse does the cooking.

2. Spoon out the sugar. Like the song suggests, a little sugar makes it easier to swallow your medicine. Focus on the fun aspects of any task. You’ll enjoy strategizing when you turn a job into a game. Motivate yourself with a reward.

3. Sing and dance. Speaking of fun, music makes time fly, even when you’re doing something tedious. Design an invigorating playlist you can listen to while you clean the bathroom.

4. Start out strong. Mary likes to say, “Well begun is half done.” Create early momentum with small victories that drive you to keep trying.

5. Clean your room. How can you polish off your to-do list if you’re tripping over toys on the nursery floor? Neat surroundings encourage productivity. Clear the papers off your desk and organize your kitchen cabinets.

6. Resist hurrying. Mary wins a horse race by riding her merry-go-round steed at a steady pace, and politely asking the other jockeys to let her pass. Rushing causes stress and errors. Take a break and slow down when pressure is building up.

7. Go to bed. You’ll function better during your waking hours when you consistently enjoy a full night’s sleep. Stick to the same bedtime, even on weekends and holidays.

8. Be flexible. Although she set out to buy fish, Mary adjusts her plans immediately when she finds out that a fit of laughter has trapped her uncle on the ceiling. Be prepared to change your schedule when your loved ones need you.

9. Walk briskly. Mary covers more ground in less time thanks to her confident stride. Straighten your back, swing your arms, and hold your head up. Good posture will keep you alert and energized.

10. Move on. As much as Mary loves the Banks family, she knows that her mission is to train them to get along on their own. Once she restores harmony, she moves on to her next job.

Mary Poppins’ Techniques to Avoid

1. Practice humility. Mary is fond of saying that she is practically perfect in every way. Most of us need to allocate our resources so we can reserve our strongest efforts for top priorities.

2. Bring the appropriate tools. When Mary needs a floor lamp, she reaches into her bottomless carpet bag. In the real world, it pays to think ahead so you’ll have all the equipment handy for tackling any job.

3. Climb the stairs. Mary reaches her destinations quickly by sliding up and down banisters. You’ll be better off without resorting to risky shortcuts.

4. Share your reasoning. With all her special talents, Mary sails through life refusing to give references or explanations. You’re likely to enlist more cooperation when you discuss information with your colleagues, friends, and family.

Let Mary Poppins serve as your inspiration. Skillful time management works like magic. You’ll accomplish more personally and professionally.

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