As a busy mom, you have no doubt felt the burden of “doing it all.” Does it leave you feeling like your always so busy and always running out of time?
I’m sharing my best time management tips to help you stop being so busy and start living in the moment.
Time Management Tips for the Busy Mom
First, we need to clear the clutter. It’s difficult to accomplish any task with a cluttered space. and more importantly a cluttered mind.
Write it down – A great way to clear your mind is to write down everything that is preoccupying your thoughts. This is not a list of priorities or even a to-do list. It’s simply a mind clearing exercise, so write down everything: phone calls, appointments, errands, chores, projects, relationships, commitments, in no particular order.
Clear your inbox every night. Go through your email and filter each one through this list: delete, do, delegate, and defer.
- If it is a junk email, delete it.
- If it requires a quick action on your part, take the minute or so to respond.
- If someone else in your household or job is better equipped to respond to the email, forward it.
- If the email will require more than a minute or so to respond, save it to a folder to address when you have more time.
- You might consider creating separate email accounts for work and home.
Organize your space. First determine exactly what purpose your space will serve. Then, set it up by 1) getting rid of anything doesn’t belong and 2) making sure all necessary supplies are on hand. Now you can focus on what matters most!
We are all guilty of distractions and these distractions directly effect your productivity. As you go through your day, pay attention to those things that tend to get you off task. For me, it’s my smart phone and the computer. If I check my phone at every ding and alert, then I can’t focus on the task at hand. If taking ten minutes to check email turns into two hours, I’ve lost valuable time.
As I suggested in my Mother’s Day Out series, we will live unfulfilled, unhappy lives if we don’t live according to our priorities. I encourage you to take time to think about what is most important to YOU. Then, determine how much time and energy you need to delegate to those priorities. Ask yourself, “do I need to be the one to carry this out?” In other words, what can you delegate? Do you need to give up some responsibilities to make more time for your priorities?
I have a friend who teaches Kindergarten, runs a side business, and cares for her two small children, one of whom has serious health complications requiring several hours of physical therapy each week. As she went into this school year, she re-evaluated her priorities against her time and energy and created some new time-management strategies.
She wants a home cooked meal on the table at least three times a week. Realistically, she doesn’t have the time, and according to her the skill. So, she hired someone to deliver home cooked meals to her home. She’s also considering hiring a laundry service. Taking advantage of these services frees up her time to be better spent elsewhere. She’s happier for it and so is her family.
Use Time Management Apps
Now that you have determined your priorities, you can make time for them. Take advantage of the tools available to you to organize your time. Here are some of my favorites:
- Pocket – I use this to save articles online or in my inbox that I’d like to read, but don’t have to read in the moment.
- Notes App – I use the Notes app on my phone to help me remember things like measurements for the spaces I’m organizing or the paint colors I picked out. Sometimes I use it to jot down thoughts and ideas to remember later.
- iCal – I immediately write down appointments on the iCal app on my phone. I also do this with invitations and when we make plans. I like that you can share your agenda with someone without sharing the details. This is important in my household since my husband is a counselor. I can see when his day starts and ends, but cannot see who his clients are.
- Wunderlist – I use this app to write wish lists, shopping lists, grocery lists… all the lists. I also use it to keep track of items I’ve ordered and am waiting or. I love that you can share lists, too. I sometimes text the grocery list to my husband so he can stop to pick up groceries on the way home. You can share lists on the Notes app, too. I just prefer the check boxes on Wunderlist.
- Bank app – This wonderful invention lets me make a deposit without leaving the house.
- Pomodoro Timer – I use this app to set up work/break intervals. I set the intervals on the app and press start. Once the timer goes off, I take a break. I repeat this process for an hour or two, depending on what I’m trying to accomplish. The pomodoro technique suggests working in 25 minute intervals with 5 minute breaks. However, you can set whatever times work for you.
Try Time Blocking
Consolidate – One of the time management skills I learned when I worked as a waitress was to consolidate. In the restaurant business, that meant making the most of your trips to the kitchen while taking care of your section rather than going back and forth for each table. In life, it means organizing your time so that you aren’t all over town running errands, or making multiple trips to the grocery store.
If I take time to look at the “given” responsibilities in my week: daughter’s tumbling, volunteer on Wednesdays, etc. then I can plan around that. For example, while my daughter is in tumbling, I visit the shopping center next door to get what I need from Target, T.J. Maxx and Office Depot. 😉
Let it go – Whatever the task is, be fully present. This is where I struggle. When 4:30 p.m. rolls around and my daughter walks through the door, I have difficulty shutting down the computer, putting away the camera, or stopping mid-project. We need to give ourselves permission to leave things unfinished. No one gets it all done in a day. We need to resolve to make the most of our time, and then pick up where we left off the next day.
Make Time for Your Self
You may have noticed that “personal day” was blocked out on my schedule. This is the single most important time managment tip I have for you today. You must take care of yourself if you expect to accomplish anything. Start with the basics like getting adequate sleep ( my personal downfall), eating right, exercising, nurturing your spiritual life and emotional well-being. You cannot show up as a spouse, mom, daughter, sister, friend, colleague or neighbor if you’re cup isn’t full.
Also, be sure not to over-load your week with all work and no play. I say work hard, play hard!
I want to leave you with one final thought,
“Productivity is not the measure of your worth.” ~ Sharon Hines
See you in class,