We’ve all heard the classic time management advice: Stick to a schedule. Work smart, not hard…
But moms need time management tricks as flexible as their schedules, since there will always be those days when your cat needs an emergency trip to the vet, your infant gets a stomach bug, and your kindergartner announces that he needs 48 frosted cupcakes by noon.
All moms have an office that never closes and an inbox that never empties, whether we work outside the home or not. This daily grind can put us all on the fast track to burnout. Here are some time management tips especially for moms.
Sound organization is a stepping stone to time management.
Have things packed and ready to go. Keep a basket or folder ready for outgoing mail. Keep the diaper bag and snack bags stocked.
Organize your house and desk. See Momscape articles: “Conquering Kids’ Clutter” and “Organizing Your Closets.”
Write all of your appointments on one calendar.
Stick to a routine.
Know thyself. If your mind shuts off at 8pm, schedule your biggest tasks first thing in the morning.
Make a to-do list before you go to bed so you won’t waste that precious morning time.
If your kids' disruptions are frequent, give them what they want: Spend at least 20 minutes offering them your undivided attention. No TV, no radio, just toys and books (depending, of course, on their ages). Play with them, read to them. Often, these disruptions are just a sign that they need a little one-on-one time.
More ideas… Maria Garcia, author of Finally Organized, Finally Free, offers a free idea-pack of practical organizational tips with a subscription to her newsletter. This is a great resource, full of ideas on how to get more personal and professional juice out of your day. Visit her website for more quick tips. http://www.getorganizednow.com
Exercise to energize. Spending an hour a day on exercise can actually save you time. You'll feel more energized and productive throughout the day, and you may even require less sleep at night. Cut the time spent working out by boosting the intensity. Don't cut the workout itself.
As moms, we dash from one responsibility to another, but there is an alternative that we often forget: Give yourself less to do.
The first step is to figure out what’s really important to you. Schedule several key tasks and outsource the rest.
Delegating is difficult, but it will get easier with practice. I have always assumed that I can save money by doing everything myself, but my husband lives by a different rule. As a businessman, he bills his time on an hourly basis, and he has no problem letting me know when the cost-benefit analysis of him completing a household task doesn’t compute. If a plumber would cost less than it would for him to take the time to fix the bathroom leak, we call the professional.
Taken one step further, if you enjoy your work and would earn more money if you spent more time at it, why not give yourself that extra time (and money) by hiring someone to do the tasks you don’t enjoy?
Just Say No
We are here for our children. We are here for our husbands, our parents, our siblings, and our friends. But nowhere in the mommy manual does it say we always have to be here for the lady on the next block who needs us to run next week’s PTA meeting. Nowhere does it say we have to spend all night in the sewing room, unless, of course, we want to.
Some experts say “no” is the only word you need for effective time management. We moms want to please, to help, and to make life easier for everyone around us.
The next time someone calls to ask for your help, agree to think it over. When you no longer feel pressured for an answer, ask yourself if you really want to help. Make sure you aren’t agreeing solely to please the person on the other end of the phone.
When we learn to respect our time, others will respect it, too.
Learn how to take life as it comes. When you’re faced with a seemingly daunting task, promise yourself to take your time and enjoy it rather than rushing through. Time to cook dinner? Dig for your favorite recipe, pour a class of Chardonnay. Mince some fresh herbs, and savor the aromas.