23 Sep Time Management
Surrounded by chaos? Don’t know where to begin? Feel like you never accomplish anything? Well Mom, time to get a handle on your life!
Whether you like it or not, the smooth operations of your home depend to a large degree on YOU. Your attitude and approach to all your responsibilities greatly determine whether you will feel you are in the driver’s seat or under the wheels. Needless to say we all feel like headless chickens quite often, but if we want to maintain a decent level of sanity, time management becomes critical.
Realize that we are students at the feet of family life. We often begin with no clue how to juggle housecleaning, cooking great meals and looking after the baby. Nevertheless, time does teach us how to organize ourselves better and start planning. Life is never perfect, but we do realize that it does help to plan, adjust and follow-up on things in an orderly way.
We often crave to have a sense of control in an often chaotic household. Managing our time more effectively goes a long way. It calms us down, focuses our available time and energy, and helps us get more accomplished. When we try to get a handle on time, we decide where we are going with it. A happy mom knows how to use her time well.
For many stay at home moms, mornings afford us the most energy for productive work, outings and tasks requiring much effort. Afternoons are slower with naps. As we approach supper time, we are more stressed, more tired and not as happy go lucky as we would hope. With all this in mind, consider making your main course for supper at breakfast time, going to the park after naps and putting your meal on a pre-bake timer so you can relax with less stress before supper time. You can check out more ideas like these at: Kitchen Tips and many other related articles in the section called The Home.
5 STEPS TO GET YOU STARTED
- Set aside a certain time each day or once a week to organize and plan your priorities and important tasks – appointments, errands, phone calls, meals, duties, etc. Take time and write them down so you can apply your energies to the right places.
- Realize which time of the day is your optimal planning time and make a habit to use it. Examples:
- getting a bird’s eye view of the week on Sunday night and planning the big things that you’d like to achieve
- write down the particular goals/tasks for each day.
- This can be done first thing in the morning before everyone gets up (that’s if you set your alarm clock to give you a head start – don’t underestimate this small sacrifice which reaps big fruit)
- right after breakfast when everyone has left and you have a couple minutes of peace.
- Or, at the end of the day when the last child has been tucked to bed and you’ve got time to reflect on what’s happened and what needs to be done tomorrow.
- Get used to jotting things down. Although women have a tremendous capacity to manage many details simultaneously, writing down information helps us to prioritize, organize and follow up better on our professional (yes care of the home fits that category), family, social and personal goals. Use some kind of agenda, family calendar, app or even a dry-erase board near your phone. Whether on your cellphone, IPad or in a paper agenda, taking note helps you not to forget. No matter what your age or how many kids you have, you need to stay on top of things.
- Maximize use of your agenda by finding a handy spot for it. After much trial and error, I find my kitchen counter to be the ideal spot for me. My phone, meals, kids, cleaning etc. all descend upon the kitchen on a regular basis, so it is the best spot for me to constantly be jotting down notes, checking off tasks and reminding me what to do next.
10 REASONS TO MAKE A DAILY SCHEDULE:
- Helps you set goals and finish tasks towards that goal;
- Reduces worry and keeps your momentum going;
- Lets you decide once on things like “What shall we eat tonight? What do I have to pick up from the store?”etc., thereby cutting down on indecision and interruption;
- Helps you get the most important things done first;
- Teaches self-discipline;
- Helps you to achieve what is really important and necessary versus what is urgent;
- Enables us to multi-task better;
- Allows us to have the joy of ticking off what we accomplished. Too often we think we did nothing, yet we do a lot. Seeing check marks on paper each day provides a sense of accomplishment, progress and relief in the face of the million things mothers need to stay on top of. Don’t neglect this great tool;
- Helps you have a sense of control; and,
- Helps you maintain balance by purposely scheduling good down-time.
3 TIPS TO SUCCESS:
- Start with the hardest task of the day. It will give you the biggest sense of accomplishment and take a great weight off your shoulders.
- When faced with choices, ask which will accomplish the greater good.
- Break down tasks into bite size pieces. Life with kids does not allow you hours of time to do big things. Break jobs down into smaller chunks, ie. 15 minute categories, and you will be surprised how much you will accomplish over time. You will achieve your goal faster and more happily. ie. Tidy one shelf or drawer a day till your room is organized. Grab snatches of time and go for it. You will see how much you can achieve, even with a house full of kids.
HERE’S WHAT I DO!
Nowadays my agenda contains a lot of things. Even though I use my cellphone for reminders, I still love my paper agenda. Between the two, I jot things down. Examples would include:
- phone calls I want to make (sometimes I just put friends’ first and last initials to save space)
- responsibilities around the house (laundry – 3 loads, vacuum main floor only, bathroom cobweb, water plants, sew one button on pants)
- meals to be prepared for that day. Knowing what’s coming takes the headache out of guessing, not having ingredients on hand, and getting stressed at supper time. Something that works well for me is to prepare my supper main course in the morning while I clean up after breakfast. By combining meal prep and clean up I save big time later on. When the kids come home, I am then free to focus on them. I find I am not as drained or stressed at supper time and am in a much better mood.
- errands I need to run– keep a running list of where you need to go, what you need to get and then combine them in a minimum number of outings.
- Me time: time to read, to pray, to write a letter, check out a good recipe, garden etc.
We don’t often feel we do anything for ourselves, yet it’s crucial for our sanity and energy level. Schedule it in. Do it in bite size pieces. I have a book in each bathroom. I read a page each time I go in. It’s amazing how fast the book gets done. Also don’t look for the ideal quiet moment. Get your kids occupied with play dough, coloring, puzzles etc. while you do your own thing nearby.
- friends to visit – It’s so important to develop a great social life. Find time to visit with and without the kids. Invite your friends for a cup of tea, meet at their place, or check out a park or playground together. Make the time and take the time. It really helps you re-charge your batteries.
- emails I need to do, specific info I need to find out on the internet – Know exactly what you need to do and do it. Don’t surf, goof around and waste time that needs to be directed to more important matters. The computer/cell phone is a great tool, but don’t use it to strangle your energy.
- how to spend time with my kids (outings, activities, conversation topics)
- I keep a page for ideas on birthday and Christmas presents, family outings, personal buys, plans for the summer etc. It saves a lot of aggravation later and keeps me from forgetting.
- I also keep lists stapled in of odds and ends I see need to get done, but don’t have time for. For example, wash stairway walls, vacuum vents, repair torn curtain, etc. Then when I have an unexpected window of time, I go to my list and tackle what looks best.
Sometimes my page is overflowing with things and it’s a royal mess. I take my kids pencil crayons and I color code all similar things, ie. Yellow – emails; green – phone calls, blue – chores etc. Then I look at all the yellow ones and prioritize from most important to least with 1, 2, 3 … I try to do all my phone calls in one sitting I also take a look at the work list and see if there are things I can do while I am on the phone, ie. Iron, tidy a drawer, mending, washing dishes, peeling potatoes etc. When I finish an item I check it off. If I have not been able to do something I put a circle in front of it to remind me it needs to be checked off. Then I can easily see at a week’s glance what is still outstanding.
The more I use my agenda, the happier I am because I see on paper that I am actually achieving goals, accomplishing tasks and using my time better. It helps give me a sense of control, even though life is totally chaotic and unpredictable. Just remember though your agenda is a tool, not an end it itself. You have to be flexible for what life sends you and not uptight when it just doesn’t go your way. People are the priority and when they need you, be available. Be careful not to look like your tasks outweigh your family members. You have to roll with the punches, and not lose your peace just because you have to focus on the needs of your family rather than your plans. Keep your balance. Put things into perspective and go with what’s really important in the long-run – the well-being of your family.
- Moms’ Schedules – Check out these different schedules that moms have to make their day come together.
- The Magic of Doing One Thing At a Time by Harvard Business Review
- “No” is the New “Yes” by Harvard Business Review
- Less is Best – watch and read how one woman made more time by getting rid of things
The wall calendar that I use is double tall and I’ve been using it for years now! Available every fall at Costco for about $8.99 and called the “More Time Moms Family Organizer”. This is my lifesaver for remembering all our activities!
The “daily docket” that I’m about to try is a daily record of what you hope to achieve and includes to dos, exercise, dinner plan. I’m going to try it this coming month. I think I’ll print out a month of docket sheets double sided and then put them in a binder.
Explanation of docket
Links to downloads