Between work, household responsibilities, and running your children all over the place it’s a wonder that we have even a minute to ourselves to catch our breath!
That’s why time management is so important for working mothers. It guarantees that everything that needs to get done does, while also giving us a little bonus time to read, meditate, exercise, or work on a passion project.
If you’re having some difficulty managing your time then you can use these practical and quick tips to resolve that problem.
1. Assess your time.
One survey by Salary.com found that more than 30% of people spend over an hour a day on social media and other unproductive activities!
The only way that you can start managing your time more wisely is examining how you actually spend your time. Tools like RescueTime tracks your computer usage in the background so that you have a better idea on you spend your days online.
You could also track your hours using a time log in a bullet journal.
2. Have office hours and stick to them.
Thanks to smartphones you’re plugged-in 24/7. This is a blessing and a curse.
If one of my clients has an emergency it’s great that I can be contacted. At the same I don’t want to miss out on family time because I’m replying to work-related emails.
One way around this is to have “office” hours during the week. The exact hours don’t matter. It could be the traditional 9-5 or hours that are more conducive to your lifestyle, like 7-3. The idea is that during these hours you focus on work. Sounds simple. But it’s an excellent way to improve your productivity since it motivates you to cross-off your to-do-list items before the end of the day.
When I’m off-the-clock I spend time with my family. That means no emails or work during this time.
While you should stick to these hours, sometimes you need to be a little flexible. For example, there could be a work emergency that needs your attention or you need to complete a project by the morning. In this case you may have to work late. I try to wait until the kids are in bed so that I’m still spending time with them, but also staying on-top of my work.
3. Organize, organize, organize.
I really like what Elizabeth Scott, MS wrote regarding organization in an article for Verywell Family;
“It’s been said that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and nowhere is this adage more applicable than when discussing time management tips for moms. Simply being organized can eliminate stress from forgotten appointments, double-booking, lost homework, and many other stress traps that busy moms face. What does it mean for a mom to ‘be organized,’ and to what extent is this even possible? If you focus on a few key areas of organization, a little work can go a long way. In a nutshell, being organized with your schedule, with your house, and with your discipline strategy is one of the best time management tips you can get. And this may seem like a lot, but once you have a few plans and systems in place, if you set a regular time to check-in with these plans (like, if you look over each day’s plans the night before and always remember to keep things on a calendar), it will be far easier to maintain a comfortable level of organization.”
I’d add that you could also create a folder, either an physical folder you keep in a filing cabinet or digital folder in the cloud, for each child. This folder should contain information like their schedules, class lists, doctor’s appointments, etc.
4. Set priorities and realistic goals.
“One of the most common time management mistakes is getting distracted and procrastinating,” writes Tracey Porpora in an article for The Balance Careers. “Good time management is all about staying focused. So, how can a busy mom get focused when there’s so much to do?”
Tracey suggests that you “grab your planner, make a to-do list, then prioritize” whenever you feel overwhelmed. “Making this plan of attack will make you feel like things are more doable. A little bit of planning can go a long way,” adds Tracey.
She also suggests that if procrastination is a problem you follow the advice from one of the best time management gurus out there, Brian Tracy, and “eat that frog”. This isn’t an actual frog. It’s actually that important task that you’ve been putting off. If you get it out of the way first thing in the morning the rest of your day will be a little easier.
Batching is simply grouping similar activities and doing them at the same time. The reason why batching works is because it improves your focus, reduces daily clutter, and reduces start-up and slow-down time.
For example, don’t check your email whenever you receive a notification. Only go through your inbox twice a day. Instead of preparing lunches every morning, do this on a Sunday afternoon. Run all of your shopping and errands at one time.
6. Stop multitasking.
I know that we mom’s pride ourselves on mastering the art of multitasking. The thing is, multitasking is not an effective time management technique. Our brains just aren’t meant to multitask. In fact, it can only do one thing at a time.
So make an effort to stop multitasking and do one thing at a time.
The temptation to do all the household chores yourself is real. But it’s time to put your foot down and assign some of these responsibilities to your spouse or children. If you cook, then someone else has to clean the dishes and take out the trash. Ask your kids to fold the laundry or walk the dog. It’s a simple to gain back some time.
You can use the same concept at work. If there tasks you don’t want to do or aren’t skilled at, then assign them to an employee or co-worker who can.
8. Be ready to go.
I always have a baby bag ready to go. It’s packed with the essentials like diapers, snacks, wipes, and baby gear and by the door. This way I can grab it on my way out of the house in the morning. It’s much better then frantically packing a bag every morning.
9. Stop worrying about being perfect.
Perfection doesn’t exist. So why waste your time obsessively trying to make something perfect? Do your best and move on.
10. Embrace technology.
There are no shortage of productivity apps available on the market. It could be a to-do-list app like Wunderlist, a family organizer like Cozi, artificially intelligent email apps like Clara, or project management tools like Trello.
Do some research and find the apps that can fit your family dynamics and improve your productivity at work.
Do you have any time management tips? Let use know what they are in the comments.