As a working mom, I’m sorry you’re always grateful if you can find simple and practical time management tips so that you can balance the time spent at work, with your family, and to your own self-care. One of the most effective ways I’ve discovered this is to protect your time so that it’s not hijacked by others. And, here six ways you can accomplish that.
1. Put the big things in your calendar.
This is time management 101. If something isn’t in your calendar then it’ doesn’t deserve any of your attention. Also, the sooner you put something in your schedule, the sooner you can properly plan your day, week, month, or even year. As a result, you won’t have to figure out how you’re going to resolve scheduling conflicts like going to your son’s football game when you’ve already committed to a work event.
Put the big things in your calendar immediately as they occur so that you can maintain control of your time. Because you probably already have access to an online calendar thanks to Google Calendar, Microsoft Outlook Calendar, and Apple Calendar you can easily add calendar entries directly from your phone. You can also share your calendar with friends, family, and colleagues so that they can see what your schedule looks like.
There are even family specific calendars, such as Cozi, that can be used to keep track of your entire family’s schedules so that everyone is on the same page.
2. Get into your own rhythm and flow with time.
In a guest post from my good friend Athena Allread, she suggested that we “understand our unique time signature, our allowed space for music and dance between each bar” so that “we can begin to feel into the rhythm. By “knowing our ‘tempo’, the spacing between beats. Tempo guides us in how fast or slow our dance can flow.”
Athena also recommended that we view “each day as one long beautiful time signature” and start “to look at your day as a series of spaces between bars.” When you find your own tempo, you’ll discover your “own rhythm and flow for moving between bars.”
I love that analogy. It’s a great way to help you create a daily routine based on your energy and priorities. It can also help you divide your day’s into blocks so that you spend a certain amount of time on specific activities. Knowing this you can protect your most important blocks, such as when you need to exercise, get the kids off to school, or work.
3. Say “yes” to less.
Always saying “yes” is the main reason we lose control of time and let other people take over our calendar. The easiest solution is to start saying “no” more often.
A lot of us are afraid to use this word, but it has to become a part of your vocabulary. And, you can actually turn down requests for your time without feeling guilty. For example, if your child has to go to the emergency room, then that’s your top priority and nothing else is coming before that.
You could also limit your obligations. You don’t need to be at every social function outside of work, attend every birthday party, or join every parent related organization. However, you can also alternatives. If you’re busy this week but have some free time next week, then schedule that lunch with your bestie when you can.
4. The work will still get done.
“I work hard and I work often. When called away to deal with a family situation (a doctor’s appointment, school event, etc.), I fully focus on my family and give them my undivided time and attention,” Michele Meyer-Shipp wrote for Working Mother.
“While my role at work is very important and I have lots to do, things will be OK if I take a day off or miss a meeting. At KPMG, we have a collaborative work environment and always support each other, so the work will continue to get done. Remembering that is critical—I do not feel guilty at all when I need to step away.”
5. Set reasonable working hours.
As a business owner, this isn’t always possible. To complicate things even more, if there is a client having an emergency I may have to attend to them outside of business owners.
However, we simply can’t be expected to be on-call 24/7. It’s unreasonable. We need breaks from work. We need to spend time with our family. And we need time to enjoy our lives.
Establish working hours and stick to them for. If not, you’ll be on the phone during your family vacation answering phone calls and emails. Dinner will be spent messaging a co-worker instead of family time. Remember, when you’re done work, you can spend your time however you like. It should not be accepted for you to respond to your employer’s email at midnight when you’re sleeping.
On the weekends, I try not to have my phone on me at all times. I still have set times when I do check it. But, it’s not attached to my hip. This way I’m not tempted to pick it up every time I receive a notification.
6. Stop comparing yourself to other moms.
Finally, we have a tendency to compare ourselves to other moms. Maybe it’s because we think that they’re the “perfect” mom who can juggle a career and attend every PTA meeting with freshly baked cookies. We also think about how certain moms have the time to keep their homes “perfect” or get to the gym every day so that they can contain that “perfect” figure.
There is no such thing as “perfect.” Stop spending your time chasing something that doesn’t exist. Instead, put it to use towards something more practical and realistic that works for you, your family, and your career.