April and May are INSANELY busy at my house, especially this year. My oldest is graduating from high school, my middle is celebrating Continuation from 8th grade, and there are about a bazillion things to do between now and the end of the school year. Do you feel my pain? I'm hoping that some of these tips will help me manage my time better!
Moms are busy. We're not only trying to juggle all the responsibilities of our own lives, often we're keeping the whole family on schedule too.
That is a lot to ask of moms, but we do it, along with the million other things that keep our families going!
As a mom, I used to be overwhelmed by how many tasks and responsibilities had to be completed in a day -- even with a supportive husband as a partner. I found for my own wellbeing, I had to organize my time better so that nothing would slip through the cracks. My solutions to time management have saved me as a mom, and make my life so much more enjoyable.
Everything I do now is scheduled into my day, which has helped me lower my stress levels. Now I can focus on the fun, instead of what has to be done!
Here are 10 ways I've found to manage my time as a busy mom:
1. Stop multitasking
It turns out, even though you think you can do five things at a time, you probably aren't doing any of them well. One study from Stanford University showed that people who try to multitask aren't actually effective because multitasking affects both memory and the ability to concentrate. I used to try to multitask all the time, but now I just focus on one thing at a time. I move on to the next task only after I have finished the first one. I have found I end up getting much more done that way.
2. Have a plan and stick to it
Think about a jar with rocks and sand. When the rocks are placed in first, the sand pours in around the rocks and everything fits. But when the sand is poured in first and then the rocks added? It doesn't all fit. So I've found that scheduling my "rocks" (the important, must-do tasks) first and then adding my "sand" (all the fun and non-essential things) works best for me. Otherwise, when I get to the end of the day I'm tired -- and I'm still left with all my "rocks" and have nothing fun left to look forward to.
3. Spend 30 minutes on Sunday planning the week
Or another day. Whatever day works for you. For me, that means Sunday. I go over all my appointments, schedules, grocery lists, "must dos," "want to dos," and "would be nice to dos" for the upcoming week and write it all down.
4. Spend 10 minutes each evening going over plans for the next day
At the end of the day I like to figure out what the next day looks like and add any last-minute things to my schedule and to-do lists. I do it in the evening because the minute my kids are awake in the morning we are jumping head first into the day. At night, after my kids are in bed, it's quiet and I can sit and take 10 uninterrupted minutes to plan out the next day and make sure I am ready to start my morning stress-free.
5. Divide the day into blocks
Scheduling out the whole day in blocks of a few hours has been extremely helpful to me. I assign myself tasks in each block of time and only do those tasks during that time. When one block of time is over, I put that task away and MOVE ON. I don't let one task take over my day and leave me with a list of things I didn't get done.
6. Make lists
I like to have a good 'to-do" list and divide it out into categories like must-dos, emails, calls, appointments, etc. I have a list printed out for every single day. During the day, if I think of an additional task that needs to be done, I write it down on my list of to-do's for that day or schedule a time and day to complete it later in the week. I don't stop what I am doing to jump into whatever task I've just thought of, but instead, write it down and finish the task I'm in the middle of first.
7. Make must-do items stand out
I mark all the items I have to get done on my to-do list in red. That way they stand out and I don't forget them.
8. Cross tasks off!
At the end of the day, I cross off what I have accomplished and circle the things I didn't get done. Then I move all the circled tasks to the next day's to-do list. If any of the tasks were marked in red, they go to the top of the list so I get them done first thing.
9. Focus on what you accomplished
Rather than spending time dwelling on the things you didn't get done, give yourself a pat on the back because of the things you did get done! I know this is easier said than done, but it's important! We are productive and we do a lot as moms and often we don't give ourselves enough credit. I am enough, even when I don't finish my to-do list, and I think that is important to remember.
10. Put the phone down
This might be my biggest time saver! Facebook, email, and all my apps will still be there after I finish whatever project, chore, or task I am completing. I'll even put my phone in another room. Try it! You won't believe how much you accomplish without a phone there taunting you to pick it up.
I know, as a busy mom myself, how hard it is to feel like you're not getting things done. That's why it's so important for me to organize my time. It keeps me feeling like I'm moving forward -- even on those days that seem to just fly by.
Gwendolyn Dattage is the publisher of Macaroni Kid St. George, Utah.