Time Management Tips For Moms Who Are Done Scrambling…
Today I’m going to share with you the time management tips for moms that make all the difference between my baggy-eyes-hot-mess days and she-has-it-all-figured-out ones.
How can we prevent burnout and overwhelm that motherhood of all sizes and shapes seems to suffer from?
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LIVING WELL PLANNER is the pretty and all-encompassing planner I have been using for 3 years and couldn’t imagine a saner stay at home life without it. Want to take a look at each and every page? ‘FLIP THROUGH THE PLANNER IN 3D‘.
In this post, I’m going to give you some simple actionable steps for nailing down the challenge of time management busy moms face; in 14 ways so you become the best with your time.
And please do pick one at least so you know how much ‘being intentional’ with your time can help.
Please stop here for a moment and promise me you WILL do at least one of these tips, (else let me just save you this time by allowing you to do other things around that you do take seriously.)
You will rock the stage. Let’s dive right in:
1. Increase the chances of getting your work done by 42% by writing them down (on real paper!)
Write down your to-dos. It will straight away give you three benefits:
-clarify your priorities,
-track your progress,
-and keep you motivated
… so you don’t scramble through the day.
I read somewhere something scientific which in plain English meant that the brain sends action signals to the body when you write down something you want to do. I was sold!
So please take a couple of minutes to put on paper all the stuff you’ve been holding in your mind.
Related: Declutter your mind, find clarity and focus with brain dumping sheets.
Here are the simple steps you should follow:
-Grab a pen and take out a good old piece of paper.
-Jot down everything that you wish gets done today. Everything. Do a brain dump as I did.
-Go back through the list you just made and cross out as many as is humanly safe and possible. Minimum 2. Don’t worry, you will only cut what you can survive without today. Delegate it to someone else if possible, or move it to the next day… or the weekend.
-Roughly transfer the rest of your tasks into wherever you schedule your day. This step is not to stifle you with a rigid minute by minute schedule. Just put your tasks down in the order you want to do, so your day forms a loose structure sort of thing. And don’t worry about following the exact time down to the last minute. Because sometimes, things will take longer than you expect and other times, you’ll be free quicker than how you imagined it would take.
2. Stay on track with in-your-face reminders
Sometimes when I wake up in a super productive mood, I sit down and fill my planner... until there’s no more space white space to be seen on any corner of the page.
Then I close my planner, leave my seat and happily march into the battlefield.
Until my sister calls, or something happens to the dino’s tail, Or I find a baby lizard!!!
And before you know, you have completely forgotten what you wrote in the planner today.
So here’s the solution I’ve devised:
-This one I learned from one of my favorite moms online. Take out the planner and keep it open on the center table or your desk with a pen next to it where you can see it and cross off stuff as you go.
Note: If you love your planner as I do, don’t keep it where the kids (or you) may stain it.
-Other times, when I want to give my plan some extra special treatment, I take out my focus booster sticky notes and put one on the door of my room (or wherever I can see it very frequently) so it keeps reminding me to stay on track.
Related: If you want to learn more about how to build consistency in following a stay at home mom schedule, you can check out my detailed post.
3. Plan before you begin your day
My best days are the ones where I planned for the next day the night before or before everyone woke up that day.
Because some days, by the time you open your eyes to the new day, everyone else is also up, the morning frenzy starts so quickly you barely have time to sit in peace and prioritize.
You end up scrambling.
So do this:
If it’s night time where you are right now, jot down quickly whatever you want done tomorrow by following steps from point #1. If it’s not, just go into a quiet room and make a plan for the remaining of your day.
Whatever time you are left with today, don’t let it slide because you think you will start fresh tomorrow. Don’t let the tiredness, lack of motivation or overwhelm of the day override you.
Do this instead:
Think about how our perfect SAHMs (or Ruth Soukup, or Crystal Paine or our grandmas) would use the remaining hours of the day if she were you.
Of course wisely.
Pretend to think/act like her.
Write down what came into your mind
Follow this list you just made for the rest of your day
4. Stay mindful of how you spend time by tracking a small portion
If you can track what you do the next two hours, down to 15 minutes time frames, your life will change.
Just keep an eye on everything you’re doing here onward, like:
First, you’ll become very intentional about where you’re spending your time. This part may amaze you.
Secondly, later in the day when you’re not tracking, you’ll at least be aware not to slip into mindless time-wasters.
With me, so many 15 minutes go wasted in just lying on the sofa grumbling about the next to-do, checking FB for a minute only or staring in the space.
Here’s the solution I’ve come up with:
-Take out the page you listed your to-dos on
-On the back of it, start tracking your activities spaced over 15 minutes.
-Evaluate how well or poorly you are spending 15 minute time chunks and adjust accordingly.
5. Start (and stop!) any focused work be-foorre the kids wake
Sometimes I like to think that I can write a short paragraph or two for my blog, or do just this one tiny important thing while my kiddo is around, playing with his toys.
He won’t even notice.
Only he does.
Kids know like magic when moms divert their attention elsewhere when they weren’t supposed to.
This only ends up in things going wrong, us getting agitated, or our children becoming upset at the very least for the rest of the day.
Because that important task which was supposed to take only 5 minutes quickly engrossed us in itself.
I feel that during those moments our love signals are lost. Kids can detect these missing signals.
So do any focused work before kids wake up or while they nap. A good mom’s morning routine checklist of key tasks is a must if you want to stay sane for the rest of the day.
But there’s one more issue.
On the other extreme, if we do wake up and start our creative work, by the time everyone is awake, we are so deep into the task that to be honest, it sort of makes us unhappy and irritated inside about why everyone woke up when the work is still not finished.
So, don’t just start work early, do close it down and come back to your normal state of mind too.
That way, when your family is up, you are happy to see each other. (Followed by cuddles and all…)
Here’s how to do it:
-Take out your planner or paper and pen
-Draw a square box for setting a block of time in the early morning or during kids’ nap time for your important work
-You should know to end the time block half-hour – 15 minutes before your kids are up.
-Close down your stuff and do something relaxing like taking your coffee or any other mindless activity that doesn’t distract your attention away from what’s happening around you in the physical world right now so you’re fresh to receive your family when they’re up.
Related: Build focus and speed with time blocking for moms.
6. Have a backup to fall back on
On any given day, make sure you have the following ready to use:
-at least one clean ironed dress hanging in the wardrobe,
-one frozen meal in the freezer,
-and one clean room always ready in case someone unexpectedly visits.
Even on days when the rest of my house looks like a war zone, I always keep the guest room clean and don’t let anyone at home use it without good reason.
7. Keep fueling your energy
I pop in almonds and drink water through the day.
Because after noontime, my mind gets foggy and distracted.
So here’s what to do:
Read this post about boosting your energy if you’re a tired mom who needs to get loads of work done.
8. Do the ugly work when your energy is highest
But no matter how much you fuel your energy, you’ll run low on it sooner or later.
So if something is extremely important and you want to get it done, do it first thing in the day when your energy level is usually high.
Rest assured that if you procrastinate or think too much before starting off, it won’t get done because energy has a limit.
Here’s what to do:
-Take out your planner from step one
-Pick your uber important task
-Stop feeling bad and just eat that frog!
9. Build motivation by listening to pep-talk while doing mechanical (aka mindless) chores
When we continue to learn from others’ experiences and insights, our minds are stimulated by our new learnings and that results in motivating us to stay active doing useful things.
Before you go to start the vacuum or do the dishes or the laundry today (only during activities which don’t require your focus and because of practice they have become mechanical/automatic to you), here’s what to do:
-Take your mobile
-Plug the earphones in and put on one of the following:
–Do it scared podcast by Ruth Soukup
–This is your life podcast by Micheal Hyatt
–Pursuit with purpose podcast by Melyssa Griffin
(I’m making you listen to these great entrepreneurs who work from home because this is one of the topics we’ll talk about on my blog in the days to come.)
10. Accept low (-er) quality work from others in exchange for a breath
My husband has done dishes only twice in his entire life.
So when he offers to help, or worse, when he doesn’t offer but I’m so stuck or tired that ‘I’ want him to offer help, you know what kind of a compromise that can mean.
But listen to me, friend: it’s okay to let them do stuff (at least their own) every now and then.
You can always, take over the next day and make things perfect the way you like ’em.
Here’s how to implement this:
Take out your planner
Pick a task which is humanly possible for your husband to accomplish
Give it to him.
Relax, it’s okay.
(Did you notice from my schedule what I delegated to my husband?)
11. Put a gun to your head
I mean get your self into accountability.
Let me demonstrate what accountability has most recently done for me:
Story: I haven’t been able to publish ‘new’ posts on my blog for at least seven months.
All previous ones were just republished old ones.
But my new accountability buddies managed to make me publish a post within our first week together. They talked about their progress and asked me about mine, which was enough to make me put my head down in every small chunk of time I possibly can, and get to work.
The pressure to not disappoint them as a good buddy made me do the work.
So here’s what you will do for your big dreaded tasks.
Call someone who cares for you and will follow up on you
Tell them you’re doing this thing (cleaning the garage etc) today and that they should check back with you in the evening
Girl, go do the work before it’s evening!
12. Rush through your tasks (…like when the guests are about to come)
Now that I have left my job and get to stay at home, I realize I hate house chores.
So when I have to scrub and wipe and dust, I want to do it for as little time as possible.
Here’s how I do it,
Don’t take out the planner in this step, you’ll only dirty it…hehe
Look at the clock
Think of how you would work if your guests were about to come
Work with that in mind and speed through your task.
(Did you already forget you had to play a podcast from point #9 while cleaning?)
13. Pick up your phone and shop/pay bills online.
No wasting time running errands today.
Here’s what to do:
If you have bills to pay and you don’t know how to do that online, call your bank
Ask them how you can pay bills online
Follow their guidance
If you want grocery, ask your husband to get them or order online
You saved some gas and time, yay!
14. Put down your phone!
You won’t check FB/WhatsApp/etc for at least 6 waking hours today.
For one, I think it’s bad manners when the family is around and we keep jumping off of our seat to every ding buzz or beep. I almost never take calls when my husband is sitting around me.
(And I also want to completely stop using the phone or checking any social media when I’m around my son too. He actually turns and looks at my phone.
Okay, I’m feeling horrible and a bad mom saying this but it’s the sad truth
Let me commit right now in front of you, no matter how important it seems, that I’m not using the phone around my son unless it’s a serious emergency. You with me?)
This is the concluding paragraph and my energy is running low.
I need to do point #7 now. But I’ve already done #8 which for me was publishing this post. And if you, my friend actually followed point #1, you’re ahead of many else already.
I want you to spend your day today the way YOU design it … at least most of it, and not let this day spend you.
(Please read that again so it stays with you.)