It’s been over a month since I’ve gone back to work (the non-virtual kind) and I must say the juggling act has become rather preposterous (did I mention I have a 5 year old, seemingly endless household chores, work part-time online and am also pursuing a master’s degree?).
The worst part is trying to find some quality time to spend with my kid in all this. My daughter is happy about me working and studying, but the “I missed you ma ma” when I return is enough to drown me in a vat of guilt.
Being a mom itself is a full time job, add all the other responsibilities and obligation to the mix and we have got a recipe for stress induced depression.
I feel the need for time management as I have never before. So, I took on the task of researching the tried and true time management tips and tricks out there for working moms. Checkout the 10 I believe are most helpful below:
Identify what’s most important and move it to the top of the list.
2.Try to do the least pleasant task first.
It may not take less time, but it is likely to offer a time savings. Once the job is done, it’s not necessary to spend time thinking about it.
3.Learn to say “no.”
Consider what can be accomplished realistically and turn down additional requests.
4.Learn to delegate.
Others may not do the job exactly as you might, but the fact that they’re doing it allows you time for other activities and interests…
I absolutely agree with the points the author has made. Prioritizing is essential if you’re hoping to keep all your balls up in the air.
Being a perfectionist and a people pleaser (the horror), delegating and especially saying no are few of the hardest lessons I’ve had to learn. I still struggle with them but I realize that I can’t keep everyone happy all of the time. It is just not possible nor is it practical to try and do so.
These pointers may seem a lot like good old fashioned common sense but in reality a lot of times we tend to neglect them.
5.Be smart about your schedule.
Scheduling a specific day for a specific task is something that definitely requires a little experimenting. This is because you’ll need to match the right tasks to particular days of the week according to your preferences and other scheduled activities. For example, you could designate Saturday as house cleaning and laundry day, while Sunday should be kept free for family time. Cramming tasks into an already full day is likely to just burn you out. This way, you’ll be more likely to have spent your day wisely.
Ah, yes schedules. Get yourself one of those calendar book thingys (I’m sure there is a name for them but for the life of me I can’t remember it right now, scheduler? Planner?).
They have blocks for each day of the month, so it’s easy to get a visual representation of your entire month.
Alternatively you could use your iPad or smartphone to record your schedule. There are several apps out there you can try.
Just use whatever method is convenient for you, as long as you are writing all of it down.
It is important to have a plan.
Check out this site for a multitude of downloadable calendars and time management worksheets.
6.Prepare the night before
Lay out everyone’s clothes the night before, from undies to hair bows. That includes YOUR outfit, too, Ms. “Try on seven different things in the morning.” Then, pack your lunches, snacks, and backpacks or diaper bags. Store food in the fridge and put bags by the door to grab on the way out. Feeling extra-frisky? Set a (nonperishable) breakfast buffet out on the table the night before so you can … wait for it … take a shower!
This is something I religiously do. I cannot tell you the number of times I’ve turned a deaf ear to my alarm (on account of being totally exhausted) only to wake up late and rush through trying to get everything done on time. Laying out our clothes, planning breakfast and snacks the night before saved my skin more than once.
7.Avoid ineffective multi-tasking.
Many working mothers think you can save time by multitasking. However, multitaking has its drawbacks when you try to complete two physical tasks at once. For example, don’t try to iron your suit while making your children’s lunches; something will get burned or forgotten. Multitasking, however, can be effective if you choose to complete only one physical task at a time, such as making a long-awaited phone call to your mother while ironing.
8.Separate work and motherhood responsibilities.
One of the best time management secrets is to leave parental responsibilities at home when you’re at work. Similarly, when you walk in the door after work, put on your “mommy hat” and leave your job responsibilities at the office. If your job requires take home work, such as if you’re a teacher and have papers to grade, complete these tasks after the children are in bed. If you work from home, make sure there is an end to your day. You need to close your home office door and leave work.
I watched a documentary recently in which scientists tried to prove humans can’t really multitask (curse you, weird scientists with nothing better to do). According to them, what really happens is we divide up different tasks into little bits and do a rotation of the bits so it gives an illusion of multi-tasking.
Whatever, even the illusion that I’m getting two things done at the same time is sometimes enough. Although if you think it’ll be faster to do things one after the other, go for it. In fact, sometimes that’s the key to beating procrastination. Just divide up your tasks and face it one at a time so that it doesn’t intimidate you.
On a related note, the ability to compartmentalize i.e. put different aspects of your life in different boxes is invaluable and for me mostly unachievable.
I feel that, being human, our personal lives will inevitably have an effect on our work life and vice versa. It bleeds in whether we like it or not.
And yes, I expect my boss to be understanding when I can’t concentrate fully if my child is ill and I definitely do not appreciate being told to forget about my kid while I’m at work. Just as I understand when there is a deadline to be met and I have to take some work home in order to meet it.
9.Lists are a girl’s best friend
Lists can bring sanity to a chaotic household. My husband and I have learned that something as simple as a magnetic list on the fridge ensures we don’t return from the store only to realize we’ve forgotten to purchase several key items!
Packing lists eliminate frustration with trip preparation.
Meal planning lists make grocery shopping significantly more efficient.
We also keep a list of household project ideas, so that with any down time, we simply pull out our list and determine which potential project would be best suited to our available time and supplies.
I’ve been a list maker all my life, so it’s hard for me to understand how people function without them. As I keep saying, write down what you don’t want to forget and remember to look at it every once in a while (duh!).
Use a notepad with a pen attached so you can cross off the items you have completed on your list. You could also get one of those Boogie Board Jots for your fridge.
10.Make time for yourself.
This is perhaps the most important of all the “wise” tips.
Whether it’s a relaxing bath, reading a chapter of a steamy romance novel, watching an episode of Suits, writing a page in your journal, whining to your best friend over the phone, singing your lungs out with Linkin Park, playing a game on your Xbox, meditating or simply soaking your feet, you need to find some time for yourself to get rid of the day’s stress.
I know it’s asking a bit much and you might even think it’s being selfish, but squash that uncharitable thought right now. Do not forget that you are also human and have needs and limits like everyone else.
Look at it this way, if you invest 20 minutes a day on yourself for relaxing, in the long run you will save yourself from being totally burned out and useless to everyone including yourself.
TV shows and movies make it seem so easy and effortless to be Super Mom but we all know it isn’t so. Balancing our work with home life is peppered with obstacles.But there are ways around them. These time management tips can go a long way in easing some of the burden.