Travel, lifestyle, family.

Time management for moms: how to get the most out of your day.

21 February, 2020
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Time management for moms is a topic really close to my heart. As a Type-A organizing freak, over the years I’ve developed a borderline unhealthy obsession with productivity, being organized, and doing everything in a structured way. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’ve attended courses, learned by experience, and thought myself more or less an expert. AND THEN I HAD A KID… AND ANOTHER ONE… AND ONE MORE! Those cute little bugs turned my whole well-organized world upside down and I basically had to learn everything again, from scratch! Well, this challenge was obviously accepted, and a couple of years later I feel that I’m rocking it once more. ๐Ÿ™‚

In this post, I’m going to share my tried-and-tested tips for staying on top of things, as a Mom. It’s not something I’ve found on the internet and copied here – they derive from what I’ve learned, and I am using every single one of those points myself.

But before you do anything else, there’s one important task that has to be completed…

1. Conduct an audit of your day, as it is right now.

It might be a bit of a pain, but it’s worth it! “Follow” yourself for a week. Write down what you do and how much time does it take out of your day. No need to focus on every single activity. Rather, assign it into one of the wider groups, such as: work, playing with kids, cooking, cleaning, social media, TV, personal development, meeting with friends (playdates), or even being stuck in traffic ๐Ÿ™‚ Pay particular attention to everything that you would consider as a “disturbance”, for example: random phone calls, answering unimportant emails, unexpectedly long queue in a shop, etc. It will give you a great overview of how well you’re currently doing and what needs to be changed or improved. This will be your solid starting point.

The next thing which you have to consider is SCIENCE. ๐Ÿ™‚ Science says that the vast majority of people are reaching their peak productivity in the late morning. Around lunchtime, productivity plummets and reaches its low in the afternoon. It then again grows slightly early in the evening, but won’t come anywhere near its morning levels. Think about it: are you a part of the majority, or do you follow a different pattern? Consider this information and your own findings while incorporating the other advice into your life. ๐Ÿ™‚

2. Work in time blocks.

What does it mean? The concept is pretty simple and surprisingly effective. It can boost your productivity in no time and give you this sought-after “job well done” feeling at the end of the day! What you do is: group similar tasks together and block time for doing them in your daily schedule. For example, I schedule my blog-related tasks daily between noon and 2pm, because that’s when Danny naps and Adam is at school. ๐Ÿ™‚ Time between 8:30am and 9:30am is blocked for exercises and a quick shower – that’s when my mom volunteers to babysit. 10am – 11am is always playtime with Danny – nothing else is important at that time. And so on. Of course, you would have to analyze what kind of blocks would work for you. ๐Ÿ™‚

In my planner, it looks more or less like this:

3. Learn to prioritize.

Are you one of those people who like to postpone tasks till the vague “future”, and then suddenly wake up with hundreds of things that need to be done? I used to be like that. ๐Ÿ™‚ (ok, that was a REALLY long time ago, but still…). I developed a habit of postponing absolutely everything that “I didn’t feel like doing”. Cleaning the bedroom? Nah, I’m not into dusting today, I’ll do it some other time. Organizing your fridge? Eww, I hate half-rotten vegetables, will do it later. And so on. That, my friend, is not a correct way to prioritize. ๐Ÿ™‚

Tasks should be prioritized based on two criteria: their importance and urgency. If a task is important AND urgent, it should immediately jump to the top of your list (it usually does that kind of automatically, anyway). Most people have the biggest issue with matters that are important but not urgent. Those are the ones we usually keep on postponing till never, and those are the ones we need to try and focus on. Imagine that you have a sore tooth. It sometimes hurts a little, you keep on thinking you should go have it checked, but it’s not too bad so you never go. After you finally visit your dentist (after 6 months or so…), it turns out that what could have been sorted easily, is now an issue that requires 3 separate appointments.

urgent vs important matrix


4. Do NOT multitask.

It’s been proven (again, Science ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) that trying to multitask is actually making people LESS productive. Moreover, it affects the quality of end results of tasks done together. It can also lead to frustration and panic, because it might seem that we have gazillion things to do and not nearly enough time to finalize everything. You can’t effectively reply to your emails while answering your 5-year-old’s questions about the existence of unicorns, and at the same time make sure that dinner is not burning in the oven. Similarly, when you’re working, don’t start 5 tasks at the same time, even if it’s tempting to do so. Instead, prioritize them (see above!) and complete them one by one. You will get that awesome feeling of crossing things off your to-do list as a bonus. ๐Ÿ™‚

Still not entirely convinced? You can read all about the downsides of multitasking HERE.

5. Develop positive habits.

My journey with habits started when I embraced the concept of a bullet journal. Creating habit trackers was not only increasing my productivity but also calming me down. ๐Ÿ™‚ However, back then I tracked my habits only to reinforce certain behaviors. Now I know there’s more to habit tracking than that! Well-established routines can make your life easier and save you loads of time. What are the examples of time-saving habits to incorporate in your daily life?

— Every evening prepare your kids’ school outfits and bags for the next day.

— Wake up at least 30min before the kids, to be able to drink warm coffee and read the news (doesn’t apply if you’re dealing with a high need baby whose sleeping schedule is different each day…).

— Clean up the kitchen before going to sleep. You don’t want to waste time dealing with dirty dishes in the morning.

There are so many other habits you can develop, all depending on your lifestyle. I have a friend whose mornings are so chaotic that she ended up scheduling most of her morning tasks in the evening – including preparation of a mug with a teabag and sugar already inside, so that the only thing left to be done in the morning is pouring in hot water. ๐Ÿ˜‰

6. Embrace the idea of “10 Minute Tasks”.

That is one of my favorite time management for moms hacks! Even if you’re a pro at working in time blocks, there will be occasions when you end up having those teeny-tiny chunks of time left, when you’re not sure what to do. Admit it, you usually spend those mindlessly scrolling through your social media feeds! How about instead of doing that, you work to tick off some of your daily chores? Start by preparing a list of all tasks you can think of that take 10 minutes or less to complete. Here are some examples:

— preparing a shopping list for your next grocery shopping,

— loading / unloading a dishwasher,

— folding the laundry,

— going through emails and deleting all the spam (it might take you longer, for me it’s 10 minutes or less ๐Ÿ™‚ )

— enjoying a cup of hot coffee (my favorite!).

7. Learn to tell people “No”.

I’m not saying that you need to start being rude, refusing to do things all together, and basically tell people to go away. ๐Ÿ˜‰ However, it is equally unhealthy to agree to everything unanimously, be it a coffee with your ex-colleague or a request from a friend to babysit their toddler (toddler-sit? ๐Ÿ˜‰ ). Ask yourself: is this going to bring me joy? (Hi, Marie Kondo!). Is it important for my well-being? Do I really have time for this? It might feel uncomfortable at first, but the more you do it, the more natural it will become for you. Remember: people have the right to ask and you have the right to refuse. ๐Ÿ™‚ Also, remember that there are many ways to tell “No” to others without actually offending them. You can find loads of useful advice regarding this HERE.

8. Arrange a play corner next to your work station.

There comes a time in each parent’s life when their clingy child finally starts showing interest in playing by himself (hooray!). I can proudly say that Danny has entered this stage and it’s a perfect opportunity for me to get some work done! I mostly work at the kitchen table (we have an open plan kitchen), and I dedicated a corner in our living room to become a play area for my toddler. A corner that’s far enough for me not to be disturbed, but at the same time close enough for me to be able to see and hear what the kid is doing. Also, I’ve introduced the rotation of his toys. Every week, I hide some of the toys from his corner and pull out “new” ones (which I’ve hidden a while back). Like this Danny doesn’t get bored easily and I can work in peace (kind of).

9. Invest in a good planner.

A paper one or a digital one, depending on what you prefer. I’m Team Paper, always have, always will be. ๐Ÿ™‚ You can read all about my 2020 planning setup HERE. You don’t need to follow my lead though! Discover for yourself what’s out there (and there’s plenty!). Think it through. Do you prefer a planner with a daily or a weekly setup? Dated or undated? Is A5 size fine for you, or will you require a bigger one? And finally, what other tools should be included in your planner (Task list? Mind map? Budgeting spread? Habit tracker?). Once you know what you want, it will be much easier for you to choose from hundreds of options available in the market.

10. Develop a habit of noting things down.

Ok, so you got yourself a fancy planner. Time to put it to work! (Or, if you haven’t, a piece of paper will do just fine for this exercise ๐Ÿ™‚ ). Being a mom is a full-time job by itself, and some of us do other work, too. This is connected with loads of tasks that jump at you at all times during the day. It feels overwhelming, but when you suddenly remember about something that needs to be done (today, tomorrow, next week… doesn’t matter), be sure to note it down immediately. You can then revisit your list in the evening and organize the tasks. Also, use the evening time to note down any other things that need to be done within the next couple of days. It will help you go to sleep with a clear head. ๐Ÿ™‚

BONUS: A couple of ways to save time:

— Shop online instead of spending half of your day inside a mall.

— Cook / bake in big batches and freeze whatever you won’t eat.

— If you have people over, ask them to bring food. ๐Ÿ™‚

— Forget about the snooze button!

— Remove social media notifications from your mobile devices (not the apps, just the notifications).

There you go! My tips on time management for busy moms! I hope you found it useful!

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