With the New Year, we all have a million ways that we plan to ring in the new of everything – including a new us. This year I am excited to continue creating the kind of home where we all want to be as a family. But managing everything and getting it all done is never easy, and the to do list never ends. Do you feel this way? Read on for my top 8 time management tips for moms that have revolutionized my life and our home.
I’m not always 100% at keeping these. We all have our days, and I definitely have mine. But in a perfect world, these tips are my fallback that keep our home life in line, our house relatively clean, and our family from going absolutely crazy.
1. Learn to Let Go – The Key To Time Management is that You Only Have So Much Time
You cannot do everything. So all you perfectionists, it’s time to cut yourself a break – somewhere. Unless you can get by on only 3 hours of sleep. I can’t. If I don’t sleep 7 hours, I make it up the next night, or I’m a grump, so nothing gets done anyways. I have a dream of who I could be and what I could get done with less sleep. But since I can’t live without sleep, I have learned to work with who I am and the hours I have.
Essentially, I’ve learned to let go. Honestly, I’m pretty good at letting go. I can’t tell you how many things I should do, and simply don’t. That’s another post for another day. But the sooner you realize that your life will move forward even if your dinners aren’t insta-worthy and your clothes in the dresser aren’t perfectly folded, the sooner that you can lead a happy and fulfilling life as a mom at home.
2. Do it RIGHT NOW
Nothing takes as long as you think, and the only way to control it getting done is to just do it.
If you have to call your pediatrician to make an appointment – call him right now. There will never be an easier time than the moment it comes to your mind. The most fascinating thing you will find is that most tasks are quicker than you think – which I’ll talk more about in number 3.
I have a tendency to write things down, thinking “why do now, what I can surely do later”. But then it sits there, and I have to move the task to the next day, and then the next. Often, I spend more time keeping it on my to do list than it would have taken to just quickly do it, cross it off, and stop thinking about it.
3. Most Tasks Take Less Time Than We Think They Do
The truth is, most tasks that we put on our to do list go rather quickly. I tend to think that cleaning the kitchen will take over my life, because it looks like a tornado hit while I cooked dinner. Somehow, though, it rarely takes me more than 10 minutes to clear the table, wash the dishes, wipe the crumbs, and swep the floor, no matter how messy.
I’ve started timing almost every regular task that I do – from folding a load of laundry, to dusting bookshelves, to mopping the floor. It’s been a fascinating exercise, because it’s helped take the drama out of what needs to be done. In the past I’ve thought “oh, I don’t have time to dust right now, I’ll do it tomorrow when I have a huge chunk of free time”. But now I know it will take around 7 minutes, even when I’m doing it right.
Don’t wait for that huge window of time to open up when you are going to whip through your house and clean without anyone around. You will be waiting for the next 30 years. Use your extra moments to get the smaller tasks done, and you wiill find that nothing takes as long as you think it does.
4. Build Time Into Your Schedule For Those Tasks That Take Longer
Some tasks have to be done regularly, but if we don’t create the time for them, they will always get pushed back.
For example, I find it difficult to do the deeper cleaning while my kids are awake. (They can organize 4 cupboards in the time it takes me to organize one).
I’ve come up with some solutions to help with cleaning with toddlers, but things were still slipping through the cracks.
So I decided that I would use the 30 minutes after they went down for a nap to clean what I hadn’t gotten to earlier in the day. I always set the timer for 30 minutes, because if my mind thinks it will be longer than that – I know that I probably won’t do it.
It will amaze you what you can get done in 30 minutes (see number 3). I can enjoy the rest of their nap with a clean house and multiple cleaning tasks crossed off my list.
5. Get Rid of Distractions
Fun fact: did you know that any given distraction will – on average – take 25 minutes longer away from your task than what you intended? That means, if you go to check social media for “30 seconds” you will end up spending over 25 minutes away from your intended task. What?! How many times a day are all of us doing things that will “just take a sec”?
But time management pros have learned to do away with distractions.
The secret isn’t in never doing anything you want to. If social media is important to you, then go for it. But build in time to do it, so that every time you check it – your distraction time isn’t skyrocketing into wasted time.
I try, in general, to not use my phone while I’m with my kids. I technically have enough time while they are asleep to talk, and text, and check notifications. But the days that I keep my phone on me, no matter what I tell myself, are the days that I’m on my phone. It’s always something that’s super quick – like looking something up on google, or checking my email. But I’ve seen it turn into 25 minutes longer more than one time.
So I’ve made it a goal to set my phone aside during the day. Anything that comes in, can wait until the time that I’ve “planned” for distractions. The extra 25 minutes probably still happens after I’m done with the phone things that I needed to do. But at least it’s only one time, instead of over and over throughout the day.
6. Don’t Make Your To Do List So Complicated That You Never Actually Do Anything
Guess why I added this one?
Yep. Because I’m super guilty of it. I’m the BEST at making to do lists and plans that would boggle your mind. I love to think about what I’m going to get done, and I feel super motivated and excited as I’m spending time writing it all down.
Then it comes time to actually do it, and looking at it all just makes my head spin. So I just start doing what I already knew needed to be done without even looking at my lengthy list.
And since my to-do list was too overwhelming, I neglect looking at it. I never get around to doing anything that actually needed to be written down.
When you make your to do list, don’t be overly detailed. If you need to clean the house, write it down. It feels good to cross something off. But maybe keep it at that. You know how to clean a house and what needs to be done when you look at that item. If something needs to be cleaned out of the ordinary, add that in. It’s important to remember things, and for me – if it isn’t written down, it doesn’t get done.
Just keep in mind that the purpose of a to do list is to help you get things done. So write it down, keep it brief, and then get to work.
7. If You Don’t Know Where To Start…START
Sometimes I look at my to-do list, or my messy kitchen, or a lengthy recipe and I just want to sit down, wrap myself in a warm blanket and read a good book instead. Do you ever feel like you just don’t even know where to start, so why bother?
I go through this struggle in my mind all the time. But guess what? I finally learned something that has changed how I view any single task. It’s going to blow your mind and then change your life – if you act on it.
The only way to get into any task is to…START. Get going, no matter how huge it seems. To input an overused and unappetizing phrase, “the only way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time.” And you will never even be able to do it one bite at a time, unless you march right up to that elephant and take a bite. (Okay, I promise never to use that again. If only the example could have been a hugely delicious, and well-seasoned steak…but it’s not. And apparently we can’t change sayings.)
The point remains. My goal lately has been to stop wasting time wringing my hands hoping the intensely messy kitchen cleans itself. I just choose one thing to start cleaning, and ignore the rest. Once that one thing is over – such as all of the dishes put into the sink, things feel better and it’s suddenly more manageable. So I take the next step, and keep going, and before I know it, the task is completed and I can move on.
8. ALWAYS Plan Time For Fun!
It’s easy to make a bunch of New Year’s resolutions and goals, to organize our life down to the last nitty gritty detail. And usually the first thing to go is the fun parts of our lives. We think, “with all this new found energy and motivation, I won’t even want to watch tv”.
Unrealistic. And not very fun.
As a mom, your job-description includes things like laundry, and dinner, and shopping, and mopping, and bathrooms, and so on. But you are home for a reason, and it’s not just to keep house.
You are nurturing cute, young people. And there is a lot of fun to be found in that. So if you are forgetting that, or you find that “playing” falls to the bottom of the list because of all the rest, write it down. Add it to your to do list and draw pretty stars next to it. Play with your kids. Don’t miss a moment. It will pass whether you are there or not. And I would say the key to time management for moms at home is to make the most of the time that you have, with those you get to be with.
Time Management Starts With a Purpose – Find Yours
I’ve come to realize that everything that we do has, and should have, a purpose. This is what drives us to do what we should, even when we just don’t want to. It comes down to priorities. It’s all about figuring out our priorities, and then intentionally planning our life around them. Because frankly, if we don’t decide, life has a way of deciding for us.
I’ve decided that the best way to figure out our priorities is to gain perspective. When we are looking back on our life 30 years from now, what do we want to see? Start considering those things you do every day, and maybe you will find a reason to rearrange. It’s then that you can use these tips to find time and motivation to do those things that matter most.
As a wife and mother, it can feel like there are a million things to do every day. I feel that it is my job to be the heart of the home. I believe in my responsibility to create a place where I can thrive as I teach and nurture my family, as well as a space where my husband is excited to come back to. This type of home environment is my priority and my driving force. It helps me envision a happy and warm home, which doesn’t always mean a perfectly clean and organized home. It enables and motivates me to clean what needs to be cleaned. But it also allows me to drop everything and laugh and enjoy those moments that seem to be constantly slipping away.
What are your priorities? What kind of a home life are you trying to create and build as a mom? How do you find the motivation and the time to make all of it happen?
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