Time Management Tips for Moms
Need A Few Extra Hours? Try These Time Management Tips!
By Elizabeth Scott, M.S., About.com Guide
Updated May 10, 2010
Time management is a big concern for mothers these days. Between kids’ activities, household responsibilities and, for many, the demands of a stressful workplace, many mothers have given up on the fight to find time for themselves and are just trying to get everything done. The following time management tips can be used by busy moms everywhere to take some of the stress out of life, and create more time for fun times with children, quality time with their partner, or even that coveted and nearly forgotten alone time.
It’s been said that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and nowhere is this adage more applicable than when discussing time management tips for moms. Simply being organized can eliminate stress from forgotten appointments, double-booking, lost homework, and many other stress traps that busy moms face. What does it mean for a mom to ‘be organized,’ and to what extent is this even possible? If you focus on a few key areas of organization, a little work can go a long way. In a nutshell, being organized with your schedule, with your house and with your discipline strategy is one of the best time management tips I can give you. See this article for more on getting organized.
Yes, when they come to us, they are so sweet and helpless, we end up doing everything for them, and these habits are difficult to break. But then we have their children, and realize that it’s impossible for one person to do it all.
While it’s tempting to cover all household responsibilities yourself (to ensure that everything is done quickly and correctly), putting some effort into getting men and children to pitch in can really pay off in the long run. The trick is to break chores into simple tasks and reward people for doing them. See this article on learning how to delegate tasks for more.
Multitask, But Only When Appropriate
Multitasking was once praised as the time management tip to top all time management tips. (Imagine: Getting twice as much done in a day.) Then people started seeing that multitasked projects weren’t completed as accurately, and suddenly ‘staying focused on one thing’ became the new time management fad. I suggest a compromise: Pair mindless tasks with focus-dependent ones when it’s appropriate. For example, you can make business calls while taking your daily walk (don’t forget exercise as an important stress reliever), or quiz your kids on test questions while you clean the kitchen. But if you feel more harried than helped, it’s time to shelve the multitasking for a bit.
Learn When To Say No
Learning to say ‘no’ to people’s requests may be an obvious time management tip for moms, but that doesn’t make it an easy one. Mothers encounter many different worthy requests for their time and attention, that saying no will often disappoint someone. However, what we don’t always realize is that when we say ‘yes’ too much, people also get disappointed because we can’t do our best when we’re spread too thin. That’s why it’s important to look at your priorities and learn to say no to time demands that aren’t absolutely necessary.
As a recovering perfectionist, I’m a big advocate of doing a good-enough job, especially if you’re a busy mom. If you can get pre-cut vegetables or canned sauce for dinner, do it. If you can afford one of those dishwashers that can handle un-rinsed dishes, even better. The time management tip to remember here is to find the shortest route to where you need to be (getting to the office, getting homework done, getting the house clean), and take it. (Here are some more ideas for household shortcuts).
Have a Routine
Routine are a time management tip that can save you mental energy and stress. I’m not talking about merely getting up and going to sleep at the same time, but even having things like the dinner menu, chore rotation and even sex with your partner on a rotation (you have your needs, too.) This may sound a little ‘too automated,’ but hear me out. When you don’t have to worry about reinventing the wheel each week (“What haven’t we eaten in a while?” “When was this floor last mopped?” “When is the last time we…?”), your mind is free to focus on the rest of your day, and the time it takes to plan these things each week is freed as well.
While it’s important to have an idea of how you’d like your schedule to look, it’s important to keep things flexible enough to accommodate the unexpected things that moms encounter — sick kids, spilled milk and the occasional meltdown. Having a rhythm for your day but a time cushion and some backup plans can take the stress out of the unexpected, and keep one schedule hiccup from throwing off your whole day (or week).
Take Care of Yourself, Too!
While taking care of parental, relationship, household and workplace responsibilities, it’s easy for mothers put taking care of themselves last on the list. However, not only is self-care a good idea of physical and emotional health, it’s a good time management tip for moms as well. When we’re tired or haven’t had enough healthy food to function at our best, we’re often less productive and organized, and this lack of clarity can translate into more time wasted throughout the day and less time available to get everything done that needs doing. So get quality sleep, eat a healthy diet, and follow other self care strategies for mothers, and you’ll be operating at your best -— and less stressed.