One of the biggest struggles of the modern mom is getting more done in less time. But if you’re like most American moms, you may feel like time is the one thing you’re lacking.
Getting things done can bring a great sense of accomplishment, but your to-do list can be overwhelming if it seems never-ending. Sometimes, the days just don’t seem long enough to do everything we want to do. That’s usually when worry, doubt, anxiety and fear set in.
Believe it or not, there are some simple tips to help you get more done in less time.
With the help of what we are about to share, you can actually do more than you ever thought was possible, and in less time too, giving yourself time to relax and really enjoy life!
It all begins with a solid foundation of time management and scheduling. It’s okay if you’re not a good time manager right now, you can learn to be. It just takes a little bit of practice and you’ll soon be getting more and more done.
When you see how much you’re accomplishing, you’ll work even harder during your busy times, and enjoy those down times more.
These scheduling strategies will help you become an expert manager of your time:
1. Schedule your life
It may sound totally insane but you can avoid procrastination and the big stressed-out rush to meet a deadline by scheduling each day and using just a bit of self-discipline to stick to your schedule.
Break things down into smaller tasks.
For example, do you have a big presentation coming up at work in two weeks? Don’t try to do it the night before it’s due. Start now. Working for just a half hour each day can help you get that presentation done with plenty of time to spare.
Schedule your day according to your priorities.
In other words, get your most important things done first. By doing so, you can better utilize the time that you might otherwise have wasted doing unproductive things, like watching television or doing smaller ancillary items on your list.
2. Master the Art of List-Making
If this stresses you out, then please hang in there and let us explain. The reason why most people get overwhelmed with lists is because there is too much on them. In other words, they have way more on their list than they can possibly get done in one day. Try these techniques instead.
Always have two lists.
One list should be your top three priorities for the next day. The other list is your “evergreen list” or your list that is always there. Maybe you get some of the stuff on that list done if you have extra time. If you don’t get anything done on that list, don’t sweat it. Items on this list are things that don’t have a true deadline, except for the one you have in your head. They are things that really truly can be done any time.
Consider monthly or quarterly lists.
Get a planner and have that planner solely for the purpose of organizing things to get done. Plug in all of the annual things that happen each year – for instance, sign Jimmy up for baseball in February. Wash the window screens in May. Set up the annual furnace inspection in August. Get the idea?
Then set up an alert on your phone at the beginning of each month to check your monthly tasks and get them scheduled into your routine.
This way these routine tasks that happen every single year, are out of your mind. This free space in your head can help you breathe a little easier.
3. Let some stuff go
As we plan our days it is easy to over-commit and quickly become bombarded with stuff to get done. Not only is this exhausting to us and not good self-care, but it takes away precious time for our family.
This article wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t talk about truly letting some stuff go. A great way to decide what to let go is to ask yourself one question – “will this matter in 10 years.” If the answer is no, then that is something you can let go of guilt-free.
4. Ignore your inner critic
We all have an inner critic. You know, that annoying little voice in the back of your mind that tells you, “It’s too much work,” or “It’s not going to happen.” Just a little newsflash – that inner critic is usually totally wrong. Ignore it!
Here’s the deal, you can pretty much do almost anything you set your mind to. You gave birth,.. you can do nearly anything. But the more you tell yourself things are too hard, the harder they will be. The more you tell yourself that you can’t let go of obligations, the more you will hang on to the very things that may be bogging you down and robbing you of happy moments.
That annoying inner critic not only likes to tell us what we can’t do, or what we should do, but it also likes to tell us how to treat ourselves. For most women, especially moms, that inner critic tells us to put everyone else before ourselves. The inner critic tells us to keep doing, when we are well past the point of needing a break. So again, ignore that inner critic. Reward yourself!!
For example, if you got the laundry done today as you intended – sweet! You now get to veg out for 30 minutes tonight. You got your top three goals done for the day – awesome, you get to paint your nails. Finished that presentation work? Way to go – take the evening off and watch your favorite movie! Don’t listen to that inner critic telling you there is not time, or you can’t because the truth is you CAN. When you don’t reward yourself you are telling yourself that you are not worth it… and quite frankly, that stinks.
No matter how you reward yourself, make it a point to do so regularly. Whatever reward works for you is a good one – as long as the work’s done first.
5. Recognize when you’re getting stressed and why.
Sometimes, in an effort to get more done, you’ll find that you aren’t getting the time for yourself that you’d hoped for. When this happens, stop and reassess your schedule.
Have you scheduled your day? Are you focusing on your top three priorities each day? Are you overloading yourself with things that don’t really matter? Are there some things you can let go that you keep hanging onto?
When you’re focused on working or checking stuff off your list, are you really focused? If not, you may find that you still have to work when you should be relaxing. This is a vicious circle that leaves you feeling stressed, while getting nowhere.
6. Remove distractions
By focusing on each task, distraction-free, you’ll complete each task much sooner. Get your drudgery tasks out of the way as quickly as possible to make more time for more enjoyable tasks.
If you’re trying to get work done, then put all calls on hold and close email and social media. Set a timer to work and focus in for a designated amount of time.
If time is short at home, do the same thing. After school and first thing in the morning can be crazy times of day. To take the chaos out of your time use a checklist and timer. Focus in on what needs to absolutely be done. Then reward yourself when it’s accomplished. (Psst… the same thing can be done with your kiddos!)
* If you complete your tasks early, keep working until your schedule says it’s time to stop. Perhaps you can tackle some work for the next day to get ahead. Being a little ahead gives you the flexibility to take care of inevitable emergencies without falling behind in productivity.
7. Get help
One of the hardest things for many of us moms to do is to admit that we need help. So do yourself a favor, admit you need the help and then go out and claim it!
Get the kids involved. Even children as young as 3-years-old can do basic chores around the house and save you time.
Engage your spouse. Give Dad a list all his own to complete each day and/or week.
Get creative to find more help. Here are some ideas to get you rolling. You could start a mom swap – that’s where a small group of moms takes turns doing things for one mom. For instance maybe you and two other moms take turns watching each others kids. Sure this means you have a day or two with more kids than your own, but it also means you get one day with a few hours to yourself. If you have the funds, hire someone to clean your house or do your laundry. Another option is to join a gym with child watch or child play area. Your kids can play for a couple of hours while you workout and then take time in the lobby or other rest area in the gym to work or do other family stuff like plan your calendar or balance your checkbook.
Know when to take a break
Even in light of all of these great tips, it’s important to recognize when you need a break. People are not machines so your schedule should reflect that. Realistic break times should be part of even the busiest schedule. Consider a family movie night, or plan a family vacation.
By planning your time wisely, you’ll accomplish more and be able to reap the many benefits of true relaxation when you’re done. It’s well worth the effort!