As a busy mom I bet you've determined that there are not enough hours in every day, right? Someone clearly short-changes your day at a rate of at least 15-20 minutes every couple of weeks and it began as soon as you brought your baby home, right? What if your time management problem isn't not having enough time in a day, but is a result of having too many tasks that you're trying to squeeze into your waking hours? Made you think, didn't I?
Streamline your tasks
How many tasks in a day are actually really required? How many things creep onto a to-do list that keeps getting bumped to the next day, or rarely done? Things that fall into this category are not liked and are not necessary, otherwise they'd get made a priority and get done. If these items are seen frequently, then they shouldn't be on the to-do list in the first place. These are the items that should be delegated, reassigned, or perhaps even forgotten (woo hoo.) The key to effective time management is streamlining the daily, weekly, or monthly tasks so that time is being spent on things that must be done and the things that are actually enjoyed. Streamlining the list is the first step towards reclaiming lost time and getting back in the driver's seat.
Choose a system that works for you
There are many ways to manage time. Some moms use calendars, palm pilots, planners, computer software, and even paper and pen, to name a few systems. The key is to find one that really works for you, throw out the others and stick with. Beware, too many systems are often worse than none at all, as a false sense of security tends to result. When a meeting is not updated in all locations the opportunity arises for tasks of all kinds to slip through the cracks. So select a single system and stick to it as long as it works. If it doesn't, by all means choose another and give it a try. The key is to find a way to stay organized so that it is easy to decipher between free and already scheduled time.
What do the words purge, fling, discard, and give away have to do with time management? Well, less stuff equals less work. When was the last time household items were seriously scaled down? Professional organizers advise their clients that for every item brought into the house (after purging has occurred) that another item must exit the house. That way balance is maintained and clutter never becomes an issue. So the purging, organizing, and maintenance of all items will ultimately effectively add more time back into your day. Ah Ha! The perfect reason to start giving away all of those gifts you really hate, or things that have never seen the light of day.
Say No - Firmly and Frequently
A two-letter word which most moms have no problem saying to their kids and our spouses - how come it's so hard to say to those who live outside of the front door? No is a very powerful and very freeing word. It should be said often. Why? It's liberating because it's a way of standing up for yourself. Try it on for size. Repeat the following, "No, I will not take on one more task which will completely mess up my already scheduled day!" "No, I will not allow you to plan my day for me." "No, I will not." Get the picture? No allows you to reclaim some of your lost free time. If you don't find yourself saying it often enough, even to the family - get busy! They sometimes forget mom's not the personal assistant, maid, chauffer, launderer, accountant, etc.
Ask for Help
Moms are not born with capes, and shouldn't go looking for them. And while they do SUPER jobs, there is not an invisible "S" stamped on their chests. Young children always want to help with the chores, but somewhere between the age of three and when they are actually required to do real chores, that urge to help simply vanishes! Despite the complaints (the ones that are actually heard, or not), moms should ask for help from everyone, including the family. Children as young as two and three can do simple chores that they'll actually enjoy. Besides, it'll get them in the habit of helpfulness now, hopefully making it easier to build upon for the future. If possible hire help for those tasks that seem to always be daunting or remain outstanding. Sometimes the money is worth every penny when the task is no longer the proverbial albatross around one's neck. Attempting to fulfill the role of "super mom" is a super easy way to make one super tired.
Take Time for Yourself
Who takes care of mom and all of the things that mom manages when mom gets ill? The answer is typically - no one. If that is indeed the case, moms need to remember to care for themselves before they can care for family to avoid the illness that will make their lives only more chaotic. They should allow time to do things just for themselves. For example, time to exercise, get a massage, read, listen to music or meditate. Whatever it is, quiet "all about mom time" provides moms with an opportunity to rejuvenate and refill patience levels that can help one again achieve clarity. It's necessary and downright crucial to achieving better time management. Can anything operate full throttle when its energy is half depleted? Well, neither can mom!
Get Ready to Tweak It
You've got the tools to put everything in place, so once you apply them they'll stay that way, right? Not even close. Now that you have some ideas for getting a handle on that ever elusive time thing, just remember that effectively managing time will be ongoing. Continue to plan and always be ready and willing to adapt your schedule to better suit your needs. Yes, yours! Most importantly remember that you have more control over your time than you think you do. You have the knowledge, skills and ability to stop tasks from overrunning your life. Enjoy all of your extra time. GO PLAY!
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