Wednesday, March 11, 2015

My 5 Time Management Tips for Busy Moms

Have you ever gotten to the end of an exhausting day, and thought, "I didn't get anything DONE!"

Or worse, you remember exactly what you did, and you're cringing in embarassment because you felt you wasted your time?

As moms, it is very easy to stay extremely "busy" all day long. Yet just being busy isn't necessarily a good thing, if your time isn't going anywhere--if you don't feel as if you're making a difference, or if progress isn't being made.

Each stage of life is going to look very different. Since Caroline's birth, I have felt physically better than I did for the nine months before. I have more energy, and I want to be more productive! And yet, I'm finding that if I don't channel that energy, or PLAN my productivity, then days go by and nothing's really moved forward in my life, around the house, and so forth.

There are a few tips that I've discovered that have been very helpful for me, and I'm hoping that some of you moms might be encouraged by them as well.

1. With your husband's input, decide on your goals--personal goals, goals for your children, and goals for your house. When I don't have goals, I tend to flounder around, unsure of where I'm going or what I'm doing. I like to separate the goals into "General" (such as "raise well-educated children") and Specific ("Keep the downstairs carpet vacuumed.")

I'd encourage you not only to formulate these goals in your mind, but to write them down and review them periodically to assess how you're doing!

Besides the more general goals, I'm a huge fan of written to-do lists with your daily goals. My to-do list is always written on a dry erase board on our refrigerator, so that I'm reminded of what I need to do, every time I walk into the kitchen!

Do you know what these goals do, whether general or specific or daily? Hopefully, they are the deciding factor in how you spend your time, right? But I'm getting ahead of myself.

2. Spend your time working towards your goals. Let me give you a super practical example in my own life: we are currently working on our hallway. After that, we'll probably start remodeling the master bedroom. Although we need to, we are NOT working on our back porch--probably not for a while, actually. So if I'm going to be researching house remodeling projects, no matter how tempting it might be to look up porch re-dos, it's probably a waste of time right now.

Here's another example: one of our main goals right now is homeschooling Rachel and Jemima. Even though their school work is still relatively simple, it requires probably an hour of our time every day. I find that the longer I wait to begin their school with them every day, the less I'm excited about it. So we changed around our morning routine, so that after breakfast, we are cleaning off the table and the counters and setting out school books to insure that our school assignments for the day are accomplished.

3. On the other side, cut out everything in your schedule and home that does not fit with your goals. Depending on your family's goals, this looks very different for different people. But let's say that someone gives me the opportunity to go sky-diving (a pursuit that I'm not interested in!). I would decline, because sky-diving doesn't fit with my present goals, and thus would be a waste of my time.

Another example: I found that I was "following" numerous people or organizations on social media sites, that weren't "helping" me at all. I enjoy an occasional motherhood or interior design article, but having to scroll through post after post from people-I-didn't-actually-know or companies I didn't wholeheartedly support anyway... this wasn't accomplishing anything.

4. Even if you're not a strict "schedule" person, figure out some sort of routine--especially for your mornings. Recently, I was reading samples from popular time management books, and one of the most common themes was getting up early, and making the most of your mornings. I couldn't agree more. Every night, I try to set out my clothes for the next day, so then when I wake up, I don't have to spend the time to even pick out my outfit. I do the same things every morning, in generally the same order: contacts, shower, get dressed, make-up, feed Caroline, make breakfast.

We've established a night-time routine, too, which we've gotten used to, and (even more importantly!) the kids have gotten used to. It saves so much TIME figuring out what we should do each night, because we already know!

5. And, lastly: Teach your kids to help. How does this fit with time management for moms? Oh believe me, it does. "Help" doesn't always mean helping with chores (though of course that's part of it). Sometimes "help" entails teaching your toddler NOT to throw around the already-folded laundry, or NOT to pull apart your made-up bed, or NOT to dump all the blocks and then refuse to pick them up. Accidents are one thing, and they just happen... but I'm talking about kids purposefully creating messes, which leads to moms spending their time cleaning up after their kids unnecessarily.

If the kids are taught to pick up after themselves, and even to assist with simple tasks around the house, it will free up the mom's time to pursue the bigger goals, whether it's particular character traits, or teaching the 3-year-old how to count to 20!

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