Written by Guest Contributor Bridget Sielicki of The Freelancing Mama
If there’s one thing that most moms can agree on, it’s that there’s not enough time in the day. From taking care of the kids, running a household, and staying on top of your job if you’re working, there’s always an endless to-do list but a limited amount of time to get it all done.
Have you ever finished the day feeling completely frazzled, but when you look around it isn’t really clear what you accomplished? While this is normal from time to time (hello motherhood!), it isn’t really sustainable long-term.
While there’s no secret method that can suddenly add more hours in the day, there are strategies you can use to get more out of the time you do have.
With better time management skills, you can accomplish the most important tasks of the day, stress less about getting things done, and even find yourself with free time to spend doing something you enjoy.
Time management is an important skill for everyone, no matter where you are in life. When you’re managing your time well, you’ll be more productive and feel better about the things you’re accomplishing with your family.
It’s a win-win all around.
TIme Management Tips for Busy Moms
As a work-at-home, homeschooling mom, I’ve learned a few time management tips of my own over the past few years. These strategies aren’t always easy, but they have helped me get control over my household and not feel so overwhelmed.
If you’d like to start managing your own time a little better, try some of these tips:
1. Track Your Time
If you want to be better at managing your time, you first need to be realistic about where that time is going.
For example, it’s easy to think that cooking dinner or doing a load of laundry will only take 20 minutes, but when tracking you might be surprised to find how much time these tasks are really taking you.
When I did this exercise, it was very eye-opening. While I thought things were only taking a few minutes, in reality, they were eating up huge chunks of the day.
This was especially true for all the “breaks” I was taking, like scrolling Instagram and checking Facebook.
Take a day or two to track everything you’re doing and find out how much time it’s taking you. This will set you up for time management success, as you’ll be better able to schedule your days going forward.
2. Make a Schedule
A good schedule is crucial to good time management. If you aren’t organizing your time and your tasks into a schedule, this is one of the first steps you need to take for better productivity.
Now that you’ve tracked your time, you know how much you realistically need to set aside for your various daily tasks.
Write down your necessary tasks in your schedule (preferably in a good planner), so you can figure out exactly what you’re going to get done in the day.
I’m a super-planner and like to map out all the regular household tasks like cooking dinner, cleaning, laundry, and even reading aloud to my kids. If I write it down and give it a time slot, it’s more likely to get done.
While the schedule is good and necessary, it’s important to remember one thing – we’re moms with kids! When you have kids, nothing ever quite goes according to plan.
You can’t expect everything to neatly fall in place when there are little people ready to upend everything. That’s ok.
Use the schedule as a guideline for when things are going right. If things get chaotic, your schedule will be there when the dust settles, and it will be easier to get back into the swing of things.
3. Create a Routine
Your schedule might be very different from one day to the next, but creating a routine is very helpful in maintaining order and managing your time.
That could mean your kids go to bed at the same time each night, you do the grocery shopping on the same day each week, or even eat the same meals on a certain weeknight.
While it helps you save time, a routine also helps your kids know what to expect. This means less struggle with the transitions and less time wasted since everyone knows what’s coming next.
4. Prioritize Your Top Tasks
If you’re anything like me, you probably have a growing to-do list detailing everything that needs to get done.
While it’s great to have everything written down, it’s time to get rid of the expectation that it’s only a good day if we cross everything off the list. That thinking is crazy!
Instead of trying to do it all, take a look at your tasks at the start of the day and pinpoint the three things you need to accomplish most.
Make sure they’re reasonable goals for the amount of time you have, and then focus only on getting those three things done. When you’re only focusing on three tasks, you’re more likely to get those important things done.
5. Outsource What You Can
As moms, we tend to take on the burden of too much at one time. From household and childcare duties to tasks in our work, it’s easy to think that we have to do everything.
If you want to be a good manager of your time, you’re going to have to learn to let go of this control, just a little bit. Look at all your regular duties and see where you can outsource.
This could mean hiring a housecleaner once a month or scheduling grocery delivery so you no longer have to do the shopping.
Don’t just look to outsource outside of your family. Also, make sure everyone in your household is helping out in an age-appropriate manner.
Your older kids should have chores, and everyone should pitch in and help pick up the house when it’s needed.
When kids are cleaning it might mean you have to lessen your expectations as to the quality of the work, but the trade-off is you’ll find yourself feeling far less overwhelmed in the long run.
6. Eliminate Distractions
If you’ve ever started to work on something and then picked up your phone and got sidetracked for a bit, you know what I’m talking about here.
The phone is great for so many things, but it can also be a major hindrance to getting stuff done. Constant pings for things like emails, text messages, and other notifications are a major distraction to being productive.
One way I combat this is to schedule in 5-minute breaks throughout the day for things like checking email or logging into Instagram.
Giving yourself time to relax and look at these things is good, but a set time limit also helps you move on and put the phone down when it’s time to do your next thing.
7. Practice Self-Care
A burnt-out mom isn’t good for anyone. When you’re writing out a schedule and making a to-do list, don’t forget to put yourself down as a priority.
Self-care looks a little different for everyone, but there are essential components that remain the same across the board. Make sure you’re eating well, getting enough sleep, and exercising.
If you can do those three things while throwing in a fun extra like getting a manicure or meeting your bestie for lunch, you’ll be in a happier, healthier place to manage whatever it is that life throws at you.
. . . . .
Time management is an ever-evolving life skill, so don’t expect to be able to master it all at once. As a mom, it’s most important that you allow yourself flexibility from one day to the next.
Staying organized and following some of these practices will help you reclaim some of that lost time so you’ll be feeling less stressed and more able to handle the many curve-balls that life throws at you.
About the author:
Bridget Sielicki is a busy wife and homeschooling mom of 4. She’s been juggling working from home as a freelance writer and raising her kids for the past 10 years, but she wouldn’t have it any other way. She started The Freelancing Mama to offer support and ideas for other women who want to find a way to work from home while raising their children.