We could all use some extra time management tips and strategies. But whatever your time management struggles, I swear parenthood just amplifies them. So many of us think we have no time before kids and then they arrive and we realize just how wrong we were. There isn’t enough time to do all the things we have to do, let alone the things we want to do.
I struggled to balance a demanding corporate career that required frequent business travel with two young babies. And I’m working hard to find a schedule that works for me now that I’m working from home and have full control of my schedule again…at least while daycare is open.
Whatever time challenges you’re facing, know that you can free up some moments of calm if you work at it. And finding a moment of respite on the craziest days will make the effort involved worthwhile.
With all the roles moms juggle, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Read on for time management tips and strategies for doing more with less time.
Be Ruthless with Your To Do List
Too many of us put too many things on our daily list than it’s possible to do in a day and then feel frustrated or demotivated when we fail. One of the most important time management tips is to set yourself up for success by limiting your daily list to a few achievable items. Outsource what you can and let go of the rest until another day. You can always opt to do more if time allows, but anything extra is a bonus and shouldn’t be expected.
I know there are a thousand things on your to do list. And kids may be up and down in the night. But regardless of the challenges, the best thing you can do to manage your time better is to get enough sleep. You’ll get so much more done when you’re well rested – it’s simply not worth it to try to push through on less sleep on a regular basis. If you’re dragging all day, you’re wasting your time. And lack of sleep increases the likelihood you’ll get sick, which will only compound the time crunch you’re under.
I know, I know – you’re great at juggling. But study after study has shown that people perform better when they focus on a single task. One even found that you can lose up to 40% of your productivity when you multitask! And trying to juggle too much is a guaranteed path to burnout. Give yourself grace, and permission to slow down.
That said, I’m all for mixing combining something fun with a must do. I used to have audio books I only listened to while commuting, to make the drive more bearable. And I love to work out while treating myself a reality TV episode. Multitasking has its moments, as long as you’re also building time into your schedule to work on tasks or goals that require deep focus.
Embrace the power of “No.”
Your time is finite and it’s impossible to do it all. Know what your goals are for this phase of life and say no to the things that don’t move them forward. Learning to set boundaries is hugely valuable of its own accord. And freeing up time to focus on the things you truly value will allow you to shine. Having it all doesn’t mean you have to do it all.
Let Go of Perfection
It’s not possible and you likely wouldn’t want it, even if it was. Determine what you value and focus on living in a way that feels authentically you, and true to your values every day. The rest doesn’t matter. Too many self-imposed deadlines will only lead to misery, which is the last thing you or your family need.
Play a Little
This may not sound like a time management tip, but taking time to relax is key to avoiding burnout. If you’re constantly on the go at home and at work you won’t be your best. Prioritize taking time for yourself and for your family, whether it’s a dedicated hour every week, or a big vacation. (Even better – do both!)
Build Self Care into Your Schedule
For most moms, it’s the first thing to go when it feels like there isn’t enough time. But if we don’t take the time to take care of ourselves, we’ll never be at our best. Whether you like to bake, garden, exercise, have a cup of tea, or read a book, fit in time for the things that bring you joy. The more joy you build into your life, the more energy you’ll have to tackle the daily tasks that wear you down.
Check in With Your Values
Sometimes our goals and dreams change dramatically when we become moms. I know they did for me. It’s okay to still go all in at the office, but make sure you surround yourself with the supports you need to do so. One of the best books I read while balancing 12-hour days (roughly 3 hours of each were spent commuting) with motherhood was Drop the Ball. It helped immensely with the guilt I was feeling over not balancing it all. And, you may find you want to move to a different role or firm for a while and have more sane working hours while your little ones are young and that’s okay too. However you’re feeling, make sure you take time to reassess your priorities after any major life change.
Delegate, Delegate, Delegate
It can be tough to let go of the image you have of doing it all, but doing so has huge benefits. Allowing others to pitch in is a skill that pays off for you and the people around you. Are there administrative tasks you can hand off at the office, to focus more of your time on strategic initiatives? Can your kids help out more around the house? What if you hired a yard service, or signed up for grocery delivery? Get creative and brainstorm ways to free up more of your time.
Don’t Step In
If you’ve ever thought “Never mind, I’ll do it myself”, resist the urge. Chances are that once you help once, the task is yours forever. If you step in too many times, you’ll find yourself in a position where you’ve taken on more than you should. Projects will slip, or your work won’t be as strong as you like because you’re juggling too many responsibilities. I’ve done this more than I like to admit and it’s something I’m still working on.
Sometimes It’s Okay to Take Shortcuts
Knowing what you value makes it easy to know where you can cut corners. Once you give up the idea of doing it all yourself, you’ll find lots of ways to simplify if you’re open to the possibilities. When life gets crazy, buy the pre-cut veggies without guilt. Double a recipe and freeze a meal for a day when nothing seems to go right. Grab takeout, or let your kids order school lunch. Spend a little extra on clothes through a home delivery service like Trunk Club, so you don’t have to find the time to go shopping or figure out what styles work for your body yourself.
Routines Are Worth Implementing
Kids thrive on routines and routines save you mental energy and stress. Taking the time to set up systems, be they a carpool, core set of dinner recipes you can make from ingredients in your pantry, or chore chart will pay off. When you systematize reoccurring tasks, your mind is free to focus on higher value activities and you’ll make better use of your time.
Build in Flexibility
While it’s worth having a routing and rough schedule for your days and weeks, anything can happen with kids. Between sick days, snow days, accidents, and those days when they just will not nap, you need enough of a buffer in your plans to deal with the unexpected. And if your career doesn’t allow for much flexibility, line up resources and backup resources in advance. The more people you can call in a pinch, the easier you’ll be able to manage your time and weather any unexpected storms.
Interested in Learning More?
- 5 Goal Setting Tips for Achieving Your Dreams
- How to Get Motivated When You’re Struggling to Get Started
What is your biggest time management challenge? Out of the time management tips you follow, what works best for you?