Just because you can technically fit it into your schedule doesn’t mean you always should. Set a limit as to how many activities your kids are allowed to do after school, how many evenings a week you want to go out, how many committees you are comfortable joining right now – before all the initiations and requests come flooding in. In busy lives, if things don’t get scheduled they often tend not to happen. So make a point of scheduling doing nothing at all as time to rest and relax. Treat that time like any other planned activity that you are committed to, and stick to it. Even though kids may want to do loads of after-school activities and saying no can be challenging, spending quality time with family and having calm, healthy parents is just as important as developing athletic and creative skills and hobbies.
Dinner preparation can take ages, especially when factoring in time spent cleaning up. Try doubling up on every recipe and freezing half for another night. This means you only really cook and clean once every two nights.
If you don’t already have systems for your systems – listen up! Being disorganised can be a huge culprit in terms of time wasters. Spending time repeatedly trying to find, remember, communicate and crisis manage tasks take far longer than putting a system in place does. Different systems will work for different people; you know what you need to function your best.
Many of us will have periods of “dead time” in our day. Sitting in the car while waiting for a child or a spouse, standing in line at the grocery store or bank etc. Use these periods of time so that you’re effectively doing two things at once (and doing them well). Reply to emails while in queues, book appointments and make phone calls while waiting in the car, or take the dogs for a run instead of a walk and get your workout in at the same time.
Interruptions distract you from what you are currently focusing on, and result in you wasting time trying to refocus and pick up where you left off once the interruption is over. Research has indicated that this results in people taking approximately 25% longer on the task overall).
Have a weekly roster of general tasks. Whether its admin, cleaning or chores, (or all three!) having a regularly weekly allocation for specific tasks will help with getting them done as well as ensure things never pile up too hectically. For instance, mark Monday’s as banking & laundry days, Tuesdays as filing and grocery shopping days, etc.
We all have a certain period of time in our day in which we are the most efficient. (For the majority of people, this is between 8am and 11:30am, but this isn’t necessarily the case for you.) Use these hours for the most challenging tasks you have to get done that day. If you’re a stay at home mom, this may well be during your child’s nap time or TV time.
Make your “To-Do” list the night before so that when you wake up the next day, you can get cracking immediately. This will foster a sense of productivity and achievement early on in the day – which will help keep you motivated.
One of the top five common denominators shared by the worlds happiest people is that they live close to work. As a result, they have more free time to spend on the things that matter to them, than if they spent an extra two hours a day sitting in traffic. Whether it’s to school or to work, or just to drop the kids off at their daily activities, take a look at what your daily routine is and see where you can cut down on time spent by minimising time spent traveling. While two hours, or even 1 hour a day may not seem like much, it’s a daily occurrence, and that adds up quickly. Two hours a day spent commuting adds up to ten hours a week, and roughly fourty-three hours a month. That’s almost two entire days a month spent commuting – the equivalent of an extra weekend. How much happier would you be if you enjoyed an extra weekend every month?
As clichéd as it is, it’s equally as true – especially for full-time mums. Just because people ask you to run errands for them, watch their kids, volunteer, host events and / or anything and everything else, it doesn’t mean you have to say yes! This brings us right back to tip number 1; “schedule nothing”. When your “do nothing” time and your planned activities have maxed out all the space in your calendar, you have no more time left to agree to anything else. This isn’t to say it’s never going to be an option, but it will need to wait until your schedule has time for it. This will help you to manage any potential feelings of guilt, while refraining from falling into the “over-committed” trap once again.