Still groggy from the mere 5 hours of sleep from last night, she stepped into the kitchen and instantly switched over to the super-power mode. She put the milk to boil, then went on to set the table. While the microwave beeped three times, announcing the porridge was ready, she sorted the clothes for the day's washing. Then setting the flame on low she rushed to wake up the kids. And so it continued for an hour, while she managed to get the kids ready for school. Then with hardly any time left for herself, she gulped down the glass of milk and raced to work. A packed day later, she came home with scores of chores stacked up and the evening list of 'Things to do' starting all over again.
Seems familiar? Of how the day seems to zoom past and how the 24 hours of the day are just not enough for anything to get done? Of how, no matter how much you manage to accomplish during the day, there is still so much more work that continues to remain in the 'To-Do' list? And so on and so forth. Let's just say that you aren't alone in this mad, mad race of managing your kids and work and doing a great job of the same, while finding some personal time for yourself as well.
There are thousands of working moms out there who are asking the same question - how to manage your time well so that you get the maximum things done. It all comes down to effective time management. Managing the limited time that you have in such a way that you are able to accomplish the maximum number of tasks in that time. In the sections that are to follow, we will look into some of the most effective tips on time management for working moms so that you can draw inspiration from the same and make your life a little easier.
Time Management for Working Mothers
Handling a career while managing kids and a home is tough and that is why a few tips on time management is required. Presenting a few in the following section.
At any given point of time, there are going to be countless things that you'll want to handle. While you'll want to tackle all these tasks by yourself, you're quite aware that this is not humanly possible. So then? You prioritize. Make a list of all the things that cannot be ignored and need to be done on a priority basis. When you have a ready list of what is important and what can wait, you'll know what to do when. This will help you plan your next course of action with clarity and save you the unnecessary stress that is likely to come about.
Plan in Advance
Keep everything ready at night for the following day. Literally. Lay out your clothes as well as the kids' clothes, keep the lunch boxes out, have their school bags packed and add anything else that you can think of. The same goes for you as well. This will save you the precious time of preparing for things from scratch, especially in the rush of the morning. You'll be better equipped to make it through the morning and get a lot of work done as well.
Early to Rise
Many mothers express that waking comparatively early in the morning gives one a great head start to accomplish the day's chores. This works out perfectly, especially because the kids are asleep and you can get a good amount of work done before you are required to give them your attention.
A very effective way of ensuring that the required work is done well is to delegate it to others. This works perfectly well in a house setting as well an office setting. Review the work at hand and then plan the work that can be handled by others and does not require you to personally look into it. Try involving your kids in this activity as well. Something as simple as taking the trash out or folding the clothes or setting the table. They'll love to spend the time with you and learn something useful in the process as well. The same can be applied to the other members of the family and co-workers as well.
Pool in with Others
In the bid to get everything done by ourselves, we tend to forget that there are ways in which things can be made simpler. If you're driving your kids to school everyday or are required to take them for activities, then why not apply the 'car pooling' idea in this scenario? Pool in other moms who are required to do the same for their kids and prepare a schedule whereby specific days will be allocated for each person. That way, you don't have to invest your time every single day, and the free time can be spent doing some other work.
A Day A Week
Do you ever feel like there are way too many things to get done in a day and you don't know how to manage them all? Here's a simple solution. What if you have a specific day for a specific activity? That way you are not constantly trying to fit everything in an already heavy and packed schedule and neither are you tensed about getting everything done. For example, you could use Sunday for grocery shopping, or Thursday for your laundry and so on. In this way, for the rest of the week, you can rest easy because you know that you already have it scheduled and it is definitely going to get done.
Charts and Codes
Here's how you make things simple and perfectly efficient. Bring in the system of charts and codes. Let me explain. Plan your activities for an entire week, then fill them up on a spread sheet. This could be used for a number of things like the food menu, the household chores that need to be done etc. Then stick this sheet up into a place where it can be clearly seen and all that last minute planning is taken care off. You could make this interesting by drawing up a separate sheet for your kids with their own activities planned for them. They'll love it.
Bring in Systems
The thing about households is that each household can have certain systems in place that will specifically benefit that household. In the sense that what may work for one home may not work for another. Analyze and see what suits your home and your needs best. For example, there are some people who plan the wardrobe of their kids (and their own) for the entire week. It seems to work for them. Others will plan on getting at least one set of washing done in two days. You could come up with your own systems that work for you. Something as simple as cleaning the vegetables while watching TV, perhaps.
Pay for a Little Help
Sure you want to do everything on your own, but in this process you might tend to overlook one of the easiest options available and that is to pay for a little help. It could be something as simple as hiring help for cleaning or babysitting once in a while (why not if you can afford it) or buying vegetables that have already been cut. It might seem negligible, but it is well worth it if it can save you the time and the effort which can be utilized in some other direction, especially if you're pressed for time.
Very often we end up doing things for others or going out of the way to do things that are not really necessary for us to undertake and can easily be handled by someone else. In the process, we end up spending a lot of time and energy on something which could have been used for doing other important things (on the priority list). How to handle this? One has to inculcate and hone the art of saying no. This in no way means that you're trying to shirk away from work. For example, if you have to attend an event at your child's school and your colleague asks you to help out with something, you can say no and then suggest that they give it to someone else or that you will help them out the next time around.
Be Prepared for Anything
Even if you've planned something to perfection, it is quite likely that there could be certain setbacks and last minute developments. This could throw your whole plan off, threatening to lead to a frenzied and harried you. What could be done to save yourself from this trouble? Anticipate what could go wrong, for one, and two, have certain things stocked up. For example, keep an emergency kit ready especially when there are small kids involved. Like food, tissues, nappies, change of clothes in the car (analyze the things you need in the house as well). If anything goes wrong, you can always save precious time. Another important thing is to have certain emergency or 'go-to' numbers in place so that you can always take control of the situation in one way or the other and neither the work nor the person involved gets affected in a negative way and incurs a loss.
Other Important Tips
Here are some other important time management tips for working moms that can be used for better managing the available time:
- One of the most daunting tasks is to prepare meals from scratch. When there is less time at hand, it becomes even more difficult. A great solution for this is to have a list of easy dishes planned which can be cooked in less time and are not complicated. That way, if there is ever an emergency and you cannot bring through what you had originally planned to cook, you can still manage dinner or lunch.
- If you have no time to hit the gym then come up with alternatives for the same. Squeeze in certain exercises at your desk like doing lunges or squats while picking up things from the floor, using water bottles to do weights, going up and down on your toes to work your calves, using the stairs instead of the elevator, and more like the same.
- Instead of spending the entire lunch break eating, eat a quick lunch and utilize the remainder of the time to run some important errands.
Time Management for Moms Who Work from Home
When you're working from home, it could get really tough to manage the work because clear boundaries are not spelled out. The chances of giving in to distractions like household chores, playing with the kids or even the kids coming over to your work area for numerous reasons could be heightened. How then does one manage to draw clear boundaries between work and home and get work done? The following pointers should help.
Drawing boundaries becomes very important if there is to be any work done. If possible, have a separate workstation so that your family members will know that you are not to be disturbed when you're working. Other than that, it is also important that you give them clear instructions about not disturbing you when you are at work. This division of work and home will allow you to have a clear distinction between duties and you can get a lot of work done.
Prepare a Schedule
Prepare a schedule of your duties at work and at home. This will help you prioritize your work and organize it well. Unless that happens, you will find it difficult to get anything done efficiently.
Study the Trend
While you work in the home setting, there are several jobs and duties that you have to manage outside home as well. You have to study the trend at your home to know how to divide your time well. Some kids don't like their mothers going out when they are home. In such a case, you can complete your outdoor work while they are at school. Or you could take them along for grocery shopping (for example) and let them help you out.
Since a genie won't magically appear out of thin air to do your bidding (how much ever you wish it would) it becomes your duty to manage all your tasks by yourself. The success then lies in not merely completing them, but doing them well. Here's hoping that these pointers have helped you and you can now look to managing your work, home, and the kids with complete ease.