Thoughtful Thursdays: Is Time Management Possible for the Busy WAHM?

time management

Time management. Seems like such an insurmountable task, doesn’t it? Especially for the work at home mom. In between chores, child care and work (not to mention those often stressful client troubleshooting situations), it often seems like Time would rather kick us square in the pants than give us a break!

I know. I get you. I also struggle with managing my time. Through the years, though, I’ve kind of learned along the way about how to make things work, including the way I manage my time. I don’t have

I actually shared my work schedule a few weeks ago with those who attended the Real Ways to be a WAHM Workshop, and was completely honest with the participants. “This is my ideal work schedule,” I said, “But it’s really just a guide!” In fact, while I do find it helpful to allot certain days for editing, for research and for personal learning, I still find myself having to mix things up when matters of family and home come into play.

Of course, it’s inevitable. I’m a work at home MOM, aren’t I?

I’ve been asked by many women how I manage doing everything. The truth is: I just try to keep things as simple as possible.

I didn’t used to, though. In fact, when I was just starting out in this WAHM life, I’d eat up everything that did a song and dance about productivity. Name an app: I probably downloaded it. Mention an online organizing tool: I likely bought it, and several others like it! Talk about the newest productivity course, and yeah, I’m likely your classmate in that webinar (which, I should say, is something I would have not really applied to my life).

Tools, apps, all sorts of organizers, all kinds of e-books and courses. 

So many choices; no time to learn them and implement them all. The result? More of our time, spent and unused productively.

The truth is: You don’t need anything more than you already have to get time working for you. The reason why we often fail in the area of time management is because we try out so many different systems, when really, we just need to take a step back, assess our real life and work situations, and find a way to marry the two.

Time management tips that have worked for me

1. Writing things down — and sticking to them. You know, this is really so simple, yet it’s the most under-utilized part of time management. When you write down your tasks, your brain should logically respond with “Yes, I have to complete these tasks  (and these tasks only) today.” For me, what works is writing my top 3 tasks for a particular day and sticking to those tasks strictly. Otherwise, I’d never get them done!

Try this: Each week, make a master list of things you need to get done. Do this, say, on the part of your planner that says Saturday and Sunday, where nothing is normally written down!

On Monday, list down the three things you need to get done each day, according to your life:

  • Top 3 work-related tasks for Monday
  • Top 3 family-related tasks for Monday

Now, just work on those tasks for that day: Monday. Don’t skip over to the next day, at least try not to.

On Tuesday (and so on), do the same. Stick to your top 3 tasks for the day, for a whole work week. How does it feel? Did you get things done, feel a sense of accomplishment? Often, we have to see what works best for us, but for me, managing three major work-related tasks and 3 family or home-related tasks is enough to fill my day.

Write those things (in #1) in a planner or notebook. I’m old school: I use a leather-bound Moleskine planner for my scheduling. Sure, I’ve downloaded apps like About One and HatchedIt, but what really works for me (as I’ve discovered) is good ol’ pen and paper. I actually use Google Calendar to sync with my iPhone Calendar (and with my husband’s schedule), then jot everything down in the planner that goes everywhere with me.

Paper and iPhone? Well, that’s what works for me! Time management and productivity are such personal aspects, that you really should personalize your productivity, in ways that make sense to you.

3. Allot times for “no tasks.” Often, we pack our schedules full of tasks, that we get overwhelmed with all we have to do. As important as it is to write things down, it’s also important to free time up for “no work” or “no errands.” Why? Because it’s these down times in our schedule that help us get our bearing.

For me, those “no task” times are during the times I need to be with my son. It’s either play time or learning time, but whenever it’s time for me to do something with him, everything else goes into another “time block” in the day that’s reserved for work or for home-related tasks. (Of course, “no task” times also free me up for much-needed “me time”, which is also necessary to my productivity!)

What are your productivity or time management tips? What has worked for you?

 

Photo Credit: Flotographic Arts via Compfight cc

Comments

  1. it’s easy for me to get things done — except i need few days to gain momentum. so if one day I slack off (or something inevitable happens, problems, issues) then it’s hard for me to be productive again. But what really works for me are my post-its. they’re so helpful. i love lists. :)

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