Inside: Three simple strategies for time management for working moms. Make the best use of the time you have to be more productive, effective, and happy!
Are you overbooked, overtired, overstressed, and totally over not having enough time in your busy life?
You are SO not alone, my friend. Our plates are very full as busy working moms and finding the time we need to go after our own goals, or even catch our breaths, can feel impossible.
But, I’ve learned that talking about how little time I have to do the things I want to do takes up a lot of time! So I’ve learned strategies specifically helpful with time management for working moms that I’d love to share with you.
I swear by each one of these three time management strategies, and they have each helped me to write a book, maintain a blog, and launch my own career coaching business all while working full-time and raising two kids. So this isn’t just fluff, this is the real deal!
Get ready to start reclaiming your time, mama! Let’s go!
Time Management Strategy 1: Micro-Moments
As moms juggling a lot of different responsibilities, we often feel like we don’t have enough time to do all the things we want or need to do right now. Kids are a lot of work, and so is work!
But, thanks to a morning playing LEGOS with my kids, I learned that even tiny pockets of time can add up. Here’s how it went down.
LEGO My Time
On Wednesday mornings, I bring my kids to school while my husband heads into the office early. Our mornings are usually filled with gentle nudgings to get those teeth brushed, many reminders about the necessity of pants, and mad dashes back into the house to find someone’s stuffed bunny.
However, on this particular morning, everyone was getting ready “cheetah speed” as my kids call it so we had time to play before school. After happily playing LEGOs for a bit, I looked down at my watch and realized we had to get going.
“Alright, guys, one more minute of LEGOS.” – Me
“Okay!” – Kids
(Arbitrarily decides that 50 seconds have passed.)
“About time for school, ten more seconds of LEGOS.” – Me
“Okay! What are you going to build?” – Kids
Hmmm… what am I going to build? In ten seconds?
Taking it as a challenge, I grabbed a couple more LEGOS and made a tiny tower while counting to ten in my head. Meanwhile, Norah made a bigger airplane and Jack added taillights and a flag to his Mars Rover.
In ten seconds.
Use the Micro-Moments of Time You Have
So often we run around like chickens with our heads cut off because “There’s not enough time!!!” And yes, as parents we are very busy. There’s a lot going on at the house, outside of the house, at the office, with our friends, with our families.
But how are we using the time that we have right in front of us? Are we throwing away the ten seconds we have because it’s only ten seconds?
Imagine what you could do it you took all of those little breaks of time and did something with them.
In a ten-second increment, you could.
- Text a friend to check in, helping to maintain those important friendships.
- Do 7 squats, because 7 squats is better than 0 squats!
- Hang up your coat instead of leaving it on the couch, and ta-da your house looks cleaner!
- Practice some positive self-talk with an affirmation and start changing your perspective.
These seem like little actions, but how often do we say we don’t have time to talk to our friends, or exercise, or clean, or go after our goals.
Making tiny incremental changes with micro-moments of productivity can add up to create big change, without you adding any more hours to the day.
Of all the time management strategies here, this one is going to be easiest to implement so pause your reading for ten seconds and start right now!
Time Management Strategy 2: The One Minute Rule
Now that you’ve thought about what you can accomplish in ten seconds, we’re moving on up to sixty seconds. Compared to ten seconds, that’s basically an eternity so can probably finish War & Peace with that amount of time right?
I don’t know. I never read War & Peace. Maybe it’s just enough time to skim the Cliff Notes. But let’s use a more relatable and practical example to talk about the One Minute Rule.
As much as I love my dishwasher and shudder at the idea of living without it, emptying and reloading the dishwasher was always a thorn my side.
A prickly “first world problem get the heck over it” thorn in my side.
So I would put off the task, over and over again, until I realized the sink was starting to fill up and I needed to get a move on. By that point, the dishwasher needed to be emptied and then refilled and ran again right away. Plus there were pots in the sink that needed to be scrubbed so I was definitely going to spend time complaining. So now my once small task was now of the more large and looming variety.
Then I read a great blog post by my friend and productivity pro, Paula Engebretson about the One Minute Rule which is a very simple concept.
If you can do something in one minute, do it right now.
One Minute at a Time
I set a timer and realized that if I focused on the task, and there were no weird lidless pans in there, I could actually empty the dishwasher in a minute.
Then I quickly realized there were a lot of other things I could do in a minute.
This list included:
- Reply back to an email instead of opening it and closing it five times.
- Address the birthday card I kept meaning to send, instead of missing the birthday and then spending time feeling guilty about it.
- Schedule a dentist appointment for the kids instead of writing it down on yet another to-do list
- Wipe down the bathroom sink before scraping off the toothpaste requires archeological tools.
- Jot down business ideas instead of letting those ideas float out into the wild blue yonder, never to be seen again.
With each one of those examples, putting off the task was eventually going to make it take more time, either by way of repeating the same action over and over again, or making it harder to complete.
But with the One Minute Rule, if I just did the thing right away, I could start crossing things off my list and free up a lot more time down the road. This was time that I could use for big important things like spending quality time with family, or writing a book, or meeting with clients.
Using your one minute increments is like planting productivity seeds and growing a time tree!
Time Management Strategy 3: Time Blocking
Our first two strategies were based on micro-moments of productivity, and now we’re going to work our way up to a bigger chunk of time. We’re not talking about a whole work day’s worth of time though, just an hour.
And before you run away thinking you don’t have an hour, hear me out. Because I think you do.
Block It Out
I’m a multi-tasker by nature. I enjoy having a lot of balls in the air and bopping back and forth between projects. If it’s humanly possible to do five things at once, I’m going to try.
This isn’t always a bad thing. Especially when I’m picking up toys while playing hide and seek with my kids, or listening to an Audiobook on the elliptical, or coming up with meme ideas in the shower. Multitasking works!
But for some activities, multitasking does not work. Like when I’m editing a resume for a client, or writing a blog post, or playing a board game with my kids. These are the type of things that need full focus. In your work and home life, you probably know what your full-focus activities are, and you know that if you try to do them while doing other things they are going to take longer.
Time Blocking for the Win
Enter Time Blocking. Blogger Yolanda Ridley is a time blocking genius and her influence helped me reevaluate how I was spending my time. Of all the time management strategies here, it’s the one I know has made the biggest impact on my life.
With Time Blocking, you do exactly what the words say. You block out a set amount of time for a project and then focus on that project exclusively. No checking email every 5 minutes, no reaching for your phone to scroll Instagram, no hopping up to get a snack. This time is blocked.
Setting a boundary like this for projects and activities helps you get way more accomplished by being fully present. When I block out time on my calendar to do resume editing, I know I can complete the task in an hour without distractions. But with distractions, that same task could take two hours. While we all have 24 hours in the day, you and I both know we still don’t want to waste one of them.
Take a look at your schedule and if you’re trying to get something accomplished that is important to you, make an appointment with yourself to do it.
For a job search, block out one hour three times a week to focus on your company research or networking calls. For writing a book, block out one hour three times a week to focus completely on writing.
You can find these blocks by waking up an hour earlier, or turning off the TV an hour earlier at night, or using a lunch break, but I promise you they are there. Find the hour (and it does not need to be every day!) and then commit to it fully.
Working Moms – Take Back Your Time!
Ready to take back your time and do the things you have been desperately wanting to do? Time management is a big topic for working moms and can seem like a huge undertaking. But you can start today, and start small. Use your ten seconds, then use your minute, and then think about when you are going to block out your hour.
These time management strategies for busy working moms work. I promise. Remember, I’m not just a spokesperson, I’m a client! And if they don’t work for you, I’ll give you back all the money you spent reading this blog post. 🙂