Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Time-Saving Tips to Make Your Life as a Busy Mom Easier

As a busy mom, I know that the most precious resource I have with which  I can create space for achievement, play, and rest is TIME. I once felt "Lost in Not-Enough Time," but I have learned that getting crystal clear on what your priorities are in every area of your life, and spending time on  a weekly basis reviewing and reflecting on these is vital.  Doing this helps you avoid slipping into reacting to every thing life throws at you instead of attacking each day with enthusiasm and flexibility. It's worth the time and effort to get rid of those negative emotions and victim mentality so you can free yourself to emphasize what is really important and inspiring to you! If you are hesitant to learn how to do that, start with one or more of the ideas below to get your motivation motor revving:

1. Track back and see how you spent your time. When you are feeling particularly bummed about how your time is slipping away, use a time grid or extra calendar, and track back from today, seeing exactly what you have spent your time doing, hour by hour. You will start to realize what you are spending too much time on, and (gasp!) what you may need to delete altogether.

2. Don't fold all your laundry!  SORT your undergarments, but don't fold. Having dividers to keep them corralled will help if you struggle with perfectionism in this area. Do this after you declutter your closet and have fewer things. If you have a few of each of these items in the laundry, a few currently being worn, and a few extra for the week, that is probably enough. Get rid of extras, and it won't look or feel like a "pile" to you. You know those basketball hoop hampers? Well, think that way when you are putting clothes away, too! As long as they make the section where they belong, you can retrieve them when you need to change! Oh, and they don't need to be right side out either. You can deftly put them right side out and put them on at the same time!

3. Get help with small things. Kids can help at a ridiculously young age, and they get a kick out it, too, if they are really young! My three-year-old LOVES to help me "dust," "mop," and "vacuum!" Now, accepting his "help" may slow me down, but not as much as an "uh-oh, mommy is suddenly not paying close attention to me" MELTDOWN!

4. Procrastinate selectively. Don't worry about the sink full of dishes if you are due at a meeting in 20 minutes, and it is going to take you 15 to get there. Make it fun! Ask yourself, "What can I put off today?" Make it low-value tasks or things that don't have an upcoming deadline. Putting off those tasks leaves precious moments in your time today!

5. Make yourself sit down and spend time planning, even if the clock is ticking. You have to start with the end in mind. If you dive right in, you may lose track, and be out of time with the most important things as yet undone.

6. Develop Personal Policies. The easiest way to prevent other people from  chewing up your time is to develop personal policies as to how others can access you. Phone, email, and texting can swallow up hours of your day if you don't have a policy about when and how often you engage in them. It's so freeing to be able to say, "We have a policy of not checking email after 9 PM."!

7. Trade Multi-tasking for Focused Tasking. Multitasking strains the brain, and you may not actually save time at all because you are bringing less than your full attention to your tasks. If you want to combine tasks, make SURE that one is relatively mindless and repetitive, so you can reserve brain power for the other. An example is to fold brochures for your child's fundraiser while listening to a podcast.

What time-saving tips or questions do you have?

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