Do you find that managing time as a working mom is getting difficult? I get you, in so many ways. It’s not even something we think can be handled, given our multiple responsibilities.
As much as I am obsessed with time management, I let myself slip up on this fact too. November 15th was my last post here.
Wait, how did that happen? I thought I’d committed to writing a post a week? Well, as it turns out, life came in the way, but I think what is more important and more true is the fact that I didn’t really manage my time very well.
Those who know me very well are gasping in disbelief, because everyone knows I am a tad annoying when it comes to deadlines and schedules. I positively turn into the Incredible Hulk if people don’t reach on time, leave on time, submit assignments on time or basically do anything on time.
Over the last 6 months (yes, I officially completed 6 months at my job today!), I’ve been juggling a full-time work-from-home job, three blogs, housework, chores, social media, bringing up my daughter, getting sucked into the vortex of homework, exams, assignments and projects and just barely managing to squeeze in some time for exercise.
Oh, I’ve also been working on my memoir! Whew, that sounds like a lot when you see it all together, right?
What changed, you ask? Nothing whatsoever. I am still that green monster, but there’s a trick I’ve learnt which I am dying to share with you all, so here goes.
There was this beautiful quote I read somewhere and I am not sure who said it first:
You can’t manage time. You can only manage yourself. ~ Anonymous
Suddenly, my entire paradigm shifted. I had been trying to bend time to fit my schedule when it should have been the other way around. Why didn’t I see this earlier? Such an epiphany, isn’t it?
Knowing that I have an obsession with time, it only made sense that I turned this into something productive and to my advantage.
I’ve got a thing for checklists, to-do lists, schedules, planning and detail. It’s what inspires my work ethic and my personal comfort.
(It’s an entirely different matter that I drive people up the wall with my insistence on order, but that’s besides the point.)
So a few days ago, I sat down and physically wrote down the various things that go into a normal workday. Now, based on the work you do this can vary significantly, but just go with me on the principle.
Also read: Time Blocking Tips that will help your productivity soar!
My daily tasks include:
- Working on my book
- My job
- My blogs
- Social media presence for work
- Social media presence for myself
- Time with my daughter
- Reading a book
Now, these are not in order of importance. What really matters is how I intended to carve out specific times of the day for each task. Given that some tasks will take longer than others, it helps to budget for extra time.
My day begins at 4.30 am. Some days, laziness kicks in and it is 5 am before I drag myself out of bed, though. So I start with what I feel would be the best at 5 am: Writing a few pages of my memoir.
The stillness of the morning is very conducive to thinking and I find my fingers flying faster than they do at any other time of the day/night. This is followed by chores and getting the kid ready for school.
Soon after she’s left, I catch a bite to eat and then settle down to work. Work takes up a couple of hours, maybe more on some days. I then take a break to go for a walk and purchase some items from the grocery store. Not buying everything at once helps, since this means I get to walk every single day to the store.
If I get a break, I spend it on social media time for work and intersperse it with personal social media time. The afternoon is when I feel the most sluggish and unproductive, so I don’t force it and give myself over to either a quick snooze or just watch some TV to unwind.
Once Gy is back home from school, I devote my time to her needs: homework, food, incessant chatter and more. Dusk is when I go out for another walk and follow it up with a light dinner, some reading of blogs, replying to comments and wind down with a book before bed.
I’ve stopped staying up late these days and most nights, I am in bed by 10.15 or earlier. Obviously, this is not an iron-clad schedule. Some things or most of it will change given any single day.
Here are 5 key tips that can help with managing your time
- Use a diary/planner to work out your important tasks for the day ahead.
- Keep your phone in another room when you are working/writing.
- Set a timer for social media and log off resolutely when the time is up.
- Do not look at any screens, phones or tablets, before bed. Read a book and let the body relax naturally. You’ll sleep better.
- Tell yourself that you cannot do it all on any given day. Let go of the guilt.
Do you manage time or manage yourself? What do you find is the most time-consuming activity in your day?
*Featured image courtesy: Shutterstock