Top 10 Time Management Strategies for Working Moms

Does it feel impossible to keep up?

If you're like most moms, including me at times, it feels like you can't possibly fit in everything you need to get done in each day.

  • You're falling behind at work and at home.
  • You sometimes forget important deadlines.
  • You quickly rush to finish deliverables at the last minute, telling yourself that you're best under pressure.
  • You feel like your precious time is slipping away while you spend most of your time in the car, shuttling kids from event to event and/or commuting.
  • You want to stop looking at the list, it feels so overwhelming.
  • You never feel present where you are, thinking about what you need to be doing.
  • You make yet another list, to feel like you can get #allthethings captured. But, then you don't get them all done. You set it aside and do it over a week later.

Can you relate to any of these scenarios, or all of them?

In this post

I felt like this too, almost all of the time. I was distracted, overwhelmed, and so disappointed in myself.

Then, I figured out and implemented the following 10 strategies to kill the procrastination, overwhelm, and busyness.

I hope they'll help you too!

1. Know your priorities

We simply cannot be all the things, right?

Do you know what your priorities are?

Write them out.

Define them clearly.

I like to do this for the year and then break it down by quarter and then by month and week.

Make it very clear and written out so that you can refer back often.

For example, right now, mine are:

  1. Lose 40 lbs by 5/30/19
  2. Help 40 clients in 2019, which breaks down to 20 in the first half and 20 in the second half
  3. Spend 20 minutes of quality time per child per day, and 1 special date per child per month.

I compare my to-do list and plans to this list on a weekly basis, to make sure I have set aside time for these priorities first and foremost.

If you don't know your priorities and goals, it will be so easy to let the latest urgent suck away your time.

2. Create a master to do list

If you haven't done this already, create a master to-do list. I like the Asana or Toodledo apps for this. There are tons out there, find one that works for you and then use it consistently.

Get in the habit of capturing EVERYTHING that needs to get done in an electronic to-do list. This will allow you to avoid the hour or two a week that a lot of people spend writing and re-writing their lists on paper.

This is your master list. 

Put dates next to anything that has specific deadlines.

I also like to categorize the action items as:

  • Level of importance = Critical, Important, Nice to Have
  • Level of Effort = Big (multiple hours of work), Medium (a few hours), Small (less than an hour)

3. Cut down your to do list by deleting the non-essentials

Go through your master to-do list once a week and delete the non-essential, nice-to-have items.

Do it without questioning.

Do it without feeling guilty.

No one has time for the nice-to-haves.

Make room for the important stuff.

4. Cut down your to do list by delegating

Go through your master to-do list once a week and figure out what you can delegate.

Your brain might tell you things like.....

  • The person I want to delegate to "won't do the task to my standards"
  • I can do it faster
  • I'll just do it this time and delegate next time
  • I don't have time to delegate

Ignore that chatter.

The investment of delegating (e.g. to your kids, your husband, a mother's helper, a housekeeper) will pay off in the long run. It frees you up, sets you free from unnecessary perfectionism, and teaches your kids to be more self-sufficient.

What can you delegate?

5. Identify shortcuts and automations

Look at your task list and activities.

Ask yourself, what are you doing repeatedly that you can streamline?

For example, could you:

  • Buy pre-defined meal plans with shopping lists and recipes?
  • Set up rules in your email to automatically respond, file, delete?
  • Set up subscriptions for items you buy frequently
  • Order groceries for pick-up

Question to ask yourself -

  • In what areas of your life are you spending too much time on tasks that aren't providing a return on investment?
  • Are you bogged down with perfectionism?
  • What would happen if you switched your focus from A+ work to B- work?

6. What should you add?

You might be thinking I'm crazy. This is a post about time management strategies and I'm telling you that you might need to add some actions to your list.

It could be necessary.

It's so common for us to focus on short-term, quick wins vs. investing in longer, more impactful work.

The question for this step is:

  • Is there something(s) you need to be doing to advance your goals and priorities that isn't on your list?

Add the stuff that's important but not necessarily urgent. These are usually the tasks that are the needle-movers!

7. Set up routines so they're repeatable and bite-sized

This step is one of my favorites, because I LOVE automation and process.

Can you relate?

Here's how to do it:

  • Brainstorm out a list of all the tasks you repeat on a daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly basis
  • Flag the top 2-3 that take the most time and/or expend the most mental energy
  • For example, my top routines are:
    • Monthly budgeting
    • Annual tax prep
    • Weekly status reporting for work
    • Creating an annual family photo album
  • Then, write out all the steps required to complete each task
  • Break them down into 15-30 minute mini action items. Tip: don't make the tasks too big, otherwise it will be more challenging to fit them in on a regular basis.
  • Schedule them in your online to do list as recurring actions so they pop up on your list exactly when they need to

8. Batch tasks to get more done in less time

What can you do in batches to make the work more efficient and avoid the time wasted starting-up and shutting down?

For example, you could batch:

Food:

  • Making dinner freezer meals
  • Prepping lunches for kids
  • Prepping lunches for you, your hubby (e.g. mason jar salads, protein shakes)
  • Prepping snacks

Home

  • Laundry
  • Bill pay

Work

  • Responding to emails
  • Meetings
  • 1:1 meetings with direct reports
  • Updating project plans
  • Strategy/mental work
  • Researching
  • Making phone calls
  • Returning phone calls
  • Responding to internal chats (e.g. Slack)
  • Sending/returning messages on LinkedIn
  • Administrative work
  • Planning (goal-setting for your role, goal-setting for your department/business unit)

Other

  • Appointments
  • Errands
  • Learning
  • Texting
  • Scheduling
  • Phone calls
  • Reviewing/responding/posting on Social media
  • Planning (scheduling, goal-setting)
  • On-line shopping (have a list in advance to buy specific things you need and avoid surfing)
  • Birthday cards (e.g. a year at a time)

 

9. Schedule yourself to avoid wasted and mis-used time

Schedule your day.

Take your list of action items from your online/master to-do list and schedule them into your calendar.

I love doing this in 2 steps:

  1. On Sundays, I create a full list of things I need to accomplish for the week.
  2. Then, each night before bed, I schedule everything that needs to happen (urgent and important priorities) including:
    • meetings,
    • appointments,
    • activities,
    • driving time,
    • eating
    • time with each kid
    • husband time
    • specific to-dos

10. Follow the schedule

This sounds simple, right?

We make a schedule in step 9 and then follow it.

But, it's usually not so straightforward. 

It's so common to make plans and then talk ourselves out of them.

  • I'm not in the mood.
  • I'll do that later.
  • Something important has come up.

Yes, emergencies do happen.

Our boss can derail us.

But 80%(ish) of the time, we can follow a plan we set up in advance.

The trick here is to build up the muscle to make the plan and do it EVEN WHEN YOU DON'T WANT TO.

This is the key to pushing back the resistance, procrastination, and overwhelm that commonly holds us back.

 

Next Steps ➡ Take Action

The focus of this blog is providing you with tips AND SUPPORTING YOU TO TAKE ACTION. 

Here's the action steps for this post:

  • Pick out 1-2 of the 10 tips and implement them.
  • After you've mastered them, do a few more.
  • Repeat until you've implemented all 10.

 And, if you'd like more support, click here to join me in the Corporate Mom Club on Facebook.

We have monthly challenges to help you take action, and tackle areas like goal-setting, getting more done in less time, eliminating overwhelm, overcoming procrastination, etc.

I'd love to have you join this positive, solution-oriented community!

 

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