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25 Time Management Tips for Working Moms

As working moms, we have a unique set of circumstances when it comes to planning our days, our weeks, our months – heck, our lives!

We get to juggle meal planning, cooking, house cleaning, laundry, play time, diaper changes, kids’ baths, self-care, workouts, partner time, work calls, work meetings, work events and the list goes on and on and ON.

I’m here to tell you that managing it all is possible. I can’t say it’s necessarily easy, but it is for sure possible. Notice I said managing it all, not doing it all. 

Here are 25 time management tips for you to consider. See if any of these tips feel right to you and try them one-by-one.

Don’t worry about incorporating or adopting each and every tip. Try them as you go and see how they work for you.

So here goes: 

  1. Conduct a time audit 

As a practicing attorney, I’m used to capturing my time in 6 minute increments to bill clients properly. It’s honestly a pain, but it makes sense. Clients want to know what I’m spending my time doing so they get context around their legal bill.

I’ve adopted this in my personal life as well. Understanding where your time is going can be eye-opening. I encourage you to take out a blank sheet of paper and a pen. Literally carry the pen and paper around with you for 5-7 days. Write down what you’re doing from the time you wake up until the time you go to bed.

At the end of the 5-7 days, look back on how you spent your time. This reflection is the most important part.

When you reflect on your time audit, what did you notice? More social media than you thought? Not enough sleep? Longer than average days at the office?

Great, this is all good info to know. Now you can adjust your schedule going forward.

This sounds laborious, but trust me it’s worth it and it’s only for a short period of time, although I encourage doing this every quarter.

  1. Complete a brain dump 

A brain dump is taking a piece of paper and writing down everything you want and need to get done. EVERYTHING! It can be things for tomorrow or things one year from now.

Get all of those items you want to accomplish out of your head and onto paper. 

The idea is to purge your brain and free up mental space. You don’t need to burden yourself with trying to remember everything you want to get done.

  1. Organize your brain dump

Once you’ve completed a brain dump, it’s helpful to organize it into a tentative order of priority. Start by moving the highest priority items to the top of the list and let the others fall in line on the list. 

You can now use your brain dump as an all-encompassing list to add to and subtract from. Your master to do list per se!

  1. Carefully manage what makes it on your daily to do list

Dump those super long daily to do lists. Once your brain dump is organized, you can start tackling the items that need to be done.

No need to feel like superwoman by overloading your schedule. Identify your daily must-do item (notice I didn’t say items) and get your ONE thing done each day. 

Then leave space to tackle other items, but again, don’t overload your schedule. These additional tasks are important to complete, but you won’t stress if they don’t get done.

If you overload your schedule, it won’t be productive. It will be stressful and you might even end up feeling regret or resentment if you don’t complete everything.

  1. Complete your priority task

As I previously mentioned, set a daily priority. Not two or three, but one. Make sure your entire day is focused around that one priority and make sure it gets done.

Sure, there will be more than one item on your to do list, but make sure at least one significant item is accomplished Every. Single. Day.

  1. Schedule in free time

What? Yes! Free time or down time is a must. Make sure there is white space in your schedule.

It will give you an opportunity to rest and enjoy life a little so you don’t feel super regimented and you look forward to tackling your to do list.

  1. Use a paper planner

I realize we are in a digital age and our phones, laptops etc. provide us with such ease and flexibility when it comes to planning our time.

Trust me when I say that our digital devices can wreck time management and productivity if we are not super disciplined. So, why chance it?

I strongly encourage the use of a paper planner. It’s simple - no pop-ups, no distracting apps, no urgent emails - just dedicated time to focus on managing your time. 

  1. Simplify

I used to live a cumbersome life, like really cumbersome. I always wanted to have more and I always wanted to be prepared. Ummm hello Girl Scouts!

I had a ridiculous number of clothing options, jewelry galore, a ton of books etc. I then shifted to really simplify every area of my life and I continue to engage in this practice on a routine basis.

Semi-Marie Kondo your life! Trust me, it’s important. The less options you give yourself on a daily basis, the smoother life will run. There will be less decisions to make and life will feel lighter and simpler.  

  1. Identify your dream team

We can’t do life alone. It’s just impossible (and I’d argue less joyful). Your team can be family, friends, babysitters, housekeeper, cook, mother’s helper... Anyone who you deem to be reliable, trustworthy and helpful. Think through who you can add to this roster. 

  1. Delegate tasks

Once you’ve identified your team, it’s time to start delegating. Whether you have family who can help or you need to spend to hire help, enlist the help you need. A family doesn’t operate with one person doing it all.

It takes a team. I firmly believe that there needs to be one person who heads up that team. Then that person delegates to the strongest players on the team or trains up the weaker players.

  1. Set time limits

Have you heard of Parkinson’s law? It states, “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” In other words, the more time you give yourself to complete a task, the more time it will take to complete that task. 

I find this to be very true. If you have a deadline of two weeks from now, I bet you will begin working on the assignment close to the two week mark and finish it right at the due date.

This holds true in most areas of our lives. We plan, think, plan, think and then execute. What if you set a defined timeframe to get something done?

Perhaps give yourself a shortened, but realistic timeframe or set a timer and move on from the task once the timer goes off? This will allow you to simply get things done!

  1. Set up routines that work for your life

Try to automate as much of your life as possible by way of routines. Routines give freedom and help build habits. This allows more free time to spend on what matters most to you.

A routine is finding a way to put a repeat task on auto-pilot. For example, laundry is a task that needs to be done on a frequent basis (a repeat task).

My laundry routine is doing a load a day. It looks like throwing in a load of laundry right as the kids begin their baths. I then toss the load in the dryer before I go to bed. I fold the load and put it away when I wake up in the morning. 

Building the consistency of routines will help buy your time back. Take the laundry example, there are no more piles of laundry and no more looking for something to wear, thus more time to do what’s important to me.

As you go through your days, see if there are any areas you can automate. A nighttime routine? A morning routine?     A cooking routine? An exercise routine?

  1. Make sure you have a family calendar that’s accessible to all

Getting on the same page with other family members is crucial. Have a command center visible to all family members.

This command center should include a physical calendar that lays out important dates and times so that all family members can see the time commitments coming up.

  1. Be ahead of the game

I’m a firm believer in that we must think ahead and be ahead at all times.

Today, think about what you will wear tomorrow. Work on arriving to meetings and appointments 5 minutes early. It will relieve the rushed feeling and any anxiety.

  1. Respect the season you’re in

Seasons of life are just like the seasons of nature. They will change, so maximize the season you’re in right now. Also know that the only constant in life is change, so don’t get married to your routines.

If you have a newborn, bask in the joy of loving up on that new baby. Know that routines and normalcy will return.

If you just started a new job, perhaps you need to adapt your morning routine for your new commute. That’s cool. It’s a new season. Give yourself grace and figure it out as soon as you can.

  1. Permission to be imperfect

Time management isn’t about perfecting anything. It’s about practice and more practice. Done is better than perfect. Perfectionism is simply an excuse to delay and procrastinate.

  1. Make sure you are working out

I firmly believe that in order to maximize every area of your life, you have to show up optimally.

I can admit that I do not love working out. It’s truly a chore for me. I struggle with remaining consistent, but I can totally feel the difference when I workout on a regular basis. I feel clear, energized, focused and ready to tackle life. 

It’s a natural energy boost! It’s so important to manage that energy because in order to manage our time, we need the energy to go along with it.

  1. Learn to say no

If you don’t tell your time where to go, someone else will! You must have strict boundaries around how you spend your time. Don’t deprive yourself, but also remember you have a lot to accomplish.

Yes, time is a limited resource, however trust me when I say you can make it work for you.

There IS enough time for everything that’s important to you.

  1. Accountability partner

Find someone you can check-in with to hold you accountable for time management. There are tons of Facebook groups for any and everything. Perhaps search for a time management Facebook group

My Facebook group – The Reimagined Mom, often touches on time management and there are so many more out there.

Also, leverage family members or co-workers as well.  

  1. Mindset

You are your biggest cheerleader. You cannot wait for someone else to encourage you? That encouragement may never come.

You can leverage accountability partners to keep your word to yourself, but it’s important to work on your mindset as well.

Know that you can do whatever it is that’s important to you.

  1. Fuel your body

Make sure you eat wholesome meals so that you can have the energy to tackle your to do list. Don’t load up on junk. It will weigh you down and you’ll feel less than energized.

  1. Figure out what’s not serving you

If you don’t get excitement from something, don’t do it or stop doing it.

As working moms, weekends are an opportunity for you to do what makes you joyful. Make sure you keep this top of mind and don’t fill your weekend with tons of kids birthday parties etc.

  1. Utilize services that make life easier

With demanding careers and families it’s important to consider how best to use services that are at our fingertips. Instead of running to Target on a weekly basis, how about loading your Amazon cart throughout the week and then check out once per week and Amazon Prime can have your items delivered to your front door.

The same with grocery shopping. I personally LOVE grocery shopping, but if it’s a drag for you and takes up hours of your time, try Instacart or a comparable service.

I encourage you to be creative and take advantage of these services that can save you time and allow you to be present at home.

  1. Rise early

I know, I know this is controversial. The reality is that early mornings provide some of the only uninterrupted time we get as working moms. It’s also perfect because we haven’t had the opportunity to be influenced by the world yet. It takes time, but try it. I highly recommend The 5AM Club as an awesome read and resource. Check it out here.

  1. Don’t hit snooze

Set your alarm for a time and commit to getting up at that time.

You set the alarm when you were awake and aware, so you intentionally wanted to get up at that time. I’m sure it was to accomplish your to do list. So, get up!

There you have it, my 25 Time Management Tips for Working Moms. I hope you found several tips that you will consider trying or adopting. They’ve served me well, so I hope they serve you as well.

Drop me a note at hello@theharmonyplanners.com to let me know what you’ve tried! Take back control of your time mama!

Unexpected Childcare Changes

Unexpected Childcare Changes

Well, well, well what an end to 2019! Just when I thought we had our routines set, life threw a curveball.

We planned to have our children begin daycare and preschool over the summer, but life happened and we parted ways with our beloved nanny this month (on good terms). 

Finding childcare in a major city can be quite the process, as waitlists are usually pretty long. My husband and I set out to accomplish this goal in record time with 4 criteria in mind: 

  1. A clean space
  2. A secure space
  3. A loving space
  4. A place in close proximity to work and home

We scrambled for a week or so, calling daycares/preschools and setting up tours. We then remembered a school many of our friends told us about. We called this school and there was space for both of our kids! Woohoo!

We scheduled a tour that day and the school checked most of the boxes above. So, after a lot of tears and with many prayers, we found a school for our kids.

Did the school satisfy the 4 criteria we desired? Pretty much…

  1. The school is clean.
  2. There is a secured gate with a private access code.
  3. The teachers are warm and friendly.
  4. The only hiccup is that the location is not ideal. It’s a little out of the way, but sacrifices…

Then, the next hurdle… We had to make sure they were prepped and ready to head to school. Thank God for Black Friday, Amazon and namebubbles.com.

I made sure to stock up on sweat pants, sweatshirts, sippy cups, diapers, wipes and labels during Black Friday. I then did a 15-minute purge of each of their dresser drawers to get rid of clothes that were too small.

Once all of the Black Friday purchases arrived, I washed the clothes, washed the dishware and then labeled everything, with Name Bubbles labels, all in anticipation for the first day of school.

Onto the next item. New routines. Remember we’ve had a nanny for 3 years. So, we had a set routine for everything. Wake up, getting dressed, eating meals, play time, bathing, bedtime - everything!

I started to think about new routines because we needed to figure something out in order to get the troops out of the house on time and then a wind down routine for the evenings.

So, I laid out their outfits, packed the extra clothes, diapers, wipes and sippy cups the night before the first day of school. Setting myself up for an easy morning was essential.

We started speaking with my son about the week ahead and how exciting it was going to be. We set his alarm clock and woke up with excitement about him meeting his new teachers.

My son went off to his first day and seemed to enjoy it. I called to check on him only once and was told he was doing well. 

 

My daughter caught a cold and couldn’t attend her first day. What a bummer!

We are still working on the evening routine. I’ll report back with how that goes.

So, lessons learned:

  1. It’s never too late to prepare, especially when we have the internet at our fingertips (hello Amazon).
    1. Utilize services available to you. They help make life a little more bearable and convenient.
  2. Preparation is key, but surrender is queen! Even when we have our plans set, we must surrender to the process.
    1. I thought we scrambled and pulled everything together for a nice transition to school for both kids, but my daughter caught a cold, so plans changed yet again.
  3. Routines, routines, routines.
    1. While we had a set of routines in place for the season of when we had a nanny, we quickly shifted those routines to now. They made the evening before the first day of school and the morning of the first day of school flow smoothly. We will continue to adjust and tweak those routines, but it’s nice to know we have plans in place.
  4. We can always choose to shift our mindset.
    1. Our unexpected childcare search started off as stressful and a bit frustrating, to be honest. It ended up being an opportunity to transition our kids to a different environment which I’m sure will be enriching. It also presented an opportunity for my husband and I to band together and set up new routines. Oh and an opportunity to purge old clothes. So, expect the unexpected!

I’ll keep you posted on how this all works out for me as a woman with a pretty demanding job, a side biz and a true desire to be a present mom!

5 Simple Steps to Making a Budget

Budgeting your money can seem overwhelming. There are various schools of thought on how to think about and manage money. My favorite way to think about budgeting is telling your money where to go. 

We earn our income and then what do we do with it? Perhaps we just don’t know where all of that hard earned money goes. Or perhaps we have a detailed list of income and expenses and we know exactly how our money is spent.

I am a firm believer in planning – obviously! I truly believe we need a plan for our money.

The plan can be 5 simple steps:

  1. Sit down with your bank statements for a previous month. Record your income and each and every debit, expense, investment that went out. You can do this with pen and paper (my preferred method) or excel or a fancy budgeting app. The objective is to know how much money is coming in and how that money is going out. Know where your money is going! Every. Single. Dollar.
  1. Assess every dollar that went out. Does it feel true to you and what you value? Take ownership of how you’re spending your money. Either be comfortable with how you spent your money or commit to changing your spending habits to be reflective of your values. If you value a healthy meal on the go and you see McDonald’s as a repeat expense in the previous month. Commit to changing that and allocate those dollars to healthy smoothies instead.
  1. Based upon your spending history in step 2, put together a sample budget. Record your monthly income at the top of the document or paper and list out all non-negotiable savings, expenses and investments. With the remaining money, allocate how it will be spent. Does that look like hair appointments, dining out, fitness classes, books etc.? Write it out until you hit $0.
  1. Track your actual spending. Save each and every receipt or commit to checking your bank account several times a week. You want to track your actual spending against the sample budget you put together in step 3. At the end of the month - have you overspent, underspent or spent exactly how you expected?
  1. Tweak your sample budget and continue to revisit steps 4 and 5 on a monthly basis.

There are many philosophies on budgeting. These 5 steps are my take on building a simple budget. Perhaps something resonates with you. I encourage you to take what you like and leave the rest!

Budgeting helps you feel comfortable with how you spend money. Leverage your budget to see how you spend your money. Hopefully budgeting will allow you to feel freedom in how you spend your money and not restricted.

Shoot me an email at hello@theharmonyplanners.com if you want to chat more about budgets!