5 time-management tips for busy moms
You cook meals, run errands, raise kids, work, attend school — the list goes on. It’s no wonder you feel there isn’t enough time to do everything.
But with planning and some organizational tools, you can accomplish more than you thought. Two experts offer tips to help you make the most of each day:
Get up an hour earlier.
It might seem cruel to give up 60 precious minutes of sleep in the morning when the kids are still in bed, but you can use this hour to get a head start on the day without distractions, says Heather Huber, who is a licensed independent social worker-supervisor and area chair for the psychology program at the University of Phoenix Cincinnati Campus. Pack lunches and prepare breakfast, read work email or bathe, suggests Huber, who has two young kids.
“If you study online and have [class check-ins], make them at the beginning of the day so it’s off your list early on,” she advises. “I also encourage students to [use this time to] get their school work done.”
Designate times for particular tasks.
Tackle errands on specific days and in short trips so they’re manageable, encourages Barbara Jordano, PhD, area chair for humanities and sciences programs at the University’s Minneapolis/St. Paul Campus. Instead of cramming chores into a Saturday marathon, for example, do banking on the way home from work, wash laundry on Sunday evenings and grocery shop on weekdays.
Stick to one calendar.
Combine your work, school and family appointments on one calendar so you don’t overbook yourself and can plan meals, chores and personal tasks, Huber suggests.
Jordano recommends GoalsOnTrack, a goal-setting software program. In addition to a calendar and corresponding mobile app, she says, you can plug in short- and long-term tasks, like studying for one hour every day before an exam.
“Try to pick one method,” she says, “so you’re not constantly switching back and forth from calendar to calendar or accidentally double-booking yourself.”
Establish staging areas.
Place organizational bins or similar systems by the front door or in your car trunk, Jordano says. Then stock them with necessities so family members can grab things and go. This habit cuts wasted time searching for misplaced items.
Jordano’s friend, whose son plays hockey, devised a simple laundry system for his clothes. After practice, the son hangs his sports bag on a hook, and the mom empties the dirty clothes into the washer. She repacks the bag with clean clothes, and the son then grabs the bag on his way out.
Use technology to your advantage.
Treat your cellphone like a personal assistant, Jordano suggests. It can help you find online menus for quick meals while shuttling kids to activities, or pay bills while your car is being repaired, Huber says. Jordano’s students also shop online or use monthly services for home delivery of diapers and other bulk items.
“Just don’t get lost in browsing,” Huber cautions, “because that can lead to wasting time.”