Whether you have 5 kids or 1, you work full-time, part-time, or are home with the kids full-time, there are a few things that are certain for all of us mamas. We all have 24 hours in a day, and it rarely feels like enough. We are all being pulled in many directions by the needs of others: children, spouses, employers, parents, siblings, and friends. We are tired, we don’t prioritize our own needs enough, and whether our houses are spic and span or we are too embarrassed to have our closest friends over, we could all do a better job of managing our time. As a mom and professional organizer I find this area to be the biggest challenge for my clients as well as myself, but it often gets neglected. In lieu of managing time, we attempt to manage the physical chaos around us, but without time to maintain the progress we have made, things always backslide over time. There is an entire segment of the organizing industry dedicated to time management as well as countless books (see my recommended reading below), but I will share with you a few secrets that I have learned during my time as a stay-at-home mom turned self-employed mom that will be a start to making time just a little easier for you to manage.
1. One Notebook
Life is a continuous influx of things to buy, calls to make, emails to send, projects to work on, events to plan. We get a call or an email with important info and we grab a post-it note here, jot a note on the back of an envelope there, start a to-do list on various scraps of paper. At the end of the day, who knows where half of these notes end up? ONE NOTEBOOK I say! Find a notebook that you love, that is the size that you can handle carrying with you in your purse or bag, a notebook that you won’t forget about. Anytime you get a call, or an email and need to jot it down; anytime you have a stroke of genius, or are brainstorming for a project, or you have a random thought in the middle of the night write it down in ONE NOTEBOOK. You can write and rewrite your to-do list a thousand times in this space. You can review, revise, and rip out pages if you want. Think of your notebook as your most beloved container, and you will always know where to look.
2. One Calendar
As mothers we are tasked with scheduling our work, our vacations, our meetings, our home related tasks, as well as appointments and activities for all family members. We are vital to the functioning of our families. The calendar is the glue that holds all the crazy together. I see so many people that use their Google calendar but they also have some things on a wall calendar, and then they also have a paper planner. One drawer for eating utensils, one drawer for socks, ONE CALENDAR for your whole family’s schedule. I won’t tell you it has to be a digital calendar because some people just really prefer paper. It just needs to be a calendar that everyone will access and use.
3. Power Couple
Now that you have one notebook to contain all of your thoughts, goals, ideas, and to-dos and one calendar to view all of the appointments, meetings, and activities of your family, let them work together to be the power couple of your life. Look at your to-do list, and decide WHEN you will do each task. Input your to-dos into your calendar. Whether you set a specific time of day, or you just keep it general that you will do it sometime that day, set a day. If it’s a recurring activity that you always seem to forget like changing the furnace filter, put it on your calendar. If you have a bill that gets paid on the same day every month and you can’t seem to remember, put it on your calendar. Need to buy something for your kid’s class, or a gift for a birthday party, or pick up the dry cleaning? Put it on the calendar.