How many times a week do we wish we had an extra hour or 5 to ‘just finish off’ a task or draw a line under a long-suffering project. Several times am I right? Yup.
So, as a busy work at home mama, and someone who’s always trying to find ways to be better at time management, I thought I’d do a little series on The Mama Daze to share some tips & tricks and hopefully help you get your head into the right space when it comes to time management.
Now, this post is NOT a preach. Hell no. I mean, if it was, then trust me I’d have to preach to myself about 10 times a day before I could even dare to chat with you! Nope, it’s more of a handy friendly voice, and a voice that’s equally talking to myself as much as it is to you!
First things first – le’ts think of time management as ‘time efficiency’. It’s not about getting things done quickly – but rather, making use of what precious time you’ve wangled time so that no minute is wasted. You’re allowed to veg on the sofa and watch Netflix to your heart’s content any time you want by the way – the advice here is only for those sections of the day that you’re meant to be dedicated to work/chores/education and are finding yourself floundering over.
Ever wanted to write a book but found you’ve got no time. Well, let’s think – if you start to break your time & tasks down, you could, in this example, write 333 words per day, and in a month you’d have 10,000 words. Or it could be 2,500 words every Sunday for 1 month. Doing tasks in a piecemeal fashion like this can be a godsend because otherwise it all just seems too much.
So heading into the first tip in this series, I’m starting with the one that I often struggle with. If you’re like me, and suffer from overwhelm of ideas and juggling too many chores, then this tip is gonna hit home for you too – my lovely friend, let’s learn to prioritize.
Arrrgh overwhelmed with ideas and tasks and thoughts running through my brain at 3am is all pretty much standard for me. I seldom switch off, and there’s always about 27 balls being juggled at any one time.
But I know that if I just took a littttttle time to sit down and make a plan of action, I’d be able to function better and, what’s more, get the stuff I need doing, done.
As much as we may want to , we can’t simply categorize every task as a top priority. now’s the time to raise your hands and own it if this is what you’re doing! Hopefully these tips here are going to help you rethink what your day/week/month looks like and calm the chaos.
Break it down
A lot of jobs aren’t just one thing, are they? They’ve got a couple or several different components, and so by breaking a bigger job down into all its parts you can start to see what really needs doing to get the 100% finished. You’ll also see the parts you’re bored with or hate doing, so start off on the parts you enjoy more & get those done first!
Which jobs can’t be done without others getting done first? You can kinda look on this like a deadline list, but sometimes not every domino task has a deadline. So you need to figure out if there’s a natural ‘order’ before you start one task & realise that 17 needed to be done beforehand! I find doing a mind map or a spider map really helps here. Nothing flashy needed, just grab a piece of paper and start writing down your tasks all over it – and then link up the tasks with a squiggly line or 2 to see which tasks are interlinked and need to be done in any specific order.
There are tons of ways to break down tasks, so here are a few ideas:
Time it’s going to take – you might be someone who needs a quick win, so getting the shorter tasks done first will make you feel more positive & inspired. Or you might prefer to tackle the bigger jobs first, getting them ‘out of the way’ so they don’t hang over you. Work to your own personality & needs, in any case, not someone else’s.
Type of task – so you may have tasks that are physical, others that are admin-based, some that need quiet, others that you can do with a house full of screaming kids and it wouldn’t make a difference. Listing them out into categories means that no matter what the day throws at you, you’ll always have something productive to do (if you want to) depending on the mood
Enjoyment – the ones you love and the ones you hate! Mix and match them up if it’s easier to get through the less-enjoyable jobs. One good, one bad, one good, one bad…. Or ask someone to help out with the tasks you don’t like doing – your partner, your kids if they’re old enough, your work colleagues. And if you can’t get help with those meeh jobs, then have a reward system for yourself! Why not!? Treat yourself to a chocolate bar or an episode of your favourite show once you’ve ticked each rubbish job – hey, a mama’s gotta survive right?!
You’re not super woman. Sure, you do a damn good impression most days, and I’m high-fiving you with sisterhood vibes!
But it doesn’t change the fact that there are only 24 hours in any day. And you need to eat, sleep (remember that?), look after little versions of yourself, and find time to keep sane through it all.
Part of prioritizing is sometimes letting go of tasks. Things that don’t need doing, or can wait & put on the back burner for another month. I know the feeling all too well of wanting to ‘get things done’ but you’ve got to admit to yourself that this isn’t always doable or healthy. So if once you’ve started listing out your tasks, categorizing them and so on, you see a job that quite frankly seems ‘extra’, consider if you can kick it to the kerb (for the time being at least)
Time needs to be prioritized – but so do you, mama !
See you for more time tips soon,