Time management can be a difficult skill to master. In fact, many would argue there’s simply not enough hours in a day, especially working moms. Mothers have to care for themselves, their family and the house, and working moms also have a career to manage. It’s vital to make everything flow smoothly to maintain what little sanity and patience you have left.
The good news is, there are many reasonable ways for working mothers to manage their time and create more space in their day. Here are some practical tips for doing just that.
1. Step Away From Screens
Laptops, televisions, smartphones, iPads — they can suck our entire day away before we even notice. Carefully monitoring screen time and establishing limits on how much you get can create more room in your schedule for other things, like work or spending time with your kids. You can completely unplug for a few hours to make the most of your valuable time.
Also read: How to get your baby sleep through the night
2. Make Time for Play
Put down your planner and close your laptop. Get outside and play with your kids. Relaxation goes hand-in-hand with productivity — you can’t be your best if you’re stressed. Children are at their highest level of development when they play, but studies suggest kids aren’t getting the playtime they need. Odds are, neither are you. Put on your sneakers and have some fun with your little ones the next time you’re feeling overwhelmed or unproductive.
3. Use a Planner
Making to-do lists is pretty much second-nature to mothers because, if you don’t write it down somewhere, you’re likely to forget about it. However, completing these to-dos is easier said than done. The key to finishing the list is planning exactly when you’ll do it. Try writing your daily tasks in a planner to keep everything organized all in one place. No more sticky notes or whiteboards.
4. Set Realistic Expectations
Now that you’re writing your to-dos in a planner, it can be easy to overcrowd your day. Remember, you only have so much energy as a working mom, so set realistic goals and expectations for yourself. Consider how much sleep you got the night before, how much energy you’ll have and how exhausted you’ll be after completing tasks. Being honest with yourself will only make your life less frustrating.
5. Learn to Say No
You don’t have to say yes to everything. Saying no can be tough, especially when you have kids, teachers, a spouse, friends and family pulling you in all different directions. You don’t want to disappoint them, but you need to be your first priority.
Saying no will free up time that you otherwise wouldn’t have to accomplish your priorities. It will teach your kids the value of setting healthy boundaries.
6. Don’t Even Try to Multitask
Avoid multitasking at all costs. The act of switching between two or more things actually takes longer mentally than simply sticking to one. Multitasking often results in busywork, so it may seem like you’re getting a lot done when you’re actually accomplishing nothing.
Distractions toss the whole idea of multitasking to the wind. Nonstop interruptions — think crying children, noisy pets and ringing phones — makes even a single task frustrating. Doing more than one thing at once will only lead to a decrease in efficiency and productivity and exhaust your already-low energy supply. Stick with one thing and give it your full attention.
6. Separate Work and Motherhood
One of the best time-management tips for anyone is to leave work at work and home at home. If you work in your house or bring tasks from the office, set aside a specific time to give it your complete attention — such as in the morning or after your children are in bed. Being present wherever you are at the moment is key to giving your all to whatever is at hand. Separating your two lives is crucial to managing your time wisely and maintaining a healthy work-life balance.
You Go, Girl
No one said being a working mom would be easy, but with the proper time-management skills, it can be incredibly feasible and fulfilling. The next time you feel unproductive or low on energy, consider how you can improve things. It could be as simple as turning off your phone or challenging your kids to a cartwheel contest. Find what works for you, and you’re sure to have more time on your busy schedule for the things — and people — that truly matter.