Many of us think of time management as a “work thing” or something only used by executives, too rigid and structured, or maybe even it gives you a sick feeling in your tummy—but none of that is true at all. Honestly, time management is an incredibly useful skill for busy moms, students, and professionals. In fact, when we apply time management tips to all parts of our lives we can unleash more free time (hear me? MORE FREE TIME!!) so we can both accomplish more personally and professionally…and find time for self-nurturing without the mom guilt.
Many people lack basic time management skills. (So if you’re feeling frazzled, overwhelmed, and like time is always slipping away, you’re not alone!) Time management truly IS a life skill—and it’s often a life skill that needs to be learned. It just doesn’t come naturally to everyone. And there’s no time like the present to start learning (and teaching others) the top time management skills for busy moms, students, and professionals that will give you the results you’re looking for!!
Learning how to balance your schedule and your obligations at home, as well as chores, errands, and schoolwork will allow you to fit more YOU time into your busy schedule and help you feel and be more accomplished. You’ll ROCK your goals and eliminate the feeling that time is flying by.
How would THAT type of life feel…???
Now let’s get those tips…
1. Make a Plan
You don’t have to be a planner addict, but establishing some sort of daily or weekly plan really helps with time management. You might need a formal planner or a DIY version—whatever works best for you is just great. I’ve found that having an actual physical planner, a wall calendar, and my phone calendar works better for me.
2. Get Friendly with Lists
It’s hard to know where you’re going if you don’t have a map or directions, right? Well, writing out a good to-do list works the same way. Writing out lists helps you achieve more because it simply helps you get a handle on the stuff you’d like to accomplish, big and small. It gets it all OUT of your head and onto the page so you can clearly think through everything and prioritize.
To start out, try writing down a simple list for the next week or two—what would you like to get done? Include work goals or keep a separate list for your work and your home. List out everything you hope to get done from buying a birthday present or paying a bill to putting clothes away and organizing your closet. You can do this on your phone in google notes, or a notebook works too. Trello is also an excellent digital tool for planning…and it’s free!! (Also great for planning school projects)
3. Try Block Scheduling
Block scheduling is a simple method that works really well for many people, especially those who are overwhelmed. Simply “block out” a set amount of time to accomplish each task on your list. A good place to start is to assign time in 15-30 minute blocks. Blocking out 1 week at a time is best.
Include your work time in your blocks, time for self-nurturing, do nothing time, chores, meal prep, workouts, homework…you can literally time block anything in your life. In the beginning, set a timer on your phone and work until the timer goes off. If you finish beforehand, move to the next task or take a break (and adjust your schedule on the next round).
Automating your schedule will for real change your life! Think of all of the things you do that can be streamlined or made simpler. This might mean freezer meal planning and doing all your cooking for the month in one fell swoop. It might mean setting up automatic delivery services for prescriptions, pet supplies, groceries, and more.
Look at your schedule and the tasks and errands that eat up your time, like running to the grocery store or the library, or picking up and dropping off items. What can you do to streamline these processes? Plan out how to tackle these tasks only once a week or even less often if possible.
5. Double Up
Cook once, eat twice! Do two chores at once! Women are natural multi-taskers, but sometimes, when it comes to simple jobs, we forget about doubling up. Can you throw in a load of laundry while you cook dinner? Can you use a hands-free phone to catch up on a call with your friend while you’re driving? What can you do quickly in the 1 min and 30 sec you have something in the microwave for??
Whenever you cook a meal, think of ways to stretch it a little and make extra so you always have something for the next day or so. Items like soups and wraps can be quick and filling leftovers. Think of ways to make one activity cover two needs!
6. Create Good Habits
Start creating good habits today. Good habits are HUGELY IMPORTANT for effective time management for busy moms, students, and professionals. Establish a daily routine with habits that keep you productive, like keeping your gym bag right by the door or laying out your work clothes the night before. You’ll be amazed at the time, hassle, and energy you’ll save with just a little prep time! Always think…do today what your future self will thank you for.
7. Put Down the Phone
You knew this was coming. I’m a huge fan of technology (obviously) and all of the amazing ways it connects us. However, how many times have you been scrolling mindlessly through your social media on your phone only to realize 15 minutes have passed?
Install a phone app like Forest to keep you focused on real-life and off your phone. Forest motivates you to stay off your phone by growing a cute little tree that dies if you pick up your phone before the time is up. It can keep you from getting distracted by your phone when you should be doing other things.
Another option is leaving your phone in another room, better yet, block schedule times in your day where you check your phone/notifications. Take control, don’t let it control you!!
8. “Start from wherever you are, with whatever you’ve got” -Jim Rohn
This is my absolute favorite quote. Here’s why- when we start working or start doing a chore, or start anything really, we often begin by organizing. We check our email. We look over our lists. Maybe we organize a drawer or start looking for a recipe, or we try to build the perfect house cleaning playlist rather than doing any actual cleaning.
To be more productive, do what my favorite quote says…just start!!! Set the timer and tackle it. I’ll bet you’ll be surprised at two things: 1. It will probably take less time than you think and 2. Once it’s done, you won’t believe you spent so much time avoiding it and trying to get everything perfect. It’ll free you up to get through the rest of your list and you’ll feel like a huge success for the rest of the day!
I’m confident these tips will make you more productive, less overwhelmed, and you’ll be a time management novice no more.
RN, Holistic Health and Wellness Practitioner
Kidney Trails Author