As a mom of ten kids, I feel like my life is running me sometimes (okay, a lot of the time), instead of the other way around. There seems to be so many demands on my time. Kids need to be at school and at activities. Laundry screams at me from the hampers. The empty refrigerator yells at me to fill it with groceries. Some days, everywhere I turn, something needs to be done or someone needs to go somewhere.
And I can feel like no matter what, there just isn’t enough time in the day to get it all done. And, big reveal, that’s actually true. There isn’t enough time in the day to get every single thing done. Period.
This is where managing time effectively comes in. I simply can’t clean the entire house, do all the laundry, get the shopping done, cook every meal, and make sure every child is at every activity. On time. I’m not Supermom with super powers (although, as a new mom back in the day, I’d thought I would be at some point, but I learned that Supermom is just a myth, haha).
For me, I had to learn some things like:
- How to make my day run smoother by making a To-Do list
- How to prioritize my To-Do list
- Using a calendar
- Instituting a regular “Family Business” Scheduling time
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Make a To-Do List
I’m a bonafied list maker. I make lists for my lists. I have lists on my phone, on my desk, in notebooks, and sometimes even on envelopes. Using a list helps me stay organized
If I don’t write something on my list, I will most likely forget it. Having a list handy not only helps me accomplish what I need to accomplish, but it also gives me sense of accomplishment at the end of the day. I can see what I did and over the course of a week or month or year I can see what I accomplished and when. I can also keep track of other things (like when I took the kids to the doctor or dentist).
I use a planner to keep my list and every morning I list out what needs to be done that day. I also keep a running list on my phone of things that I think of when I’m away from my planner, and I transfer that info to my planner.
When I write things down, then I don’t have to keep them in my head anymore.
For me my planner = my brain. A misplaced planner will cause me to have a major breakdown because it has everything I need to know.
Prioritize Your To-Do List
Along with writing a list, is learning to prioritize that list. I often go in and number the different things, just so I can see what I need to do first. (And, sometimes, I add a time of day to the item so I can see if I can actually get everything done).
Since I make lists about everything, I have a list of home repairs that need to be done and those are ordered in number of importance. Of course, things come up and a broken pipe would obviously take precedence over painting a bathroom.
I have grocery lists, lists of when to make doctor appointments, lists of yard work that needs to be done. Like I said, I’m a list person. And I prioritize my lists.
Every day, I have my 3 Must-Be-Done Items that if I get done will make me feel like I accomplished my most important goals for the day. For me they are: exercise, read, and write. Some days I read more than others or write more than others, but if, at the end of the day, I can say that I exercised, read something, and wrote something, I’ll feel good about that day.
Use a Calendar
I transfer things from my To-Do list to the calendar. For example, if calling the dentist to make an appointment is on my list, once I’ve made the appointment I make sure to add it to my calendar.
I’m old (think pre-internet, pre-cell phones, pre-personal computers–I know, how did I live?) so I’m old-school. I have a physical calendar in my planner I use as well as the calendar feature on my phone (I love having electronics, but they don’t always work, so I have a paper copy of most things, just in case). I love being able to look at my calendar and get an overview of meetings, appointments, and other activities that I need to remember.
Schedule “Family Business” Time Regularly
Since I have such a large family, we have set aside a night each week to discuss and add activities to our calendar. We’ll go around the room and ask each kid what he/she has for the week. Then we’ll go through the week, day by day, and talk about what is going on (school activities, meetings, appointments).
Sometimes, my kids don’t pay attention and they get all confused during the week. That’s when I gently remind them that we did family business and discussed the activities. Of course, things come up unexpectedly, but for the most part, we go over all the activities for the week.
At night, just before everyone goes to bed, we go over the next day’s activities, when kids will be home, what time we’ll have dinner and anything else.
Having family business time helps us all stay on track and know what’s going on.
We all have 24 hours in a day, no matter what we do. There are days I wish I had twice as many hours, but I haven’t quite figured out how to add hours to my day (except when I was pregnant, days seemed to be muuuuuch longer, but that’s another post).
I’ve found that I can manage these hours more effectively if I make a list, prioritize that list, add events to my calendar, and take a night each week to discuss everything that will happen during the week.