Let’s Get Stuff Done … Simple, Practical Time Management Tips for Busy Mums (or anyone with too much to do) …

Let’s Get Stuff Done … Simple, Practical Time Management Tips for Busy Mums (or anyone with too much to do)

 

If you’re anything like me, life just seems to get busier and busier.  There always seems to be so much to do and it can be really hard juggling a house, kids, work, and the million and one other things that place demands on our time.  But rather than feel overwhelmed, here are some simple techniques you can use to turn busy into productive:

 

  1. Use a Calendar/Diary.  It doesn’t matter whether it’s an old-fashioned diary that you carry in your handbag or an electronic version like Outlook or an App on your phone … find one that works for you and use it.  Record all appointments, meetings, work commitments, exams … anything that needs to be remembered.  As well as planning for today, I like to keep an eye on what’s coming up for the whole week so I’m prepared and I don’t get ambushed.  For that reason I like a diary (which I carry in my handbag) that displays a full week across 2 pages so I can see the whole week at a glance.  This helps me be as well organised as possible and also reduces the likelihood of getting swamped and overwhelmed.

 

  1. Establish routines.  Creating simple routines and habits can help you be organised and manage your time.  Completing tasks and activities in a particular way and in a certain order means that everyone stays on track and knows what to do and what is expected, which ultimately wastes less time.

 

  1. Create a daily plan or “To Do” List.  Before you go to bed at night, check your Diary to see what is scheduled for the next day.  With everyone tucked away in bed there will be no interruptions and a list can be created pretty quickly.  This will give you a good idea what’s ahead and allow you to “mentally” plot your day.  You’ll sleep peacefully knowing that you’re organised, you have a “plan of attack” and things won’t be forgotten.  Consider what appointments are in your calendar and write a list of the things you would like to achieve that day.

 

  1. Allocate an estimated amount of time to each task/activity.  Nothing undermines or overwhelms you quicker, than realising you don’t have enough time to get to the bottom of your list.  By allocating a time-frame to each task, you will soon figure out whether your list can realistically be achieved in a single day or whether some tasks/activities need to be carried over to another day.  Trying to cram too much into one day will also leave you feeling tired, frustrated and dissatisfied.

 

  1. Consider the size of each task.  I like to break up really big jobs or tasks into smaller more manageable pieces.  This allows me to chip away at big jobs slowly rather than become overwhelmed and then never start.  Remember, the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, so the goal is to at least start.

 

  1. Prioritise.  Start with the most important item, list everything else in order of importance, then tackle the most important/difficult/challenging/worst job first.  I tackle that item before moving on and I also make sure I don’t keep pushing a difficult or frustrating job to the bottom of the list (otherwise it will stay on the list forever).  I like to get the important stuff out of the way first.  I attend to urgent emails and phone calls early so I have the rest of the day for follow up if needed.  The longer you procrastinate, the more stressed and frustrated you will become.

 

  1. Manage your deadlines.  If you have tasks/activities that need to be completed by a certain date, add a reminder to your diary/calendar a couple of days or a week earlier to help you plan and be organised.

 

  1. Focus on one task at a time.  Multi-tasking can be useful but when you’re trying to plough through a list, it can also work to distract you and prevent you from finishing any one single thing.  Focus on one task/activity at a time … start it, finish it and cross it off your list before moving onto the next one.  I generally don’t start a new task unless I have enough time to finish it, otherwise, I waste time asking “now where was I?”  I also try really hard not to abandon a job half way through.

 

  1. Try to work in a clear, clean space.  It’s really hard to be productive if you’re surrounded by chaos and mess.  It’s frustrating trying to find a missing document or receipt on a disorganised desk.  Try to do a quick tidy up before getting started.

 

  1. Keep track of the time.  I love clocks and have them scattered around the house.  Yes, they tell the time but they also help to keep me on track and stop me from getting distracted.  Five minutes on facebook, Pinterest or Instagram can easily turn into 2 hours.  That’s fine if I have some time to spare but, if I’m trying to power through a long list of jobs, I need to stay focused.

 

  1. Eliminate distractions.  TV, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and so on can be enormous time wasters.  Get in the habit of staying away from social media and other distractions until you get to the bottom of your daily list.  Try also not to get stuck on lengthy phone calls that can really chew up your time and ignore unimportant emails that can be dealt with later.

 

  1. Plan for interruptions.  Now this might sound counter productive because the whole idea of a “To Do” list is to get stuff done, but in the chaos of everyday life, interruptions can, and will, happen and my day may not go as planned no matter how hard I try.  That’s okay … accept it and go with it!  Move any unfinished items to the next day but prioritise them to the top of the list.

 

  1. Learn to say “NO”.  This can be really difficult, especially if you get an invitation for a fun, social outing.  It can leave you feeling like your missing out but the upside will be the satisfaction and peace of mind you’ll achieve by getting on top of your “To do” list … no more stress!

 

  1. Learn to delegate.  Sometimes it might be possible to hand a task over to someone else who has either more time or skill to complete it.  If the opportunity arises, share the workload.

 

  1. Don’t be a perfectionist or try to be “Superwoman”.  Be satisfied to do the minimum necessary to just get some jobs done and ticked of your list.  Sometimes near enough is good enough!

 

  1. Schedule some spare time.  This is so important!  When I have a particularly busy day planned at my desk, I always allow for breaks.  Five minutes is all I need to step away and put my feet up with a book, newspaper or magazine with a coffee or a cool drink.  I always come back feeling refreshed and I’m so much more productive.

 

  1. Be flexible.  You might start your day with the best of intentions and before you know it, your plans have changed.  Remember, you’re only human, so be satisfied with your best efforts.  Therefore, my most important tip is this … don’t panic … do the best you can, revaluate your plan and keep moving forward … there’s always tomorrow!

 

And when you do make it to the bottom of the list, enjoy the moment, you’ve earned it!  So tell me, what’s your best tip for managing your time and what do you do when you start to feel overwhelmed?

 

 

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