Time management. It’s one of those subjects that you either love or hate. If you love organizing and scheduling, you love it. If you struggle to find enough time in your day, you hate it. In today’s society, finding time to fit everything in is difficult, especially for working moms. 40 hours a week at the job, afterschool and weekend activities for the kids, church, family time, grocery shopping, cleaning house….I know I’m preaching to the choir here. Sometimes it feels like you need to be superwoman just to get the basics done.
The bad news is, you can’t do it all. I know from experience. As hard as I try, I can’t fit 28 hours worth of “stuff” into 24 hours. Fortunately, there are things you can do to make sure you accomplish what absolutely needs to be done.
The important things will never get done, unless you know what is truly important. Before outlining a schedule for yourself, make sure you know exactly what you want to accomplish.
In my life, my priorities go something like this:
- Everything Else
That gives me the basis for deciding how to spend my time each day and each week. Given my priorities, I want to make sure that I’m reading my Bible consistently. Church is important, so I make room for it every week.
Family includes having dinner together and homeschooling the kids. Grocery shopping and bill paying get scheduled every week, too.
Work for me is running this blog. I need to try to make 20-30 hours a week available to write posts, answer email, work on the technical stuff, prepare for off-blog engagements, and a host of other little things.
And everything else includes hobbies, TV, going out with friends, and too often it includes the housework. Fortunately my husband is pretty good about pitching in and helping out.
Schedule in Blocks
It’s easier to get thing accomplished when you can focus on the task at hand. When you’re trying to do 5 things at once, those things may get done, but they may not get done well. Ask me how I know. :)
My ideal day goes something like this:
I try to schedule time in the Word before the kids are up in the morning. Around 7:30 the kids get up, and I am homeschooling mama until at least lunchtime. If I have a free 5 minutes, I might try to read a few emails, but the kids have priority until school is finished.
After lunch, while my oldest finishes her schoolwork independently, I check in at BeingFrugal.net. Barring the need to help with additional schoolwork, I try to get at least a couple of hours of work in after lunch.
Late in the afternoon I leave the blog to make dinner and eat with the family, run kids to activities, and spend time with my husband and the kids. The family has priority until bedtime.
After the kids and my husband are in bed, I spend a couple more hours on work, before getting about 6-7 hours of sleep and starting all over. Sleep is not on my priority list. I think maybe it should be, though.
I use the same priority system for the weekends. Church is non-negotiable. We go. If the kids have activities, I’m there. I fit blogging in around those two priorities.
Sometimes, even most of the time, your schedule will not work out as planned. Illnesses happen. Schedules get changed, and you’ll find you have three important things happening on the same weekend. The kids have a hard time with something in school, and school takes an extra hour. In any given day, a million (at least it seems like a million) things can happen to throw you off track.
How do you deal with it? Go back to step one. What are your priorities? If you have a lunch date with friends (the “everything else” category), and one of your kids gets sick, you take care of your kid. If your child has an unusually busy week and needs additional support, you skip writing the blog post to attend to your family.
Prioritizing also works on a smaller level. When reading email, I take the time to respond immediately to anything that needs an immediate response. If something is important, but can wait, it goes into a “to do” folder. If something doesn’t require a response at all, it gets archived or deleted. Then, as I have time, I can work my way through the “to do” folder.
No matter how well you schedule things, know that sometimes it just won’t be possible to get everything accomplished. That’s OK. And sometimes, your whole schedule will fly out the window. That’s also OK. As long as you know what your priorities are, and you make a conscious effort to live by them, the important things will get done, and you’ll be just fine.
Photo by wwarby.