30 TIME MANAGEMENT TIPS FOR BUSY MAMAS
Life with kids can be unpredictable, messy, chaotic and just a tad stressful.
Sometimes it feels like there is just too much to do, and not enough time to do it in. It’s a common issue, but believe it or not there are ways that we can feel much more calm and balanced in our homes.
A lot of the time we make our lives more difficult, by not opting for the easiest and quickest option.
Here I have listed 50 of the very best time management tips that I could find, that will help you to get more stuff done in less time, and stop living in a constant state of overwhelm.
1. Decide if something is really necessary
Quite often we add a whole heap of unimportant things to our to-do list. Maybe it’s something that we want to do, or we feel like we should do, but really it just doesn’t need to be there. It might be nice to think about baking a cake from scratch for your one-year-old’s birthday, but are they really going to appreciate it? Are you doing it because you love to bake and it’s one of your passions, or are you doing it to try to impress someone? It’s time to get real with yourself and only put things on your to-do list that really need to be there. There is zero shame in buying a cake from the supermarket.
2. Think ahead
What can you do the night before that will make tomorrow easier? Maybe you could have all lunch boxes packed, or outfits laid out, or breakfast in the crock pot? Thinking ahead and preparing makes the morning time so much easier and less stressful. Even if you just take a couple of moments to look at the calendar and think ‘Okay, what do I need to get ready for tomorrow?’ it will help. No more getting to school and forgetting it’s wear-your-own-clothes day!
3. Use a filing cabinet
You know all those random bits of paper lying around? Yeah… they’re not helping anyone. Make it a rule that when you get paperwork of any kind, it either gets dealt with straight away, binned or put into a filing cabinet. Divide the cabinet up by categories like ‘school’, ‘taxes’ and ‘bills’ so that you can easily find what you’re looking for. I’d also suggest taking a look online to see if anything can be done digitally. Many banks offer internet banking now, and you’d be surprised how many instruction manuals are available as PDFs. The less physical paper clutter you have, the better.
4. Pick your battles
If you spent 5 minutes complaining about every little thing your family did to annoy you, I bet it would add up pretty quickly. Make the decision to pick your battles and not let every little thing bother you. Okay, so there’s a pair of dirty socks on the floor. Picking them up and putting them in the laundry basket may be a little bit annoying, but it will take 2 seconds in comparison to the long conversation about responsibilities and cleanliness that you’ll end up having. Save those conversations for the major stuff.
When you’re focusing on an important project I always suggest not multi-tasking and just staying focused on that one thing. But there are certain tasks that we tend to do on autopilot that we can easily multi-task during. Driving to work? Listen to an educational podcast or an audiobook. Folding laundry? Watch an episode of your favourite TV show while you do it. Instead of spending half an hour folding laundry and then half an hour watching TV later on, you’re getting both done in half the time. And let’s face it, watching TV makes folding laundry way more fun anyway.
6. Use a family calendar
Even if you’re more of a digital person, I still recommend having a tangible calendar that you can hang up somewhere for all the family to see. I have mine hanging next to the coffee machine so that every morning when me and my husband are making our coffee, we can check it. I love the calendars that have different columns for each family member. It just feels so much easier to see what everyone has going on and where there are going to be any potential clashes. Make sure once you have your calendar you are writing EVERYTHING down on it. That way you won’t get any nasty surprises.
7. Have a running grocery list
If you find yourself forgetting things when you sit down to write your grocery list, try having a running list pinned to your fridge. That way every time someone uses the last of something they can just write it onto the list. Ran out of washing up liquid? Write it on the list. Used the last of the pasta? Write it onto the list.
8. Ask for help
There is no shame in admitting you’re not supermama. If you’re getting super stressed out, ask for help! Whether it’s from a family member or a friend or even another mama from your baby group, just ask. Odds are they’ll be happy to help out, and you could swap favours. ‘I’ll watch your kid for two hours tomorrow if you come round and help me run some errands.’
9. Get your kids to help
Even the smallest of little helpers can still do a job. If you’re folding laundry, get them to fold some tea towels. It doesn’t matter if the don’t fold it perfectly… it’s a tea towel… and it’s teaching them good habits.
10. Get a whiteboard
Whiteboards are super helpful for writing little reminders to the family. Is it someone’s birthday today? Make sure your hubby and kids know that they need to ring and wish them a Happy Birthday. It’s so much less stressful when you don’t feel like everything is on your shoulders.
11. Assign things to specific days
If there is something that is particularly stressing you out, assign it to a day so that you can work on it each week. For me, that’s finances. I can never keep track unless I sit down with my banking and bills every single week and pop it all into a chart. So for me, finance day is Sunday. By having it on a specific day, it means I’ll never forget it.
12. Get your bags packed
Make sure that every morning (or the night before would be even better – see point 2) you have all bags packed and ready to go by the front door. That means making sure that all homework, gym kits, lunches, water bottles, everything that you will need for the day’s activities are all there ready. This applies to the parents as well as the kiddos. Say goodbye to the days of scrambling around the house looking for the car keys when you’re in a rush.
13. Automate whatever you can
Consider having your bills set as recurring payments so that they come out of your account automatically on a specific day of the month. Try a meal planning service so that you don’t have to think about what to have for dinner. Whatever you can set to happen ‘on auto-pilot’ – do it. The less you have to remember and think about, the better.
14. Buy gifts online
As much as you may enjoy the process of going out and getting a gift from a shop, online ordering is the way to go if you want to save time. No driving to the shop, finding a parking space, looking for the item, queuing up to pay, driving back home, packing, driving to the post office and finally getting it delivered. And you avoid the risk of getting to the shop and them not having what you wanted. The internet has an unlimited choice of gift options, and services like funkypigeon.com make sending cards a breeze (P.S. totally not sponsored by Funky Pigeon!)
15. A place for everything and everything in its place
Making sure you are putting things back in their rightful place when you are done with them ensures things won’t get lost. Searching for misplaced items is quite possibly one of the biggest time-sucks known to mamas.
16. Group things together
Have all of your sports gear in one drawer, and all of your work documents in one folder, and all of the out-of-season clothes in one wardrobe. It will make it so much easier to get everything together when the time comes for it.
17. Place a basket on the stairs
Every time you see something downstairs that should be upstairs, pop it into your basket. Then when you next go up the stairs you can just take the basket with you and quickly put everything away in its rightful place while you’re up there.
18. If something takes less than 5 minutes, just do it now
Rather than noticing a job that needs doing and thinking ‘I’ll do it later’, ask yourself how long it would take to just get it done now. If the answer is less than five minutes, then guess what? You should just get it done now. Putting things off just means that they will build up, whereas if you spend that five minutes getting the job done, it’s out of your mind and you can move on to the next thing.
19. Bulk cook
When you make a meal, double the portion and put half of it into the freezer. That way, next time you are in a pinch and need a quick and easy meal, you can just whip it out and reheat it. The freezer is one of a homemaker’s best friends.
20. Use your slow cooker
Another of a homemaker’s best friends. The slow cooker is an awesome way to make fabulous home cooked meal with minimal effort. Just chop up the food in the morning (or the night before – see point 2 again haha), pop it into the slow cooker and let it do its thang for the rest of the day. When dinner time comes you won’t even have to think about it. Plus, it saves on the washing up as you’ll only have to do one big pot.
21. Plan once a week
Choose which day is going to be your ‘planning day’ and take the time to sit down and plan out your week. Figure out who is going to be doing what on what day, what needs to be prepared for each activity, and what your to-do list is going to look like. It may take a little bit of time once a week, but it will save you so much time in the long run.
22. Check that the kids actually want to do their activities
Has your child always played football at school? It might be worth checking if they are actually still into it. Often kids won’t say if they’ve grown bored of something, and it might be an activity that you can scratch off of the calendar. So just check in every now and again.
Do you have a bit of extra cash laying around? Rather than splurging on a new pair of shoes (because you know you already have way too many) consider hiring a cleaner to give your home a once over, or someone to do your ironing. It’s one job off your to-do list, and you don’t have to face the guilt of owning yet another pair of ridiculously overpriced shoes.
24. Figure out your emergency contacts
Who can you call when your child is sick and needs picking up from school? Who will happily pop round to watch the baby while you nip out to the shop? Try to set yourself up with a decent support system so that when curve balls are inevitably thrown your way, you don’t have to have a panic attack.
25. Wake up earlier
I know, I know. No one wants to hear this one. But getting up even half an hour earlier can make a world of difference. You’d be surprised how much you can get done with just a little bit of extra time, especially if that time is before your kids have woken up.
26. Get into a routine
Routines aren’t just for babies. We as adults thrive on a good routine. Figure out what works for you and your family and STICK TO IT. Eventually things will start to happen on auto-pilot, and you’ll be amazed at how much you are consistently getting done. Not sure how to develop a good routine for yourself? Check out my free live training – How to create a homemaking routine and stop wasting time.
27. Get things done while you wait
If you’re sat in the waiting room at the doctor’s surgery, or waiting in the playground for your child to come out of school, have something in your bag that you can be getting on with while you wait. Maybe it’s your smartphone so that you can be answering emails, or that book that you’ve been meaning to finish. Waiting time does not equal wasted time.
28. Get more sleep
This may sound counterproductive to spend MORE time sleeping, but think about it. If you are shattered and are zombie-walking around the house dragging your feet, you’re not going to get much done are you. Whereas if you’re super energised, you’ll be raring to go and be ultra-productive. Getting more sleep will save you a lot of time in the long run.
29. Step away from social media
Nothing sucks more time than sitting and scrolling on social media. If you’re the sort of person who can spend whole hours pinning things and liking things on Facebook, then I encourage you to try to wean yourself off. There are so many better things you can be doing with your time. Try putting all your social media apps into one folder, and only allowing yourself to access that folder at a specific time of the day, for example after lunch for 20 minutes. Once the 20 minutes is up commit to closing out of that folder and not revisiting it.
30. Set a timer for chores
I’m a great believer in setting a timer for 30 minutes and blasting through your chores. There’s something about being on a countdown that makes you get things done so much quicker, and you’d be amazed at how much you can get done in 30 minutes. Don’t think about it too much, just move swiftly from room to room tidying and doing whatever chores need doing. In 30 minutes I can usually get all rooms tidied, beds made, floors hoovered or swept, washing up done and surfaces wiped down. Competition is always a great motivation tool, and there’s no harm in being in competition with yourself to see how much you can get done!