Six weeks after I had my baby I went back to work. Although it was much sooner than I anticipated, my office allowed me to work from home. I figured my multitasking skills would help me succeed at both. Here was my chance to show I could continue working my full-time job while taking care of my baby. Watch and learn everyone! Turns out, it was much harder than I thought it would be. My final breaking point came when I was trying to plan a joint press conference with Amazon while I held my crying baby. There were many days that I ended up crying myself. Thankfully, since then I’ve learned a few time management tips to make my work-life balance easier.
5 Time Management Tips for Busy Moms
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I wasn’t completely delusional though. I knew I couldn’t keep up my blog at the same time so I all but dropped it during that time. That, however, was about the only thing I did right. Since I felt like my to-do list was never ending I doubled up tasks. I pumped milk while writing a press release. I took conference calls while feeding my baby. And I finished writing op-eds on Saturdays at 9 pm.
Seven months later I put in my notice that I would be staying home full time. I could finally focus on my baby, blog, and hopefully my book. Now the world would see how great I was at multitasking!
I even bought myself a pretty planner and filled it with to-do lists:
- Vacuum and wash the floors
- Write a chapter in my book
- feed Penny
- Pump 6 times a day
- Give Penny a bath
- Work on a new blog post
- Research how to increase my social media following
- Reach out to companies for collaborations
But after trying this tactic for a few weeks I noticed I was burnt out and rarely (if ever) accomplished everything on my daily to-do list. never accomplished what was on my list. This was not working. I had to change my routine. Through book suggestions, trial and error, and a whole lot of prayer I started to piece together a daily routine that allowed me to both take care of my baby and work towards my goals. Below is step-by-step how I got there in hopes that it can help you too. And don’t forget to sign up for my free workbook to help you create a daily plan that works for you, too!
1.) Create a Basic Routine with the Top Priorities
Once I was no longer working for the government (and committed to my job’s tasks) could I strip my schedule down to the necessities and build it back up again. And I mean strip! For a week I only wrote out the basic tasks I needed to complete that day to keep me and my baby alive.
- Feed Penny breakfast
- Make myself breakfast
- Do My Devotions
- Wash my face/brush my teeth
- Pump 6 times a day
- Feed Penny and myself lunch
- Feed Penny and myself dinner
- Wash my face/brush my teeth
When I cut back I found my sanity and that I could relax again. I accomplished everything on my list! Were other people out there doing a lot more than me? You bet they were. But that was ok. I was accomplishing MY list – the absolute necessities – and I felt good about it at the end of the day.
After a while, these basic tasks became a habit and instead of checking off that I washed my face, brushed my teeth, and did my morning devotions in my planner I could simply write “Morning Routine” in my planner and know I would get it done.
If you have your own business or side gig, you will have to pare down to the basics. What is absolutely necessary right now? Before you can work on growth you need to make sure your health and your children’s health and wellness are taken care of first.
2.) Simplify Your Daily Decisions
The next step to creating a daily plan that won’t leave you burned out is to simplify your daily decisions. Did you know that the average person makes 35,000 decisions every single day? Steve Jobs called it “decision fatigue” and it’s part of the reason he wore the same thing every day: a black turtle neck. The fewer decisions we have to make each day, the more “brain power” we can devote to accomplishing tasks or using our creativity.
I’m not the greatest at meal planning but knowing what I’m going to make every day of the week is such a stress reducer. It can be as simple as deciding that every Monday you are going to have pasta (meatless Monday?), Tuesday you are going to have tacos, Wednesday you are going to have leftovers, Thursday Take Out, and Friday pizza. (And feel free to add some vegetables to those meals…)
You can do the same with your wardrobe, routine, exercise program, and sleep schedule. Who knew to wear the same leggings every day was beneficial to accomplishing our goals?
3.) Create Yearly Goals
Now that you feel you have a handle on the most important things you can start adding in more daily tasks to accomplish your daily, monthly, and yearly goals. But you have to write out your goals first. Goals that are written down are much more likely to be accomplished.
But it’s not just about stating them. It’s about implementing DAILY tasks that get you closer to your YEARLY goals. Every day, do at least one task to push you closer to them. If we don’t devote time every day to them then soon we find ourselves weeks down the road without having made any headway.
Right now I am focusing on being a good mom and wife by taking care of my baby AND keeping the house clean. Those are my first priorities. Additionally, I am also working on growing my blog and working on a book. These are my secondary priorities, but in order to accomplish them every day, I do at least one task daily to move forward.
If you haven’t read it yet, I’d highly recommend the book “The 12 Week Year.” It has been life changing for me in helping me pinpoint and reach my goals. I could write a whole series on the book itself but my recommendation is to read it and implement it in your life yourself. I’m even currently a part of a facebook group where we help keep each other accountable and share our triumphs (and sometimes failures.)
4.) Remove Distractions
Sometimes it feels like we have no time left in our day to work on our side hustles, but the fact is, we also waste a lot of time too. How many hours a week do I waste scrolling social media? I probably don’t want to know.
Additionally, we waste time on GOOD tasks. Sometimes I get distracted by dirty dishes when I want to write a blog post so I stop to finish those first and about time I’m done – the baby wakes up! This is where time-blocking comes in handy. I actually schedule out 30-minute sessions to work on my blog and book each day (for an hour total each day) where I don’t allow myself to get distracted but set a time, and focus on my task at hand. It’s amazing how much more you will get done by implementing this one small strategy. Which leads me to my last point…
5.) Focus on One task at a Time
As women, we love to multitask. I even pride myself on my ability to multitask. But according to new research from The University of Michigan, multitasking actually hinders productivity.
Whenever participants switched between tasks, the researchers noted significant time costs, which only grew when the tasks became more complex.
While these switch costs were small in isolation, when totaled up for people who repeatedly switched back and forth between tasks, they surmounted to large amounts that led researchers to conclude that multitasking inhibits overall efficiency.
Additional research on the topic conducted at Stanford University supported these findings, claiming that multitaskers have lower attention spans than those who prefer to complete one task at a time.
After conducting an experiment in which 100 students completed a series of tests, social scientists at the university concluded that those who tried to do some simultaneously were easily-distracted and had little control over their attention levels compared to those who simply completed one after the other.
What’s more surprising, is when I stopped multitasking, I realized I accomplished a task quicker, better, and used up less energy. It really is almost refreshing to focus on one task at a time and see it through. This means I no longer check social media while playing with my baby, write a blog while pumping or try to complete numerous household chores at once.
What’s your best productivity or time management tip? And don’t forget you grab your FREE workbook to help you accomplish more in your day with less burnout!