Time. What a crazy 4 letter word. What does “time” mean to you? How much would you pay for “time”? For me, it is priceless. It is something that passes by so quickly, and something I will never get back. It is something that doesn’t discriminate. Everyone has it, and everyone doesn’t have enough of it, all at the same time. Some people say they have less time then the average person. Is that true, or is time management to blame? You could probably argue both ways.
For me, being a working mom, time is of the essence. On a typical work day, I need time to get ready for work, time to drive to work, time to WORK, time for small talk with coworkers, time to drive home, time to spend with my daughter before bed, time to make dinner, time to clean up, time to exercise, time to spend with my husband, time to spend time alone, time to blog, time to watch TV, and time to unwind and go to sleep. Sounds like a lot, right? It is, and not all of that can happen every single day. This is where time management sets in.
Recently at work, I took a personal assessment to help myself and others understand how I am hard-wired. It was interesting to see it all on paper, but nothing in the results surprised me. I know who I am. To make it relevant, I have a very high need for stability and formality. I like routine. I like structure. I like plans. I like perfection. In order for me to feel like this on a daily basis, I have to plan my time wisely. I never leave things to the last minute, it would drive me nuts. I do not do well when plans change, and it can really send me over when my list has not been accomplished. A few ways I manage my time are:
- I plan. I plan out my week one week ahead of time. I figure out what I need to accomplish, and I make a list. I plan lunches and dinners, and I prepare the meals ahead of time when possible. When am I working out? Do I have coverage for my daughter? This is all planned out. The planning usually happens on Sundays between my husband and I. Normally, he is trying to relax and I am pestering him with questions about what we need to accomplish. I am sure he will tell you I can be annoying at times, but there are many more times he is thanking me for being so on top of my game. Someone has to take control, right?
- I schedule. This goes hand-in-hand with planning. First I make the plan, and then I schedule the time to make it happen. I schedule time for myself, whether it be working out or spending time with my friends, I schedule time with my husband, and I schedule time for fun activities with my daughter.
- I prioritize. Not everything can get done at once. Sometimes this is a struggle for me because I feel like EVERYTHING is a priority. This is the area I ask my husband for help with. What really needs to be done? What can be left until tomorrow? Cleaning up the house before going to bed for the night is something that is very important to me, so that is done every single night, but cleaning the baseboards… that can be left until tomorrow or next month!
- I stay organized. I’m kind of a freak, but I love organizing. Whether it be organizing concrete things, or organizing my time. I just love it. I use the google calendar app (and set reminders for myself) to keep all of my appointments and commitments in order, and I am checking the calendar several times a day. I have had nightmares about missing appointments. It isn’t pretty.
- I separate “work life” and “mom life”. Sometimes. HA! I struggle with this one too. I am usually pretty good with this on a normal day though. The days in which I am successful in this, are the days I feel like my time was spent wisely. My goal is to be more mindful of the present. You can’t get that “time” back, remember?
- Hire help (if you can) or negotiate responsibilities with your partner or spouse. Recently, I have been struggling to keep up with the house work, so I finally got my wish and we hired a cleaning person. Back to how my time is priceless… I’d much rather spend my free time with my daughter, rather than scrubbing a toilet. If it’s financially feasible, hire help. If it is not, make a bargain with your spouse – “I will do the dishes tonight, if you take tomorrow night.” This shared responsibility frees up some of your time to do something else, or to do nothing at all!
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