Sunday, November 7, 2010

Time Management for Professional Moms (Guest Post)

Photo credit: Alan Cleaver (flickr)
If you’re a stay-at-home mom, you know that it’s not just a way to spend your time every day. It’s a full-time job, and that requires a strategy for managing the small number of hours you have to accomplish a large number of tasks. What’s more, you aren’t just obligated to get your work done satisfactorily – you also nurture your family, taking time out of your busy day to talk and listen. Time management doesn’t mean scheduling every minute of your day in painful detail, although some people are more comfortable with that approach. The majority of moms just want to get through the day with the accomplishments of running all the errands, keeping the house clean and organized, and being there for the family. You can do that and, best of all, squirrel away some time for yourself by following these time management tips for busy moms.

Take Time to Set Daily Goals
It’s easy to wake up in the morning and feel immediately stressed out about the number of things that have to be accomplished within the next 24 hours. Feeling stressed can cause you to jump straight into that chaotic mess of tasks and events without preparing a game plan and getting ready to take it all on like the pro you are. So give yourself a few minutes every morning before you dive into work – set reasonable and practical goals for the day and take some deep breaths. If necessary, set your alarm for five or ten minutes earlier than usual to get enough time for daily planning. Just keep a pad of paper and pen on your bedside table – you may also want to include sticky notes and your planner – and jot down a short phrase describing each task you’ll need to accomplish for the day.

Prioritize Tasks and Estimate Time Commitments
Now, number your daily goals, writing a “1” next to the most important one and continuing until you’ve assigned a number to each goal. Make a rough guess as to how much time each task will take you and write this down, as well. If there are any events on your list, make a note of what time you’ll need to leave in order to arrive on time, as well as what time you might be able to return home.

Plan Around Scheduled Events
You now have all the tools you’ll need to plan your day. Write down scheduled events in your planner first, then fill in other tasks around them. If you’re feeling extra organized, use different colored pens to distinguish tasks that have to be accomplished from ones that can wait for another day. As you know, moms often have to change their plans on the fly, so a schedule that’s set in stone isn’t very useful. Keep some flexibility in your planner to account for the unexpected.

Make and Use Helpful Reminders
Use your planner to write yourself sticky notes that can be left in strategic locations to remind you of certain tasks or events. For example, if you know you’ll need to go to a PTA meeting right after dinner, leave yourself a note on the refrigerator where you’ll see it at the right time. You can also fill in your family calendar so that your kids and husband will know what you’ll be doing and where to find you throughout the day. Most importantly, take your planner with you – you can easily buy a small one that fits into your purse. By doing this, you’ll be able to avoid potential conflicts when you need to schedule something on the go.

Be Patient, Stay Positive, and Take Breaks
Don’t let the task of time management overwhelm you. It can seem pretty daunting at first, but once you get into the habit, you’ll become more efficient and confident in your scheduling. Just don’t forget that you can spontaneously take a few minutes to yourself for positive reinforcement – the world won’t come to an end if you take a short break. Give yourself the gift of positive thoughts and enjoy the refreshed state of mind you’ll get when you return to the real world.

About the Contributor: Maria Rainier is a freelance writer and blog junkie. She is currently a resident blogger at First in Education, researching areas of online colleges & blogging about student life. In her spare time, she enjoys square-foot gardening, swimming, and avoiding her laptop.


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