Feel like there are never enough hours in the days, or the week, or the month? You’re not alone. Trying to balance work with family and household chores is a juggling act that no one has perfected, but there are some ways to make it easier. Try these ideas for better time management so you can get more done in less time – and maybe even grab a little time for yourself along the way.
Learn to Say No
If you’re having trouble figuring out to fit in everything you need to do, then the first step is to reevaluate and make sure all these items on your to-do list deserve their spot. This means saying no to anything beyond what you can comfortably accomplish – whether that’s coordinating the end-of-season soccer party, meeting up with that naggy high school friend, letting your kids sign up for horseback riding and cheerleading and trumpet lessons, or taking a promotion that requires more overtime.
You may think you are the queen of multitasking, but when you’re trying to answer your emails, help with a science project, and whip up dinner all at the same time, you’re likely to see all of the end results suffer. Instead, block off certain times of the day for certain activities and do whatever’s necessary to eliminate other distractions during that time – close your email, turn off the ringer on your phone, have your babysitter take the kids for a walk.
Know Where Your Time Goes
Just like tracking your eating and exercise can help you pinpoint places where you’re taking in too many calories, tracking the ways you spend your time can help you identify time sucking activities you might not even be aware of. Do you fall down the Internet rabbit-hole when you open your email browser? Do you turn on the television to check the weather and find yourself at the end of another episode of Friends an hour later? Does taking five minutes to load the dishwasher turn into an hour of cleaning? Spend a week logging everything you’re doing at a given moment and you may be surprised at how much time you can get back.
Break it Up
If you’re facing a week (or a month) full of overwhelmingly huge projects, take some time beforehand to break them up into manageable chunks. Plan to research your presentation on one day, write it the next, and edit after that. Feel like meal planning is getting the best of you? Take 20 minutes on Friday night to come up with meals for the week, an hour on Saturday for grocery shopping, and half an hour on Sunday to cut vegetables and do other prep work. By checking small tasks off your list you’ll feel more accomplished – and you’ll also improve your productivity.
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- “Why Humans are Bad at Multitasking.” LiveScience. (July 23, 2013) http://www.livescience.com/37420-multitasking-brain-psychology.html
- “Top 10 Time Management Tips.” TLC. (July 23, 2013) https://tlc.howstuffworks.com/family/10-time-management-tips.htm