Some of you may know that I am not just a “stay at home mom”…I also work from home (Which is not really as glamorous as it sounds, trust me.).
It’s a blessing and a curse. No, really! Unlike my 9-5 counterparts, I don’t ever really get to “leave” the “office.”
Between my mommy job and my “other” job, it’s critically important that I manage my time well. This goes beyond just making lists (which I love), to organizing my day and making sure that I have time for all of the important things. Here are my no-fail organization tips.
Get a GOOD Planner…and Use It
I am in love with the Erin Condren Life Planner (you can use this link to get $10 off!). It offers a lot of options, and her planners are very customizable for whatever your needs are. I actually use 2 planners AND her weekly calendar-I use one planner for work where I write down my projects and deadlines, and the other for scheduling my life. I promise that I’ll do a post specifically dedicated to exactly how I manage this!
I use the weekly calendar to help me meal plan (which we’ll talk about in a minute…see what I did there? Foreshadowing. Now you know another tip before I’ve even gotten there!)
Be prepared, a GOOD planner will take up space. It will allow you lots of room for notes, thoughts, reminders, and changes. A good PLANNER will only write in their planner in pencil (I still need to remember this one most of the time!)…or have lots of white out handy.
Schedule Your Day
For me, it’s important that I schedule my day down to the approximate hour. Yes, that may sound nuts (it is), but with my current workload, it’s the only way I don’t feel guilty not working and playing with my kids. Yes, I said that. I feel guilty when I’m not working on my business. I don’t like feeling like that. So I plan my day.
Pencil in time for job searches, client projects, weekly chore list , time with your kids, schooling, drop offs, pick ups, extracurriculars, even your weekends. The more you use it, the more natural it will become. If you’re crazy like me, get yourself a good set of highlighters or even pens and color code your days so you know at a glance what happens when.
Learn to Set, and Love, Deadlines
Have a major project you’re working on that is going to take you a few days or weeks? Or even something that needs to be done by this evening? Give yourself a time limit for each of your tasks. So if you schedule “chores” in the morning, make sure that you schedule a time for those chores to be DONE.
This may seem like bad advice, but I’ve found that it seriously limits my procrastination. I only have 30 minutes to tackle my chore list? I’m laser focused in accomplishing the necessary tasks before time runs out.
This rings true for playdates, school, and even chores.
HOLD YOURSELF ACCOUNTABLE.
I actually use (and LOVE) washi tape, stickers, and stamps to help give myself a visual of what lies ahead. Seriously. It’s a sanity saver.
Practice the Art of NO
It’s okay to say no to things. Jobs, activities, play dates, appointments. Learn to use that little word when you need it. It’s okay to limit your children’s play dates if you’re overwhelmed by the sheer amount of driving time you have in a week.
This goes for your office hours, too! It took me a long time to learn that I needed to write down when I was working…and when I wasn’t. It has helped me tremendously to enjoy the time I have with my family, knowing that I have office hours pre-planned, and there is nothing that I need to get done right now.
Things happen. You get sick. Your kids get sick. Your dog eats your computer (I hope not!). You have an earthquake, a hurricane, or a flood. That’s life. You need to roll with it. Plan that your day may not always go as planned. I try to schedule a few “free” hours each week that I can use to catch up with, well, life. So I didn’t get the chores finished? Do them during my “free” time. I’m still not done with a project? I take that time to tackle it and finish it.
Sure, there are weeks where I don’t need to use my “free” time, but there are weeks when I do. Because I plan ahead, I know that I won’t be stuck with too little time and too much to do (been there, done that. NOT FUN.).
Turn Off Notifications
BACK AWAY FROM FACEBOOK. Yup. I said it. This year, I made a resolution to stop checking my phone every 5 minutes (okay, it was every 3 minutes. Ridiculous.), and it’s been incredibly freeing. My phone used to ding every time someone posted, messaged, emailed, texted, or I forgot to sync my FitBit activity for more than 2 hours. I was a slave to my phone.
Sure, there are some great time management apps, but it’s just so darned tempting to “just.” So I just say no. I schedule times to check email, voicemail, even Facebook. You should, too.
Even if you’re not as busy as me, this is a HUGE lifesaver. Plan your meals AHEAD of time. There are lots of great programs out there (like 6 O’Clock Scramble) that will help you do this, or you can just go through your favorite cookbook!
Write down your meals, AND your shopping list so that you know what to buy and when to use it. Post it where the whole family can see. Or better yet, use a planning program that does it all for you!
I use another Erin Condren product for my meal planning: her weekly schedule pad. It ROCKS. I love that I can write in anything that is going to take us out of the house, and everyone knows what lies ahead in the meals department.