We are always searching for that one magical solution to manage our time and to help us feel like a good parent, spouse, employer, boss, or friend. We crave one way to perform better and be more efficient.
However, it takes multiple, layered techniques to successfully manage time and integrate our work, family, and personal lives together. Think of the techniques like layers of clothing, and add or subtract as needed to help you personally and professionally thrive.
Since we are never actually “off the clock,” time-management layers help guide the constant ticking toward greater success and enjoyment. Layers also provide choices; and more choices eliminate frustration and the potential for a “mommy meltdown.”
The following five time-management tips will help mothers excel at home and at the office. They are written from my personal and professional experiences.
Layer #1: Set time limits.
Just how do you “make the time” to accomplish everything on your list that you set out to do? Since the list is only effective if the items on it can be realistically completed, assign a time limit for completing every item on your list. Be present in what you’re doing, finish it, and move on. I have my list of things to do, and I’ll assign time slots to it. If I have one hour to work on a presentation at work or one hour to clean at home, I do the best I can for that one hour.
Layer #2: Stay in the moment.
When you’re at work in a meeting, be there. When you’re at home, be there. If you’re in a business meeting, don’t wish to be somewhere else. Be present where you are, and don’t feel guilty about where you’re not.
Layer #3: Create one calendar.
I used to keep two different calendars, one for home and one for work; but I was missing work deadlines, my kids’ activities, and other events. So, I combined the calendars, which caused me to start talking about my family at work and integrating my two lives. It’s one life and one calendar! And, now, I don’t miss a thing.
Layer #4: Watch the clock.
It sounds simple, but an awareness of time gives you superpowers! Pay attention to how much time “until…” and how much time “since…” for every meeting, errand, chore, and task. Many of us use our phone as a clock these days, but a wristwatch helps you manage your time better.
Layer #5: Systemize childcare.
When we have childcare in place on certain days for certain hours, we can define that time for work and/or for ourselves. With numerous back-up and contingency plans, we can also secure and systemize the value of childcare and the predictability of planning for that time.
Find your layers, and then integrate them. The right combination will help you manage your time while feeling successful at home, at work, and in life.