The beginner’s guide to time management for moms
There’s time management and then there’s time management for moms.
Similar concepts, but not the same.
Time management is simply managing your own time and schedule. Time management for moms is all about managing your entire family’s time and schedule.
While your pre-mom tricks still have their place in this game, you may need a few more in order to stack the deck in your favor.
How else are you supposed to make sure your whole family is dressed, clean, and fed? (Not to mention getting them where they need to be on time and on the right day!)
What is time management anyway?
While the answer to this question may seem obvious, there’s more to time management than simply managing your time.
You can manage your time flawlessly, get a million things done in a day, and still accomplish nothing. Just because you’re in motion doesn’t mean you’re making progress.
But if time management isn’t simply managing your time, then what is it?
My definition of time management is being able to effectively prioritize your tasks in a way which helps you reach your goals as efficiently as possible.
The purpose of time management for moms isn’t just to get as many tasks completed in a day as possible, but instead to make sure the tasks you are completing are actually getting you closer to reaching your goals (and your family’s goals.)
How to get started
You don’t need much to get started with time management. That’s the beautiful thing about it!
Sure, there are a bunch of awesome time management tools and apps you can purchase or download when you’re ready to take your time management to the next level.
But, when you’re just getting started I suggest sticking to the “keep it simple” motto.
Time management tools for beginners
Whether you use a traditional planner, a bullet journal, or even just a plain old notebook, you need to have somewhere to keep track of your daily and weekly schedules. Just make sure it’s something portable so you’re more likely to keep it with you.
This might seem redundant since your planner likely has a calendar. The wall calendar is for monthly planning and also serves as more of a communication board so the whole family knows what’s going on.
*If your family is tech-savvy you can even use Google Calendar to keep everyone on the same page.
Not essential, but this book completely changed how I look at time management. I actually developed my own time management system around Covey’s first few “habits.” Some of the concepts may be worded differently or use a slightly different approach, but Covey’s habits are definitely the foundation of my time management system. Pretty much anyone can benefit from the lessons in this book. You can even listen to it on Audible, like I did, and get some reading in while you clean! (See, you’re being more effective already!)
Free downloadable printables from getittogethermom.comGetting started with anything can be overwhelming. So, in order to help you start managing your time better as quickly and easily as possible, I’ve put together some free printables to help you follow along and set yourself up for success. Click below for your free download now!
Taking your first steps
I’m so excited for you!
Resist the urge to skip over the basics. It may be tempting, but they’re the framework for everything that comes next.
It’s better to act than be acted upon
Step one is to take back some control and make a commitment to be more proactive! Steven Covey explains in his book, “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” that there are two ways to live life.
Does this sound familiar? An invitation comes in the mail and you think, “Oh, I’ll have to remember to RSVP to this.” Then the invitation gets put aside, you forget to RSVP until the last minute, and you’re scrambling the day before to get an outfit and a gift together. Don’t feel bad, you’re not alone! The issue with this lifestyle is that you’re letting your day run you rather than the other way around. It’s difficult to consider goals and the steps needed to reach them if you’re always concerned about the disaster of the day. Instead, goals get put in the category “I’ll deal with that once I get (blank) taken care of.” And that’s usually where they die.
A proactive person addresses an issue before it turns into a fire (or becomes urgent.) This is the person who receives an invitation, immediately RSVP’s, puts the date in their calendar, and starts looking for suitable outfits/gifts for the event immediately rather than waiting until the last minute. Using a combination of prioritization and time management skills, the proactive person is in control of their time and more capable of focusing on the bigger picture. (I don’t know about you, but I wanna be like this person!)
Distinguish between concerns and control
Moms worry. ALOT! It doesn’t even need to be a rational worry necessarily. It’s just what we do. So, once you make a conscious decision to be more proactive, the next step is to figure out how to take everything that’s swimming around your mom brain and prioritize it. To do this, you need to look at your concerns and pick out the ones you have immediate control or influence to change.
Write down all of your concerns.
This may take a while! Put some time aside and let it all out, girl. Everything from climate change to your obnoxious neighbor to your upcoming vehicle registration renewal. Covey calls this the circle of concern.
Ask yourself, “which of these do I have the power or influence to change?”
Inside the circle of concern (all of the things you’re worried about), there’s a smaller circle. This circle is known as the circle of control or circle of influence. In this circle are all of the items of concern which you have the power or influence to change. Go through your list and highlight the items within your circle of influence. Let’s focus on these first. Put the rest of your worries out of your mind for now. You’re gonna need the room!
Begin with the end in mind
You wouldn’t start laying the foundation for a building without first drawing up plans for the actual building, would you? Of course not! So, why is it that most of us live our days in that exact way? Most people wake up and let the day run them while trying to squeeze in as many tasks as possible from their to-do list. But you don’t want to be like most people anymore, so let’s get that mom brain of yours back on track!
Make goals and strategize
Covey describes this as “beginning with the end in mind.” This step can be time consuming, but it’s essential. How can you focus on your goals if you don’t even know what they are?! For each concern, write down one goal and the basic steps you might need to take to achieve it. I know you want to get started already, but I promise you that putting the time in up front will make all the difference when it comes to being successful with time management.
Take a breath. Things are about to get much easier! In this step, you’re going to categorize your concerns and then rank your categories in order of importance. This is completely subjective and will be different for each person. Some examples of common categories include family, career, health, spirituality, and money. The most important part about ranking is to be honest with yourself. This isn’t what you think should be most important to you, it’s what you actually value most.
Now you know which categories of concerns to prioritize over others, but what about individual tasks within the category? This is where the Eisenhower Principle (or the Eisenhower Matrix) comes in. Since the matrix can be confusing for some people, I created an easy to follow pathway to help you easily decide how to prioritize your tasks in the most efficient way possible to reach your goals.
Bringing it all together
So, now you know which tasks need to be acted upon immediately, scheduled, delegated, and disregarded. You may choose to focus on your top ranked category first, or (like most moms) you may have to juggle a few categories at a time. In the beginning, focus on tasks within each category that need to be acted on immediately or delegated, but make sure to schedule important, non-urgent tasks. Eventually, the goal is to spend more time with important, non-urgent tasks and less time putting out fires with urgent tasks.
Tips for success with time management for moms
It’s safe to say my number one tip for success with time management for moms is prioritization. All other time management tips and time management skills for moms are pretty useless if you can’t prioritize.
But, since I really want you to be successful, I have a few more tips to help you get started!
List your top three priorities for each day and try to accomplish them by 11 am
Always aim to leave a room cleaner when you walk out than it was when you walked in
If you take care of small tasks they don’t become huge, time-consuming tasks.
- Break larger tasks into smaller, more manageable (15 min or less) tasks
- Utilize idle time
Clean dishes while waiting for dinner to cook, check e-mails while waiting in line at the grocery store, etc. Anytime you have to wait for something is just another opportunity to squeeze in an item off the to-do list!
- Batch similar tasks together
Wash your face while your child plays in the bath or squeeze in an errand if you’re already in the car.
Common Questions/FAQ About Time Management for Moms
Why is time management important for moms?
Moms constantly have a lot of balls in the air.
Kids, spouses, the house, meals, laundry, appointments…it can get extremely overwhelming if you don’t have a system in place!
Time management is essential for making sure moms get the most out of every day, including maybe putting up their feet for a guilt-free mental break without worrying a never-ending to-do list. (Dare to dream! 😉 )
What is the best way to manage your time as a mom?
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question.
The best way to manage your time as a mom depends on your own values, priorities, and even personality.
But, a good place for anyone to start is to determine your priorities and your goals. Then, try to focus your time on tasks which get you closer to your goals.
What are time management skills?
Time management skills are exactly what they sound like.
Any skill you can implement to help manage your time, like prioritizing tasks, can be considered a time management skill.
Often you’ll find time management strategies are simply a combination of various time management skills.
What are the best time management tips for moms?
My favorite time management tip is the Eisenhower Principle.
Sometimes it’s tough to figure out which tasks are priorities and which aren’t, but the Eisenhower Principle makes it so simple!
Broken down into basics, you divide a piece of paper into four quadrants. (1)Important/Urgent, (2)Important/Not Urgent, (3)Not Important/Urgent, (4)Not Important/Not Urgent. Focus on quadrants one and two, delegate quadrant three, and don’t lose any sleep over quadrant four.
The more your time management skills improve, the more you’ll find you have fewer tasks in quadrant one and are focused mostly on quadrant two!
Another easy and underrated time management tip is to simply get organized! Searching for what you need wastes valuable time. Give everything a home and make sure it “lives” there when it’s not being used.
How can I keep procrastination from getting in the way of my time management?
The hardest part about time management isn’t prioritizing your tasks, picking a strategy, or even planning your strategy.
The hardest part is overcoming the urge to procrastinate. We’re all guilty of this from time to time.
Still, if you’re serious about getting it together and managing your time more efficiently, you have to learn to hold yourself accountable. You can even set up a reward system for yourself if you want.
Especially in the beginning, you’ll have to work hard to make doing the right thing your new bad habit. (Don’t worry, your FRIENDS re-runs will understand. 😉 )
The Last Thing You Need to Know
There is no single tip to make managing your time as a mom easier in an instant. Like everything about being a mom, it’s like pushing a round peg through a square hole (difficult, but not impossible with a little effort!)
Still, for moms looking to manage their time more efficiently, understanding your priorities is the first step in understanding how to best manage your time and achieve your goals.
Check back soon for more time management tips for moms, and don’t forget to pin this article so you can refer back to it as needed!
Do you struggle with time management?
I’d love to hear from you! Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll figure it out together.