Wednesday, July 21, 2010

WFMW--time management tip

Ever since my second child was born (almost 2 years ago), I've really struggled with time management. I don't know how to juggle housework, playing with the kids, and much needed downtime for me.

I recently (maybe 6 weeks ago) saw a tip, probably on WFMW, where the mom wrote out her To Do List for the day and then scheduled when she'd do each item. At the time I thought "She's crazy!" Actually, I believe my thoughts were more along the lines of "that's nice for her, but I couldn't do that, I never know what my day will be like" etc. {Which is why, I'm sorry to say, I didn't bookmark the post, therefore I have no one to credit. If you know who you are, let me know in the comments!}

Edited to add: I found it! Alicia's Homemaking is where I originally saw this idea. Go read her post here. Thanks!!!

Fast forward to 2 weeks ago.... I don't know how it came about, I guess I had several things to get done the next day, so I scheduled those tasks for 9:00, 10:00 and 11:00 the next morning. Surprisingly, this is the best idea I've had in a long time. As it turns out, I do have pretty predictable mornings--my kids play in the living room while watching tv. All our activities are in the afternoons (other than L going to camp Tuesday and Friday mornings, which doesn't affect my 9, 10, 11 plan). Sometimes we run an errand--which can be scheduled at 9, 10 or 11.

So here's what I've been doing: I take 3 items I want to get done (not including laundry, it doesn't need a time slot since it's just 5 minutes here and there) and I give it a time slot of 9:00, 10:00 or 11:00. Now, in the couple weeks I've been doing this, I've never actually done all 3 tasks right on time. I am extremely lazy and tend to procrastinate, but generally the stuff is getting done! That is HUGE for me!

As an example, here's what today's To Do List looked like:
9:00 shower
10:00 make phone calls
11:00 fold clothes

Okay, so that list looks pretty pathetic. Other examples are: go to Target, get dinner in the crockpot, and blog.

This system spreads out the work (very important to a lazy girl like me)--since each task only takes 15 to 30 minutes, it builds in plenty of time between tasks to play with my kids or take an internet break. It's realistic because I'm not trying to fit 6 tasks into a single morning. It also gives structure to my day. And I don't have to do anything (other than get the kids up, dressed, medicated, and fed) before 9am. I am NOT a morning person.

As I said, it's not a perfect system and I'm still lazy and I still procrastinate. I've had "make phone calls" on my list for 3 days now! But it's still been a huge breakthrough for me. And the days that I closely follow my schedule, feel so good and I've found myself at 1pm feeling productive and with nothing to do but hang out with my kids. Awesome!

For the record, I get more than three things done in a day. As any mom knows, I'm also feeding my kids, cleaning up breakfast, changing diapers, making lunch, changing the laundry, calming a tantrum etc. This new trick should help me find time for the non-daily stuff like cleaning toilets--ooh fun!

The only downside of this system, is that on those days where I'm lazy and let time pass unproductively, I can see exactly where I went off the rails. I know all that could've been accomplished but wasn't. Not a great feeling, but hopefully that's motivation for sticking to my plan the next day.

That's what's working for me these days. Check out lots more ideas at We are THAT Family.

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