You were probably plenty busy before you brought a bouncing baby into the world, but with this new little person taking up the majority of your time, you may find yourself wondering how you can possibly manage it all.
While your child is always your first priority, you also cannot lose focus on your job; many people think that working from home solves this problem but that is not entirely true. No matter where you are, your mind is always on your child. If you are at home, your child demands your undivided attention and you become frustrated with the amount of work that piles up as you cater to their needs. On the other hand, when you are at work you are constantly concerned about whether or not your child is being taken care of.
While there is no magic potion to turn you into Supermom, a little time management and organization may be just what you need to succeed in your great balancing act.
Establish a Routine
Getting yourself and your family into the flow of a routine will help you immensely. Once there are scheduled times to do certain things, everyone begins to adjust to it and soon it becomes second nature. While it may seem like a hassle, schedule things (while keeping it somewhat flexible; kids aren’t the most predictable creatures) by the hour so that your children not only know what they are to be doing, but they know what you are doing and when it is time to let you work.
Set Goals and Make To-Do Lists
The best way to accomplish anything is to plan for it. At the end of each work day, make a to-do list of what needs to be done the next day. Also set goals for the next day as well as more long term ones to keep you motivated. Consider having your children do the same thing. Kids love to cross things off of a list, and having a tangible thing that tells them what they need to be doing is a great motivator. Having your child set goals now also keeps you inspired to set your own as well as teaches your child the value of having goals and reaching them.
The thing about goals and lists though is that you have to stick to them in order for them to work. Once you have created a list (and make sure it’s a list you can feasibly do in one day), stick to it and let other things wait until later.
Don’t keep anything near your workspace that could be potentially distracting. Lay out all your work in front of you and begin tackling one assignment at a time. The biggest time waster is the internet. Resist the urge to click on that big blue E until you have accomplished some work and are taking a break.
Organizing your workspace will also make it easier to stay focused. Try implementing a filing system that works for you. Keep everything neatly organized, keep notes as to where things are and what needs to be done, and deal with things as they come in rather than hoping to get around to them later. Reducing clutter means reducing distractions and reducing distractions means getting more work done in less time.
Remember when you were in school and had to take timed tests? Remember how well you did when you were up against the clock? How thrilling it was, how much you accomplished, and how rewarding it felt to finish before the timer went off? That exact same thing applies now as an adult. No matter how old you are, being up against a clock makes you work that much faster, and adds a bit of fun to the workload.
Set timers for specific things. Allow yourself 20 minutes to organize your bills and you’ll be amazed how much time you save by not perusing the junk mail. Give yourself a half an hour to respond to your emails and you will realize how much time you used to waste reading useless messages. Setting timers allows you to accomplish more in one day than you ever thought possible. Of course there will be distractions, but once the time for a certain thing has ended, move onto the next and come back to it if there is time later.
Make it a Family Affair
In the same way that using a timer makes you that much more ambitious, it will do the same for your kids. Being a mom is hard work, but if you learn to delegate a few things, you’ll be surprised how much more at ease you can be. If your children are older, there are a number of things that they can do easily without your supervision. To keep whining to a minimum, set a timer and tell them they must have everything finished before it goes off. A little competition goes a long way; and so do rewards.
Also consider putting together a calendar. Let your child be part of the scheduling process so that he feels involved and confident. Keep it color coded, and remind him from time to time to check the calendar and see what he is supposed to be doing (or maybe it shows that this is mommy’s work time and he needs to entertain himself). Again, rewards always tend to go a long way.
Remember that rewards do not always have to be “things.” Your child is as frustrated by your busy schedule as you are, so perhaps use rewards such as watching a movie with mommy, going out for ice cream, or other things that offer him more of your time.
The only way that you can accomplish everything that you need to is to believe that you can. It may sound corny, but the truth is that if you don’t think you can do it, you probably never will. Find ways to motivate yourself; keep reminders in clear view of why you are working so hard, reward yourself for a job well done, and don’t expect too much from yourself.
Take Time for YOU
Even the strongest people in the world need a break every now and then. Pushing yourself too hard will only result in exhaustion and work that is far from your best. If you have a hard time taking breaks, then schedule them in. Actually writing down on your schedule what times you will be taking breaks makes it just seem like part of the workload. During your breaks, do whatever is most relaxing to you. You may want to play a quick game with your child, read a chapter in a book, listen to some music, eat a snack, or simply sit quietly and breathe. Whatever it is, make sure that your breaks are about you.
Remember that you need more than one 10 minute break during a 10-hour day. Allow yourself a 15 to 20 minute break every 2 hours or so and you will be amazed at how refreshed, focused, and energized you are.