MASTERING TIME ON PURPOSE
No More Overwhelm! 12 Time Management Tips for Busy Parents
Updated May 16, 2023
Try this roadmap to get organized today!
- Map out your perfect day
- Get up 1 hour earlier and start your day with a self-care ritual
- Banish your phone, Emails and chores until the afternoon
- Connect a chore with something fun – but sometimes, just turn everything ‘off’
- Put away your phone and laptop when your family comes home
- Schedule in regular time with your honey after the kids are in bed
- Google Calendar everything
- Automate your life
- Set helpful alarms to guide your day
- Learn to say “no” more often
- Remember to say “yes” sometimes
- Wash, rinse and repeat
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1. Map Out Your Perfect Day
Make an hour-by-hour plan to start. Don’t get hung up if you don’t manage to keep it. Tweak it, and try again. Every day is a new beginning.
Distracted much? Try the Pomodoro technique: 25-minute stretches of focused work, punctuated by 5 minute breaks. Longer breaks of 15-30 minutes can be taken after 4 Pomodoro cycles.
2. Get Up 1 Hour Earlier and Start Your Day with a Self-Care Ritual
This means aiming to sleep 1 hour earlier at night too! Yoga, meditation, journaling, a morning walk, whatever rocks your boat. It fills up your tank for the day, so you have more than enough to give.
3. Banish Your Phone, Emails and Chores until the Afternoon
Reserve mornings for working deeply, thinking, making, writing and creating things.
Put your phone on silent, and in another room.
Online browsing, answering emails and phone checking are our greatest time sucks.
Tell your family, friends, and colleagues that you have this policy, so they’ll know to only hear back from you later in the day. Most things are not emergencies.
You’ll be surprised how panicked morning messages often resolve themselves by the time afternoon rolls around.
4. Connect a Chore with Something Fun – but Sometimes, Just Turn Everything “Off”
I love listening to audiobooks and podcasts while I’m cleaning or cooking. But sometimes, I need a mental break and just enjoy focusing on the chore. It’s a kind of meditation.
Try to get chores done when the kids don’t require your attention (not during meals but say, a quick vacuum between lunch and afternoon activity).
This avoids using chores as a means of ‘escape.’ We all do it sometimes. But just notice…
5. Put Away Your Phone and Laptop When Your Family Comes Home
That mind-blowing podcast or audio-book can wait until the kids are in bed. Practice being present and connected. Yes, it’s hard not to get distracted, but be proud that you’re leading by example.
Ask about your child or partner’s day. You don’t have to fix anything, just be compassionate and available.
6. Schedule in Regular Time with Your Honey After the Kids Are in Bed
Often he’d just appreciate your company while you guys watch tv. Other times, your honey’s just as happy being alone and doing his own thing (you can read, or catch up on chores while listening to your favourite podcast, yay!).
Remember that you’ve both probably gone through a lot, to be able to be together – don’t forget to honor that.
7. Google Calendar Everything
This makes life soooo much easier. Of course, you’re free to use any service of your choice. But please, create a family Email and online calendar account that your whole family can use.
We just like the Gmail and Google Calendar combo. Whenever a school, work, hobby or birthday invitation comes up, we pop it into the calendar and include ALL the necessary details (time, location and what to bring).
8. Automate Your Life
Expanding on the previous point, schedule in recurring events on your calendar to make sure you stay on top of things. Like when you’re supposed to wash the duvets and pillows, reactivate the charcoal filter above the stove, spray the balcony plants with natural insecticide, and even when to get your vaccines refreshed (Tetanus booster shots anyone?).
9. Set Helpful Alarms to Guide Your Day
Like when to wake up for yoga, when to wake the kids, when to have them finish breakfast, when to put on shoes, when to leave for school, when to pick them up, and the list goes on.
Since we’re expected to be fully present and efficient in whatever we’re doing when the kids aren’t around, it helps to have your little alarm friend remind you, when it’s time to shift gears and get ready for the next thing.
10. Learn to Say “No” More Often
Protect your time. Once you have your priorities clear for this season and stage of your life, you’ll know when to say “no” to commitments that you just can’t fully honor right now.
It’s kinder to yourself and others, to just be real about it ahead of time.
Unmet expectations are to me, one of the biggest avoidable causes of frustration and unhappiness.
Learn to let go of preconditioned ideas of how things should be. Choose to stay curious and be happy with your pace of progress.
It’s ok to do just ONE chore a day, besides breastfeeding, changing diapers and cooking. It’s ok to have a messy home most days, when you have small children.
If you’re a limited energy person like me, try to keep your schedule as clear as you can and plan in commitments carefully. Schedule in low activity time slots or a low activity day, in between high activity ones.
11. Remember to Say “Yes” Sometimes
Schedule your priorities, but don’t prioritize your schedule.
It’s almost oxymoronic, I know. But getting stuck and too attached to our rules and comfort zones, can just as quickly lead to dissatisfaction.
As helpful as keeping a schedule is – staying flexible and balanced is just as important.
Maybe it’s making space on weekends and holidays for playful activities that don’t run on a schedule.
Maybe it’s committing to saying “yes” every once once in a while to experiences that are unfamiliar or challenging to us.
If we stay open and flexible, we can bend without breaking.
Be open to growth, instead of shrinking or staying still.
12. Wash, Rinse and Repeat
Yes, it takes mental discipline. Yes, it takes encouragement.
But when you see the incremental results you’ll gain over time, you’ll wonder why you didn’t start sooner.