If you are like most moms I know you think to yourself, at least once a day, "I wish I had more time!" Most of my clients come to me at some point asking how they can get more hours in the day. Unfortunately, the truth is you can't. There are only 24 hours in a day and it is impossible to make more. That being said, there ARE ways you can cheat and create more time for the things you want to do.
1. Prioritize! This one is especially important if you are prone to procrastinating or starting something and never finishing it. Each morning you should make a list, written or mental, of what needs to be done for the day and list them in order of importance. This can be done just as you're getting out of bed or while you're having your morning coffee. If your mornings are already hectic I suggest getting up a mere 3-5 minutes early because that is really all you'll need to make this list. If you're not a morning person you can also make a list right before bed the night before but then I suggest it be a written list so you don't forget anything. When making your list, try and be aware of how your body reacts. When you think of #1, your most important thing for the day, does you body contract? Do you feel nervous or tense? If that's the case then maybe it needs to be broken down into more manageable parts or baby steps. Don't try to do too much all at once or you'll end up getting nothing done at all! You might also consider making a second list of less important things that could be done in 5-10 minutes increments. This way, when you have a few minutes to kill between activities you won't fall into a "black hole" (see #2). Get that little bit of dusting done, throw the clothes into the dryer or make that hair appointment during your down time.
2. Get rid of what I call "black holes" or time wasters. Things like TV, checking your email every 5 minutes, online or computer games, and phone calls from chatty friends can be fun but they are also HUGE time wasters. According to a government census the average adult watches a total of about 70 days of TV per year!!! I bet you can think of a lot more important things you could do with that time. Think about this statistic: the number of minutes per week the average American child (2-11years old) watches television is 1197 but the average number of minutes per week that parents spend in meaningful conversation with their children is 38.5. Just spending those 70 days playing and relaxing with your children would be time better spent. Think about setting aside time each day where you turn off your TV, phone, and computer and work diligently on your to-do list. Even an hour will increase your productivity greatly.
3. Don't be afraid to say no. So many women and especially mothers have a problem with this. They think they have to do everything and be everything to everyone. They want to be "super mom" and "super friend" and "super wife". Well I bet if you talked to your kids, friends and husband you find out they'd be perfectly happy with you just being yourself. Taking on too much adds more pressure on you then you need and prevents you from working at your best which means everything will take longer to do. You will procrastinate more if you're forcing yourself to do things you don't really want to. You need to protect your time. If you're still finding it hard to say no, it might help to come up with a list of reasons you want to protect your time. What do you want to do with any free time you get? These might include time so you can do things to make progress towards your longer term goals (you do have goals, right?), spending time with people you love and care about and who nurture you, or so you can do things that bring you pleasure and joy like a walk through the woods, painting, swimming or reading a good book.
4. Ask for help. You may be thinking men are the ones with problems asking for help, they won't even ask for simple directions but most of my female clients have problems asking for help as well. Just like being afraid to say no, they are afraid to ask for help because they think they have to do everything themselves. This is so untrue. You are no in this world alone. You have friends and family and even total strangers out there willing to help you and they won't think less of you if you need them. In fact, they are likely to feel honored that you would consider them. Try and plan ahead. If you know you are coming into a time where you plate will be full to over flowing, think about asking for help in advance or even hiring someone temporarily. Or why not hire them permanently? Do you REALLY have to mow the lawn every week or can't you pay a neighbor kid to do it or teach your own kids to do it. Do you find yourself constantly picking your kids up and dropping them off for the same activities every week? Then start a carpool because you must know that you are not the only mom out there that feels more like a taxi then a parent!
5. Energy renewal. Set aside a few minutes or more a day to renew your energy. I know what you're thinking, "I have no more time!" but trust me, the more energy you have the more you will get done in a shorter amount of time. If you are feeling refreshed you will procrastinate less. Managing your energy can be done in just a few minutes at a time. Take a few moments to close your eyes, take a few deep breaths and just be in the moment. If you are into yoga, do a few relaxing poses a few times a day or just stretch your body loosen up a bit. You may want to even think about signing up for some yoga or meditation classes or get some DVDs or books about the subject. A great book for beginners is called The Joy Within by Joan Goldstein and Manuela Soares. Meditating a few times a day only takes minutes and will do wonders for your mind as well as your time management but make sure to turn off your phones during these moments! Another book I highly recommend if you're interested in energy renewal is "The Power of Full Engagement" by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz.
So, if you're up for the challenge, I would suggest you take a few moments each morning or night to make your prioritized to do list. Also, start becoming more aware of what you want more time for and what you are protecting your time for. Make a list of the top three things you want to do with this time and keep those things in mind when you are about to say yes to something you want to say no to or when you start procrastinating or falling into a black hole.
Ally Moll is a Life and Creativity Coach located in South Central Wisconsin. She offers one on one coaching to artists and women who want to incorporate more creativity in their lives. Ally helps people declutter their minds and their lives so they can be happier and have more time to do what they want. She can also assist you in becoming more free and independent by helping you start your own small business.
To learn more about her and her services visit http://www.allymoll.com or sign up for her newsletter at http://www.allymoll.com/newsletter