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As a mom, you are always juggling 10 things (or more) at once. It's so hard to keep track of all of your roles and hats if you sit down and think about it. You have to do what feels like 10 million things on any given day. You're a wife, mom, personal chef, personal assistant, maid, shoe finder, taxi service, child wrangler, a boss to everyone you come in contact with, etc. And that's just at home. That's not even counting your workplace! You name it and it feels like no one can do anything without your help or talking to you first.
Again, it's overwhelming, to say the least. So, how on Earth do you find time to get it all done when you have so many roles? You can learn how to plan your time and get more done by optimizing your time.
Before we get started, let’s look at the actual dictionary definition of optimizing. Optimizing (according to Google), means make the best or most effective use of. So, optimizing your time means making the most effective use of your time. I like the word effective in this definition. Just because you’re scheduling doesn’t mean you’re effective.
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Steps to plan your time when you wear multiple hats:
1. Brain dump the hats you wear
Brain dump all of the roles you have (or hats you wear). What roles do you have outside of the workplace? Ex: homeschool teacher, money manager, cleaning, cooking, Sunday School teacher, etc.
Write them all down.
2. Brain dump tasks for each role
For each of the roles, you listed out in step 1, write down the tasks you do under each role.
Ex: Role- money manager
- Create a budget for the month
- Go over budget with husband
- Pay bills
- Make deposits
Just write down everything you are doing and/or want to for each role.
3. Categorize each task using the categories below
Before we get started categorizing, I want to discuss something real quick with you. Remember when you had a substitute teacher in school? The sub gave you busy work. Remember how much you hate it? You wished you were doing something that actually mattered.
What if I told you that busy work is the reason you’re not making progress on your goals and why your schedule is filled with things that don’t matter? Don't worry if your schedule's filled with busy work, this next step will help scrap the busy work and leave you with things on your schedule that actually matter and get you to your goals.
Truth bombs about time:
- You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do.
- You are an adult, you have agency, and you can actually do whatever you want. Now, are there going to be things you don’t like doing, but actually want to do? Yes. For example, I don’t like doing laundry, but guess what? I want to do my laundry because I want to have clean clothes to wear.
- You are in control of your time and schedule. If you are doing things you don’t really wanna be doing, well that’s on you.
My favorite method for making over your to-do list and getting it down to the nitty gritty is a tool called the Eiesenhower Matrix.It is the best time management tool I have found. This tool helps you look at your to-do list with different eyes. This is where the effective comes in from the optimizing definition. It helps you create an effective to-do list.
I will breakdown what the matrix is and how to use it to scrub your to-do list and make it more effective.
The Eisenhower Matrix was created by President Dwight Eisenhower. It's a way of prioritizing your tasks based on whether or not they're urgent or important.
Urgent vs. Important
Urgent (according to Google), is requiring immediate action or attention.
Important (according to Google), means of significance or value; likely to have a profound effect on success, survival, or well-being.
Some things are both urgent and important, while some things are only just urgent, important, or neither.
Here are some definitions to help you understand each category:
- Urgent AND Important– must get done today, a top priority (Do First on the matrix)
Examples: Crises, problems, and deadlines
- Important, but NOT Urgent– second priority, might be able to get done tomorrow if needed (Schedule on the matrix)
Examples: Relationships, planning, and recreation
- Urgent, but NOT Important– tasks that are urgent to someone else, but not you (Delegate on the matrix)
Examples: emails, interruptions, many meetings
- NOT Urgent AND NOT Important– things that need to be deleted from your to-do list immediately (Eliminate on the Matrix)
Examples: things that waste your time
The Eisenhower Matrix takes the same concepts and puts it into a very useful visual chart that is easy to understand. By looking at the chart, you will be able to go through your to-do list and figure out which items to do first, schedule, delegate, or eliminate. This is a very helpful way of looking at your to-do list if you feel like a to-do list is your lifeline. This hopefully took some things off your plate.
4. Time block the things left on your plate
For all of the things left, create time blocks for them.
Time blocking is a way to schedule out your week to get your priorities done. You do the prework like in this post, and then schedule the groups of items on time blocks in your calendar. For example, if you’re a homeschooling mom, you know you are in your homeschool role from 8-12 every morning. On the calendar, you would block out the 8-12 block and then write out each task you plan on doing that relates to that block.
When you compartmentalize your life and work on 1 role/block at a time like that, you are so much more productive. You don't have to worry about doing 2 things once so to speak. It also helps you get things off your mind too. When you look around your house on Friday afternoon and the floors look dirty, you don't worry. You know you sweep and mop the floors on Saturday mornings. It's on the list.
As moms, we have so many thoughts floating around in our brains at any given time. When you time block and schedule what you're going to do, it gives your brain a break because you don't have to “remember” all of these things.