Put up your hand if you have too many things on your plate and not enough time to do them. Yeah. We are all not only putting our hands up, we’re waving them around frantically.
As parents, we all strive for a delicate balance of timing to keep it all of our balls in the air. And when one of those balls needs more attention and time than expected, any hope of balance can be lost.
I’ve recently been thrown a couple more huge time-management curve balls.
#1 – In addition to my regular YMC responsibilities, I managed the re-birth of our new website. Translation: Since the summer, I’ve kinda been doing two jobs instead of one.
#2 – The Kid is having a challenging time in SK. After getting a diagnosis of Asperger Syndrome a couple of months ago, my husband and I are now shuttling him to Social Skills classes and learning how to better help him succeed.
Oh wait…did I mention that we’re also doing a mini-reno on our kitchen and having our entire house repainted? Some might say I’m a glutton for punishment. I say, “The show must go on!”
Honestly, I’m not quite sure how I’ve ended up months later with a brand-new website launched, a kid who is doing much better in school, and a kitchen renovation that is almost completed. It involved copious amounts of coffee and a few sleepless nights, but here I am. Tired, but here.
So let me share 10 tips that I try to use to help keep it together when I think it all might fall apart…
1. Get your priorities straight
When sorting out how to spend your time, it is all about prioritizing. If you are overloaded, something’s gotta give. You can’t always do it all! Decide what is top priority and what isn’t. If something doesn’t need to be done today, don’t worry about it until tomorrow.
2. Give up perfection
I must admit this is really hard for me!! But when push comes to shove and time is of the essence, “fine” can be good enough. Maybe you aren’t making dinner from scratch but you’re getting it done and that’s what counts.
3. Be realistic
Set yourself up for success. If you keep short, daily to-do lists with a manageable number of items on them, you’ll feel better about what you have accomplished rather than bummed about a huge list of incomplete tasks. Then tomorrow, you can create another one!
4. Just say no
Again, another hard one! But I keep reminding myself that it is ok to say no. Don’t take on things that you don’t deem high priority. It might be hard saying it—especially when you know someone needs your help—but in the end, you are the only one who knows how much you can handle.
5. Ask for help
It’s also ok to ask for help. If you have someone to delegate to, do it! Whether it is a co-worker at work, or your husband at home, or grandparents or babysitters for help with the kids, rely on the networks you have to support you when things are especially busy.
6. Schedule what you can
If you create a schedule, you’ll be able to anticipate what is coming at you. You’ll also know what blocks of time you have to complete tasks. This can help both you and your kids. I set lots of alarms on my iPhone to remind us when it is time to do things and our family Google calendar is a lifesaver.
7. Assume things will take longer than you expect
Whether it’s fighting traffic to pick up your kids or cleaning out your email inbox, it is safe to assume that most tasks are going to take you longer than you thought. So try to give yourself as much time as possible to get things done—especially for your top priority tasks.
8. Plan in advance
Try to organize what you can in advance to save precious minutes during crunch times. Things like packing school bags and making lunches the night before can make mornings less harried. Think about what you can have ready to go that will save you time when you need it.
9. Put things where you need them
Having things stashed where you need them or in the same place all the time can save you time. If you always know where your keys are on the way out the door or have a snack on hand in the car, you’ll be ahead of the game.
10. Roll with the punches
Take it from the Control Freak…you can’t control it all. We all know that kids are unpredictable and to expect the unexpected. Adding in a bit of cushion time and rolling with the punches can save you a lot of frustration and time in the long run.
Hopefully taking the time to read these ideas will help you carve out a little extra time that you can spend on yourself. Because even though it isn’t on the list, taking a breather to enjoy a well-deserved cup of coffee is crucial. Don’t forget about you!