How much of your time is spent doing things you love?
The business world lives and dies by their productivity. Which is why so much effort goes into creating and implementing time-saving tools and methods. Why not build on their ideas to optimize your personal life?
These 7 common business tactics can help you make more time for what you love:
1. Schedule and Prioritize
The benefits of having a schedule is that you are budgeting your time to spend it first on your priorities.
Aren’t you more likely to be active, cook better meals, read more books to the kids (or whatever you hope to accomplish) if you schedule it?
Not only that, but young children (and their parents) truly thrive on routine. They find comfort in knowing what to expect and you will do less coercing once the schedule becomes a habit.
If you are a stay-at-home mom that has full control of your schedule, then you of all people know how things can quickly spiral into chaos if there is no schedule or routine.
And you have a wonderful opportunity to schedule in advance the things that will help your days and weeks run smoothly.
If you notice the kids getting antsy mid-week you could put a long walk or tentative play date into the schedule for every Wednesday.
Are the kids more receptive to quiet play time in the morning? Then schedule yourself to do your own solo work that needs more focus then.
Are the kids absolutely famished by the time you are cooking dinner at 5? Then make it a habit to give them a snack at 3.
You can get a lot more accomplished and have happier kids if you implement a custom schedule.
Be mindful of how you and they respond to new schedules and tweak as necessary.
If you don’t have control of the schedule for the full day, try using morning and evening routines to make things run smoothly and fit in quality family time.
This is not to say that you cannot be flexible in your schedule. You can stay open to spontaneous opportunities and change your routines to accommodate your growing and changing children.
A huge part of prioritizing is getting rid of all the tasks and commitments that you are doing that you don’t need or want to be doing.
Your time is one of your biggest commodities. Spend it on only the best and most important things.
If you are mindful of your schedule and routines, then you will ensure your time is being spent on what really matters.
According to a recent study, the more decisions you make, the more you will make irrational and less favorable decisions.
It’s called decision fatigue and it’s just one more reason why being a parent can be so taxing!
After that thousandth “Mom, what can I do now?” or “What am I going to cook for dinner?” or “He took my toy!” our mom brains are completely fried. Then enters more stress, frustration, and time wasted.
But you can help prevent this fatigue by using a simple formula: “When X happens, then I will do Y.”
For example, “When my kids fight over something, then I will take it away from both of them.”
This formula works because when X eventually does happen, you won’t have to stop and think about how to handle the situation. You already know!
You can use this formula for ALL of the common issues in your house. (This is also a handy formula for forming new good habits and breaking old bad ones)
The less decisions you have to make on a day to day basis, the less stressed you will be.
You can also prevent decision fatigue by eliminating choices.
For example, by using weeknight dinner themes like “Taco Tuesday” or “Meatless Monday” you are narrowing your focus.
It’s much easier to choose one family favorite taco dinner than to conjure a meal idea out of thin air.
This also works for what brands you buy, clothes you wear, what you will do, where you will go, and what routes you take to get there.
All of the little things add up to a lot of spent time and mental energy.
Preventing decision fatigue is why some geniuses eat the same things for breakfast every morning and wear the same outfits day after day.
Maybe if my mom brain can eliminate and automate enough decisions I can actually remember things like… words and stuff.
3. Keep Office Hours
If there is something that you want to get done each day that takes particular focus, then you must set aside a time to do it.
For instance, I work on this blog in the early morning between when I nurse the baby and put him back to bed and before my older two kids wake up (which is typically between 4 am and 7 am- and yes I go to bed extremely early!) and I also work on it during the afternoon if I can get the baby to settle during my toddler’s nap-time. These are my “office hours.”
I have trained myself to do my most focus-demanding work at these times because I have less interruptions.
The reasons for setting office hours for yourself is two-fold.
One, you are setting aside time to focus and really get stuff done.
Two, you will be more present with your family during your “non office hours.”
Whether it’s a side business project, a hobby, or plain old down time, choose a time or make a time that will work for you and show up when you say you will.
If you really want it, you owe it to yourself to make it happen.
In the early 1900s, nearly every rural mom baked their own bread. If a woman bought bread at the local general store, the store owner was asked to wrap it up for them and the woman would make a clean exit out the back door with her shameful purchase.
These same pre-electric homemakers had few labor saving appliances (or even running water for that matter).
After growing, harvesting, canning, and preparing vegetables and fruits, raising, feeding, and slaughtering animals, spending days laboring over the mending, washing, drying, and ironing of clothing, tending to and teaching their children, and cleaning their home, when did they also have time to proof, knead, and raise dough, gather firewood and stoke the fire to bake bread even though bread was readily available at the store?
I believe they chose to do it for two reasons: being frugal and good old-fashioned mom guilt.
If you cannot even bake the bread for your family to eat, what kind of mother are you?
Looking back 100 years later, this seems absurd, right? But we are still doing it today!
If you sign up to bring cupcakes for a bake sale or school birthday party, would you forgo picking them up at a grocery store bakery to take the “high road” of baking and decorating them yourself (even if you despise baking and even though it doesn’t save a lot of money and takes a lot of time)?
Or would you think another mom inferior for bringing something store-bought?
Maybe not straight out, but I believe a lot of women think of choosing the easy, fast way as an inferior choice, even when the results are the same.
Or how about hiring out for cleaning, laundry, lawn care, meals, etc?
Would we feel guilty or judge another for using money to lighten their load?
While I am not advocating throwing all your money at services so you can sit in a pristine house and not raise a finger, I am saying that if you can afford it and you could use the help, don’t let mom guilt get in your way.
You may have enough time to do it all yourself, but what if you could eliminate a huge time-suck out of your weekly to-do list for a moderate fee?
It may be worth it, especially if you are using your time saved to do something even more worthwhile to you.
The national average prices for outsourcing household duties show that some things can be more affordable than others:
- House cleaning: $120-$230 a visit
- Lawn care for a month: $50-$270
- Laundry for wash, dry, and fold services: 60 cents to $3 per pound (a large load of laundry is about 12 lbs)
…and there is a wide range of prices and services for food delivery, grocery shopping and delivery, and odd jobs. Actual prices will vary based on location and amount of work that needs to be done, so you could get a great deal.
Often, you can get a better price if you hire an independent operator over working through a professional organization, but you could miss out on the perks of vetting and insurance that come with the higher price tag. Make sure you do your homework when hiring someone- especially if they will be in your home.
If you are resourceful and find the right people, you could be outsourcing the tasks you dislike the most for a moderate amount. Just imagine how much of your precious time $100 a month could suddenly free up. Not to mention never having to do that frustrating task again!
In this case, money is time and it’s up to you to decide which is a more precious commodity to you during this season of your life.
If you can afford to hire help, then great! Now, if you are incredibly thrifty and would rather save your money, or if you could never fathom hiring someone because you are too much of a perfectionist and control freak (me!) then there are still ways to manage it efficiently all by yourself.
I like to outsource to weekend mom. No, there is no service named “weekend mom” (that I know of). I’m referring to myself on days when I have more free time. Choose a day when you don’t have as many time commitments so you can accomplish more preparation.
I use my Saturdays to plan meals, gather ingredients, and sometimes even pack meals away into the freezer or have leftovers ready to go in the fridge. I also clean the parts of the house that were neglected during the week, I make my plans for the week ahead, and prepare as much as possible so I can jump right into the flow of things come Monday.
Thankfully, my husband pitches in with the cleaning and does the grocery shopping for us, and my four-year-old loves to clean mirrors and sinks. 😉
Focusing for just one day to do these weekly household maintenance tasks can really free up time for yourself on busier days.
5. Batch work
Working in batches is when you do similar tasks at the same time. The plus-side of working in batches is that it eliminates the time and mental expenditure it takes to switch from one task to another, thereby getting it done faster and more efficiently.
Let’s take laundry for an example. I’ve read lots of mommy bloggers swear to doing one load of laundry every day from sorting to putting it away.
I’m not a fan.
It takes less time and less mental energy when I wash ALL the clothes on one day and then fold and put it ALL away the next day.
If you haven’t tried this, I highly recommend giving it a whirl. It’s seriously the best!
We have a family of five and there are typically 5 or 6 super-sized loads of laundry each week.
My hands-on laundry time is less than two hours a week.
The best thing about it is that I don’t have to even think about laundry at all for another 5 days.
You can implement the idea of batch work into almost any household duty. You could wash the dishes only once a day or make a cleaning routine to do all like things at once instead of going room to room (vacuuming all the floors at once or washing all the windows and mirrors at once). Time yourself and see if it is faster.
This idea is also a wonder in the kitchen. This is the same idea behind freezer meals or simply browning extra meat or chopping extra vegetables for another meal.
Batch working includes saying no to multi-tasking.
As a mom, if you are doing anything other than giving complete attention to your children, then you are already multi-tasking.
Please don’t try to fold the laundry, cook dinner, make a grocery list, and talk to your children at the same time.
You will not do any of those things well and it will take longer than necessary.
I promise, trying to do more than one other thing with small children around will only leave you feeling frustrated and overwhelmed.
You are not alone. You may feel alone sometimes (or a lot of the time), but you aren’t.
There must be someone in your life- a spouse, children, parents, siblings, aunts/uncles, neighbors, friends, people you know from work, church, your kid’s school, etc.
Please ask them for help. It does take a village.
If your spouse doesn’t help as much as you need, ask.
A lot of people don’t see what needs done, especially early in marriage or as a new parent.
When my husband and first had a baby, I got so mad at him for not helping me when I thought it was obvious I needed it, but never told him.
A few months later, I just asked him something simple:
“Could you change the baby’s diaper while I finish getting dinner ready?”
And he did it. Why did I assume that he would just read my mind?
I began asking for help more, and a few years later he helps around the house and with the kids without being asked (mostly).
If your children are old enough, give them chores.
Not only are you teaching them wonderful life skills, but once they get it down, that’s one less thing on your to-do list.
If you have members of your extended family living near you, then you are blessed.
Unless they are horrible trolls, you can usually count on them to help in ways of emotional support, advice, and even babysitting your kiddos.
If they are not available, you can ask other trustworthy people near you for help.
Please don’t let pride get in your way.
Being a mom can be so stressful, and there are so many wonderful people that would love to help, if only you ask.
One idea is a babysitting co-op where you can trade afternoons or evenings off with other moms/couples for me-time or date night.
No, I’m not suggesting you “fire” the kids and ship them off to grandma’s. Although…
I’m talking about all the stuff that surrounds you, that takes time to care for.
Having less and using less means you are wasting less time fussing and getting frustrated over things that shouldn’t have your attention in the first place.
I’m talking about…
- that water pitcher you haven’t used once that just sits in your way in the cabinet
- that decorative bowl that’s collecting dust
- that one purple heart sock that has no mate that inexplicably keeps coming through the wash cycle every week
- that dress that used to look so good on you (ten years and 20 pounds ago) that is taking up valuable closet space
You don’t use it, you don’t need it. It’s in your way and taking up your mental energy and time.
It’s time to KonMari the crap outta that stuff!
Whether it’s just a purge of unnecessary items, or literally downsizing your home to have less floors to mop, it does wonders for your spirits and boosts your free time.
Imagine closets full of only the clothes that fit you well and that you like. It will take less time to find an outfit.
Imagine medicine cabinets with only the things that haven’t expired. You can find the Tylenol right away.
Imagine wearing your pajamas for more than one night. Less laundry to wash.
Imagine your kids with half the toys they currently own. Everything wouldn’t be EVERYWHERE. (hallelujah!)
Imagine all your socks are exactly the same. You won’t have to search for all the matches.
In short, imagine your home having only exactly what you need for it to function and be a home.
Simple. Essential. Peaceful.
Use this FREE printable guide to quickly implement these tactics into your life and fill your saved time with more things you love: your family, your hobbies, and maybe even some sleep!