It is a myth that those who work the most hours each day are the most productive. Another myth is that multi tasking is the most successful method for getting many tasks done. These two myths have been engrained into the minds of mothers for many years. The fact is that the key to successful time management for a mom allows for the completion of tasks as well as the ability to lead a simple lifestyle. Read along and I will show you the precious secret that will change your life!
First thing to remember to set yourself up for success is that you didn’t develop your life sucking and ineffective habits overnight. To change a habit it takes accepting where you are, knowledge, and lots of practice. With dedication to your goal to simplify mom life, persistence, and repeated application, you will find that a new time management habit isn’t that difficult.
It makes me cranky when I witness over-scheduled and overwhelmed moms bragging about how much they have to do and the short cuts of how they get things done. The idea that quantity is important to over quality rubs me the wrong way. I feel a sadness about what is being missed or compromised. But I don’t judge! I used to be one of those women.
You have heard the phrase, “Jack of all trades, master of none.” As with many over used expressions and idioms, the meaning has become muddied enough that we don’t think about the precise implication. Technically this is used to define a person who does a wide variety of skills, while not having gained expertise in any of them. Although this may be true, the more potent truth for moms is that we do many things while producing mediocrity. I don’t know about you, but if I am going to spend time on something I want the end product to be that of quality.
My Daddy used to tell me that a job well done is a job worth doing. I didn’t fully understand what he meant by this in my younger years. However, as time passed and my life became chaotic, I realized that I was accomplishing most of my To Do List, but there was no quality behind it. I would read bedtime stories, but instead of living in the moment with my children and savoring the quickly fleeting moments, my mind was on the tasks I had to do afterwards.
Other times I would have them tell me the story from the pictures in a book while I was performing another task. I told myself that it was worthwhile for them to tell me a story and I was getting the laundry folded to boot. Score. NOT! I was only listening halfheartedly and offering pat responses. Quality memory making with my children was far down on the priority list in comparison to everything else I had to do. I was Rushing through the story time just so I could check that off my To Do List. I was cheating them and myself.
In short, what my Daddy was trying to teach me is that time spent singularly devoted to a task produces a quality outcome that is worth far more than 100 mediocre outcomes. That man was Brilliant! Thankfully, I finally understood his message, but I wasn’t sure how to make changes to improve my time management skills. Achieving excellence in the important areas of life is of paramount importance for all moms. To be clear, it is even more necessary when pursuing a simple lifestyle.
Luckily for you, I have been through this process. I have found the key to successful time management that acknowledges a commitment to quality while finishing projects as top priorities. Grant me a bit more of your time and I will show you how you can incorporate this in your life as well.
The best method I have found is called the Pomodoro Technique created by Francesco Cirillo in the 80’s. (So why did it take me so long to uncover?) Here is how it works.
- To begin with, you will need to evaluate the tasks on your To Do List. In order to achieve meaningful and successful time management, you must be certain that your tasks and time available are realistic. Not only that but the focus should be on finding a good balance between necessary tasks and coveted ones. If you want a little extra help doing this checkout TITLE OF POST.
- The next part is really simple…get a timer! You can use a kitchen timer, a stop watch, an alarm on your phone, or a timer app. I use the Be Focused Pomodoro app. List your tasks for the day. I like to put asterisks or highlight the items that are most important to me. You are going to focus on one activity at a time. Set your timer for 25 minutes.
- From the moment you hit start, you are going to work intently on one task. No interruptions. Fixate on the task with the all that you are. It does not matter if you are folding a mountain of laundry, drawing with your child, mowing the lawn, or completing a cost analysis for work. You are to do nothing else except for the project at hand.
- As soon as the timer goes off, stop what you are doing, even if you only have one more basket of clothes to fold. Stop. Set the timer again, but for 5 minutes this time. During this time you can do whatever you want. Sit and have a cup of coffee, read a few pages in your book, go outside and walk around your yard, answer an email, play a game with your child, etc. The point is to let your mind take a break from your task.
Repeat this process 3 more times. After the fourth session, set the timer for at least 30 minutes. This is a long break. More than an hour and the break can be counter productive. I typically find that anywhere from 30-45 minutes is the sweet spot, depending on the mental drain of the projects I have been working on.
Repeat the entire technique as many times as needed to get through your To Do List. This takes a few days to get used to the process. As a result of using this process you will get more things completed. Not only that but you will have a higher sense of satisfaction and contentment.
Tips for Successful Time Management
As with any new process, you will be most successful if you get your family on board. The best way to do this is to set some boundaries. Have a little family meeting and explain the technique and the benefits you are hoping to achieve for the family. Make certain that everyone knows that you are not to be disturbed when the timer is on. I have my family either write notes on stickies or text me. When I finish a 25 minute session, I then read and address the notes during my 5 minute breaks or schedule them for my long breaks if necessary.
Consequently you will find that your brain will wander during your work sessions. To combat this keep a little notebook or notepad next to you. Whenever you find your mind wandering take a brief moment to jot down your thought. As with notes from family, direct your attention to those notes during your breaks or a more appropriate time.
In the final analysis you will find that this time management technique will thrust you forward on your path to simplify your life. It pushes you to reset your priorities to match your personal goals and the lifestyle of your family. It requires you to eliminate the things you do not have a passion for or only participate in due to obligation. Thus leaving you with a deep sense of happiness and contentment. *By the way, this process works very well with children too!
I challenge you to try this process for one week. Once the week is over, come back here and report your results! I can’t wait to hear how your life is positively changed.