Sometimes it feels as if there are not enough hours in the day to do all of the things that need to be done. This seems to be a sign of our times and is particularly evident for working mothers who put in a full day in their paid employment and then need to come home and begin their second job of looking after their home and family. Nothing short of winning the lottery, retiring from work and employing a housekeeper is going to make the work go away, however there are a number of simple things that are compounding the problem and making us feel more overwhelmed than we should.
1) Trying to do everything ourselves.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with asking others to help out. Giving the children chores and expecting that they will carry them out, delegating tasks at work so you can get home on time, sharing the housework with your significant other. All of these things can help to spread the burden of responsibility.
2) Always saying yes to others’ requests.
So many of us feel that it is our responsibility to make sure that people around us have everything they need or want and we find it hard to say no to any request. The request for a drink of water from a child who could quite easily get it themselves, the request for babysitting on a night you were meant to go out for dinner, the request to stay late and finish that work project you found out about at the last minute. These are all things that can have a ‘no’ response. Say no to maintain your own sanity and to teach others that you are not always going to fly in and solve their problems for them. It’s an important lesson for others to learn and since it will have a positive benefit for the teacher too, you might as well be the one to do it.
3) Not leaving time for the unexpected.
In a busy family there will be times when things do not run as smoothly as we would like. If we don’t leave time for that in our schedules, one little hiccup is enough to derail the whole day. For example, always try to leave a buffer of time between when you plan to leave the house and when you absolutely need to be out the door. That way if something happens to delay you, it’s not such a big deal.
4) Not batching our tasks.
Sometimes it feels as if there is so much to do that we don’t see how we can devote our time to only one thing and we try to multitask to get it all done. This is actually a really inefficient way of managing our time. In days gone by when it was an all day job to simply complete the laundry, women made an event of washing day. It always happened on the same day, at the same time and in the same sequence. We can use that idea to our advantage. We can cook up a storm on the weekend so the evening meals for the week are all done and easy to get on the table. We can make a list of all of the things we need to do when we are out and about and plan the most efficient route to get everything achieved in the one trip. Finding the common threads in our tasks and working on them when we have the equipment on hand and ready to go can make a huge difference to the time it takes to complete them.
5) Not developing workable routines.
Everyone is different but I firmly believe that everyone can benefit from routines. It might be always washing the towels on a Tuesday, stacking the dishwasher before bed and unstacking it in the morning or completing the food shop on a Saturday afternoon. A routine will ensure that the task is completed before the linen cupboard is empty of towels and you are standing dripping in the bathroom, there are no clean bowls available for the kids breakfast or the pantry is bare and friends are coming over. It’s the small tasks done regularly that mean we have what we need when we need it and we don’t feel overwhelmed by all of the tasks not done.
6) Not planning our weekly meals.
There’s nothing worse than coming home after a busy day and having absolutely no idea what you are going to feed the hungry hoards. Spending 10 minutes a week planning the family’s meals and writing them on the calendar means that all you have to do when you get home is begin to cook. No fuss, no wondering what to buy during the weekly shop, all the thinking has already been done, bliss!
7) Allowing technology to distract from tasks that need to be completed.
How easy is it to become caught up in something on Facebook, Pinterest or Instagram in the small window of time we could have been using to get the laundry folded or take out the rubbish bins? There is nothing wrong with spending time doing these things but use it as a reward for a job well done instead of an avoidance technique.
8) Not getting up when the alarm goes off.
As tempting as it may be to press sleep and stay in bed for just a few minutes longer, it’s never a good idea. Surely if we had the time to sleep in we would have set the alarm to go off later in the first place? It’s always on the days when we have made ourselves late from the beginning that all of those unexpected things happen and add greatly to our stress levels. Decide when you need to get up, set the alarm for that time and get up when it goes off, you will be glad you did.
9) Not making time for ourselves.
Finding a way to spend a few minutes of ‘me time’ might seem out of the question but is a really important thing to do. It is only when we are taking care of our own mental and physical health that we have enough left in reserve to devote to other people. Maybe it’s as simple as 10 minutes in the car alone with the radio off, uninterrupted time in the shower or a quiet walk with the dog, all of these things can help to recharge the batteries ready for whatever life wants to throw in our direction.
Getting these 9 things under control can make a huge difference to our capacity to manage our time and reduce the feelings of stress and panic that can overwhelm us. Check out the free time management workbook for some strategies on finding extra time in the week to reduce your overall stress levels.