Lately, life just seems to be getting busier and busier! As a working mom, I always have a lot on my plate, but recently my schedule has become more packed than ever. Even though my days are full of things that are blessings, I have to make a very real effort to balance my time and energy so that I can be the most effective, happy and healthy version of myself.
The feeling of struggling to balance a busy schedule is something that I think most people can relate to. While I have not perfected time management, I have noticed amazing improvements in my ability to prioritize my day by using some of these simple strategies:
Make a list: I am a big fan of lists, and honestly, I would be lost without them. I like to hand write out my lists, but keeping one on your phone works great too. Without writing everything down, it is almost impossible not to forget at least something each day. Making a list is also great when you feel totally overwhelmed — The simple act of just writing down what you need to do, and being able to visually prioritize the tasks at hand, makes a big difference.
Put everything on the calendar: I literally mean everything! I will note just about anything on my iPhone calendar. From notes about what my son has going on at school that day (so I remember to ask him about it when he gets home), to a reminder to leave the house a little early because I have to get gas. I love scheduling notes into my calendar because then I can be sure I am not missing anything important.
Schedule your day: As a working mom, I have a lot of responsibilities in both my personal and professional life. I very consciously schedule my day so that I know when I will start and stop focusing on work commitments, and then I stick to that schedule. Having hours specifically allotted to work really helps me balance my family and personal time. Which leads me to my next point …
Make time for you a non-negotiable: Not too long ago I wrote about mindfulness, and the importance of taking time for your mental and physical health. Even when I am balancing a busy schedule, I make my health a priority, and schedule time for me just like I would a meeting. For example, if I have a workout planned, I block time off in my calendar and commit to taking that hour for myself — no excuses!
Don’t be afraid to say no: I have learned that it is okay to say that you are not able to do something! Setting realistic expectations for my time and my commitments is very important. If I am constantly saying ‘yes’ to everyone, I just end up exhausted, overworked and feeling resentful. When I receive an invitation, or I am asked to do something, I really think about whether or not I am able to commit before I say yes. This strategy has really helped me immensely because it ensures that my days are full of tasks that I am totally committed to doing.
Communicate expectations: Especially when it comes to work, I have learned that it is really important to communicate both my own, and other people’s expectations. By talking about what is expected of me (or what I expect), and verbalizing an agreement, I am able to prioritize and manage my workload.
Tackle one thing at a time: Women are often amazing multitaskers — It’s in our nature to be able to juggle a bunch of things at once. But I have learned that I am usually much better when I zero-in on one task at a time, and eliminate other distractions (like my phone). Whether I am doing something for work or something with my family, I try and really be in the moment and engaged with whatever I am doing.
Spend five minutes each night thinking about tomorrow: I take a little time each night to think about what has to be done tomorrow. By thinking ahead and looking at what I have on my plate for the next day, I avoid waking up feeling overwhelmed.
Understand that you can’t control everything: As much as I like to think that I can stay on top of everything each day, the reality is that nobody can. Some days life is just going to throw you a curve ball, and when that happens, it is important to just go with the flow!
How do you guys balance a busy schedule? Comment below and let me know!