With a newborn, it seemed like all my time management skills went out the window. But there was one thing that helped me feel hopeful—Laundry Day Monday.
Monday would come and I would somehow get some laundry done. I didn’t say ALL the laundry, but some. This simple habit helped me to persevere, but I also didn’t really understand that it was working for me.
So when I started to get more overwhelmed, instead of creating more habits, I did what I heard the most often. “Don’t worry. You’ll just figure it out.” I bet you’ve heard that phrase more than once also.
Instead of getting better—I got more overwhelmed. As our son turned three, I was failing as a stay at home mom.
How do moms manage their time?
When other moms told me that it would be okay, that I would just figure out how to manage my time—it was reassuring to me. But it turned out to be a very hard lesson.
I learned that just letting life happen, causes overwhelm.
Think about it this way, when you just let life happen, basically you’re living like it doesn’t matter what you do, when you do it, and how you do it. As a mom, this kind of thinking defines managing your time only by what needs to get done.
The problem is, that when you think this way, you’re also telling yourself that what you’re doing doesn’t really matter.
Before long—you start believing this about yourself too. You don’t really matter. Have you ever felt that way as a mom?
With the encouragement from my husband, I was able to figure out that when I develop the time management skills of determining what I do, when I do it and how I do it—the feeling of overwhelm doesn’t resurface.
I know how you feel and what you are doing as a mom does matter.
You don’t have to stay overwhelmed—or try and figure this thing out by yourself. I’ll share with you what I did and you how you can get started.
The best part about these 3 really simple time management skills is that you will:
- Start to feel progress, immediately.
- Gain more confidence by feeling more in control.
- Get things done in less time and more efficiently.
Don’t let that overwhelm steal from you another day. You can start using these basic but practical action steps right now!
3 Time Management Skills for the Overwhelmed Mom
1. What: Write down everything you have to do.
Have you ever tried writing things down? Okay maybe you write down a few things, but how about everything? I know, even me just saying that might raise some anxiety in you—just thinking about it. But just stick with me here. There’s purpose in this…
Girl, it’s hard to keep track of everything you do. It’s even harder if you try to keep it all straight in your head.
When you don’t have a clear picture of ALL the things you have to do—you will always end up feeling like you never get ahead.
Let’s start getting what’s in your head—out onto paper.
TAKE ACTION | Get a step ahead by writing down a list of all the things you do as a mom.
Do you want to go a little deeper with looking at everything you do and determining priorities in your life? Read more about the 5 Things Your Daily Routine Must Have in Order to Get More Things Done.
2. When: The forgotten time management skill.
Do you ever think about when you do things? Yeah, I didn’t either! I started to think about it more as a time management skill when I started reading the book When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing by Daniel Pink.
Using scientific study and numerous stories, the author makes his point. When you do something, is important—if not more important, than how you do it.
The book totally caused me to start observing the “when” in my own life. I found that my most productive time is in the morning. Which is like most people—but, what surprised me, was that it wasn’t because of the time of day. It was because of what I do at that time of day.
Looking more at when I do things, definitely helped me to re-organize the things I have to do. Even small changes have added more time to my day.
TAKE ACTION | Observe when your most productive time is in the day.
3. How: How To Do All.The.Things
As moms, we’re good at multi-tasking. We do all sorts of things whenever we can fit them in—like trying to feed yourself while you’re nursing your daughter.
I used to think I was good at this too, until I started to visually see that by trying to multi–task, I was actually defeating myself.
Instead of getting things done, I had a lot of things partially done. Like the clothes were clean and I took them out of the dryer—but they sat in my clothes basket waiting to be folded and put away.
It was obvious. I had to change how I was doing things because multi–tasking was not working.
To be clear, it wasn’t the act of how I did things—folding a towel in half or folding it in thirds. I had to change how I thought about doing it.
Instead of trying to multi-task my laundry—I started thinking of the whole process of laundry as one task from start to finish. When the laundry is finished drying I take it out of the dryer, fold it, then put it away, right away.
Could multi–tasking be keeping you from getting everything done?
TAKE ACTION | Consider what things would make more sense to do from start to finish.
How do stay at home moms organize their time?
Remember at the beginning how I shared that I picked Monday as my laundry day? Well, it didn’t actually start when I became a mom.
When I was single, I rented a room from a family. Out of necessity, the wife asked me to pick a night of the week to do laundry, so I could have the laundry room to myself. This is how she organized her time as a stay at home mom. She picked certain days of the week to do laundry and she asked me to do the same thing. So, I chose Monday and that is when the habit of Laundry Day Monday started.
I got married five years later and Monday was still laundry day. When we had our son two years later, with little to no thought, laundry day was on Monday. I had created a habit. And that habit was engrained in me so much—that I naturally lean towards doing laundry on Mondays.
So is the only way to manage your time as a mom?
No, in fact, some moms like the one I mentioned, have organized their time by doing certain things on specific days. While other moms who mentored me would organize their time using time–blocking strategies, batching, and space blocking. Then they’d schedule the things they had to do after the things they wanted to do were scheduled first.
Either, way, I’ve found that as I watched other moms organize their days, that I could actually starting putting those things I had to do—on auto pilot. Like laundry day! And that is where the time management strategies like asking What I need to do, When I need to do it, and How I need to do it first started for me.
Putting It All Together
Laundry Day Monday is one example of how you can use these time management skills to place all of the things you HAVE to do on autopilot.
Here’s how it looks when you put it all together:
- What to do: Laundry
- When to do it: Every Monday
- How to do it: All of it or several loads at a time.
You can crush the overwhelm using the same time management skills too! Are you ready to start putting it altogether?
Use time management skills to create habits
TAKE ACTION | Create 1 Habit
WHAT TO DO: Look back at your list of all the things you have to do. Pick 1 thing you are going to work on for the next month. I know you’ll want to do more, but just pick one.
Time Management Tip: start simple by picking something that occurs once a week.
WHEN TO DO IT: Take that one thing—what you are going to do, then decide when you are going to do it. Write it in your calendar. Set a weekly reminder on your phone to keep you accountable.
HOW TO DO IT: Lastly, consider how you normally do things. Is there a better way to do it? There might not be, but take the time to think about it.
Even with just small simple changes you will feel more confident, in control, and better at persevering. Your family will notice a change too.
TAKE ACTION | Add Habit 2
When you feel like you have a good rhythm with the first thing you picked, start the process again. If you continue to do this, before long you’ll have created a plan for all the things you have to do. The best part? It’ll be on autopilot.
Time Management Skills Bonus Tips
Has this exercise lit a fire in you about crushing the overwhelm with time management skills? If so, I think you’d like what Megan Hyatt Miller shared in her keynote; How to Conquer a Chaotic Calendar.