Managing our time is one of our biggest challenges. Our choices and opportunities are infinite and yet our time is finite. For most of us, our organizational issues are really nothing more than time management issues. None of us wants to be disorganized. None of us wants to be late. None of us wants to miss a friend’s birthday. We have good intentions. We want to do right.
I think women struggle with this more than men. In part because many of us do not work outside the home, or if we do, it is not full-time. We take on primary responsibility for our children and our homes. As a result we find ourselves with multiple schedules to manage, and often our time is not our own-in terms of using it for ourselves.
I realized years ago, when I first transitioned from full-time work to staying at home with my twin daughters, items NOT getting taken care of or completed were typically items I had never written down in my calendar. Outside appointments, volunteer projects, girls’ events/play-dates… all got written on the calendar. However, the bulk of what I needed to get done, wanted to get done, failed to ever make it to the paper (or electronic organizer if that is your preference). Cleaning the house, making a meal plan, buying groceries, organizing the Christmas decorations in the attic, weeding the flower bed… As a result I often found myself with a full day transporting kids, handling volunteer phone calls, playing tennis, attending bible study, but failing to get dinner on the table, or snapping at my husband because I felt frazzled and disappointed in myself. I found myself running to buy a last minute gift or card. I’d get stuck in the house all day on a beautiful Saturday cleaning or doing 8 loads of laundry. Not what I wanted.
The hard truth is this: If we want to get it done, we MUST write it down-not just on a list, but we must decide what day and what time.
Some people like to have a weekly schedule. I personally don’t do well with a weekly schedule. I work for myself and serve clients, so I rarely have two weeks alike. I prefer to have a list of the things I know I need to get done each week. I then transfer those items to my weekly calendar on Friday or Sunday. I rarely mop the floors or do the laundry on the same day any given week. However, what I do commit to is getting it written down on my calendar that week. Why is this important? One, it reminds me. Two, if an invitation to an event or a client work opportunity arises for that particular time slot I see what I am going to say NO to in order to say Yes. Sometimes it is worth it. Sometimes it is easy to move the task to another time slot. Sometimes I realize I simply can’t say Yes. if I don’t have it written down it clutters my mind all week and/or I treat it as less significant than other items, and then what do you know?! It never gets done. On occasion that is fine, but week after week it is not.
As women we need to schedule what I call the MUNDANE/the WEEKLY. Whether you work out of the home, from home or in the home, you need a calendar. You need to note appointments, but just as importantly, you need to write down the mundane/weekly. Treat those items as appointments. Block the time. Don’t schedule anything on top of the mundane or weekly unless you can reschedule the task or are willing to give it up that week/that day.
As I began to practice this I began to feel more confident as a stay at home mom. Even now, it helps me keep my family first. I know what is important to my family. I know what I need to do to feel like I am taking care of them and meeting their needs. I see where my time is going and I can appreciate it.
Don’t make the biggest mistake women make in managing time. Get out that calendar. Write it down. When are you going to clean the bathroom. What day and time works best this week for doing laundry? What are you going to feed your family this week? You get the picture. It all needs to get done. It’s all important.