Juggling mum life and work life is hard – especially if you are a single mum! (Yes, I said it!)
Honestly though, we are all Superwomen to be able to do this – single mum or not!
Time management techniques and productivity strategies are two of the only things that make it all so much easier.
…a LOT easier!
I used to be someone who found it pretty hard to prioritize and make things more manageable for myself.
I would stress over silly things – just because I didn’t leave myself enough time to do them.
Or, I spent too much time on one small thing rather than dealing with the bigger things first.
Then I found LISTS and BATCHING!
I made a list for everything!
I was list CRAZY!!
Over the past few years, I have found simple ways of managing my time better and making my life a lot less stressful because of it.
When I became a mother, sticking to my lists and routines made my time management as a single working mum a lot easier – and my productivity spiked!
I would like to share these strategies and techniques with you in the hope that they will help you too 🙂
Is sending that work email about a meeting next week as important as doing the ironing today?
Is booking a routine check-up at the doctors as important as booking your flight and hotel for your family holiday?
…OK, so that second one is possibly yes to some people, but my point is the same.
Some days I will have about 10 “medium-sized” tasks to do on one single day.
If I am unable to do them all in that one day, I think realistically about which ones can be moved to tomorrow (or even the day after) and which ones need to be done today.
2. Learn to Say “No”
I know, it is very easy to want to please everyone – I’m a people-pleaser myself, so I know this feeling well!
However, it really is not good for you to just say “yes” to everything that is asked of you.
For example, when I was the Specialist Music Teacher for a whole Primary School of 800 students, I agreed (in addition to my normal job responsibilities) to run 7 extra-curricular clubs in one week, whilst staying late 3 days a week to work with the School bands and Choir to prepare for performances.
All while also delivering Music Therapy lessons to Special Needs children in my break times.
It took me a few instances of being in that situation at different establishments before I learned my lesson.
I now delegate and share duties whenever I can.
As long as you still do a good job with what you DO do, nobody will look at you any differently.
3. Shop online
By doing your weekly shop online, you can save yourself the hour or two that it takes to wander around a Supermarket and then lug your shopping home on your own.
But, also think about the money you would probably spend on random unplanned impulse buys that you don’t actually need!
You can get your shopping delivered at a time that is convenient for you, and you can even save your shopping items in your online “shopping bag” so you won’t have to write the list all over again next time!
Although it does usually cost a small amount for the delivery charge, it still works out cheaper (and easier – AND less time-consuming) than if you were to pay for travel, the shopping and your impulse buys.
Don’t be afraid of asking for help when you need it.
Most people are more than willing to lend a hand.
If work is getting too much, ask a colleague to help you out. Or, if your kiddies are old enough, ask them to give you a hand with tasks at home.
Children can help you with many things at home, such as cleaning, cooking (or prepping food for younger kids), putting back toys and books or helping load the laundry into the washing machine etc.
5. Weekly Meal Plan
One thing that saves me sooooo much time and stress is my Weekly Meal Planner!
Yes, it might take away some of the spontaneity, but realistically…who has time for spontaneity at 7pm after a full days work and before having to feed and bath a toddler and put us all to bed in time to get a good nights sleep?!
You can even keep a Recipe Book of all your fave meals to help you when planning your weekly meal schedule.
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6. Prepare Everything the Night Before
This one is a HUGE time-saver!
When things get a bit hectic at home, you can end up with a mound of freshly-laundered clothes (forget about the ironing!) that need putting away.
And probably at least 2 separate bags with bits and bobs that you take out and about with you.
Rushing around at 6am to get everything ready for the day is unbelievably stressful!
If you pick out yours and the kids clothes, pack the School and work bags and prepare your lunches before you go to bed, you can just wake up and relax with a coffee after you’ve got everyone washed and dressed.
Rather than rushing around like a headless chicken.
7. Set your Clocks a Few Minutes Fast
OK, so this is probably the School Teacher in me talking.
Setting your clock/watch just 5 minutes faster can be the difference between you arriving somewhere fresh-faced, and arriving red-faced.
Once you have set your clocks like this and forgotten about them, you might find that you are early for everything (or at least on time).
8. Small Tasks: Keep a “To-Do” List
For small tasks, it is a good idea to keep a paper “To-Do” list.
I have one for the things I need to do during the week. This week looks something like:
- Pay nursery fees
- Write to the council about single parents rights
- Book a dentist appointment
- Book a play date with my friends and their kids
- Collect my new glasses
- Collect medications and new vitamins for my daughter
- Attend appointment for daughters hearing test
This way, I do not not get stressed out by a thousand tasks when I look on my phone calendar (which I dedicate to bigger, more demanding tasks).
I am more able to take my time with these tasks and as long as they are all done at some point during the week, I am a happy woman.
9. Big Tasks: Set Reminders on your Phone Calendar
As I mentioned above, I dedicate my phone calendar to the bigger, more demanding tasks.
These are the things that have a set deadline and need my direct attention.
Things such as, important doctor or hospital appointments, work deadlines and booking my next vacation with Squidge.
Doing it this way, and separating my “big” and “small” tasks makes my life a whole lot more manageable and much less stressful.
10. “Batch” Smaller Tasks
When I have written a rough “Small tasks To-Do List”, I put them in “batches”.
For example, all cleaning things together, all shopping things together, all writing / email / message things together etc.
This makes everything even more manageable because I’m in the right “mode” when I get round to doing them all.
- Prioritise and differentiate what is most important to you, and use that to decide what goes on your “To-Do” list and what goes on your actual calendar or phone calendar.
- Don’t say “yes” to everything – some things are better shared or even passed on to someone else, if possible.
- Shop online and create a weekly meal planner to save yourself the stress of trying to figure out what to cook after a long day at work.
- Sort your clothes, bags and lunches out the night before
- Set your clocks and watches 5 minutes fast to save some time in your day.