6 Tips to Help You Focus and Successfully Manage Kids, Work, and Home
I remember the days, when I had less than half as many kids, and less than half as many work projects…and I thought I was sooo busy. Life doesn’t usually get simpler as time goes on. I likely felt more overwhelmed back then than I do now, and probably because, even though there’s now more on my shoulders, I’ve since learned how to manage kids, work, and home time better. Here are 6 of the rules I live by:
Leave one day unscheduled.
If you have a to-do list for each day, chances are that you’ve listed more than is practical to accomplish in one day (amazing how many things we always think “must” be done today). By leaving Thursday unscheduled (or more lightly scheduled), I can catch up on the things I didn’t get done on Monday through Wednesday and not go into Shabbat with too many unfinished tasks hanging over my head.
Divide your day into components.
Did you ever notice how when you try to do it all at once, nothing gets done? Or it takes infinitely longer? When it’s work time, concentrate on what you need to do. When you’re cooking dinner, cook! Don’t answer emails. When it’s kid time, put away your work worries or pressures until after bedtime. Focus on them. Most of the time, pressing work matters are not as imminent as you think. Each of your tasks and responsibilities will get done much more efficiently and at a higher quality when you focus. I find that kids are also more ok with keeping quiet when you need to work when they don’t feel that they’re in constant competition for your attention.
Get obsessive about crossing things off a list.
I used to be a bigger procrastinator than I am now…and then work would flow into other parts of the day. Today, I have my coffee and then get obsessive about crossing off my to-do’s, one thing at a time. Think: If I don’t procrastinate now, I’ll have the peace of mind to devote myself to my family later. It doesn’t mean you can’t take 10 minutes to check what’s new on Zara as a reward for finishing a task. You totally deserve that.
Don’t worry about the things you can’t control right now. If you feel burdened or pressured, block out everything else except your current task and tell yourself, “Right now, I only have the power to accomplish what I’m working on now so there’s no sense to worry about anything else.” Don’t even think about task B when you’re on task A. My colleagues know that if they call me regarding one project and I’m focused on something else, I can barely concentrate on the conversation (I may often simply not answer the phone …they can text if it’s urgent). But later, when it’s time to work on that project they do want to chat about, I’ll be uber-focused. By focusing on one thing at a time, you’ll get things done more efficiently than by worrying about everything at one time.
Delegate, outsource, buy online.
If there are grocery stores in your neighborhood which deliver, take advantage. (Don’t worry if they’re a little more expensive. You’ll save money by your lack of impulse purchases when you don’t shop yourself.) Eliminate any errands and order anything online that you can! Most of the time, you can wait the two days shipping time just fine. Do you go to one store just because you like their paper towels? Fine. But don’t buy only one pack! Take advantage of any and all services out there. For example, BJs Price Club offers a Pick-Up-and-Pay service. They’ll shop for you and your shopping cart full of big bulky items will be waiting in the front of the store when you arrive. You can grab your perishables (produce, eggs…) and check out. No more dragging heavy carts of Snapple and water bottles!
Don’t be a martyr.
Take as much help as you can afford. And if you’re maxed out, learn to say no when you really can’t handle another thing. But if you’re not maxed out, jump in! Never underestimate what you are capable of accomplishing. Someone else can fold the laundry. There are a million other things that you and exclusively you can accomplish!
Do you have any other tips for working mothers? Would love to hear!