Since school is back in and we are all adjusting to our new “normal” again, I thought that sharing my six daily time-savers to establish a flexible home, work routine was relevant to my fellow working parents or anyone who’s just busy out there!
This summer was rough. It was busy in every aspect of my life. If I had a tiny “break” at any point in the day, I would try to squeeze in any little task I could. I was always playing catch-up in some area of my life. What I didn’t realize was, in order to make more time in my day, I needed to plan better and be honest with myself on how long tasks actually take! (I tend to underestimate my time….all the time!)
Please tell me that I’m not the only one who thinks they can conquer it all?!
I won’t bore you with how my days looked before, but I will tell you how my days are starting to look, which in turn, has me smiling, improving in the areas I didn’t feel the most confident and FINALLY feeling less stressed!
- Attempt to wake up a little earlier each day. I have an infant at home and although he’s getting really good at sleeping through the night (praise the Lord!), I set my alarm a few minutes earlier each day for a month. I did this on my Fitbit, which vibrates my wrist, scares me like crazy from a deep slumber and forces me to wake up! I’m not going to tell you to get up an hour early, because I can’t seem to do that willingly, either! Even if I don’t jump out of bed immediately, it allows my body and mind to get used to early-rising.
My only goal after my alarm-startling-awakening, is to take a shower before anyone else wakes up (and ruins and/or rushes that for me). Sometimes that extra two-to-three-minutes gives me time to do one little thing, like pouring coffee in a to-go-mug, throw in a load of laundry or to have a moment with the boys before it’s time to leave.
- Start a cleaning routine. If you haven’t heard of Clean Mama, go follow her now on Instagram. Her book, “Simply Clean,” was an impulsive purchase for my messy schedule this summer. (I figured buying a book would make me happy, while it cleaned my home, duh!) I haven’t even read the whole book, but each day of the week has a 10-15-minute cleaning task that anyone can make time for. For me, cleaning is a sense of accomplishment, a mental break and some instant gratification.
HINT: If you don’t want to purchase the book right now, Clean Mama’s Instagram account and blog has a ton of tips you can use and start incorporating at home. Two things that have changed my life since discovering Clean Mama are micro-fiber cloths (why did I not know before?) and unloading the dishwasher while the coffee is brewing (like a race…..and somehow that excites me!). Go check her out if you feel like you’re falling behind at home. What’s awesome, too……if you miss a day/cleaning task…..you don’t do it! And, you don’t care because you will complete the cleaning task in seven days. (And the book helps you understand that it is ok.)
- Hello, Trello. This tool is one that I have used for a long time to communicate with employees about tasks and keep an ongoing, organized list of blog topics I will never write! I took a Personal Productivity Plan course this summer and when Alexandra mentioned organizing my to-dos in Trello, it made more sense than unloading the dishwasher while my coffee was brewing :). Trello is free and I use both my computer and the app on my phone to keep track of my days, to-do lists, goals and even grocery shopping. This is one of my favorite time-savers!
What’s great about Trello is that you can create a “board” and invite someone to join, like your spouse. Joe and I started keeping our grocery list on there because we never remember to bring a paper list to the store (and then we buy groceries that, in total, may never make up one complete meal at home). I couldn’t believe he was “on-board” (get it?!). I actually saw him using Trello the other day to make his own to-do-list for work. That put us right into the honeymoon stage again! Ha ha!
- Set personal/work boundaries. Hi, my name is Dana I don’t know how to relax! I love my family, my clients and my career, but I can’t be everything to everyone, all the time. I now have set hours at work, and while I have to be a little flexible to meet client’s needs, I see a beginning and end to each day, not a “I’ll finish some housework around 10 p.m. and I’ll get through emails after that.”The Personal Productivity Plan course also helped me redefine what’s most important at this stage in my life, and how to be my best self when I am wearing each “hat” throughout the day/week. I even deleted my work email from my phone. I can’t even believe I didn’t go right back in and download the app. Instead of checking my email when I wake up and go to bed, I am sleeping more soundly and waking up much happier. Sounds crazy, but I had to be reminded that I am a human being, not a robot. I cannot say yes to everything, even though, I enjoy doing that.
- Start and end the day on a good note. I know I keep talking about the Personal Productivity Plan, but this has helped me realize that self-care is more important than finishing my to-do list. During this course, Alexandra told me to have a morning and evening routine that “made me feel good.” That sounds so simple. I never had the same thing happen every morning or night.My morning routine doesn’t necessarily make me feel like I am rushing out of the house because I am getting up just a few minutes earlier and getting some things done at home, too. (That dishwasher-coffee challenge really pulls out my competitive side!) You can’t see my game face below, but it’s on, I promise!
Our evening routine consists of the usual – dinner, get boys to bed, let dogs out, make lunches, etc., but Joe had this crazy idea of being in our bedroom each night at 8 p.m. We’re only a couple of nights into this, and although Braxton comes in or needs something every 10-15 minutes, we are hoping this helps him realize it’s quiet time/bedtime. I will mention that we don’t go to bed at this time, but we watch TV, read, talk and just try to relax from the day.Already, going to bed together, and early in the night, has made such an improvement in our moods. When we attempt to communicate at home, let’s say….in the kitchen, Braxton decides he needs to ask one of us questions very loudly (or really beg for attention) until it’s so frustrating, that Joe and I decide to cut the conversation short. This 8 p.m. “curfew” is early enough to give us a chance to talk, make plans and laugh, with only a few interruptions! It’s one of the perfect time-savers for two working parents!
- Not everyday goes as planned. I am guilty of sometimes taking and doing things a bit too literally. A set routine would have me assuming I was a robot again. Yesterday, I didn’t get two minor tasks done. Normally, I would make sure those were finished if I wanted to appreciate myself at all. I moved those small tasks to the next day in Trello…..because I hear that the world won’t implode if you don’t return a phone call or clean out your car. You have to cut yourself some slack, right?On social media, I keep seeing these cute quotes about “Grace,” who also happens to be my best friend from high school, but it also means to be kind to yourself and know that you tried your best. It’s not always easy for us “Type A-ers,” but it’s important to practice grace, so it becomes a routine and you can forgive yourself more easily for the simple things. If you’re feeling stuck at work, at home, or in any aspect of your life, talk about it – you will be surprised how many people feel that way or have in the past. My friend Grace is a great listener, too! Ha ha!I mentioned some of the hardships of juggling so much to my girlfriends a few weeks ago. We were on a little getaway together. I was hesitant to talk about my feelings because I didn’t want to sound negative or upset, or like I had all of the answers. There were six of us girls, all at different points in our lives, and each of us could relate to feeling that there’s not enough time to get everything done. I. Finally. Felt. Normal. Parenthood and work can be very isolating and it’s comforting to know that it’s ok to make a change.
And, if you’re interested in making better use of your time, check out The Productivity Zone blog for some great tips that anyone can use and find helpful.
Do you have any time-savers you apply to your life? Comment below – I would LOVE to hear them!