By Holly Reisem Hanna
When my daughter started kindergarten this year, I thought that I’d have so much more time for myself and my business. But what I quickly found out is, that between pick and drop off, Girl Scouts, PTA, volunteering, regular exercise class, additional work hours and home-work, is that I some how have less free time, than I did when my daughter was at home with me.
Being busy is part of being a work at home mom – you learn how to employ different time management strategies and you remain flexible, because things are constantly changing as your child and your business grow.
Yet – it still seems difficult to manage it all.
Fortunately, there are some easy and simple things that you can do daily, to help you add more time to your day.
1. Get Ahead of Schedule:
Have you ever needed cash (for a fundraiser, field trip, PTA, book fair …) and then not had any, so you had to make a special trip to the bank? This sort of thing happens to me all of the time, but not only with cash … I’ll be driving around and I’ll look down at my gas gauge, only to find out that I’m on empty. Again, I’ll have to drive out of my way to get to the nearest gas station, so that I don’t end up stalled on the side of the road. All of these unplanned trips/errands cost us valuable time. Learn to get ahead of schedule, by making stops when you’re near by a gas station or bank. Even if you’re good on cash, make another withdrawal, so that you’ve never having to make an unnecessary trip.
2. Change Your Coffee Routine:
I love coffee, who doesn’t, right?! So every morning my coffee routine would be … add water to the coffee maker, put the filter in, grind the beans, add the freshly ground coffee to the maker, wait for it to brew, pour myself a cup, wash out the carafe, empty the filter in the garbage, and then finally enjoy my coffee. Or worse yet, I drop my daughter off at school, stand in line at my local coffee shop, pay, wait for them to make it, and then drive home. Simplify this morning routine by purchasing a signal cup brewer. You simply add the water reservoir once a week, pop in your coffee pod, press brew, and within 30 – 60 seconds you have a freshly brewed cup of coffee. No prep, no clean up – easy peasy!
3. Meal Assistance:
If you really think about it, the idea of having to plan and prepare seven nightly meals a week, or 365 evening meals a year, makes dinner one of the largest time consuming tasks for work at home moms. Throw in lunches and breakfast – that’s a lot of time spent in the kitchen! While I can’t afford a personal chef, I can afford to to lighten the load by having my husband pick up take out, I can have healthy meals delivered, and I can feed my husband and daughter “hot lunch”, so that I don’t have to make and pack them. You may feel guilty about this option, but don’t, there are many establishments that offer healthy meals at affordable prices. Sign up for some daily deal sites and watch for coupons – they always have them.
Now you may be thinking, “I don’t have any employees to delegate to”! But delegation can come in many forms, from hiring a house cleaner or lawn care service, to utilizing a personal or virtual assistant. You can also delegate tasks to your family members – remember you don’t have to do it all, there’s nothing wrong with asking for help.
5. Prep Ahead:
I love waking up, opening up the refrigerator and having breakfast, snacks, lunches, and dinner all prepped and ready to go. It makes my day run so much smoother, and creates less tension and stress for me. There are tons of great recipes that can be prepared ahead of time (like these egg and bacon cups, or these baked oatmeal cups) so that you can just grab and go. Do the same for snacks, and prep dinners so they can be popped into the oven when you get home. Prepping ahead also works great for business related items. For instance, if I know I’m going to be writing a post on tech tools, I can do the research the night before, and then when I go to write the article I already have a head start.
6. Know Where Your Time is Going:
Have you ever told yourself, “I don’t have any time”? I’m guilty of saying this. The truth is we need to figure out where out time is being spent, and once we have that figured out, we can re-prioritize and readjust our schedules to fit our needs. Use this equation to figure out where your time is going.
168 hours a week – sleep (56 hours) – work (40 hours) – personal (24 hours) – commuting (10 hours) = 38 extra hours.
Once you have the equation figured out, look at where those “extra hours” are going. Is it watching TV? Talking on the phone? Surfing the Internet? You may need to use an online tool like toggl to help you track where your time is going.
7. Become Disciplined:
After doing the exercise in number six, you can see why it is so important to become disciplined. As humans we are great squanderers of time. Tasks like email, texting, surfing the Internet, social media, playing online games and watching TV, all steal precious time away from activities that really matter. While there are different theories on discipline and how to achieve it, the bottom line is we need to be conscious of what we want to do, and where we want to spend our time. Once you focus on these aspects, you’ll have greater control over managing your time.
8. Wait No More:
We spend a lot of time waiting. Waiting to see the dentist or doctor, waiting in the car line to pick up our kids from school. Waiting at the airport or at a restaurant to eat. Waiting for maintenance or service providers to fix our stuff. Instead of letting this time slip through your fingers, use it to your advantage. Always keep reading material with you, as well as a note book, so that you can create to-do lists, menu plans or make appointments. With the advances in technology, many individuals can work from their smart phones, answering emails, checking stats and sending out social media updates.
9. Simplify Your Life:
The more we advance with technology, the more bogged down we are with gadgets and applications. And the more gadgets and applications that we use, the less efficient we become. Pick and choose which applications, tools, and updates really add value to your life, then unsubscribe, delete, and turn off the rest. Nobody really needs to be alerted to when they have a new friend request on Facebook, or that someone mentioned them on Twitter. And do you really need that app, that makes it look like you’re lighting a lighter?
10. Streamline Processes:
There are so many time consuming tasks that we do over, and over again, every-single-month. Regain back this time by streamlining processes in your life. Put all of your bills on automatic bill pay to your credit card, so that you’re only writing one check a month. Create a FAQ for your business, so that you’re not having to answer the same questions over and over again. Create auto-responders and email signatures that convey important information, again saving you time responding to queries. Are you always making trips to the grocery store? Use a food delivery service like Greenling, where you can get seasonal produce, meats and dairy products delivered to your house weekly.
What tips do you have for adding more hours to your day?