By Holly Reisem Hanna
Last week I was talking to a friend when she asked me, “Where can I find extra time to read a business book each month?” I gave her a few suggestions on how I squeeze in reading, but none of these ideas worked for her. You see, her situation is unique in the fact that she has a full-time day job, a part-time franchise, a new business venture that she’s trying to get off the ground, two young children, and a husband that need her attention.
For many moms, work-life balance is a constant struggle with the end result being that mom doesn’t get any time for herself. I too struggle with balancing my work and personal duties, but here are some different ways I have found extra time in my schedule. Perhaps these productivity tips can help you to find extra time in your schedule and maybe even change your life!
1. Cut Out the TV
TV can be a nice escape from reality, but nobody needs more than a few hours a week. In fact, it is estimated that the average American watches 5 hours of TV a day, that’s over 140 hours a month! Make time for your favorite programs and then turn it off. Use that extra time to work on projects, read, or spend quality face-to-face time with your family.
Another way to drastically cut down on your TV time … is to get rid of cable. When you limit your viewing options, you'll choose to keep the TV off because there's nothing to watch — allowing you to focus your time elsewhere. And this saves a ton of money!
2. Wake Up a Few Minutes Earlier
I am a huge believer in getting a good night's sleep. For many moms, this is a luxury, but if you’re able to spare a few minutes of sleep and wake up 20 minutes earlier every morning, you’ll gain over 2 hours of “me time” each week. This is definitely enough time to read a book each month, start a blog, or get in a daily dose of exercise.
3. Batch Your Errands
Cut down on wasted travel time by designating one day each week to run errands. For me, this day is Tuesday. After I pick up my daughter up from school, we run to the gas station, grocery store, bank, dry cleaners, and then usually Target and Starbucks. I take my batching one step further by creating a list each month of all the birthdays, anniversaries, and upcoming holidays. This way I can purchase all of the gifts and cards that are needed for the month in one easy trip. Batching also works well for household chores, laundry, administrative tasks, and cooking.
If you'd like to know more about batching, check out The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss — he gives a ton of great tips for making the most of your time.
4. Weekly Menu Planning
What’s for dinner always seems to be the question at hand. If you’re anything like me, this is a daily pattern of frantically searching online for a recipe, finding one that is suitable, and then searching for the ingredients. Often I don’t have all of the required ingredients, so it’s back to the drawing board, searching online and thumbing through cookbooks to find a new recipe. Not only is this a waste of time, but it’s frustrating.
Menu planning saves you time and money by reducing the amount of time aimlessly searching for a recipe, looking for the required ingredients, and making unnecessary trips to the grocery store. Today there are so many options for menu planning from weekly meal planning services to prepared kits, like Blue Apron, Plated, Green Chef, or Hello Fresh. Many of these companies offer free trials — so take advantage of them and see what works best for your family. Of course, you can go the do-it-yourself route — which this post offers great advice for getting started.
5. Buy Time, Not Things
Stop purchasing stuff and start buying some time! What tasks on your to-do list can be delegated to someone else? Housecleaning, laundry, childcare, cooking, yard work, and administrative tasks take up a huge chunk of your time! Hire a house cleaning service to come a couple of times a month, or outsource some of your business tasks. As Carson Tate, author of Work Simply says … “Time is a commodity. You can never get it back. But you can always earn more money.”
6. Quit Multi-Tasking and Start Single-Tasking
For most of our lives we have been taught to multi-task, and in some situations, it is called for, but the majority of the time it ends up being inefficient. By single-tasking, you can fully focus on the task at hand and complete it without interruptions. Give yourself a block of time to complete each task, and stop trying to watch the news, catch up on email, and answer phone calls all at the same time — you’ll be surprised at how much more efficient you’ll become.
7. Stop the Email Madness
You can spend all day on email. Stop letting your inbox control your day! First, start scheduling times to read and reply to emails. Many experts recommend starting your day off with the most important task on your to-do list — because this is when your energy and focus are at their peak. Second, keep your inbox on lockdown. Only open up it up during your scheduled email times. Using this strategy frees you from interruptions and distractions. To assist you with this, you can place an auto-responder on your email with the times you reply to messages. Need more tips on taming your inbox?
This post has some great strategies for dealing with email overload.
How do you find time to take care of yourself and pursue your dreams? What producitvity tips work well for you? Drop us a comment we'd love to hear from you!
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