9 Time Management and Organization Tips for Working Moms
Being a working mom presents a unique set of challenges. The balance of work, family, relationships, managing a household, and trying to squeeze in a little bit of time for yourself is difficult – to say the least!
In my experience, the balance is always shifting, but there are things you can do to make your life easier. Here are my top time management and organization tips for working moms.
1. Set limits
As a working mom, my biggest challenge is not having enough time. That’s why it’s absolutely crucial that I set limits on that time.
Establish working hours and stick to them. Don’t apologize for leaving at your scheduled time to spend time with your family. Yes, from time to time you may have to work outside of your normal working hours, but make that the exception, rather than the rule. Some of the most successful individuals make a deliberate point to unplug from the office in the evening. Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, has reported that she leaves the office at 5:30 p.m. to be home to have dinner with her children.
Similarly, set limits on your social engagements and activities. This one is a struggle for me – I don’t want to tell my kids they can’t do something because of our work schedules. However, the reality is that none of us are happy if we are trying to squeeze more into our schedules than time allows.
Related: The Reality of Being a Working Mom
2. Manage your calendar and to-do list effectively
In this post, I shared some of the strategies our family uses to coordinate and manage our schedules and to-do lists. We use Cozi to keep a shared calendar, running shopping lists, and to-do lists. We have a whiteboard on our fridge with our schedule and meal plan for the week. I also have a personal to-do list in my paper planner, because I’m one of those people who likes to physically check off completed tasks.
Establish a system that works for you, and make sure it’s a system that facilitates coordination and communication with the rest of your family.
3. Make mornings easier
Getting everyone out the door on time each morning can be a struggle. Do as much as possible the night before: make lunches, lay out outfits (for the kids and for you), and pack the bags. There is a good chance that something is going to throw your schedule off in the morning, so the less you have to do, the better!
4. Meal plan
I’ve talked before about the necessity of meal planning for our family. Before kids, we had the luxury of time, and could swing by the grocery store on the way home from work. That’s no longer an option. The key for us is that our meal plan needs to be tailored to our schedule for the week, and must be realistic and flexible. Otherwise, we won’t follow through with it and will end up wasting food and spending too much on takeout.
5. Shop online
It’s hard to believe that a few short years ago we all survived without online shopping. Now, I buy everything I possibly can online – kids clothes, my clothes, household essentials, makeup, groceries – you name it.
We use Amazon Subscribe & Save for a lot of our recurring purchases. One of the big time (and money!) savers for us is diapers – we save 20%, never have to worry about running out, and they’re delivered right to our front door.
Our grocery store finally got online ordering a few months ago, and we are one of their most loyal customers. Ordering groceries online is a huge time saver for us – we can pick them up on the way home from work, and no longer have to waste valuable weekend time grocery shopping. Once Costco is on board with online ordering, we’ll be set!
6. Outsource what you can
We have somebody come in to clean our house bi-weekly, and I would cut many other things from our budget before I would give that up. If you can find room in the budget, outsourcing certain tasks can save you a lot of time. Cleaning is the obvious one, but you can also outsource laundry, lawn maintenance, home improvement tasks, and even cooking.
7. Make the most of your lunch break
If you get a lunch break, don’t waste it! I often use my lunch break to catch up on errands. It’s amazing what you can get done in less than an hour with no kids in tow! Lunch breaks are also an excellent chance to carve out some time for you – workout, go for a walk, or find a quiet spot to read a book.
8. Keep up with the laundry
Nobody wants to spend a full weekend day catching up on laundry. To keep up with the ridiculous amount of laundry generated by our family, we throw in at least one load of laundry every night.
9. Lower your standards
You can’t do it all, so don’t kill yourself trying. Lower your standards, and stop putting pressure on yourself to do everything and be everything to everyone. You are only one person, with finite time and energy. Make time for what’s important to you, and learn to accept “good enough” for the rest.
Related: The Myth of Having It All
Being a working mom means you are always juggling. The balance between home, work, and everything else in your life shifts constantly, and you may regularly question if you’ve found the right balance. I hope these tips help give you back a little extra time in your day, so you can find the balance that’s right for you.