Just like you, I’m a busy mom. Just like you, I get so caught up in the hustle of the ordinary moments, in the tyranny of the busy, that I miss the extraordinary in my own life. And just like you, I really want to learn to excel at making the most of what matters most.
I am a pro at procrastination and a rock star at wasting time, at least until recently. I’ve been convicted this year to really figure out how to make the most of the days the good Lord has given me, and to live the best life I can. I’ve been Googling time management and time saving ideas like a crazy person, and there are plenty of tips out there. Once you add “kids” or “parents” to the search parameters though, the pool of search results shrinks considerably. It’s as if everyone knows kids just make saving time a near impossibility.
After a lot of research and personal application, I think I’ve hit upon some really workable ideas that truly create time in a real mom’s world.
1-Write it down.
I’ve always been a list maker to a certain extent, knowing if I didn’t write down that we need cumin the second I realize it, I would forget. But this past year, I discovered a love of planning. I keep a planner that is part calendar, part list (brain dump of everything I think of: from party planning to wish lists to books I’ve read), part goal setting, part scrapbook/creative outlet, part life log. I just use a notebook and literally write down everything. It has been life changing for me. I accomplished more last year, the year I began my planner, than ever before. I established new habits, saved time, and truly became a happier person.
2- Establish routines.
Routines make it easier to not think about what comes next which saves a lot of time and stress in decision making. Kids thrive on routine and knowing what comes next. You also save a lot of time not having to deal with tantrums when kids aren’t caught off guard. For instance, we always clean up the house together before we turn the TV on at five ‘o clock. The kids are so used to it, it’s second nature to them, and they are often the ones saying, “It’s time to tidy!” With good routines in place, you have a win-win situation and there’s less stress for everyone.
Coined by Stanford psychologist BJ Fogg, a tiny habit is one which you do every day, takes less than 30 seconds and takes very little effort. You tack it on to something you already always do. I want to make a habit of doing laundry every day, so my tiny habit is: After I pour my first cup of coffee, I walk to the laundry room. That’s it. I don’t actually tell myself to do any laundry, but since I’m already there, I do. He offers a free online training course so you can learn how to do it officially, but the gist is clear. You celebrate a small victory and soon you’re accomplishing huge things.
4- Strengthen your willpower.
I used to claim I had no will power, but that wasn’t true. I just didn’t know how to use it. An easy way to exercise your will power is to do something ordinary, such as brush your teeth, with your non-dominant hand. According to Florida State University psychologist Roy Barenmeister, this will give you a strengthened focus on more important tasks. When you “practice overriding habitual ways, you are exerting deliberate control over your actions.” Then use that newly flexed willpower to accomplish something small you’ve written down.
5- Meditate and/or pray.
This one seems like it’s adding time to your schedule, but I promise you, it’s not. When you practice mindfulness, even for minutes a day, the health and mental benefits abound. I believe in the power of prayer, and scientific research backs me up. The good things that come out of mindfulness will create so much time for you get what you need to do, done! I have the app “Stop, Think, Breathe” on my phone, and it walks you through short meditations whenever you want. Hey, that could be your Tiny Habit!
6- Schedule procrastination.
When I write down that I’m going to have a Facebook break, browse Pinterest, read a book, make time to watch a movie with a friend, or even just get down on the floor to play with my four year old, I find I am more in the moment, and more energized, both leading up to the break and then when I go back to my list of must-dos. Call it bribery if you want to, but it works!
To quote the great philosopher Ferris Bueller, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” Hopefully, some of these tips will help you make more time in your life for what really matters to you.