7 Secrets to Time Management for Busy Moms

Before I became a stay-at-home mom, I was a 9-5 career woman, juggling many deadlines and many different bosses. I don’t have as many deadlines now, per se, and I only have the one boss. There’s still enough to fill my days, and if I’m not careful at managing my time, it doesn’t take long for things to start piling up.

Using my 15 years of business time management skills, I’m super excited to share with you the top 7 secrets I’ve learned to manage my time being a busy mom. Let’s get started!

Secret #1

Set Your Alarm

Yes, I’m talking about your morning alarm. To feel your most accomplished during the day, you need to start off on the right foot. Get up at least an hour (maybe two) before your kiddos. This will give you enough time to get breakfast and enjoy a cup of coffee, if that’s your thing.

Anything you need to do to get you in a good mindset for the day and really “wake up.” If you need a morning workout or shower to wake you up, now is your time. In that hour, you may also be able to get one small task done. Empty the dishwasher or fold a load of laundry. Something that is mindless and not too labor intensive.

Now that you’re up and moving, and most likely so is the rest of the house, use alarms throughout the day to stay on track. If you’re a homeschooling mom, use an alarm to break up study sessions and allow for breaks throughout the lessons.

If you’re tackling a big cleaning project (garage, basement, sorting kids’ clothes), set an alarm for 20-30 minutes at a time. Section off an area that can be cleaned in that timeframe, and really go at it. If it’s kids’ clothes, pick one size or one drawer to tackle.

Take a break, then come back and do another 20–30-minute session. This will relieve burnout from taking on too big of a project and not seeing any progress, and it will also keep you from starting the project and ending up with an even bigger mess 10-12 hours later.

Call to Action: If you have little kids that are still napping, make the most of those naps to complete your 20–30-minute sessions. If you have older kids, either get them involved or give them a project of their own to keep them busy.

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Secret #2

Get the Hardest Thing out of the Way First

Remember that morning alarm that you set for an hour or two ahead of the kids? Now is the time to get the hardest, messiest, absolute worst thing on your to do list completed. Maybe that’s a morning workout. Or maybe your pantry needs organized. Maybe you really need to tackle that garage.

Whatever it is, do it first, especially if it’s a workout. First off, if you want to zoom through everything else on your to do list, get up and get your blood pumping, with no interruptions. Even 10 minutes of light cardio will help wake you up and get ready for the day.

Regardless of what it may be, it’s best to do it first cause the longer you put it off, the more it’s going to nag at you. Once it’s done, you can sprinkle in the easier things throughout the day.

Let’s go back to that garage reorganization project. There’s no way you’re going to get through this whole project in one day, and that’s okay. Use part of the morning before anyone is awake or that first nap, pick your area and set your 30-minute alarm. Now really get to work! At the end of 30 minutes, you’re done. You’ve accomplished something and you can feel good about it. Come back first thing tomorrow and work on the next section.

Call to Action: Find the big projects or the things you really don’t like doing and put them at the top of your list. No more hiding them near the bottom, or worse, not even acknowledging them.

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Secret #3

Write a Checklist and Use It

Checklists and planners and schedules, oh my! I think the minute women find out they are going to be a mom, our minds start processing everything that we’ll need for the baby for the next 15-20 years, give or take a few. Pregnancy brain, baby brain, mom brain: these are real things, and there’s no way one person can store all of that information in their head 100% of the time.

Here’s where you need to do a brain dump. Grab some paper and a pencil (yes, we’re writing this by hand), and get everything out. Everything!!! Use one piece of paper for all the household chores, regardless of who does them, and how often they need done. (Include things like car maintenance, yearly tax filings, changing batteries in the smoke detector). Use a separate piece of paper for everyone’s schedule: swimming lessons, soccer practice, doctor appointments, family game nights. Get it all out of your head and in one place.

Now set up a checklist for all the chores: daily, weekly, monthly and yearly (put dates on the yearly items). Set up a separate calendar for all the activities. Keep them in a place you and your family see them daily.

Call to Action: The other half of this secret is using the checklist. Don’t forget to reference the list daily and check things off as you accomplish them. This always puts a little spring in your step. It’s the same feeling kids get when seeing the gold stars on the chore chart.

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Secret #4

Put Down the Phone

This secret is super obvious, and it should be super easy to follow, except it’s not. Even if you have the best of intentions. You need to doublecheck the group chat to see how many cupcakes you need to make for the bake sale. You see Amanda got a new haircut, so you message her that you like it. Someone else asks what kind of cupcakes you’re making and tips on how to make icing. All of a sudden, it’s two hours later, no cupcakes are baked, and the kiddos are wanting a snack.

Here’s why I had you write your to do list, and why it’s not saved on your phone. Since you already followed Secret #3, you had your task to bake cupcakes on your checklist and you wrote down how many dozen (knowing you wouldn’t remember later). Now it’s on your checklist, and you don’t need to check your phone. 

Call to Action: You might not be able to just turn your phone off or leave it in another room, especially if you’re using it for your alarm. But make it less of a distraction by turning it on vibrate and silencing notifications. Keep it facedown and across the room from you. Out of sight, out of mind (hopefully).

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Secret #5

Plan Breaks

You’re doing so well. You got up early, got the hardest thing on your list out of the way, you’re utilizing nap times well. And now you’re exhausted! We don’t want burnout. The worst thing would be to do amazing today, and then not accomplish anything in the next couple days.

This is why we set the 20-minute alarm to get our big tasks done. Once you’ve accomplished your 20-minute task, either do a small task that takes no energy (think wiping up the kitchen counters), or give yourself a 10-minute break. This is when you are allowed to have your phone back. However, it comes with one stipulation: you must set an alarm! We already know how easy it is to get sucked in. Even if you don’t have the urge to be on your phone, I still recommend setting an alarm. Ten minutes can quickly become an hour if you’re not paying attention.

If you’ve been working for more than 20 minutes (I know it takes me at least an hour to deep clean the bathroom, and I don’t want to stop in the middle of it), definitely allow for a longer break.

Call to Action: It’s not that I’m telling you spend your days with your feet up, like you have nothing to do. But it’s good for your mental health to get a little rest here and there and actually sit down and enjoy what you’ve been working so hard at.

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Secret #6

Don’t Multitask

I know this is a tough one (for me too). I used to be the queen of multitasking, and I can still manage to watch TV and be on my phone at the same time. But it’s not the most efficient way to accomplish things in your everyday life.

There’s a reason why this story is so popular and why it resonates with pretty much all women. I know you’ve heard it or have done it yourself. You go to wash the dishes, but you see there is only one dishcloth left, so you decide to do a load of laundry. As you’re picking up the towels, you see there is no soap in the bathroom. You go to the closet to get some, but find a pair of socks. You take them to your son’s room, where you find a pair of scissors. You return them to the drawer, and you see the pile of bills. I could go on, but you know at the end of the day, nothing actually got done, and you’re stuck emptying out a sink full of cold dishwater (which is the absolute worst).

Call to Action: All those things need done, but stick to your checklist and stay focused. If you’re starting the dishes, finish the dishes.  I promise the rest of those chores will be there when you are done. If you do come across something (such as paying the bills) that isn’t on your list, add it right away. That way you’re not thinking about it, and you won’t forget it.

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Secret #7

Plan for Tomorrow

You’ve used all the secrets above and you made it through the day. Congratulations! Now what? It’s time to plan for tomorrow. It’s always good to plan your next day or two the night before. When I was a working momma, I would do this on my commute after work to determine what all I had finished that day, and again on my morning commute to determine how I wanted my day to pan out. If you’re a stay-at-home mom and don’t have the luxury of a commute, be sure to plan the night before. You will know exactly what needs done right when you get up and won’t be eating into your precious morning alone time.

Drag out that checklist and see if there’s anything that you didn’t finish today. But don’t just push them on to the next day. See where you have free time the rest of the week, and rearrange things in the most efficient way possible. Some things may even need pushed to the following week. If tomorrow is garbage day, don’t decide to clean out your fridge the day after.

Call to Action: If you’re utilizing a checklist and you review it nightly, you will be able to rest easier knowing that everything is getting done and your time is not being wasted.

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