Balancing Mama-Care With Other-Care — Part 2, Time Management

Yesterday I talked about the importance of taking care of my basic needs along with the challenges I’m currently facing. That means different things for different people.

One personal need that I’ve identified is better time-management and organization.

Gil does not get this at all.

When I discuss it with him, he tells me I need to chill out and be more “laid back.” The reality is that being organized allows me to relax and actually enjoy downtime.

Time-management is a challenge for our entire family.

Part of it I’m certain has to do with our personalities and temperaments, but I absolutely believe these are skills that we can learn and improve upon.

I typically get places on time, but I’m often flying in the door with seconds to spare.

Because of this it takes me fifteen minutes or so to actually become PRESENT.

This morning involved me pushing the kids out of the car in the school drop-off line and yelling from the driver’s seat, “RUN!!! Hurry!!! The bell’s about to ring!!”

Meanwhile, Wallace is twirling and Piers is examining a rock he found in the driveway. It took me a good thirty minutes to relax after the morning rush, and I can’t imagine that rushing to class is exactly conducive to jumping right into schoolwork.

Gil and I need to model plan-ahead skills for our children. We can do better. We must.

I ran across this timely article on Facebook as I was calming down from the morning chaos:

9 Habits of People Who Are Always on Time — check it out; it’s a quick read with some good tips.

Here’s the summary:

1)  When it’s time to get up, they get up. Nope, we’re all masters of snooze around here.

2) They plan breakfast at dinner. I actually do this about 50% of the time, and I always know what breakfast will be in my head.

I’m less adept at setting everything out in the evening.

The author also emphasizes the importance of putting keys and shoes by the door, having lunches packed, coffee set to begin brewing — whatever it is that you need for morning, go ahead and do it at night. This is the one I need to focus on most.

No one in our family is what I’d call a morning person, so the more we (I) can plan ahead at night, the better the morning will be.

3) They end tasks on time. Hmmm. Sometimes I do this.

I’m better with this one when it comes to work. And frankly, I think I’m more conscious of time when other people are involved, especially if they’re efficient and timely.

I need to guard and value my own time just as I would someone else’s.

4) They recognize patterns and correct them. I’m good at recognizing, not as great at correcting.

5) They embrace downtime. Ding ding ding!! I’m awesome at downtime.

However, when I worked full-time and had to adhere to office hours and various regular meetings, this one was harder.

I’m so thankful for a flexible schedule. The author recommends using time waiting to catch up on networking emails or reading a book. Waiting, or downtime apparently makes lots of people anxious.

6) They’re immune to “Just One More Thing” syndrome. Yep. Need to work on this one.

I run back in the house a lot before I leave. Focusing on #2 will allow this one to take care of itself, I think.

7) They schedule built-in overflow time. This one was always hard for me when I was a nutritional consultant. I set my schedule, but I didn’t protect my own time each day.

The author emphasizes the importance of blocking overflow time every morning and afternoon in order to handle unexpected tasks that inevitably arise.

8) They’ve mastered the skill of calculation. Basically, they map out their days, often down to the minute. They’re extremely precise about how long tasks take, often down to the minute.

I do this occasionally, but the key is to do it regularly.

9) They know when they do their best work. I’m very aware of when I do my best work — 10am-2pm, and 6pm-10pm.

The 6-10 block also happens to be the time I’m getting my kids fed, bathed and in bed, and then recovering, so for now that won’t work, but I love the idea of being aware of energy cycles and using them to maximize productivity.

What about you — which of these do you do regularly?

I’m going to focus on #2 — planning and putting things out the night before.

And again, here’s the link to the original article —

15 thoughts on “Balancing Mama-Care With Other-Care — Part 2, Time Management

  1. Such a great followup. I’ll admit, I have excellent time management skills but only do about a quarter of this list. Or…maybe I do them naturally and therefore don’t think about it. Who knows!

    I love that you’re only tackling one at a time. Great plan.



    • Thanks! I need to write a followup to this followup. We have done amazingly (shockingly, might be more accurate) well with prepping the night before and it has really been life-altering. More on all of it soon. Thank you for all the encouragement. I’ve been popping in and at least skimming your exercise/weight-loss journey. Keep up the good work!!!!


  2. All good stuff and will dig this up the closer we get to trying to buy a house once we return home and my son’s wedding. Ahhhhh I believe that was a hot flash that just hit my body! Oh oh. 🙂


    • Oh my gosh! Another wedding!! Exciting! Today went remarkably well w/#2 — every time I type that my inner 7yo boy giggles. Good thing everything was ready since we all overslept. Boys still got to school on time… And I’m trying to psyche myself up to do some work.


    • Same here. It’s really bad. Last week was better. As I expected, taking care of #2 is helping with #6. I just need to do better with my own stuff. I’ve done great helping the other members of my household get their stuff together, but I’m not doing it for myself. So they get out the door and I kind of collapse. Oh well, it’s progress. I’ll take it!


  3. My ten-year-old gets up at 6AM sharp with total ease, and she gets herself completely ready without whining “Moooommyyyy, can you do this and this and this?” I love it.

    Her seven-year-old sister is the complete opposite. She shrieks when I wake her, starts to cry and say she doesn’t want to go to school, and has a massive meltdown. I’ve made the mistake of not having her select clothes the night before, and in the morning that task becomes another tear-my-hair-out point of contention between us.

    So I think I’ll keep it simple and shoot for her picking out clothes the night before. It would help smooth things out A LOT! Thanks for the inspiration! And good luck with #2!!!


    • Wow on the 10yo! That’s impressive. I can hardly do that at almost 40!! This week went well for the most part. I need to post on our progress… BUT, I agreed to help a friend give a talk tomorrow about community building, particularly in groups where lots of members have mental illness — the challenges that come with helping vs. giving people their privacy. How do we know when to reach out and when to give space? — that sort of thing. AHHH!! So…I’m procrastinating. Oh well, I’m better a little off-the-cuff.

      Anyway, your 7yo sounds like my almost 6yo. Mornings in general make me want to tear my hair out!

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      • I’m sending the girls to your house for Spring Break! 😉 GOOD LUCK with the talk today – you’re a wonderful friend to do that!!!! And I ***know *** it will be a great talk too. “Procrastinating” is my middle name! 😉 Great minds act alike though, don’t they? XO


  4. Laundry is my LEAST favorite activity at home. I don’t really care for housework, and like you get discouraged by the redundancy of it (especially with two messy little boys in the home, it’s never really clean, just ‘less dirty’….) but the way my mind works is to make the most logical and least obstructed path to the goal…so I don’t necessarily plot out each day in advance (as the article suggests some people do), but I lump my chores together in my head and figure out the order to do them in that makes the most sense for me that day.

    I am a ‘do it the night before’ person as well, at least in part – especially with setting up the coffee maker (which I don’t do religiously)….because the process of peeling one coffee filter out of the stack at 5:00 in the morning is only slightly more appealing to me than shoving shards of glass in my eyes…I am definitely NOT a morning person. ;0)


    • Wow, yeah. We’re living in somewhat of a parallel universe, two messy boys and all. Last week was better. Prepping the night before makes such a difference. Now we have to keep it up. I was about to tell you that I don’t really mind laundry and that it’s probably my favorite chore (if I must select one), but then I realized I must not love it too much or I wouldn’t have piles of clean clothes all over the house waiting to be folded and put away… Going to handle that now. Have a great weekend! Thanks for sharing. I love hearing what household routines work for others


  5. I find it also helps to have a realistic set of daily goals for myself instead of cramming as much as possible into the day, and prioritizing things that are time consuming but not all hands on such as laundry over vacuuming in terms of what I do first….so I can get both done in the same time period rather than one or the other….the wash runs as I vacuum…it helps tremendously to get more done in a day.

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    • That’s a great point! I love the idea of setting realistic daily goals. I need to do better with this on housework. I pretty much avoid ALL housework, or at least put it off til the last minute because it feels like as soon as I do it, it needs to be done all over again. The redundancy drives me crazy and I never feel a sense of accomplishment. I’m spending today catching up on laundry. Thanks for chiming in!


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