This post originally appeared in Hyde Park Moms and was written by Melissa Shannon, Licensed therapist & HPM content contributor.
Many of us struggle with how to best manage our time and it seems to go by so quickly. Between our personal, work and family calendars something is bound to slip through the cracks no matter how much of an effort we make to stay organized. The invisible load of motherhood is the mental cycling of the smallest tasks that need to happen, the things that must be remembered. Our brains are not wired for constant multi-tasking so it’s no surprise that we feel exhausted trying to juggle it all.
So how do we keep it all straight without losing our minds? With a bit of planning and intention we can take back control of our days! One of the best ways to stay on top of things each week is to write it ALL OUT. Many times all of our to-do’s start turning into ruminating thoughts. We can get anxious when we have these thoughts on loop in our head all day. They wake us up at 2 am or keep us from falling asleep at night. Writing out all of your to do’s in addition to your appointments helps you to separate yourself from your thoughts and tasks.
Here are some other tips to help you get more organized:
- Use a shared calendar with your partner (I have my Outlook synced with Google Calendar for example) and then if you like to write things out by hand, use it in combination with a paper planner. I personally love the Day Designer as it acts as not just a monthly and daily calendar but a daily to-do list as well. Each evening do a triage of what needs to get done the next day and take a bit of time on Sunday evenings to plan your upcoming week. This can also include things like a shared grocery list and planning a few meals each week.
- Write out your Top Three every day. These are the things that no matter what have to get done, such as a big work deadline or an email you have to send. If it’s not a Top Three, it gets added to the general to-do list for the day. When you are writing out your tasks for the day, note if they are something you can only do when you are focused (i.e. free of distractions), something you can do mildly distracted (i.e. you have one eye on the kids and one eye on your laptop) or something that is fairly mindless and you can do anytime (i.e. unload the dishwasher). Try to orchestrate your day around the level of focus you need to complete each task and you’ll be much more productive.
- Take care of your body. This might sound totally unrelated to organization but it is actually a crucial component. Taking care of your body means you are resting, getting enough sleep, eating enough whole foods, and moving your body in a meaningful way. When you take care of your body you are supporting your mind and you will be able to focus on creating a system and schedule that works for your life.
- Develop a solid morning routine. Most of us say we want to start our day before the kids are up but it always seems really hard to stick to this habit. That’s because most of us start by focusing on our morning routine when we really need to be focusing on our evening routine. Assessing your current evening routine and making sure it sets you up for success the next day can go very far in helping you to feel more organized. This may include things like putting your phone away at 9 pm, a restorative bedtime routine like a face mask and a book or a bath bomb and hot tea to wind down. If you want to have a productive morning you have to start with the night before.
Give everything a home and declutter regularly. Make easy to access storage places for the things you use all the time and label them. Set aside time each week to declutter common areas of your home and remember being organized is something you have to actively work on!
Start implementing these tips one by one and you’ll feel a snowball effect.