The advent of the internet and mobile phones means that you have very little down time. It means being permanently connected and can be a huge time waster in the process. The refrain “I’m so busy!” can be heard from parents everywhere. This isn’t surprising given that we are not only managing our own lives but those of our children as well. It’s important to make time for oneself and then use it effectively. If we identify and eliminate time wasters it is a positive step forward in caring for our own needs.
Create a log
Spend 3 days jotting down how you spend your time. Three days is enough to give you a snapshot of what things are taking up your valuable time. It might be the demands of a newborn baby, or completing a work contract under deadline.
This is where you take a close look at exactly how you are spending your time.
Break down your log into two parts, it might be useful to use a couple of highlighter pens for this process.
Part 1: Others time: how much time do you spend on the needs of others? Are you spending time caring for a newborn and when they’re napping are you trying to spend quality time with a toddler sibling? Are you working part- or full-time? How much travel time is taken out of your day?
Part 2: Me time: what part of the time you have spent is on yourself? Do you make time for exercise or to spend time catching up with friends? Are you browsing Facebook or Pinterest? Highlight the times that you have had for yourself.
Ways to eliminate time wasters
Remember this is about you taking control of your time and how you spend it. This is not the time that you know you can’t negotiate with, such as feeding your child or the hours you need to spend at work. This is about the time that doesn’t fall under those conditions.
This is where you start to thinking about how you are choosing to spend your time rather than being caught up in thinking you really need to check your emails or answer that phone-call. Instead, take a deep breath and step back from it all. Set yourself some goals about how you are going to manage your time more productively.
Email: You don’t need to check your email every fifteen minutes - though it may feel like that. Instead, limit yourself to checking it three times a day in the morning, at lunch and evening times. If someone needs to contact you urgently they are not likely to do it by email.
Internet: It’s amazing how much time can slip away when you are browsing the internet. Set yourself a fifteen-minute time limit to find what it is you are looking for. Otherwise you will quickly find yourself thoroughly immersed and wasting time that could be used elsewhere in a more productive manner.
Phone calls: Do you really need to answer that call? The chances are most people will leave a message and you can call them back at a time that suits you. By choosing not to answer calls you are saving yourself time and also setting some boundaries for yourself as well.
Paperwork: It’s a far more effective exercise to devote 15 minutes a day to tackling paperwork rather than putting it off indefinitely. Select a time of day where you feel mentally able to cope with it, it might be morning or evening depending on your habits. Use 15 minutes to go through the paperwork and allocate it accordingly. You may find the articles on Tips and Tricks for organising your household helpful in creating a strategy for managing it.