Being Supermom, Part 4--Creative Time Management

Being Supermom, or just getting what you want out of life, can be daunting. It can be hard to balance work, family, and doing what you love. Sometimes it’s all too easy to edge out our families while pursuing our dreams.

But you don’t have to do that (and you shouldn’t.)

You just have to get very creative about your time.

First figure out the things you have to make time for – for example, work and communing to work.

Then, factor in the things that are most important to you – family, writing, etc.
Add in anything else means a lot, but you may be willing to miss if need be – dance class, writers meetings.

If having a sparkling house, or going to church, or once a week dinners with grandma is important to you, it should be on those lists.

Everything not on that list is expendable – TV, twitter, reading, blogging, etc. This doesn’t mean you can’t ever do these things. We all have our favorite TV show, the trash needs taken out, and it’s fun to connect with people online. However, like desert, we should watch how much time we spend on these things – especially things that suck up our time.

We all have things that happen and take up our time, things we have to do. Do them, but don’t let them derail your focus.

It takes willpower to peel yourself off the couch or away from the computer. It’s so easy to go, “but I need to spend all this time on social networking to promote myself.” You shouldn’t abandon it completely, but try setting a timer. Go, “do I really need to watch this/do this/right now? What else could I be doing? How many pages could I have written instead of watching this show I don’t care about? Could I be playing with my kids?”

Make time for your writing, but try to take that time from the “expendable” list, not from the list of important things. Time for you, whether it’s an exercise class or a bubble bath, (or even a date with the hubby or friends) is important too (remember, if mommy’s not happy no one is happy.”)

Choose obligations carefully and learn to say no. Keep sight of what’s important to you. If it’s something that you don’t “have” to do and it’ll take away from writing, or spending time with the fam, etc, think really hard about doing it – even if everyone else it. If it’s not fun and not mandatory, then why do it?

May prioritized lists (if lists work for you). What do you have to do What do you have to do today or the world will explode. Keep things in perspecitve and don't beat yourself up if you don't get everything done or make time for everyone, that day. Just try again tomorrow. Maybe start with what went to the wayside the day before. (Rewards work too, for pages written, to do lists, etc. Cookies work well for me.)

Don’t forget your kids and family. Even when you’re on deadline, try to make time for them too. They love and support what you’re doing, don’t make them feel like supporting you means sitting on the sidelines.

The timer works for this, too. “Mommy writes for an hour, then when the timer dings we’ll play a game.” Or get creative, sit outside and watch them play while you write, use your laptop while you watch a movie together.

Maybe you have a day that’s just for chores and family. The tot knows that one day is “sleep in fun day” the other is “mommy writes in her PJs until noon then does chores day.” We all have days

After the kiddos go to bed, twitter or write or whatever for a certain amount of time, then stop and spend a little time with your hubby, even if it’s watching a TV show together. Hubbies need love too.

Dinner doesn’t have to mean PB&J even when you’re working all day or on deadline. Use your crock pot. Keep your freezer stocked with easy things to make your family loves. This doesn’t have to be expensive. It can be as simple as a pound of cubed meat and a bag of frozen veggies for stir fry, a package of kielbasa and a bag of frozen sliced peppers. Pick things up on sale and freeze them if you can.

There are tons of little strategies for making time for everyone and everything. Think of your time as a closet, go though each thing and decide if you “need” it or not. Set times. Make gridded schedule if that works for you. Post a picture of your family on your computer as a reminder. Figure out what works for you and stick to it, but don’t be afraid to try new methods and re-evaluate what you’re doing.

Use “dead time” wisely. When you’re driving the kids to and from school is a great way to spend a little extra time with them. Drill spelling words, sing silly songs, let them give you plot suggestions. When they’re not in the car you can use this time to plot, figure out what you’re making for dinner. I’ve even heard of people using Dragon in the car and dictating stories onto their laptops while they drive, but I’m not brave enough to try it.

What do you do during lunch hour (if you get one)? Use it to run errands, go for a walk, or even write on your laptop instead of being social. I can get a lot of work done in that hour while eating if I focus and have a plan for what I’m going to do that day. Don’t let the internet distract you!

Do you have favorite time management tricks to share?

You can do it! You can be a happy mom with everything she wants out of life. Be supermom. I dare you. Now, what’s your plan?


Brinda said...

Great list, Suzanne. When I started writing, I hated that I didn't have time to read as much. Now, I have combined my work commute (2+ hrs daily) and listening to audiobooks. I don't watch much television these days and have to admit that the internet is my weakness. You've motivated me to use my lunch hour more productively. Thanks.

Lisa Kessler said...

Great blog Suzi!!! :)

I use my lunch hours at work to read. It's my only reading time these days since I write at night...

The cool thing is I appreciate it more now than I did before. Having time to read is a gift! :)

Lisa :)

PS - I moved my blog and I'm adding your blog to the links... See you soon!

Stacy McKitrick said...

Like Lisa, I read during lunch. It's the only "dedicated" time I have for reading (although I always carry a book with me just in case I'm stuck somewhere and have to wait on someone - then I can read while I'm waiting).

Being an empty-nester, finding time to write isn't really that hard. But I have to treat it as dessert, or else I'd never get my chores done (somehow the clothes just won't clean themselves!).

Suzanne Lazear said...

@ Brinda -- audio books are great

@ Lisa -- reading at lunch, that's a great idea, too

@Stacy -- now, why won't clothes clean themselves? By now don't you think they should?