10 Ways Parents Can Better Manage Their Time


Parents today are pulled in a million different directions, making it hard to find the time for everything on those never-ending to-do lists, not to mention to spend time with your family. This makes time management essential.

The following are some ideas for managing your time better.  Make sure to include time for yourself and your family on your daily to-do list.

Take time to set goals.
The importance of setting goals is immeasurable.  If you don’t know where you want to go it’s pretty hard to get there.  Setting goals is time consuming, but by not setting them you waste even more time just spinning your wheels and not getting anywhere.  Make sure to include personal goals, family goals, and work goals on your list.

Create a to-do list.
Once you have set your goals it’s time to create a to-do list.  This is the grand list so write down everything you can think of that you need to take action on.  Don’t panic when you see how long this list is because you are going to organize it to make it more manageable.

Determine which items are priorities and mark them as such.
Take a look at your to-do list and see if you can group items together that relate.  Once you do that you can give those items a heading that summarizes what the project is.  For example, completing research for an article, writing the first draft of the article, and editing and completing the article are all things that can go under the heading of “Writing assignment”.  Look at your entire list of to-do items and label them A to F with A being the highest priority.

Plan out your day.
Taking the highest priority items from your master list and any appointments or meetings you have for the day and create a plan.  There may be days when you are working on a few things with a low priority, but that need to be completed in order to finish a project.  As you get closer to your deadline what was a low priority task may need to be changed to a higher priority.  Make sure that no single task will take longer than 1 to 2 hours to complete.  If it does, break it down into smaller pieces.

Use small periods of time to make headway on projects.
How much time do you waste watching commercials on TV?  Use that time to empty the dishwasher, dust the living room, or knock out some other small task.  Even if the task that you need to complete is to clean the entire kitchen, you can break that task up into smaller tasks and do them during the commercials of your favorite show.

Keep your appointments in a planner or on your phone.
To avoid missing meetings and other appointments keep everything written down in a planner or in a calendar in your phone.  If you tend to get distracted or forget to check your calendar, turn on an alarm 15 to 60 minutes before your appointment so you are prepared.

Try to multitask.
How much time do you spend talking on the telephone?  If you are at home and you’re talking to a friend or relative put them on speaker and complete some tasks around the house while you are talking.  Putting away dishes doesn’t take a lot of concentration, but it needs to be done. These types of activities are perfect for completing when you’re at home talking on the phone.

Figure out where you can find more time.
This task may seem tedious, but you will be surprised at how much time you waste and where you can recapture some time in your day.  Keep a log of what you do all day, every day for a week if possible.  Go back and look at what you spent your time doing.  Can you consolidate shopping trips to once a week instead of running to the store every night after work to pick up something for dinner?  Can you spend time on the weekend making suppers for the work week so that it’s all ready for you when you get home?  Be as honest as possible when filling out this log.  Don’t write that you were working on research when in the middle of doing the research you read and answered your e-mail and surfed the web for other reasons.

Delegate what tasks you can.
By looking at your to-do list you may find that you can delegate filling the dishwasher to another family member.  Maybe it’s time that someone else step up and vacuum the house for you.  Can you delegate anything at work?  Anything you can get off your list will help you use your time better.  Keep a list of delegated work so that you can follow up with the person by the time that the task is to be completed.

Set specific times to check your e-mail.
Reading e-mail can be a huge time waster during the day.  Check your e-mail when you first get into work, on your lunch break, and at the end of the day.  Once you have read through your e-mail close it so that you are not distracted by the notifications.  Let others know that this is your plan and that if they need you sooner they will have to contact you in a different way.

In 2007 a study was done by Basex estimating that distractions cost U.S. companies $588 billion a year. By finding ways to manage your time more efficiently this number can be drastically reduced, and you can accomplish more throughout your day.

This has been a guest blog submitted by Hannah Anderson with Full Time Nanny.