For many moms, it was around this time last year that we began the transition from working in our familiar employment environment to working from home. We juggled zoom meetings with child care, met deadlines and made lunches, and tried our best to stay calm and hopeful despite our fears and concerns for the future. If there’s anything the prior year has taught us, it’s that working moms can handle whatever crazy situations come our way!
Now that it’s a new year and the end of the pandemic is in sight, what are the lessons we’ve learned that can help us as we start to move back to our once-familiar workplaces? Here are seven essential time management tips for working moms. Each has been rigorously tested under pandemic conditions and guaranteed to help you survive and thrive in 2021.
Time Blocking is Key for Time Management
Here is the first big lesson we had to learn in the early months of covid. We’d start the day with an extensive to-do list – and by the end of the evening, we’d discover that we’d barely made a dent in it. What happened? Two things – distractions and busywork. Anxiety and stress cause us to do both, and when we’re aimlessly surfing the internet or wasting time with non-essential tasks, we’re losing productivity.
Thankfully, time blocking is a time management strategy that allows you to schedule tasks at different times of the day. According to research published in Psychology Today, setting clear goals and priorities in advance of each day helps us to avoid less essential tasks that consume our time. For example, instead of responding to emails when they enter your inbox, set specific times throughout the day when you check-in and respond.
Set the schedule
Working moms know that kids need a daily routine, and with many children “schooling at home,” maintaining a schedule became essential for keeping everyone on task. Whether you used a scheduling app or a blackboard in the kitchen, setting a schedule for meals, work and school time and time for fun and relaxation, helped to give everyone a certain amount of normalcy during a very unprecedented time.
Start with the Hardest Tasks
In addition to time blocking and scheduling, we become experts at managing a to-do-list and organizing tasks for different times throughout the day. Starting the day with the most challenging or complex tasks is a strategy backed by research that shows productivity increases. By getting a few “big wins” first thing in the day, you’ll stay motivated to avoid distractions and activities that aren’t beneficial.
Creating transition times is Essential for Time Management
Before the pandemic, the transition times between home and work eased us from one environment to another. With working from home, those in-between spaces disappeared, and with them, our personal relaxation activities such as listening to music or audiobooks, talking on the phone, or catching up with the daily news. Keeping those daily rituals, even in modified form, was an intentional way to add a bit of relaxation and enjoyment into the day. They also served as a signal to our families that one part of the day was ending and another beginning.
There’s a Hack for That
One of the benefits to come out of the past year is that businesses of all kinds developed clever ways to promote social distancing and save time. Some time hacks like home delivery, online scheduling services, free website builders and virtual health and wellness appointments will continue to help us working moms long after covid is gone.
Ignore the Temptation to Multitask
Smart moms know that multitasking is not effective and that it creates more problems than it solves. But when push comes to shove, we can be tempted into thinking we can do five things simultaneously. If there’s one thing we’ve learned in the last year, it’s that in times of stress and competing demands, the best thing we can do is to hit the pause button and take a deep breath – then handle one task at a time.
Knowing Your Boundaries is Crucial for Time Management
According to the online hiring platform Monster.com, nearly 70% of all workers are experiencing burnout from working at home throughout COVID-19, and working moms know this to be true. Setting boundaries for workplace and family requests is an essential time management task that many of us have learned how to handle. Saying no to a colleague who wants to schedule a non-essential meeting during lunch is an act of self-preservation. We do our best work when we’re feeling refreshed and energized.
Working moms the world over agree that the past year has been brutal. But the worst is behind us now, and we’re getting ready to enter a new chapter. Let’s take all the time management skills we’ve learned from a year of working at home and put them to good use in the days ahead!