Multi-tasking: Creating Daily and Weekly Routines
Home Management—The kids are hungry. You’re trying to finish up a business call. Your husband just texted to say he’s going to be late and won’t be able to take the kids to the soccer game, which stinks because that’s when you were going to finally have an hour of quiet in the house to finish that project your client is waiting on.
You have no idea what to make for dinner, but whatever it is will have to happen in the next 15 minutes so you can be on time for soccer. Cereal for dinner? Seems like the perfect option at this point. And you figure you’ll just have to push that client work until after the kids are in bed. You’re just starting to feel like you might be able to pull it all off when your son asks where his soccer jersey is, and you remember you forgot to put it in the dryer.
Everyone needs you. You’re exhausted from having to constantly put out fires everywhere in your life. You’re running late on everything and feel lucky that you just barely make it most of the time.
Let me state the obvious: This is a recipe for burnout.
Most of us moms can keep this sort of routine up for a while, but there is always a breaking point not far off on the horizon. Many of us feel this is just normal, this is just how it goes when you have kids, a household to manage, and a job or a business to run.
I’d like to offer a different version of “normal” that I can tell you has saved my sanity. Instead of running full speed ahead, firing on all pistons, as fast as I could, all of the time, I’ve learned to create a routine that brings me peace of mind. With it, I know I’ve made time to get specific priorities done so I don’t have to worry about them (or forget them) all the time.
The definition of a routine is: commonplace tasks, chores, or duties as must be done regularly or at specified intervals; typical or everyday activity; a standard procedure.
So here’s a plan. Start with your weekly routine. Think through work, kids’ school schedules, and extracurricular activities. Pick a day that you clean out the fridge, think through meals for the week, and go grocery shopping. That way you know that every week you’ll have what you need in the fridge for all the meals you will make. Do this the same day every week so you get used to planning your meals out this way.
What other weekly routines can you add? For example, make Tuesdays your errand day. Group your errands together, so that when you go out for the groceries, you also stop by the bank and the dry cleaner’s. Schedule your office days or work days while your children are at school, and don’t do the laundry, clean the house, or run errands on your office days.
Then start looking at your daily routines. The idea is to look at chunks of time and group activities together in that time that make sense. Most days, I’ll grab the dirty clothes from the hamper on my way downstairs to make breakfast for the kids. I’ll put a load in the washer and let it run while I make breakfast and lunch for the kids. Then just before I leave the house, I’ll move the clothes to the dryer, so they’ll be ready to fold when I’m back home later in the day. By doing this routine everyday, I’m keeping up with the laundry and not overwhelmed with huge piles at the end of the week or sending my kids to soccer wearing wet uniforms.
If you’re a work at home mom, group your work tasks together according to your energy levels during the day. If you are low energy in the morning, perhaps that’s the best time to do research, return emails, or handle your administrative tasks. When your energy levels are higher, that’s the time to chunk together the tasks that require your creativity and focus. Don’t take phone calls during this time. Let people leave a message, and call them back when it fits with your schedule.
We’ve all heard of the importance of establishing routines for our kids, especially around bedtime. The reason these are so helpful is that they reduce a lot of stress and cause us to make time for the things that we know have to happen each day. The same goes for all aspects of our adult lives. By having a routine for ourselves and our families, we don’t have to spend time worrying about the things that must get done, nor scrambling when we realize we’ve forgotten something critical.
Do you use routines to get things done? What routines are you teaching your children to help them manage their responsibilities?
Photo courtesy of Flickr.
Lara Galloway, The Mom Biz Coach, is a speaker, a business coach and the founder of the Mom Biz Academy, the "MBA" for mompreneurs. She teaches moms how to do what they love without compromising their priorities. Grab her "Six Steps for Creating a Sustainable Mompreneur Business" audio course here!