We like to think we’re capable of doing it all, but if you are finding that your busy schedule is creating unnecessary stress and disorganization in your life, it’s time to make a change. By incorporating a few changes, you can keep your daily and weekly commitments in check.
1. Utilize Lists, Apps and/or a Planner
Some prefer to physically write down to-do’s and daily schedules in a planner, while others enjoy the convenience of digital tool. We recommend todolist, the scheduling app Cozi and the reminder and list-making app Remember the Milk. Creating a to-do list and a schedule for each day is a simple way to stay organized. On your daily schedule, add shuttling kids to soccer practices, projects you must complete at work and even a block of time dedicated to doing laundry. We also suggest adding sports games, dance recitals, weekly events and other events to your calendar ahead of time to make sure you don’t overbook.
2. Find a Pattern
Take advantage of the free moments you do have by finding a pattern to your workflow. If you feel like your to-do’s always pile up on Thursday afternoons but you find that Monday mornings are slower, set aside time on Monday to complete the tasks you know will pop up on Thursday. Determine your busy and not-so-busy times so that you can take steps toward completing your tasks whenever you have a block of free time.
3. Break up Responsibilities and Big Tasks
If you have a partner or someone to help with chores around the house or transporting the kids, dividing and conquering can be very efficient and help to relieve some of the stress you may be feeling. For example, one person takes the kids to basketball practice while the other person makes dinner, or one person cleans the house while the other does the laundry.
For your other to-do tasks, it can be easy to procrastinate when you have an intimidating task on your list. Instead of letting the project stress you out, break it up into smaller, more achievable tasks. No matter what it is, you can always create smaller steps to complete on your way to accomplishing the overall goal.
Take a break from driving and shuttling kids by utilizing the power of carpooling! Find a co-worker that you may be able to ride to and from work with. Seek out another family whose kids are attending the same school or sports practices and games and see if your children can carpool with them. Instead of battling traffic and driving around town, you will be able to take a little break and focus more time and energy on other things.
5. Wake up Early
Many people find that they are most productive in the first few hours of the day. Start a morning routine where you eat a healthy breakfast, plan your schedule and prepare yourself to take on the day. If you start each morning frazzled as you’re trying to get yourself ready for work or running around the house getting your kids ready, you’re already stressed by 9am. Get an early start on your morning so you can enjoy calm before the storm of the day begins.
6. Don’t Let Projects Pile Up
A to-do list that never seems to get shorter and stress that only seems to grow – don’t let your to-do list get out of hand. If there are tasks that you know will only take a few minutes, do them right away so you can check them off. The physical act of shortening your to-do list, whether on paper or digitally, is sure to help with the stress you’re feeling.
It’s easy to let a cluttered home or office add an extra dose of stress to your day-to-day life. Don’t be afraid to purge things you no longer use or want. At the end of each day, clean up your space and prepare whatever you may need for the following day. Getting those folders on your desk filed or your children’s toys picked up and put away will set you up for less stress the following day. Check out our tips on cleaning out and organizing your garage and closet, as well as quick de-cluttering projects to complete throughout your home. The less clutter you have, the less time you will have to spend keeping areas tidy!
8. Have a Back-up Plan
When a wrench gets thrown into your schedule, have a back-up option. If you have a project with a firm deadline, move that to the top of the priority list. If that dentist appointment you scheduled interferes with something with a higher priority, re-schedule it. Life doesn’t always go as planned and so it’s wise to have a list of high-priority items that need to get done no matter what as well as a list of things that can wait until next week if needed.
9. It’s Ok to Say No
You may not hear this often but you’re allowed to say “no.” Your old friend that is only in town for a few days asks you to join her for dinner but you know you have to finish a project with a firm deadline – it may be tough but you can say “no.” Your child’s teacher asks you to organize a holiday party but you already have a million and one things to do that week – politely say “no.” If you are constantly stressed and looking for a way to get a handle on your commitments and to-do lists, it’s time to start saying “no” so you can focus on what is most important, whether it’s quality time with your family or meeting a deadline set before you.
10. Take some “Me Time”
It can be easy to focus on the rest of your family and their needs and forget to take time for yourself. We suggest taking some “me time,” whether it’s a pedicure or just a stop at your favorite coffee shop for a treat. Check out our Busy Mom’s Guide to Relaxation post for our suggestions.
Let us know in the comments below what your best tip is for tackling a busy schedule!