By Samantha Witthuhn, Groove Contributor
The wise Jesse Spano from Saved by the Bell articulated our feelings about the 24-hour day best in one simple, desperate plea--
“There’s no time! There’s never any time!”
And she’s right! How can we be expected to juggle the black hole of responsibilities that come with a work life, home life, personal life, the kid’s life and so on?!
It can seem daunting reeling through the list of things you want to do, like sending out that belated birthday card or finally organizing that one cabinet, in comparison to the list of things your able to do on any given day.
This clocked conundrum is why we set out to round up some of our favorite life hacks the internet has to offer.
Warning: these tips do require a little time upfront to help you better prioritize your myriad of tasks, but this down payment of ticks will loosen up a few extra minutes in your schedule down the road.
The first thing to do? Forget buzzwords like “multitasking” and “balance.”
Teresa Taylor, the former chief operating officer of the Denver-based telecom company, Qwest (acquired by CenturyLink in 2011) wrote a book called The Balance Myth: Rethinking Work-Life Success in which she addresses these two seemingly harmless words.
In a recent Fortune article, she was quoted saying, “Words like ‘multitasking’ and ‘balance’ are code words for the ability to run faster than an officemate or the ability to keep plates spinning in the air like the best Chinese juggler. The problem with these concepts,” Taylor writes, “is that eventually one trips, or gravity wins.”
You don’t need to be a super parent to find time to be with your family or do things you love. So try not to get bogged down in the endless listicles out there that tout the “best” multitasking tips. Remember, you’re running a marathon, not a sprint, and finding time isn’t about cleverly tricking it, but about managing it.
1. Be your life’s own personal time-keeper
As much as we wish we could give you a time-turner necklace to cram everything into one day, your home isn’t Hogwarts and sadly there are no real spells out their to stop the clock.
Rather the best way to start saving your time is to look back and analyze how you’re spending it.
For one week, keep a log of how your spend your day, hour-by-hour, minute-by-minute. As we mentioned earlier, this is the part where you have to allocate a chunk of your schedule upfront to reap rewards later on.
Keeping a log of where and how you use your time will give you a visual resource that’ll help you pinpoint tasks that you might’ve spent too much time on (depending on urgency and importance), delegate tasks to your kids (like cleaning up spaces) or identify tasks could’ve been consolidated (like doing a family meditation at bath or bedtime).
Which brings us to our next point…
2. Be ruthless and categorize
Once you’ve kept a record of how you typically spend your day, you can look at your to-do list and prioritize what tasks can fit into your schedule.
In a Parents article, 15 Time-Management Tips, “Experts suggest that you divide your to-do list into three sections: those things that need to be taken care of immediately, those that can get done anytime during the week, and those that are long-term or ongoing projects.”
Be fearless when looking at your upcoming tasks and projects. Put them in these three buckets:
Prioritizing your list will help you make your to-do’s less scary to look at and much more digestible. A side-by-side comparison of your list against your pre-recorded time log will also help you pinpoint areas of the day where you can blend those “Urgent” and “This Week” tasks into your routine.
3. Take advantage of those small moments
After keeping time for a week, you might be surprised by the number of minutes that often go unused: Driving to an after-school activity, standing in line at the store, waiting for your 3-year-old to get his foot through the leg-hole of his skinny jeans.
Alter your perspective a little bit, and these forgettable points throughout the day turn into meaningful opportunities to make memories with your kids.
Take advantage of these small moments by enriching them with conversation, short games and songs, and mini activities that aid in your kid’s social-emotional growth, creativity, and cognitive development processes.
Activities as simple as counting the stairs your child spends 10 minutes climbing up, putting on a guided family meditation as you snuggle up and get ready for bed, or engaging in a dance game that follows the music in the store your shopping at will liven up the time you spend with your child and give you a greater sense of fulfillment as you navigate through the day.
Take 2 minutes and get started with this relaxing Warm Thoughts Family Meditation below.
We get it! Not every day is going to be simple and clean, with each task perfectly laid out. Things come up, and hiccups often cause parents to alter their plans. But spending a little time analyzing how you most often spend your day will help you prioritize tasks and eventually mark things off your to-do list.
And with a little creativity (which we’re sure your kids have a crazy, endless supply of), you’re bound to ease up some extra hours and turn those little moments into lasting memories.
You got this!