A Busy Working Mom’s Life is Always Changing
Being a working mom means you have a lot to think about. A lot to do.You’re trying to focus on your job while not forgetting about school, meals, laundry and housework. The list goes on. If you are working outside the home you may be able to compartmentalize, slightly. But if you are working from home it is easy to get everything in a mess and forget what you should be focussing on when. Especially when there are changes to your schedule. Well, at least that’s my experience.
Today I want to share with you my life-changing time management tips for working moms.
One of the main reasons why I struggle with time management and productivity is that plans are often changing and no week is the same. While dealing with the business deadlines and meetings I also have to weave in school events, dentist appointments and play dates. My week might be all organized and then a notice comes home from school, or there’s a webinar I want to attend and all the plans have to be changed.
Do you relate?
How Do You Keep Life Organized When One Week is Never the Same as the Next?
I love the ability to quickly drag and drop changes to your schedule on a digital calendar. And digital planners, like Asana, are great for creating (and changing) repeating tasks. But when it comes to the day-to-day challenge of remembering what I am supposed to be doing I find that digital plans let me down. I need my plans right in front of me to know that I am on top of things, not hidden on some website or app I might forget to look at.
Rule #1 A Visible Weekly Planner
So, the first rule for my weekly planner was that it had to be visible. Not online. Not buried in a folder on my desk. But on the wall where it could be seen every day.
Rule #2 Everything Has to be Handwritten
Rule two – everything has to be handwritten. Personally, I find I’m much more likely to remember something if I have written it by hand. Typing doesn’t count. If I am more likely to remember my plans then I am more likely to act upon them.
Rule #3 Have a Routine
The third thing I wanted in my weekly planner was to show routine. I love having a routine to work from. It’s my top tool for productivity. Having a set routine helps me to remember what I should be doing, and also eliminates a lot of decision making. So, I didn’t want to start with a blank slate each week. Instead, I wanted to see what would normally happen if no plans were changed. As if that were to ever happen!!
Rule #4 Flexible Planning
And finally, so my plans didn’t end up such a discouraging mess that I was totally confused as to what I should be doing… my planning method needed to be flexible. No one can work well with a planner that’s covered in arrows and cross-outs.
That’s why I created my Adjustable Weekly Planner.
This easy to make wall planner meets my need to have a routine, yet be flexible with it.
Here’s how it works.
Related: Goal Planning Workbook for Busy Moms
My Life-Changing Time Management Tips for Working Moms
The Adjustable Weekly Planner
I’ve divided the wall planner into four sections for each day. Before breakfast (when I usually work on my blog), between breakfast and lunch, afternoon, and after the kids have gone to bed.
On the board, I have written my usual weekly schedule. Things like writing blog posts and newsletters, working on social media as well as children’s activities, church, and my housework schedule. I have color coded the set activities (like children’s activities) to stand out next to the tasks I just like to do at certain times (like blog work and vacuuming). You could also color code work and personal activities separately.
By starting with the plans for a ‘regular week’ I can then make changes without forgetting about what a normal week would look like. These tasks would need to be rescheduled or postponed to the next week. I can’t just ignore them.
But I don’t make any written changes to this plan unless I am making a permanent change to my routine. For example, if I decide I am going to write my newsletter on Thursdays instead of Tuesdays from now on I will wipe out the writing on Tuesday and write it on Thursday. But, if I am making a change for just one week I do something different.
Instead, I make any weekly adjustments with post-it notes.
At the start of the week, during my weekly review, I write down all the tasks and events for the week on post-it notes. I use bigger notes for tasks or events that might take up a whole section of my planner (like attending a webinar or school event) and smaller notes for quick tasks like making a business call or posting a parcel.
Then I take all the post-it notes and look at my planner. I start by sticking up notes for the events and appointments that are at a fixed time (meetings, deadlines, school events). If I have covered up any writing I need to decide whether the task needs to be rescheduled or left until the next week. If I decide to reschedule it then I write another post-it note and place it on the planner.
I then take my undated post-it notes and add them to my planner. These are often errands I need to run.
The end result is a weekly planner showing all my tasks and events for the week. If anything needs to be rescheduled during the week it is easy to do. At the end of the week, I take off the post-it notes and start again with the ‘usual routine’ for the next week.
Related: 2018 Printable Blog Planner
Why the Adjustable Wall Planner Works for Me
Plans are easier to remember if they are handwritten and easily visible (i.e. on the wall).
Post-it notes are great for making changes to your schedule. Having the regular plan there shows what needs to be rescheduled to a different time. I can’t just schedule something without rescheduling what was written underneath, even if it is just cleaning the bathroom!
This system helps me to schedule the small, seemingly insignificant things. If it’s not on the schedule it won’t get done!
I can see the whole week at a glance and swap things around if need be. When things are done I have the satisfaction of removing the post-it, and if things haven’t been done or completed I can move it to a later date.
How to Make an Adjustable Weekly Planner
If you have a board with the days of the week and parts of the day printed, great. But if not it is easy to make one with a plain whiteboard and washi tape.
Here’s a quick tip: when measuring and marking out where to place the tape use a small post-it note as your marker rather than drawing on the board. Then you don’t get pen marks on your board and you can easily make adjustments if your measuring and calculating skills are as bad as mine!
Write your regular routine on to the planner.
Purchase a supply of post-it notes for making changes to your schedule each week.
How to stay on top of changes to your schedule
If you don’t already have a weekly review, I highly recommend starting this practice. It’s a great way to get control of all the things that might come up during the week and to take time to make your plans.
Make sure all your tasks, appointments and events for the week are written down and scheduled, otherwise they won’t get done.
Remember to review your planner every day. A quick glance will probably do.
Give yourself a second to reward yourself by saying ‘done’ as you remove the post-it notes. It may seem silly (it’s a bit out of my comfort zone) but this simple action helps to encourage and motivate you to complete more tasks.
It’s good to have a plan but remember there will always be changes to your schedule. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you don’t get everything done!
What tips do you have for staying on top of changes to your schedule?
About the Author
|Karen blogs about productivity and time management tips for moms at The Fruitful Homemaker. Before becoming a mom she worked as a primary teacher, in children and family ministry, and in administration. Karen was born and raised in Scotland and now lives in New Zealand with her husband and three children aged 8, 5 and 3. She loves learning and passing on that knowledge to others.|
Want More Tips?
Check out my resources page for a ton more great tips and tricks. Plus visit these articles for more advice:
5 Practical Time Management Tips for Working Moms
7 Guilt Free Ways to Make Time for Yourself
9 Must-Have Apps for Working Moms
5 Must Have Productivity Apps for the Working Mom
This is seriously awesome. No one really understands about weeks not looking the same. Between homeschool, therapies, dr appointments, sports, and a freelance work schedule, no two days are the same let alone weeks! Thanks for the post.
Glad you enjoyed it, Faith. I hope you find it useful for your ever-changing life!
Great article! I use a paper planner as I no longer have people at home who need to see my schedule. My plans often change because I have an elderly mother, events at my grandchildren’s schools that I hear about at the last minute, and lots of people who think I am always available. Post it notes are a great idea!