For the last 7 years I have had the wonderful opportunity to work from home. Within those 7 years we began having children and have added 3 beautiful girls to our family and we are excited to be expecting our first boy in January!! Children bring great joy but having to balance work and family has been a great and wonderful learning experience. I would love to share with you what I have learned and hope that it can help you better balance your time between what matters most and what needs to be done.
1 - Balance Your Time Budget
Just like in your finances you balance your checkbook, you keep a budget, you save money for the future, etc. you must also do this with your time. As we add on more and more to our, sometimes already overflowing, plates we must look at where we are spending our time. If you knew that you were spending $100 per month on something that you didn't really need nor did you use it, would you keep spending that money? Probably not. When we look at how we spend our time we usually just say we don't have enough of it, when in reality it's just not being used properly. I probably sound like I budget every minute of every day, but that just isn't possible and that would be too annoying for my carefree attitude. Instead, I make a list of what needs to be done that day, and what I have going on the rest of the week and sometimes the rest of the month. I can then gauge what I absolutely need to do that day and what can wait until the next day. For example, if I know my weekend is pretty open and that nothing is too pressing than I will know that I can have an extra couple of hours of time to do with as I choose. However, if I know that my weekend is packed, that every night I have something going on, it usually means that I get one hour of fun time (while I am eating my lunch) and then I must multitask the rest of the few hours I will have, while my kids are in "quiet time." This usually means that I will have to fold laundry, work on a project for the shop, or clean while I am watching my shows (which I LOVE tv, especially any and all Real Housewives!).
2 - Finding Time Wasters
Now we must look into what is wasting our time. I hate to say it but social media plays a big role in this. I LOVE social media! One could spend all day on Facebook or that evil but oh so wonderful pinterest but if we don't have the time, we just can't!! If you are unsure of where your time wasters are keep a log of what you do with your time for a week. I can guarantee you that you will be able to see pretty quickly where you can find just a little bit more time. Another place I find time is putting my phone away. I love my phone so very much! It's almost like my 5th child but when I am on a deadline and have to get something done OR I just want to spend some quality time with my family, the phone must be put away.
3 - Multitasking
Dave Crenshaw has an amazing book out called The Myth of Multitasking. It truly narrows down what great multitasking is and what it isn't. For me, I do a lot of background multitasking (which I think most women are great at) which means I can get 10 loads of laundry done, make a crockpot meal, water the lawn with the sprinkler, listen to a training call, etc. all in one day! All things that I can have going on while I am doing something else is background multitasking. Sometimes one might forget to put in the first load of laundry until 5pm...oopsies. But that's when I started making my list of 'to dos' around what I need to do first, then what you do after all of that. Another great way to multitask is to always have an "on the go" project. For those of you who craft, blog, are in school, there are so many things that you can bring with you to your child's ballet or soccer practices. I always have a bag of things that I can take with me to get done. There's no better time waster than sitting for 2 hours watching your sweet little girl practice the same ballet move over and over. Bring something with you...always!
I know I just told you to cut out on your social media but there are great ways to add it back in. Adding to the multitasking is a multitasker DON'T! As I mentioned earlier, your phone is a great resource but trying to read your fb while playing with your kids or talking to your husband/friend is NOT great multitasking. Try not to do it. :) Which brings me to:
4 - Finding Balance
I don't think you will ever find true balance, but you can come pretty close. For example, in my art of multitasking I limit my pinterest time to only when I am using the bathroom. This may sound completely and utterly disgusting but we all know that we all do this (and I do wash my hands and phone each time)! Sometimes bathroom time is our only escape from our children (unless you were me last week when I had to read a book to my very insistent 2 year old). But not only was I able to use my 15 minutes wisely but I also limited myself to only 15 minutes of pinterest time. This can work in all aspects of your life. Buy yourself a timer and give yourself 20 minutes or 1 hour of whatever time it is that you want. I have recently joined the genealogy band wagon but I don't have a ton of time in my week to fit it in. So I decided that I could take 1 hour out of my Sunday nap (it's been rough) to work on my genealogy. I also have a goal to read a book by the end of the year. This probably disgusts most of you but that was one of the things that I was wasting a lot of time on before that I had cut out. So I am dedicating 1 hour a week to reading. It's giving up one tv show a week or one nap or one hour of chatting to a friend. Look to see what you want to add into your life. For some it's trying to work from home but feeling guilty that you aren't spending time with your kiddos. Set a timer that you will work 1 hour in the morning and 1 hour in the afternoon. Show your children that it's important to work hard but that work isn't everything.
I hope that I was able to help show you, in someway, how you can find time in your week to do all that you need to accomplish. Sometimes it will be super hard and you will want to pull your hair out, but remember NO is a good word to use sometimes, don't compare yourself to others and what you think they do, and remember what's most important to you. Life is great and we should enjoy it! Have fun and conquer your week!