Taking time management out of the boardroom and into the bedroom, and kitchen, and classroon, and car...

I came up with a new phrase last week - ‘Holistic Time Management’. I like it - it really describes how modern mums work! You see, the subject of ‘Time Management’ only exists in a lot of people’s eyes, in a ‘work’ setting. All the time management ‘experts’ that have published books and are widely quoted on blogs are men and their stance on time management appears to focus quite a lot on productivity and prioritising and on getting things done in a work environment - usually an office. Little consideration is given about the other 16 hours a day when we are at home, with friends, caring for family or out socialising! What about giving a ‘nod’ to the other things that we all have to manage, like how to cope when the traffic is against you or when you have to get from the school gates at 3.30pm to the dentist at 3.45pm and you have a toddler asserting his will against your desires to make a swift beeline to the next item on the agenda?!

This is why I began this blog. I am a modern working mum. I also run a
business which currrently looks after 100 small business clients and growing. I have two young children aged 6 and 1. I have a husband who runs his own business and even though we are both bringing income into the household, I still take on the majority of the childcare tasks and pick up a lot of the slack domestically. I’m also super organised. I have to be. I’ve always been naturally organised (It’s the Virgo in me) - a bit of a perfectionist, but since having kids I have learned to become ‘uber-organised’, and if I can share these strategies for coping with a busy life, then maybe I can make someone else’s life run more smoothly.

Time Management for modern mums, doesn’t involve reading books on how to prioritise - we already know all that. It’s learning ways of dealing with the routine to our best advantage. In most working mums’ daily lives, there will be a rigid structure that cannot be moved or adapted. The school always starts and ends at that time. There is no changing it. If the child goes to out of school activities like the dance class or swimming lessons, these take place on a regular routine as well. Now let’s add a second or third child into the mix - each child has his/her own activities that need to be addressed and within all this, the working mum has to fit in her paid work. In my case, I juggle clients and my workload to suit my schedule. I have that freedom which is precisely what I wanted when I set up my business in the first place. Some other mums have to finish their work at their pre-defined hours and dash like mad over to the school or childcarers to collect with just a small window of time with little contingency for error / traffic / other things beyond their control. Some mums are the opposite. Maybe their schedule means that they have loads of time to get to the school on time but then they are sat for 25 minutes in the car waiting for the child. The spare time they have is not enough to get something on their ‘To Do’ list done, but it is long enough to create a void in their day. When you are juggling children and their routines, there are often pockets of time that spring up and as a busy mum, it can be frustrating when you have so much else to do, to have a void!

I like to eliminate these voids by making the time productive. One of the ways I do this is to always have my phone on me. Then I can return calls if I need to. If i’m anticipating a void during the day, I might take my nail polish in my handbag to paint my nails in a ’spare’ 25 minutes. Or I’ll take a magazine, or my iPod. Just having the time to relax and read is better than sitting there drumming your nails on the dashboard because there is nothing you can do to ‘kill the time’. When you start to think strategically like this, it turns everyday living into an art! This kind of multi-tasking comes much easier to women than to men. I have taken my make up bag to the hairdressers before to make up my face whilst the stylist is doing my hair. I have dropped off a prescription to the chemist or a roll of film to the photo processing place at the start of a shopping trip so that I can collect the complete order by the end. On a morning, my computer is switched on then I go off to do other things while it loads up. Women do it all the time - several things at once. We don’t even think about it! Time management is an area that is dominated in the public eye by men, but in the real world, ruled by women.

I want to dedicate this post to all the working mums out there - I applaude you. We all do a sterling job of keeping the balls in the air - keep it up and make sure you take a little time out of your busy day to value yourself - each day, every day. Whether it’s a bubble bath, watching a TV show uninterrupted or simply enjoying a cuppa whilst it’s still hot…. as a well known commercial says, “because you’re worth it!”

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