Before I tell you my “secrets” of how I “do it all”, I have to confess something. This Mama is tired, and she has been for the last 11 years. But, she’s not tired of being tired. It’s in my blood to want to succeed, and sometimes, being successful means being ok with being a little bit tired. So that’s one thing you have to keep in mind when I tell you about “doing it all”.
Friday, a friend asked me on Facebook how I have time to do everything I do in a week. It’s not the first time I’ve been asked this. In college, a peer and I even presented on “Time Management” at a Leadership Conference (back when my life was controlled by a planner). Several people have asked me in person. I’ve even joked on Twitter that I feel like I should do a Podcamp Pittsburgh 6 session on keeping sane, blogging, raising a family, holding a busy job, and keeping a “face” in the local Social Media realm. For me, it really is just doing me. Anyways, I will share my “tips” and thoughts about how I make things work.
1. I rely heavily on my Droid. Take your pick of any of the smart phones out there. I seriously don’t think that I could do all that I do without my smart phone. It goes everywhere with me (and the bad battery life proves that maybe it goes too many places). I am checking Tweets, Facebook posts, and Google Reader (how I get my daily news, coupon deal hints, and keep up with other similar bloggers) whenever I have a spare minute. Although my husband doesn’t like it, I love to be early to places, which means that I usually end up sitting and waiting for people. Droid in hand, I am getting the news. The bulk of my time on my phone is in the morning with Evan–he is still pretty groggy during his first feeding, and I am honestly probably not completely awake myself, so this keeps me active.
2. I schedule, schedule, schedule. My phone is linked to my Google Calendar (personal) and my work Outlook. There are still four paper calendars in my possession. One “checkbook” calendar for bills–I plan them out in my budget calendar style then transpose to this calendar, crossing them off as they are paid or debited from our account. One “family” calendar–a yearly gift from my Aunt and Uncle where I keep track of family birthdays and anniversaries (all sides) as well as all important snail mail addresses. One “meal planning” weekly calendar that is magnetized to our fridge. Plans can change, but it helps to have meals planned so we don’t spend a lot of time fussing over “what are we eating tonight”. And finally, one “blog calendar” where I keep track of my scheduled posts. Honestly, it is very rare that I put up a post on the day that you see them. In fact, this post is being written at 12:45 AM Saturday. On weekends, I spend a good deal of time after the kids go to bed blogging, reading, and looking at photos that Greg’s taken over the week. This brainstorming time helps me get the posts up on time. Sure, sometimes there are fails, but what matters to me is that I’ve captured memories for our kids. Remember being tired? My kids and husband LOVE to sleep in, so usually weekend wake-up time isn’t until 10 or 11, so staying up until 2 or so isn’t really so bad. I am sure times will change one of these days. 🙂
3. I am ok with saying no. Sure, I feel some guilt saying no, but I have to think about my priorities. People who can accept my legitimate no’s are truly friends.
4. We DVR like crazy. There are a handful of shows that we love to watch, these are usually playing when we are up late and scheduling blog posts. Watching “adult” TV (even Idol) is just not possible with two young ones. Neither one of them can keep quiet for greater than 24 seconds, so watching one episode of The Office can take (kid you not) 3 hours. It’s a 30-minute show, people.
5. My commute is only 15 minutes (unless someone pulls a classic I HATE 28 moment). When I taught, I never lived any closer than 35 minutes from the schools. I learned quickly that this really took a punch to my time schedule. Sure, I did what I had to do, but I’ve gained so much time back in my life by living closer.
6. I outsource (and I am not ashamed). Greg is a SAHD (stay at home dad) who does a majority of the housework. He loves to coupon, so I am not spending a lot of time clipping coupons or going out for deals. He loves it, and I am ok with that being his “job” (it’s so helpful). My parents and brother enjoy spending time with our kids, so if we need to drop them by while one of us has a haircut, it’s a huge blessing. 90% of my bills are paid automatically, and I get alerts to my phone when I have met certain “top and bottom” thresholds in the account. Most of the time, I am not worrying about the finances (but I can, do, and will about 2 times a month).
7. I pray. Back in High School, I started to pray the Prayer of Jabez, asking for blessings. I am pretty sure that my family has been blessed, and one of these ways is with time.
8. I don’t reinvent the wheel. There are plenty of great apps, bloggers, and templates out on the internet. Meals are prompted by e-mailed recipes or searching “I have this ingredient, give me ideas” sites. No sense wasting time with coming up with brand new ideas (ie for covered dishes, scrapbook layouts, photographic opportunities, etc) when someone else has already done it (and usually incredibly well).
9. My daughter is extremely independent for being 2 years old.
10. Little motivators throughout my day = more productivity. I work through lunch (not always, and not always a good idea), but I do it because it’s really quiet during that hour or so. I set little goals and celebrate when I meet them with quick rewards (a chat with a friend, responding to a text, etc) before I move on to the next.
So for those of you who asked, there are some of the things I do to keep busy–it’s been a habit for 11 years and one of those things that’s hard to really share “how to” (like telling someone how to ride a bike). What are some of YOUR tips for “doing it all” or time management?