I have always been one of those annoying people who likes to be organised, that is probably why I chose a career as a Legal Secretary/Admin Assistant (pre children). Being productive however can be tricky especially since my children started school. During the early days when I had a toddler and newborn we spent our days going off plan, routine was still there but our days were not structured. Now both are at school (one at preschool) I have to be on the ball with school events, dentist appointments, parent evenings, reading etc.
I have put together a few hints and tips that may assist you in becoming more organised and productive. These are the things that I put into practice, but remember this is real life and things happen that aren’t planned.
LISTS – This is my number one top tip for you, write a list, get your thoughts down on paper. Whenever I have a lot on my plate my head can get scrambled and I get very overwhelmed, writing a to-do list takes that pressure off and I can start thinking straight again. Often I will write my standard to-do list but I will also write a list of how I’m feeling – sounds strange but it works. Once I have this written down in front of me I can go through it and make sense of it.
DON’T HAVE TOO MANY TOOLS – I don’t mean a hammer or screwdriver, I mean diaries, planners, notebooks etc. I find if I have a diary, planner and calendar I miss events, appointments and important dates as I can never remember to tally them up. So, I would be recommending a wall planner/calendar that is in the kitchen or office. Stick to one notebook that houses your lists and thoughts, that way you will always know where to refer to.
FACE UP TO THINGS – If like me, you have a billion emails to read and reply to, appointments to make and texts to respond to, just do it. Face up to it and get it done, I’m very clever at burying my head in the sand and not being productive when it comes to these types of things but if I take half an hour out of my day at some point and write a to-do list setting out these kinds of things I find I can whizz through them. Don’t put things off if you can help it as it just spirals and you end up in a right old mess.
MEAL PLAN & BUDGET – I always always meal plan on a Sunday night, it takes the stress out of finding something to cook for dinner and also helps you stick to some sort of budget when grocery shopping. You don’t have to stick to the set days, I mix up my meals depending on how I’m feeling when it comes to dinner time. But having some sort of structure in place will save time and tears.
DON’T TAKE ON TOO MUCH – I realise this sounds pretty silly considering there are always a million things to do each day. Being a mum you are everyone’s Personal Assistant 24/7 and this can get frustrating, annoying and overwhelming. You are trying to please everyone by meeting the constant demands of these small humans you created but at the same time you’ve got your own sh*t to be dealing with – am I right? So just be mindful that you are allowed to say ‘No’, we all reach breaking point so be kind to yourself and if someone else can help out, let them.
STICK TO ROUTINE – I’m a sucker for a routine, ever since my children were little we pretty much stuck to some sort of routine. I realise the younger the children the harder it is to be rigid but kids love to know what’s coming next. After the school run on a Monday I go food shopping, come home and clean the house then it is school run time again, I don’t have set days where I clean or do laundry that just happens daily. But things like a morning routine – breakfast, get dressed, teeth, book bags and out the door really help my children prepare for the day. Obviously the weekends are different but if you can have some kind of pattern going on during the week it might make life easier.
PREPARE THE NIGHT BEFORE – This has saved me stressing out like Miss Hannigan in the mornings. Prepare and lay out school uniform, make packed lunches and drinks, organise book bags/homework and PE kits the night before. It really doesn’t take long and it will minimise arguments with your children as you won’t be shouting at them ‘where’s your coat, where’s your shoes?’.
I hope the above has been somewhat useful, I would love to know how you organise family life as I find the balance difficult at times.