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Ten Time Management Strategies for Very Busy Working Moms

For the last year or so, I’ve been juggling a ton of stuff, and I mean a TON of things. I want to be super clear that I am not glorifying the art of busy. I don’t really like busy, and you’ll see that I address the fact that this is a sprint and not a marathon this year.  Suffice to say I work full time, lead retreats, I have a 5 year old son, a weekly podcast, a blog, and I’ve just finished an intense coaching program. I’ve had countless people ask me HOW I fit all of that into my schedule. Here’s a bit of how I’ve done it.

10 Time Management Strategies for Busy Working Moms on Jump Start Your Joy

1. I use every last second I can find to my advantage. 

This has really been a HUGE part of why I can fit so much in. I have a running to do list and whenever I find a moment, and I mean a MOMENT, I pull up that list and do something. I find that Cozi is a great way to keep track, and it syncs on the desktop, mobile, wherever. One of the things that used to stop me was the untrue worry that I need 10 minutes or more to do something. Nope, there’s probably something that’s on my list that I can do in less time.

Pockets of time you might not be utilizing:

lunch break at work – I take client calls, or I go on a walk, or I write or read. I do not give that 60 minutes to my employer. That’s 240 hours a year, or SIX WEEKS OF FULL TIME WORK over the course of the year that you’d be giving away if you sat at your desk for lunch and kept working. Or, it’s a lovely quite hour that you can use for yourself every day.

Child’s TV time / Bath time – Zoom tends to watch 30 minutes of TV in the evening and if I’m sitting on the couch, I’m usually working on something and not watching the show he’s watching. Or I get up and start a load of laundry, or tackle something else from my list. Same thing if he’s taking a bath. I supervise, but I can stick close by and let him play while I check Instagram.

The Commute – if I’m driving, I’m listening to books on Audible or podcasts (you can check out mine!). It’s the only way I’ve gotten leisure “reading” in this year.

Evenings – My husband wakes up at 4am (he’s a chef) and so I have a large pocket of time from about 9pm on that I use every day. You may not have that much time, but I’m betting you could find some spare moments after the kids go to bed to focus on your work or side gig. It takes dedication though, and self discipline. All joking aside, I have to will myself to turn on the computer and start working. And stop eating tortilla chips and watching Transparent. Some nights I do a better job of focusing than others.

2. I found a day job that I can deal with and not bring home.

It took a couple of failed attempts before I found a job that didn’t require weekend or after hours work, and one that was low drama enough that I wasn’t drained from politics or other lame-ness, but I finally found it. And I’m going to stay there until I’m ready to go solo or find a part time gig of a similar nature that lets me transition in to coaching.

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3. Calendars. Google, a Family Calendar, and a Personal Printed planner.
There was about a six week period of time, after I started taking on clients, that was an absolute nightmare for me. I was totally overwhelmed and had no way of tracking all the appointments, work meetings, other stuff. So, I started putting ALL my personal stuff on Google Calendar. ALL OF IT. Then I set my Google calendar and my work calendar up on my phone. I can see everything in one place. It sounds like a no brainer, but changed everything for me. My days of cray-cray ended the day I set that all up.

I also keep TWO printed calendars. Yes, two, and I maintain them. The first is a big monthly calendar for the family (from Shutterfly), and it hangs in the kitchen. All the family stuff goes there. Preschool theme days, birthday parties, when we owe a check to the preschool, the days we are off work, school is closed, all of that, and it’s written out so my husband can see it. This makes the “are we busy such and such date?” questions easy to answer. And, since hubby is up at 4am and home by 3ish, this gives him a place to check weekend plans without calling or texting me. (don’t get me started on a shared Google calendar. Baby steps.)

I use a personal printed planner, which is something I had not done since shortly after college. I had MISSED having a planner. I write everything in it. All client stuff, all personal stuff, family stuff. I do not write my work appointments in there.

4. I use Calendly, PayPal, and Uber Conference to keep things simple for coaching.

Calendly and Uber Conference both sync with Google Calendar, so that’s a hot ticket. PayPal is what it is. To track my billing, I created a separate billing spreadsheet on Google drive (see below) so I can see when I need to bill a client again, and I’ve taken to billing monthly (or when I onboard a new client if they are not starting right at the beginning of a month, then the next month their bill gets taken care of with the others.)

5. Google Drive means I can keep docs in the cloud and pull stuff down if I’m at work and have a free minute over lunch. And that I can share docs as needed with other people. 

6. I figured out how take client calls during the day in a way that works for me.

I schedule clients over lunch, and I’m relentless about blocking off work time so I can use my lunch to coach. There was a lot of trial and error with this part.

It took a while for me to get to the point where I’d decline other meetings, or turn down lunch invitations with co-workers, but I’ve gotten comfortable with defending that hour. I like coaching mid-day, and when I was trying to fit a client in during the morning it was making me miserable (I also take Zoom to school, so trying to get all that done before even getting to work was not happening for me.) By keeping the time of day consistent (noon) I’m not having to keep track of the time of calls (they are all the same!).

When I found I was feeling totally crazy about having too many coaching calls, I checked in with my lead coach. She suggested mapping out the days I WANTED to coach on my paper planner first, so I could decide what that would look like before I even opened up my calendar. I di that, and then made my availability in Calendly match it. Brilliant! I was able to pick the days I wanted to coach, AND it was not hard to say “no” if people asked about alternate days. I didn’t have to use any emotional energy in setting up my time slots … which leads me to …

7. I stopped apologizing for my time constraints.

I say no and don’t feel guilty. Or I move appointments and don’t feel guilty. I decided I wanted this coaching certificate bad enough that I just stopped saying I was sorry that I was busy, or making any excuses as to why I was busy. Somewhere along the way the light bulb went off in my head about the idea that time is just time. If a friend asks if we can hang out, either I can make it or I can not. I don’t need to attach any emotion to it. If I can’t make it, I propose a time I can. Getting worried, upset, frazzled or worrying what someone thinks of me just takes up emotional energy.

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8. My house is a mess and we use Safeway delivery sometimes.

This is a true story. I love scrubbing bubbles and the swiffer system. There’s a reason that stuff was invented.

9. I know that this is a temporary state of being.

I have NO intention in the world of running this hard for long. October will be when I get my certification and the homework and hour requirements will drop off. November is the big retreat, I’ve already got my “Freedom Date” in mind (gotta keep that on the down low since I’m still an FTE at the moment). I’m running this hard now on purpose, because I wanted to get certified, and I want to build a client base before I leave my job. I don’t want it to take forever, nor could I keep up this pace indefinitely.

10. Relying on systems simplifies things.

The hubby and I have set up some “systems” that make things easier. We grocery shop and do most of the laundry on the weekend so we’re stocked and ready for the week. We know who pick up and drops off Zoom. We make his lunches the night before. The less I have to think, the more brain space I have to make other decisions.

11. I let go of perfectionism and gave myself permission to screw up.

Case in Point.. Just as I added a number 11 to the standard top ten list, I let go of things being perfect. Meh, if you need eleven bullets, your blog post is eleven bullets. If I forget to tweet about a new blog post for a week, I forget. The only way I’m able to run this hard is if I am also kind to myself.

The only way I'm able to run this hard is if I am also kind to myself. Read more> Click To Tweet

I let go of perfectionism and gave myself permission to screw up.

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2 Comments

  • Reply
    Addie K Martin
    October 22, 2015 at 8:38 am

    Great post, Paula. I think this is great not only for Moms but for the childless/child-free women out there too! Awesome tips.

  • Reply
    krystle cook
    January 17, 2016 at 8:08 am

    I just felt like I had more relax time. I always feel like I’m doing some kind of work whether it’s work work, cleaning, blog stuff, or mommy stuff.

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