Time Management Tweaks to Get Back on Track

Today I found myself wondering, “where is the year going?!” It’s already the middle of April and it feels like Christmas was only last week! The first quarter has just disappeared, and I’m not sure I’ve used my time effectively. Sure, I’ve been ‘busy’ and things have been happening, but am I where I thought I’d be at this time of the year in terms of my goals? Not quite…

So of course I go into self-protection mode and remind myself that I’m a working mum and the toddler makes things tricky. I remind myself of all the things I HAVE achieved so far this year… and there’s actually a bit there to be proud of. But I’m not letting myself completely off the hook.

Time management can make or break us. I know I’ve heard from a lot of readers who have said this is their weakness, so I’d like to focus more on this in coming posts. I have so many thoughts on time management and it’s a bit of a love-hate relationship for me!

Sometimes I’m pretty good with my time management, but at other times it all falls apart and I end up wasting a lot of time or being pretend-busy. The last few months have been a little bit of a blur, so these are the things I’m going to focus on to get myself back on track, and I’ll be back soon with some more specific time management thoughts and tips.

In the meantime, check out 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think if this is something you’re really into!  

Track your time

The best way I’ve found to manage my time better is to actually think about time. Focus on it. Be honest with yourself about how you spend each chunk of time in your day. And the most accurate way of doing this is to track your time in half-hour blocks. It not only helps you to see where you’re losing time, but also helps to keep you accountable and motivate you to do something productive with your time. You don’t really want to write down that you just spent an hour scrolling mindlessly through Facebook.

Make your down-time worthwhile

Using time effectively doesn’t mean you have to be constantly doing something. Rest is important too. But if you don’t feel refreshed or energised after your chill-out time, then you’re doin’ it wrong. If I spend an hour scrolling through Facebook and I come away from it with nothing but a headache and general feeling of annoyance, then I’ve wasted my time. But if I watch a 1-hour episode of a TV series with my husband and we connect over it and laugh about it or chat about it afterwards, then the down-time was worthwhile.  

Relaxation time can still be useful and productive
Photo by Daria Shevtsova from Pexels

Switch to something more productive

When you catch yourself doing something that’s not serving a purpose, switch to something more productive. Think about what you could be doing right now that’s going to get you closer to your goals. Whether it means getting your shoes on and going for a run, Googling a healthy recipe for dinner, putting a load of washing away, or doing some research for a project you’re working on, there’s always something productive that you can fit in right now with the time and the energy that you have. Put down your phone and just do something. One trap I fall into is thinking that I can’t do anything while my toddler is around because he slows me down, gets in my way, wants me to pick him up all the time etc. And sure, I can’t write an essay or clean the whole house while he’s around, but I can probably put a few things away or write up a meal plan for the week.

Time to wrap it up…

Just being conscious of what I’m doing and what my goals are helps me to use my time more effectively. But it takes practice to maintain this consciousness. It’s so easy to get sucked into the busy-ness and exhaustion of everyday life, but then before you know it, the year has slipped away and you haven’t achieved what you set out to achieve.

Increase your awareness of where your time is going. Let’s start thinking about it now so that we can still fit everything we want to do into the rest of the year. Leave me a comment to let me know your best time management tips, or your biggest time management problems!

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Learnings from a family weekend getaway

One of my #19for2019 goals was to plan a weekend getaway for me, my husband, our toddler, and our two dogs. Now the reason this was a bit of a challenge for me is that I’m usually a bit resistant to changing my routine or stepping outside my comfort zone. Weekends away just sound like a lot of hard work! All that packing, all the decisions about where to eat, trying to wrangle a toddler in unfamiliar territory… Not to mention the cost involved!

Stressed about planning a family holiday with toddler and dogs. Picture is a woman sitting on a bed with her head down, holding a coffee cup.
The thought of planning a family holiday causes me more stress than excitement.

But my husband loves to go away, and he knows that once I’m there I love it too. So whenever we do go anywhere he’s the one that does all the planning work and I stay right out of it. Which, I think sometimes makes him feel like I’m just not interested in spending time with him. Not true.

So I challenged myself to plan a weekend getaway. And I learnt some interesting things!

What my weekend getaway taught me

It doesn’t have to cost a lot to have a break.

I found a reasonably priced Air b’n’b which was pet friendly. This meant we could take our two dogs and didn’t have to worry about finding pet sitters or burdening family with the responsibility. Knowing that with the dogs and the toddler it would be tricky to go out for meals, I took our meals with us. I had a curry and a bolognaise in the freezer from a while back when I did a big cook-up. So I took those and some pasta and rice to cook once we were there. Super easy! Some basic essentials got us through breakfast and lunch, and all we bought once we were there was some milk, bread, and some cheese & crackers to have with our wine.

Eating on holidays with a toddler.
Taking food with us cut down on costs and made meal times with the toddler easy.

It doesn’t have to be action packed.

Just being away from home is relaxing, because you don’t have to worry about all the housework you should be doing, or anything else on your to-do list. Getting away from all the clutter in your home gives you breathing space, space to think, space to just be together and enjoy each other’s company.

mum and toddler relaxing on weekend getaway.
Nothing else matters on family weekend getaways except spending time together.

Kids are adaptable.

My toddler has certain routines that I don’t dare mess with. For example, when I get him out of his cot I must kiss his moo cow first, then play peek-a-boo with moo cow, then Archie is ready to get up and moo cow can bugger off. All hell breaks loose if I forget to give moo cow some lovin’. But other than that, the tiny tyrant was totally cool with his new digs. He loved exploring the back yard and was mostly just ecstatic that there were several sliding doors he could play with for hours. He slept well in the portacot, loved sitting outside to eat, and had plenty of space on the deck to practice his new walking skills.

Toddler playing with a door on his weekend getaway.
The toddler loved exploring new places and playing with all the doors!

The housework can wait.

One of the reasons I’m reluctant to go away is because I’ll get so far behind in all the daily routine stuff. I worry about not being able to catch up again and that things will get too far out of control. But it really isn’t the end of the world if we get a little bit behind in this stuff. It can all wait. Making memories with your family is much more fun (and important) than having a clean and tidy house. It may take a little while to catch up and get back into the daily routines, but that’s okay!

A west highland white terrier relaxes by a pot plant on his weekend getaway.
Teddy was glad to have a break from the housework!

So all in all, our weekend getaway was a success. Sure, it was a bit of work to get organised and get us all there, but it was totally worth the lovely memories we have now. We didn’t do a lot, but it was guilt-free chilling. And it was a good warm up for our next holiday… Fiji, here we come!

Get in touch

Am I the only one who stresses about going on holidays? I’d love to hear your tips for making family holidays easier! Leave me a comment or share your thoughts on my Facebook page.

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