What do most people think of when they hear the words, "Time Management?" Most of us think about managing our time -- right? Since time never really changes, we need to take a long hard look at managing ourselves. How is this done without upsetting the family or work balance? It's easy -- learn new self-management skills.
Answer a few questions:
Are you being effective or efficient? For example, a few months ago we had our dinning room and kitchen painted. At the time, my husband was a stay-at-home dad, so the workers thought that he surely wouldn?t know anything about the real working world. With this in mind, they began work on the "easy" tasks, giving them the excuse to take frequent breaks and in the end ran out of time, leaving us with a heap of a mess. Needless to say, we had to have to have them come back for a few touch-ups due their hasty finish.
Why did this happen? Did they think they could take advantage of a stay-at-home-dad? Maybe, but because they ran out of time for the harder or more important and intricate details needed to complete their tasks, they will now have to come back, defeating the purpose of finishing as fast as possible.
Whether we work inside or outside the home, as human nature has it, most all of us do the exact same thing. What would be a more effective way to handle our days? It's not just stay-at-home-dads or stay-at-home moms that encounter this challenge. We all need to focus on the more important things first.
Even if it is only three or four things, do them first. Why? Because the easier and maybe even less important things take up way too much busy time and can be exhausting due, in large part, to there being so many to do. It's true!
Prioritize: If you prioritize, this will move you closer to your goals. You will feel more successful because in the end, you feel like you have gotten more things accomplished.
Ask questions of yourself: Ask yourself what the most effective thing is that you can get done right now.
Check things off on your list:
If you don't have a daily list, get one. It can be your guiding light. Look it over, rearrange things in order of importance (prioritizing) or number things in sequence of: Drop, Delegate or Achieve.
Drop: Dropped items are ones that seem to never get done. We are all creatures of habit - right? Maybe we think we should be doing something because that's the way it has always been done? Who knows, but maybe now is the time for a change and those things have to be dropped for the time being. Just get rid of time and energy draining endeavors especially if they never get completed. Trust me. Drop it. Drop it and see what happens.
Delegate: When you know that someone else can do something just as well as yourself, let go of the control issue and let them. It may not be done exactly the way you'd have done it, but as long as it is done and done completely, so what? Having responsibility is excellent, but hogging it?
If you do not want to delegate because of a burden issue, think of it as a positive learning experience for that person (especially children).
Put things in perspective. If you were not there, who would do your job? Train someone as if to replace you and delegating will become much easier. If you are a stay-at-home-dad, you may have to train your wife on how the household is run. If this seems odd, it?s not. The shoe would be on the other foot if the mom stayed at home -- she would need to train the dad.
Achieve: The Achieve list is composed of those important priority items and should go at the top. Do those things first and follow through on every single one of them. Why do things halfway when in the end, they will have to be redone and more of your time will be wasted, like in the painter example? And if you think that complete follow-through on all of the tasks in this list is too time-consuming, then congratulations, you have stumbled onto one of the most common traps people will fall into when making a high priority list. Just remember: the list with the highest priority should also be the shortest. Put too many things on it and you will have done all for naught, believe me.
Get Organized: A lot of time is spent looking for misplaced items. Get things ready to go the night before and your accomplishments will be many.
Inform: Have a little downtime every day for unexpected surprises life can throw your way. Begin your day by informing others that you will neither expect nor accept any interruptions while you are trying to get something completed. This is a good rule of thumb, but let?s get real! You will always expect interruptions if it is a weekday and there are children underfoot. Some things may be better off getting done if they are scheduled on the weekend so that help is more readily available, providing you with better working conditions.
Set time aside for communication: Use voice mail while working but set up a time to communicate with others via email as well as to return phone calls. Don't try to talk on the phone with the kids around -- if you do you will be sorry.
Last but not least: Re-do your list every few days and keep your goals at the top. Keep in mind to be effective and don't put so much weight on being efficient. Keep your old list for three days. It is always satisfying to see the things that you have marked off.
Most importantly, take a couple of breaks by walking to another area, standing up and stretching or reading a chapter in a good book. Better yet - read a chapter to a little one. Never get so involved in your work that you become angry when the children interrupt you.
In the end, that's not acceptable and it's fair neither to them nor to you. Why? You are making a choice to stay at home and they are the reason you are doing so.
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