How to Free up 8+ Hours a Week
How much time you spend each week on the mundane, repetitive tasks like laundry?
This week’s focus is time management tips for moms. We spend so much time on the repetitive weekly tasks, just keeping food on the table, clean clothes to wear, and the kids alive. Sometimes it’s hard to fit in everything else, like work, husbands, friends and healthy habits.
A few times a year, I track how I spend time over a week’s period, to see if I can uncover any time-wasters. I love finding pockets of time that I could re-allocate to something more productive or meaningful.
This exercise can be a real eye-opener!
There’s usually some obvious answers like spending waaaayyy more time than I realize on social media.
But, there’s always some ah-ha moments like being shocked at how much time I spend in the car shuttling kids to school and activities. Our school is only 5 minutes away and I work from home, so I thought the time would be minimal. It wasn’t! It added up to 16 hours a week. That’s almost 2 full working days!
Have you ever added up how you spend your time?
Do you realize how much time you’re spending time on things that don’t matter to you in the big picture, but have to get done?
What does your week look like?
- 1.5 hours a week folding laundry that the kids seem to destroy within minutes?
- 2.3 hours thinking about what you’ll make for dinner
- 1.75 hours on groceries between driving to the store and back and shopping (that doesn’t include the time for a second trip to get those couple things you forgot on the first trip)
- 1.25 hours picking up stuff kids (and maybe the hubby in some cases) left laying on the floor
- 16 hours shuttling kids
Take your list and apply the 10 time management tips for moms below.
How could you use all this “wasted” time if you had it back?
It can be depressing to add all of this up but do it anyway! You might find you’re spending 20 hours a week on low to no value activities.
Most have to get done, but how can they be streamlined?
What can be deleted entirely? I mean, is there really any value in folding those clothes, for example? My mom cringes every time she hears me recommend putting clothes into drawers without folding them. But really, what’s the return on that time when the neatly folded clothes just get destroyed anyway?
And, most importantly, what would you do if you have some of that 20 hours back in your week? What have you given up after you became a mom and added so many more responsibilities to the pile? What could you start doing again?
- Meeting friends for coffee
- Having more time to connect with your husband
- Getting a pedicure
- Working out
- Starting up your favorite hobby again
- Can you even remember what you enjoy doing in your free time, since you haven’t had much of it in probably years?
Here’s a head-start for you – some time management tips for moms, and ways to save yourself some precious time each week!
Armed with all this info, I make a plan….. how to cut down on the time it takes to complete tasks that have to get done but really aren’t strategic in the grand scheme.
Here are 10 of my favorite time saving tips for moms, to free you up on a lot of this mundane, repetitive @$*! that needs to get done.
1) Plan your full week on Sundays
On Sundays, lay out your planner or calendar on the counter and fill it in over the course of the day as you think of things coming up that week.
Write your goal at the top of the planner so you don’t lose sight of the big picture. Then, fill in everything that is required that week (meetings, kid’s activities, etc). Block time for driving to and from places, lunch and dinner. Set aside time for the mundane to avoid that ‘frazzled’ feeling. Plan fun activities also. And, assign a time to each of your to-dos as well – if they don’t have a time assigned to do them, it’s much harder to get them done.
(1) Group together errands and similar activities to avoid repeat trips. Have you ever run an errand and been so proud to finish it, only to get home and realize you needed something else from that same store and should have bought it all at once?
(2) Find shortcuts for as many ‘to do’ items as possible. For example, by planning ahead, you’ll have time to pick a birthday gift from Amazon instead of spending an hour on that errand.
2) Learn to say ‘no’
Take on only those commitments that you know you have time for and that you truly care about.
Say no to the other stuff.
Re-evaluate how many activities you sign up for, and think about why you’re doing each one before committing. Does this activity contribute to your family’s goals, to your goals, to one of the kid’s goals? Or, are you doing this because of FOMO (fear of missing out) or just committing without really thinking through the time involved vs. the expected outcome?
3) Plan your meals for the week
Plan out breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks to avoid extra trips to the grocery store and unplanned eating out. Figure out the fastest, healthiest way to feed your family?
(1) Prep some snacks ahead of time, like cutting veggies while you’re watching TV on Sunday pm. Make baggies with to-go snacks like 12 almonds and an almond (yes, even put a whole apple in a bag so it’s ready to go).
(2) Keep it simple with something like a super tasty, nutrient dense protein shake for breakfast
(3) Make a batch of mason jar salads for lunch.
(4) Have a go-to dinner strategy that never fails. Find what works for your family and stick to it.
- For a DIY solution, you could set themes for each night. I have a friend who does Meatball Mondays, Taco Tuesday, etc. She just changes up the recipe for the theme each week for some variety.
- For a semi-automated solution, you could subscribe to a meal service plan or app. I like Fresh20, which uses 20 ingredients for the week and gives you pre-made shopping and prep lists. A good app that provides something similar is Mealime. Find one you love and stick with it.
- And, if you want to go for the fully automated option, you could always find a local meal prep and delivery service. I know it can be costly but imagine the time you would save by fully outsourcing your cooking?
4) Order groceries online
Ordering groceries online saves the time in the store, helps to make sure you get everything you need (and then repeat trips in a week), and saves a lot of money by avoiding compulsive purchases.
First, make a meal plan for the week (nothing elaborate) and use that as a guide, along you’re your running list (keep a list going at all times on an app like Cozi).
Then, choose a convenient time to pick up the groceries. Try to avoid an extra trip by choosing a time when you’ll be near the grocery store anyway (or even better, have your husband pick up the groceries and save the time to pick-up as well!).
5) Revisit your plan for the next day the night before
Make sure all to-dos are scheduled in a time slot for the day, you’re doing the most important tasks, and you’ve batched together similar tasks. Set out important things you’ll need for the next day so you’re not scrambling.
To delegate, this is about knowing what you ARE doing, not what you plan to do.
Write down everything you do in a week and how many minutes each activity takes. Then, highlight the activities you could possibly delegate and add up how much time they take you.
- Can other family members take on more tasks?
- Can you bring in a teenager over the summer as a mother’s helper?
- Does it make sense to hire some help like housekeeping service to free up some time to work on something more important in your week?
- How much more money could you make if you were spending that time working instead of doing chores?
7) Wake up 30+ minutes earlier each day
Waking up just 30 minutes earlier will add up to 3.5 hours extra in a week. Imagine what you could accomplish! Get in a quick workout or work on the most critical projects before the family chaos ensues
PRO TIP: if you’re not a morning person and have some challenges with this, start slow. Set your alarm 5 minutes earlier each week until you reach your goal (waking up just 5 minutes earlier a day gains 35 minutes a week!)
8) Touch paper once
Set aside 15 minutes to go through the mail each day so you can process the papers immediately instead of spending time looking through and then going back again several times to address actions.
- Open bills and schedule bill payments immediately.
- File important documents
- PRO TIP: keep a small file box right next to the space where you open mail (e.g. the kitchen) so you don’t have to move the paperwork.
- Put the coupons in an envelope in your purse
- Write down events in your planner and/or put them in your electronic calendar. Take a picture of the invitation so you can reference later. Save the picture in a folder called ‘invitations’.
- Write down anything that needs action in your master to do list and take a picture of it. Save the picture in a folder called ‘to do’.
- Recycle/shred the rest.
9) Take Shortcuts
Look at those repetitive tasks that seem to take up a lot of time each week, like dishes, laundry, and making school lunches. What can you do to cut down the time you spend on them?
A few ideas:
- Make a batch of nut butter and jelly sandwiches and freeze them. Then, you’ll have an easy back-up for a quick school lunch.
- Load your car the night before with everything you’ll need for the next day (gym bag, finished school project, backpacks, coats, etc).
- Use protein shakes for breakfast and lunch. Then, you only need to worry about healthy snacks and dinner.
- Instead of sorting laundry, washing it, drying it, sorting it again, folding it and then putting it away, try a new approach. Do one load of laundry per family member per week (no need to sort by color if you use Shout Color Catchers that will keep your whites from turning pink). Then, put it away without folding it. I know this might seem messy but the kids often mess up the perfect folds anyway so why waste the time? Another option is to delegate all of this to one or all family members to do their own.
10) Maintain & tackle a master list of tasks that take 5-10 minutes to complete
Write down a separate list of tasks that need to be finished and you estimate will only take 5-10 minutes to complete.
When you have a few minutes (e.g. waiting in carpool, waiting at the doctor’s office, when you wake up 5 min earlier), tackle one or two of them.
PRO TIP: look at your bigger projects and break down all the steps it will take to finish that project into very short 5-10 minute tasks. Then, work on those in your free moments. You’ll make huge progress on those big projects that always seem to be looming but you never have enough time to sit down and complete all at once.
11) And, a bonus tip!
If you’re ready to take your time management and productivity to the next level, use my free Ultimate Playbook Take Back Your Day Playbook. I walk give you my 5 Steps to Take Back Your Day, and re-focus on what matters most to you. The Playbook comes with a 7-day accountability series, to remind you which step needs to be completed each day.
I want to make sure you get the most out of this playbook and it’s not another PDF you download and never use!
Enter your name and email below and I’ll send you the playbook, plus the 7 day accountability series. I’d love to help you take back your day.
5 Steps to Take Back Your Day!
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