You have 168 hours every week. You’re in charge of how you spend those hours. Are you using your time as best as you can? According to Laura Vanderkam, you have more time than you think. And I agree with her!
We have dishwashers, washing machines, dryers, microwave ovens, cell phones, DVRs, and numerous other devices to help us get more done quicker. So why does it feel like you still have more to do than you have time?
Maybe it’s how you’re using that time. If you’re watching 23-30 hours of TV a week, like the average American, that’s a lot of time you could be doing something else. Or maybe you’ve signed your kids up for every activity imaginable and you’re rushing around to 1-2 activities every night, trying to figure out how to get your older child to swim practice at 4:00 and pick up your youngest from karate across town at 4:30, all so you can get home, figure out what to make for dinner and head out to choir practice at 6:30.
Maybe you struggle getting everyone out the door in the morning because lunches need to be made, you need to sign a permission slip for your son, your daughter needs help finding her soccer cleats for practice tonight, and you need to gather paperwork for an important meeting.
Or maybe you feel exhausted come Sunday night because you had 3 birthday parties, grocery shopping, errands to run, a house to clean and a family dinner to attend. You’re left wondering where your weekend went and still feel like you have a million things to do, let alone spending any time relaxing with your spouse.
So how do you fix it? Can you? I’ll give you a few ideas to get started. Then read Laura Vanderkam’s 168 hours: You Have More Time Than You Think for even more.
Start by keeping a time log. For 1 week, log everything you do and how long it takes you. Once you know how you’re spending your time, you can identify things that you can change or tweak. I’m guessing this task will be eye opening.
Think about your morning and evening routines. What can you do at night to make the morning run smoother? And vice versa. Pack lunches and gather paperwork, sports equipment, etc. at night to save time in the morning. Conduct nightly clean ups, putting all toys, books, and laundry away so items are easier to find and clutter doesn’t pile up. Plan meals out for the week so you’re not scrambling to feed hungry family members at the end of the day.
Don’t pack your schedules so full that there’s no room for emergencies, last minute changes or even spontaneity. Maybe each family member gets 1 activity per semester. Try having 1 day a week where no one is allowed to use technology unless you’re watching a movie together or ordering a pizza. Or if your family enjoys being so busy, see if you can share carpool duties with 1-2 other families so you’re not driving all the time.
Plan your weekends a day or two early if possible. My husband and I will talk about the things we need to get done (errands, groceries, cleaning) and things we’d like to do (go hiking, go out for ice cream) and anything else that might already be planned (birthday parties, family dinners). We’ll identify who’s doing what and when we’re doing it. Then we’ll check in throughout the weekend to see how we’re doing on our tasks and if anything needs to be tweaked. I by no means am saying our weekends are always perfect. I have many Sunday nights where I wonder where the time went and why it feels like I got nothing done. But planning our weekends makes them easier.
See what other tasks can be outsourced. Can you hire a cleaning service? Find a way to have your groceries delivered? Automate your bill payments? Delegate tasks to your kids? Depending on their age, they can empty the dishwasher and help clean up meals or put away their own laundry. Maybe they can even be in charge of their own laundry from start to finish. Maybe they’re old enough to help with dinner or make dinner for the family every now and then. It may feel like a bigger hassle to teach them these things, but in the long run, it will be helpful.
There are numerous other tips I could provide, but these should get you started. Think about how you’re spending your time and what changes can be made so you feel less overwhelmed. Remember, you do have more time than you think!