Obviously, I’m looking forward to the summer — but part of me is dreading it a bit, too. After all, I’m going from six hours a day free for work to four hours a day. So I’m looking for ways to maximize my productivity, so I still have time to scrapbook, work, and get the laundry done. Here are my top ten time-saving tips for busy moms (and busy scrappers!):
1. Layer activities. Multi-tasking has gotten a bad rap lately. That’s why I’m in favor of layering instead. That means I do things like listen to scrapbooking podcasts while I’m doing housework, making a date with a girlfriend to walk while we catch up, and listening to books on CD in the car. I layer an activity that doesn’t require much attention from me (like laundry) with one that doesn’t require my hands (like podcasts).
2. Work in batches. Whether I’m working on a scrapbook page or running errands, I group a bunch of like tasks together. If I’m doing laundry, I fold several loads at once. If I’m sewing on scrapbook pages, I do a bunch of projects that require sewing at a single sitting. This cuts down on the back-and-forth.
3, Cut the marginal activities. We all have activities that we take part in just because someone asked us to, or just because we always have. But given our druthers, we’d cut ‘em out of our schedule. Go ahead and take those activities off your list. If anyone gets mad at you, tell ‘em I said you could.
4. Prioritize. Each day, start out knowing what few things you have to do to consider that day a success. Maybe it’s just getting your kids fed and clothed — that’s okay! Knowing that keeps things in perspective.
5. Write it down. I cannot tell you how many million-dollar ideas I’ve had that I’ve forgotten. I swear I’m going to write them down — later — and then I never do. I now write EVERYTHING down, even stuff I know I won’t forget (haha!). I would be completely lost without my little notebook that goes everywhere with me.
6. Delegate. At first, I thought I was a bad mom when I asked my kids to take over chores that I could easily handle, like putting away groceries or scrubbing out the sink. But then I realized that it wasn’t like I was the mean orphanage director from Little Orphan Annie who made the kids work while I was sitting around; if I wasn’t working on one chore, I was typically handling another. AND I was also training my kids to take care of themselves someday. So go ahead and delegate some of those jobs (and if you use the freed-up time to scrapbook, I won’t tell!).
7. Phone a friend. This past year I’ve had the most fantastic neighbor in the world — who just so happens to be the mom of my 10-year-old’s best friends. Our girls were on the same soccer teams, in the same class, and involved in many of the same activities. As a result, Jen and I were able to tag-team whenever needed. She picks up the toilet paper I need on her run to Sam’s Club, and I grab her girls from school when she’s running late. It saves both of us a ton of time — and it’s little give-and-takes like these that cement relationships.
8. Do what you love — and love what you do. If you only have limited time and can never do everything, you might as well spend the time you do have on things you adore. And by the same token, if you HAVE to do something anyway, find a way to enjoy it.
9. Simplify. It’s okay to have a one-dish meal, eat on paper plates, create very simple scrapbook layouts, and wear the same three outfits over and over this summer. Really. No one will arrest you.
10. Remember, life doesn’t have to be perfect to be good. We can waste a lot of time worrying about this and that, struggling to make our homes and families and scrapbook layouts look like the ones we see online, or just having angst over our lack of perfection. LIFE isn’t perfect — get used to it, embrace it, and move on.
I’d love to hear some of YOUR tips for saving time, particularly in your family life!
P.S. I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Starbucks blogging program, for a gift card worth $30. For more information on how you can participate, click here.