Mature woman using telephone while helping son (4-5) dress up

Sean Justice

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Every mother will tell you that time seems to just fly by. What was once a quick run to the drug store now takes an hour and that’s if you’re standing on the good side of luck and there’s no toddler tantrum.

When it comes to the things that we have to get done, effective time management is key. But between colds, stomach bugs, bumps, bruises and overtired kids, we also have to learn to roll with the punches. So for all my working mothers out there, here are six tips to help you get a little closer to work-life harmony!

Don’t Fall into the Multitasking Trap

I totally get that there’s only so much interruption you can control (I have yet to figure out how to push the mute button on a toddler). But as much as you can, sharpen your focus. Turn off your email, silence your phone and log out of all your social media accounts. Just focus on the task at hand.

Tackle Your Hardest Thing First

Procrastinating will deplete your energy. Every time your eyes scroll down your to-do list and you put it back down to do something else, your momentum comes to a complete hault. So hop to it, starting with the most difficult task on your list. In most cases, you’ll find that the task didn’t actually require that much of your time. Once you’ve got your big items crossed off, you’ll feel freer and immediately you’ll be ready to rock out the rest of your day.

Schedule “Serendipity Time”

Try padding your activities with periods of quietness where nothing needs to be done and there is nowhere to go—“serendipity time.” You’ll be able to take advantage of those in-the-moment opportunities like cuddling with your toddler or hysterically laughing at your favorite TV show uninterrupted from the thoughts of to-do lists and incomplete tasks.

Take Advantage of In-Between Time

If you live your life by your calendar, inevitably, there will be times when you look up and realize you have a spare 10-15 minutes before you have to be on your next destination. This time may not be enough to complete a huge new task, but it may be enough to return a phone call, clean off your desk, or respond to that one last lingering email. Use it wisely and you’ll feel very proud that you scratched one more small thing off your list.

Tweak Your Scheduling Style

Keep in mind that your friends and family have schedules they need to follow as well. As your relationships evolve, be open to tweaking your schedule to find a compromise for all parties.

Pause Before Saying Yes

Did you know that “no” is a complete sentence? Don’t say yes to things that you and your family don’t want to do. Obligation is an unnecessary beast that we all invite into our lives. But think about it—what’s worse? Declining an invite, or gritting your teeth and muddling through the night doing something you never wanted to do in the first place. Reserve your energy for things that make you feel happy and for the others, simply respond with, “thank you for asking but I’m unable to attend.” Remember no excuses are necessary.

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