Home life can be stressful, busy, hectic and chaotic at times with people leading busier lives than ever and having more demanding careers, but it does not have to always be like that. There is a solution and the answer lies in making effective use of your time management at home. Everyone wants to breeze through the day without a care in the world and certainly we would be thinking unrealistically to believe that ideal is completely attainable! However, what is feasible is that you can achieve a more equal home-life balance through taking a few easy and simple steps to improve the structuring of your daily activities at home. If you can only manage to implement even one of these ideas, you will be making an improvement to all areas of your home life. Take courage that these adjustments don’t normally happen overnight, but with forward planning you can make a difference to your time management. So let’s get started addressing these key tips for successful time structuring at home.
1.Preparation Will Save You Time
If you find yourself rushing to make sandwiches in the morning, locating school uniform whilst making breakfast and feeding the pets at the same time, then you need more preparation in your life! Preparation is all about thinking ahead of time and in advance of or prior to activities. If you need sandwiches for the following day then always try to make them the night before, perhaps after dinner when clearing away and you are in the kitchen anyway. It will only take a few minutes now but that is a few minutes extra tomorrow morning for you which could be used for something else, (even for extra sleep!). But for example, if your child spills their breakfast or cannot find their homework at the last minute or even if the traffic is bad on your journey to work, you will have a clearer mind to focus in on any last minute emergencies and to assist your family, and you will have one less job to worry about at that time.
Whilst this sandwich example is only one of many tasks, it may seem that we are exaggerating the potential impact of prior planning. But just imagine if you can complete not only one but several other tasks the night before; then you will really see the impact and benefits of this idea truly come into force. What was initially an extra two minutes will magically turn into fifteen minutes extra time for you!
When it comes to school or work uniform, always lay this out the night before for yourself and/or your children. In addition, try to be aware of the days of the week on which your child has sports and games at school so that extra kit can be washed and ironed in advance. Write this down on a family calendar and place this in a visible location for everyone to see such as on the fridge door. If you can afford to have a spare gym set of clothing for your child this will also be a great advantage for not only if they lose or forget to take it with them, but also in terms of last minute panics when it has not been washed in time!
You can apply these strategies to other aspects of your family life such as changing the pet’s water bottle the night before or washing the car at the weekend to make sure it is ready for Monday mornings and so on. Preparation is intrinsically linked to our organizational skills so let’s move on to address how they connect and how improving your organizational skills could really enhance your home life as well.
2. Organization is the key
Structure, discipline, routine and order can all come from having great organizational skills. But don’t worry because we are not talking about having military precision here, but about small and simple realistic steps that you can take today which will go a long way to improving your time management at home, and ultimately the quality of your home life.
Do you store your clothing with drawer organizers? This is a great place to start as having a tidy closet will reduce clutter and help you to get started first thing in the morning. Do you use a diary or family calendar in your home? If not, this could be a great idea to purchase one and to add events to it together as a family when you have special events or everyday activities such as swimming lessons and so on. Do you have set bed times for your children? If not, perhaps staying up slightly later on a Friday or Saturday night could be a reward for them going to bed on time, or another reward could be going out as a family to watch a film of their choice.
Do you plan your meals on a weekly basis in advance? You could start making a casual list at the weekend of what food you have at home and what meals you may create. This will not only save you time it could also save you money as you may forget something in the freezer that could have made an excellent dinner when instead you spent money eating out when you did not need to.
These examples are just some of the ways you can improve the organization of your home life to increase your time management capabilities. Sometimes it can be difficult to work out what areas of your home life you could improve and it only becomes obvious once someone has pointed it out to you. We can all form good and bad organizational habits and the key is to seek out order and structure for an easier life and to essentially eliminate the bad habits altogether!
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3. Assigning Chores
It is certainly easier said than done, but assigning household chores to both parents and children can not only help save time and improve family organization, it will also give a sense of responsibility and involvement to each family member. Chore assignment will help everyone develop a mature approach to looking after the home and of course whilst this idea will be met with guaranteed opposition or even sulking from some, eventually (and hopefully) the benefits will be something everyone can be aware of.
One tip would be to always try to rotate chores so that one person is not always putting out the bins for example. Keeping the chores fresh and rotating means people will be less likely to lose interest and to keep going! In addition, a small reward system can work wonders! For example, if a child completes an extra task, they could get an extra star on their chart and a certain number of stars could accumulate into a reward such as going to the cinema, choosing a restaurant for a family meal, or even smaller things such as being in control of the remote for an evening, (this one can really provide motivation!) and so on. Of course, each family will have different chores that need completing and it will depend on whether both parents work and the ages of the children as to individual specific chore assignments.
Charts, stars, rewards and stickers all provide structure to chores and instill a fun organizational system for the long term. Ultimately, this will save you time because everyone coming together means the home can be managed more effectively.
4. Become a Multitasking Master
Whilst you are waiting in the car to collect your children from school, you could also be on the phone arranging a doctor’s appointment or that long overdue meet up with your friends. Whilst you are cooking the dinner you could even also be learning a language on a CD in the background. These are daily multitasking activities that you can manage to incorporate into your routine with some practice. Be aware of the time you are spending doing each activity throughout the day and you will in turn also improve your productivity. Seize daily opportunities to do more with your time and you will reap the rewards because this can all lead to more family time. That is ultimately what is most important at the end of the working day, spending time with the ones that we love.
5. The Internet is Your Assistant
This last point does indeed tie in with our multitasking concept above as multitasking is a key benefit to using the internet! Remember that computers are designed to help and not hinder us. When you need to look up a school football match location quickly, or the location of a party on the day, then having a portable device with the internet could really save you a lot of time! Some of you reading this may think that it is common place that everyone has a phone with the internet or an iPad or iPhone and so on. But this is not necessarily true and many people are on ‘pay as you go’ mobile phone schemes rather than phone contracts or they simply do not own these devices. If you cannot afford a portable device then knowing the location of internet cafes in your local area could be of benefit you, so print off a map of these if you need to.
In terms of multitasking on a home computer to improve your productivity, you could order your groceries online in between washing and ironing or print a map and directions for an event whilst cooking. These are ways to integrate the computer into helping you to improve your time management in the home and ultimately, this can give you back more time to spend with your family and loved ones.
Below is an excellent and informative short video from Anjali Varma featuring guest Rachel Strisik entitled ‘Home Organization and Time Management Tips’ to provide you with some extra ideas to better organize your time at home.