I need to start with this post with a very important piece of information: I am not a naturally organized person.
Time management and staying organized is something that doesn’t easily to me, and it’s something that I’ve had to work really hard at.
In my time as a stay at home mom, I’ve worked really hard to get organized and stay on top of things.
Oftentimes, I’ll read a blog post by someone who is obviously talented in the time-management department, and while there are sometimes great tips, for someone like me, it can be overwhelming.
I need simple, easy, step by step.
I will never have my pantry organized by alphabet or an inbox with 0 unread messages.
However, my bills are paid on time and we have minimal clutter in our house. My kids get to school on time and we have a solid routine that we stick to.
So, if you’re a stay at home mom, (or work at home mom as I am slowly transitioning to) and you struggle in the organization department here are tips to help you organize your day.
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Weekly Family Meetings
This is something that my husband and I are really working on improving. We usually start the year off doing really well, but after a few months let it slide.
My husband can be extremely forgetful. Anyone else?
Prioritizing time to remind each other of important things helps us tremendously.
Over the weekend, my husband and I get together and discuss the upcoming week. It takes us about 10-15 minutes, and we discuss the following things…
We go over our schedules for the week.
If I have any appointments and need him to handle the kids’ school drop off/pick up, I will remind him of that and he will put it in his work calendar.
We recently started using the Cozi app (HIGHLY RECOMMEND!!). It is a calendar/to-do list app that can sync family schedules.
Even though we have a paper calendar hanging in our kitchen, we need a digital one as well. This means that I no longer get texts from Ben when he’s in the office asking if we have plans for the weekend, etc.
It is especially helpful as I’m about to enter the point in my pregnancy when I start biweekly doctor appointments and need to make sure he’s available for school dropoff.
We also go over our to-do lists and make sure that our Cozi app is updated with any tasks we need to get done for the week.
I use my Erin Condren Lifeplanner for most of my tasks, but if it is a task that we both are sharing the mental load for (such as house projects), then I put it in the app so that we both know when it’s done.
It’s also awesome for when I notice small things around the house that I need Ben to help with. I can add it to the to-do list in Cozi and don’t have to feel like a nagging wife.
At our weekly meetings, we’ll look at the tasks and determine which tasks are priorities for the week and which ones can be put off to the following week.
We used to be AWESOME at tracking and sticking to our budget. Like really hardcore and it was such a great feeling.
We haven’t been good about it for maaaaaybe four-years or so. Ironic that our twins are about to turn four, hahaha.
This year, we have a lot of financial goals we want to crush, so we have been using the free version Every Dollar.
If you want something that tracks things for you, I highly suggest using Mint, which is completely free and tracks your spending from your bank account.
I was chatting with my sister who said she LOVES using mint. My problem is that it does too much work for me, so that I don’t bother ever checking it HAHA!
There are two ways you can delegate: 1, by hiring someone, and 2, by assigning jobs to your family members!
Delegating isn’t always an option if your little ones are still very young or your husband has an extremely demanding job, and you don’t have the financial means to hire help.
When my girls were newborns, I hired a middle-school girl as a mother’s helper. She came and helped out with playing with Theo, feeding the girls, meal prep, even folding laundry!
I paid her $5 an hour, and it was great for both of us since she wasn’t old enough to officially babysit.
Other areas you could hire help: meal delivery services, house cleaners, virtual assistants (if you have a side hustle going on), yard work, someone to do your taxes.
Delegating to Family Members
I have my kids start with very simple chores when they’re young. Theo is now 5, and emptying the dishwasher (Ben gets the heavy stuff, Theo gets the kid stuff) is so ingrained into his routine, he wouldn’t dare complain about it.
I have my kids unpack their backpacks when they get home from school (even Josie and Margo, who are 3), put away their laundry, and clean up their toys. They aren’t perfect with it, and I definitely have to remind them to clean up their toys.
I will help them, but I will not constantly clean up after them.
Monitor Your Screen Time
Yesssss, monitor YOUR screen time. Raise your hand if you ever sit down to rest for a few minutes and 20-minutes later find that you’ve been aimlessly scrolling?
The worst part about that is that I rarely even feel rested, so basically I just wasted time scrolling through Instagram or Pinterest.
Set a goal for your screen time. If your phone doesn’t track it for you, you can download an app that will do it!
The Flora app is something that I use when I need to get a solid chunk of work down and can’t be distracted by my phone.
The app works by setting an amount of time (in increments of 25 minutes) and if you complete your time without exiting out of the app, you plant a virtual tree.
As I’m typing it out, it sounds so silly… and I thought it was weird when my husband first told me about it, but it actually serves as a great deterrent for me to keep me off my phone when I need to get stuff done.
Establish a Solid Daily Schedule
If you don’t have a solid routine, your days will drag out endlessly, for you and your children.
Theo is now in full-day Kindergarten, and Josie and Margo are in preschool for 2.5 hours in the morning. I don’t need to plan any extra activities during the day, because that’s enough for us.
However, when they were all home, all day long, I implemented different things. We had time for quiet reading time, independent playtime, outside playtime, and I’d set them up with a simple craft or activity a few times a week if we weren’t getting out of the house.
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Here are what my current daily routines look like!
- 6:00- Wake up and chug water
- 6:15- Check social media and post to Instagram
- 7:00- Get dressed and ready for the day
- 7:30- Kids wake up and get dressed
- 7:40- Do kids’ hair while they eat breakfast. Finish packing lunch and snacks
- 8:00- Leave for school
- 8:30- Return from school drop off. Eat breakfast/clean up breakfast dishes
- 9:00-11:00- Write (this is my most productive time, as I have no kids home and it’s QUIET, so I do my most important work here
- 11:10- Pick up girls from preschool
- 11:30- Feed girls their lunch. Play/read with them
- 12:30- Get girls ready for rest/nap time. Then, I rest for 30-minutes!
- 1:00- Respond to e-mails, make any phone calls I need to, finish up smaller blogging tasks
- 2:30- Wake girls up and get ready to go get Theo
- 3:00- Quiet reading and snuggle time with kids
- 4:00- Start dinner prep
- 5:00- Dinner (it is often a STRUGGLE to get dinner on the table by 5:00, and if my husband is in the office that day, we start eating without him. However, on school days my kids are utterly exhausted and need an early bedtime)
- 6:00- Family time (usually we play a game or have a dance party).
- 6:30- Bedtime routine with kids (this starts earlier if it’s a bath night).
- 7:00- 10-Minute Clean Up
- 7:15- Exercise (currently I’m working out at night, and only doing 10-15 minute workouts. I’m pregnant, don’t judge!)
- 7:30ish- Social media check-in, draft Instagram post for the following day, check e-mail.
- 8:00- C H I L L time. This time is sometimes earlier if I don’t have a post to draft, or if I managed to exercise earlier.
- 10:00- Sleep time for mama!
This schedule works really well for me, but as you can see, I squeeze in a LOT in a short period of time. If I need to run errands or get off track, I have to restructure my day.
In the morning, I look through my day and adjust in my planner as I need to. I don’t write content daily, so sometimes those 2-hours can be used for something else (and many days I have deadlines for sponsored content on Instagram, so that needs to be my priority instead of writing).
My husband is typically responsible for packing the majority of the kids’ lunches and dinner clean-up, which helps tremendously.
Find Your Most Productive Time
It is crucial that you realize your most productive time. Mine is from 9:00-11:00 when Josie and Margo are in school and the house is quiet. It’s essential the only guaranteed quiet time during the day.
During those two hours is when I get my most important tasks of the day done…. which leads me to my next point!
Set a Daily Highlight
In an attempt to make better use of my time, I have read many books. One that I found particularly helpful is called Make Time.
One of the big takeaways I got from the book was to set a highlight every day… and make that the first thing you accomplish every day.
It can be something as SMALL as signing a permission slip or making a phone call, or as large as writing a chapter of a book or organizing your linen closet.
My highlight usually is a blog post that I want to write or pictures that I need to take for sponsored content.
Get into the habit of setting a highlight daily, and checking that off your list as soon as possible.
Some days, I don’t have one big task that’s more important than the rest, but several small ones.
The book Make Time suggested to batch work. So, write a section of all of the small things you need to do. Then, instead of finding 2 minutes here and 5 minutes there, batch it all together.
Your batch work can even be your highlight for the day!
Here’s an example of my batch work that I need to get done today:
- call pediatrician to schedule well-checks
- call insurance company to verify maternity benefits
- pay Kohls card
- order shelves for our downstairs bathroom
- schedule a phone call with a virtual assistant
- e-mail hosting company
None of these things are time-sensitive, so if I don’t get to all of them today, they will go on tomorrow’s list. If they were time-sensitive, I would make my batch work my highlight.
Find a Planning Method that Works for You
I used to use a piece of paper and write my to-do list daily.
That was terribly ineffective!
Now, I use the Erin Condren planner.
I love that I can personalize it and make it pretty, but love even more that there is a monthly overview and then a weekly planner with plenty of space for all of the things I need to get done.
I find that an actual planner works really well for me. If I don’t get to something, I can push it on to the next day, without worrying about losing my random piece of paper.
I know a LOT of people who prefer a written planner to a digital one, but find a method that works for you.
If a digital planner is what works for you, then do that. But by all means, use SOME sort of planner!
I used to struggle when I had things that weren’t time-sensitive.
I found that I kept putting them off for more important tasks and before I knew it they were overdue. Returns weren’t made in time, bills were overlooked, I was days late in responding to e-mails.
So, now I make a monthly list in my planner. Every time I think of something that I need to do that doesn’t need to be done immediately, I put it on my monthly list.
At the beginning of each week, I look at that list and choose the most time-sensitive things that need to be done.
Also, throughout the day, if I find myself with extra time, I check that list and see if there’s anything I can tackle.
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Kids School Stuff
The minute my kids get home from school, they unpack their lunchboxes, and I check their folders. If there’s anything I need to sign or dates to track, I do that immediately.
If I put it off, I will forget about it.
I got this idea from my friend Val, the Babywise Mom (you can read more about it in her post)
I don’t always have time to fully clean my house, and usually, once I get started, it’s hard for me to stop if there are still messes!
The 10-minute clean-up works by setting a timer for ten minutes and getting done as much cleaning as you can in those ten minutes. I don’t do anything hardcore like the bathrooms, but I’ll clean up clutter, sweep the floor, wipe down appliances, etc.
I do a 10-minute clean-up, usually twice a day. After my girls eat lunch, they play together really nicely before their nap.
I have a hard time focusing on any big tasks when I can hear them and know I need to stop what I’m doing to put them down. So, I use this time to do a 10-minute clean-up.
The other time I do it is after my kids are in bed. It’s a good time to pick up any odds and ends that have been scattered around my house throughout the day.
Open Mail Immediately
Not just mail, but packages… and break down the boxes RIGHT. AWAY.
We get sooo many Amazon packages delivered to our house each month. We were at a point where we just had random boxes scattered around our house.
No more. Literally, as soon as a package comes in the mail, I open it, break down the box and put it with the recycling.
Same with the mail. I open it as soon as it arrives and either throw it away or if it’s a bill that needs to be paid, I write it into my planner.
I hope that these tips are helpful for the stay at home moms out there that are struggling with organization and time management the same way that I used to!