Time-Saving Tips for Busy Families

Health, Home & Family
on November 6, 2005

The job of family manager is much like that of a CEO: You’re the Chief Everything Officer of your home. Juggling all of the responsibilities that come with the job leaves a lot of men and women frazzled and fatigued. Of course, it doesn’t have to be that way. Here are eight easy ways to beat the clock and make the most out of your busy day.

1. Take control of the clock

Be realistic about how much you can accomplish in a day. If you think something’s going to take 30 minutes, schedule 40. Anticipate that traffic, checkout lines and children will be slower than you’d like, and adjust your expectations.

Try to create boundaries. Set your priorities, and don’t let other people persuade you to abandon those priorities. Give yourself permission to say no to requests that dent time spent caring for yourself.

2. Create control central

Every business manager has a designated place, be it a desk, countertop or office—a place from which he or she calls the shots. It’s no different for a family manager. You need a home base of operation where you organize and administer the countless daily details: schedules, appointments, invitations, phone numbers, school papers and such.

3. Communicate at your convenience

Don’t pick up the telephone every time it rings—use voice mail or an answering machine. Turn off your “you have mail” alert on your computer. Reply when it’s convenient for you. Limit Internet chat time the same way you limit phone conversations.

Avoid calling service businesses during their busiest periods—Monday and Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. If you’re put on hold, get something done—organize a junk drawer, or clean out your purse or wallet—while you wait.

4. Be smart about scheduling

Try to get the first appointment of the day or the first after lunch. It’s less likely you’ll have to wait. Before you pack the kids in the car to head to a doctor’s appointment, call the office. If the doctor is running late, use the extra time to get something done.

5. Practice the 5-minute maxim

You’d be surprised how much you can accomplish in 300 seconds, and how many 5-minute segments you can grab here and there. In 5 minutes, you can clean out a portion of your refrigerator, sew on a button or moisturize your skin.

6. Make multitasking a family affair

Make a list of tasks that can be done simultaneously, and post it in a central location. For example, while kids watch TV they can fold clothes, sort socks, brush the dog or reunite a basket of toys with missing parts.

7. Start a 7-minute sprint

Establish a nightly 7-minute clean-up dash. As a timer ticks off the time, have everyone in the house pick up and put away the clutter accrued that day, take out the trash, change the cat litter and so on.

8. Prioritize self-care

Although your daily workload may seem like a superhuman job, your body is only human and must be cared for as such. Block out time on the calendar for yourself, just as you would an important appointment. You have to be in good shape to give good shape to the rest of your life.