Named “One of America’s Best Work/Life Balance Resources,” Maria is known for her innovative solutions for today everyday mom challenges. She is the Founder of BlueSuitMom.com, Host of Mom Talk Radio and Host of The Balancing Act on Lifetime TV. Let Maria help you find smart solutions to motherhood.
Endless To-Do List
Question: There never seems to be enough time in the day. I feel like I have a never-ending to do list in the office which leaves me worn out by the time I get home. Help!
- Suzie K.
Do you start every Monday with high hopes of whittling down your massive "to do" list only to find the same projects on your list on Friday? You must begin to change the way you manage your time and reinvent your project list.
Start by removing any items that really aren't necessary to your job or your company's focus. Then organize your list into a "Must Get Done" and "Would Like to Get Done." Next determine how much time you can devote to each project this week. Be realistic about what you can accomplish and add extra time for the unexpected. Start with the most important item, not the easiest or the one your enjoy most. It's easy to spend time on tasks you enjoy and ignore the items that must get done. Once a project is completed, mark it off the list and move on to the next priority. If you find that the list never gets shorter, then you need to learn to delegate!
Most of us spend hours every week on tasks that whittle away at our precious time without providing a huge benefit. Analyze your work day. Are you doing tasks which aren't productive to the company's bottom line? Speak with your boss and together come up with a new list of priorities. You can use this same tactic at home. Do your bathrooms need to be cleaned twice a week, or will once a week do? Can you start a leftover night for dinner one day a week and then spend the time you saved to take the kids to a local park?
Are you wasting too much time on unimportant decisions? Most decisions are not as complex as we make them out to be. For instance, if you've been planning a company lunch meeting ... how long do you really need to devote to the menu? You could spend an hour reviewing menus from 10 different restaurants or caterers or you could spend 10 minutes choosing items from just one menu. Many decisions are not life or death choices. If you make a mistake, you can always go back and correct it later.
If you never seem to have enough time at work, another solution may be to set boundaries. Many times we take on additional projects or assignments simply because we are asked to. But are you really the best person for the assignment? Before taking on additional work, spend some time evaluating if the project fits in with your workplace goals. Another useful strategy is to only take on new projects once you've completed one of your current projects. Once your plate is full, don't be afraid to say no to additional assignments. Many times co-workers and bosses don't realize the number of projects you are currently juggling, so you may have to set limits instead of expecting them to do it for you.
Sometimes once of the biggest time wasters is the constant interruptions from co-workers. Closing your door or letting your phone go to voicemail for an hour or two a day can make a big difference.
If it's a busy day and a co-worker or friend wants to linger on the phone with you, politely lead them to the point of their conversation use the three A's -- Apologize, Ask for Action and Alternative Time to Talk. It goes something like this, "I'm sorry but you caught me when I'm focused on this report, if you can tell me what you need, I'll be happy to call you tomorrow at 2 p.m. to discuss it."