5 Simple Organization Tips for Working Moms
As a working mom, I’m always in search of organization tips to help me manage what feels like a million things that fill up my days.
You know what I’m talking about. We have to hit the ground running from the time we open our eyes in the morning until our head hits the pillow at night. It can be…shall we say…a little overwhelming.
Between work, commuting, rodeo style kid-wrangling and trying to find some quality time with the hubby, our time is in high demand. Managing it all can definitely seem impossible sometimes. But here’s the good news…it’s not!
It takes some work and some serious planning on our part, but it is absolutely possible to get control of our time and get rid of the overwhelm.
The key is to plan ahead, use the right tools and always, ALWAYS, stick to the plan.
Does that mean you won’t ever get sidetracked? Of course not. But that’s OK, because you’ll have a plan for how to deal with that too.
I’ve put together some super simple organization tips that help me focus on what needs to be done so I can use my time as efficiently as possible.
1. Get a planner
My first organization tip is to get a planner. Now, there are two schools of thought on this. Some people love using a digital planner that they can access on their phone or computer at any time. Then there’s those who like a physical planner.
I like the idea of both, but keep in mind that a “planner” is not the same as a simple calendar. A planner includes additional planning and goal setting tools that a regular calendar doesn’t.
The planner I use most right now is my physical planner and I’ll tell you why. The act of writing things down and seeing them in physical form on paper, helps me commit to them. I also think it’s easier to get a better sense of what’s going on right now AND what’s coming up when I see it in writing.
When I look at the monthly calendar in my planner that spans the width of both pages, I get a very clear picture of what I need to be doing now and what I need to be planning for next week, the week after and even next month. It helps me get mentally prepared and also helps me fill out my weekly and daily plans.
Breaking down bigger goals and to-do’s for the month into smaller bits by week and then even smaller bits by day, keeps me organized and makes it all much more manageable.
I recently started using the Living Well Planner from Living Well Spending Less. It’s beautiful, versatile and very well organized. It makes me feel like I’ve already got a head start because it’s so well laid out and very practical.
I really like that it focuses on goal setting. And not just setting goals, but also setting up action steps to move you closer to your goals each week.
You can also start using the Living Well planner at any time. You don’t have to wait until the beginning of the year because it comes with stickers to fill in the monthly calendar pages so you can decide when you’re ready to start.
2. Time Blocking
My second organization tip is to utilize time blocking. This is where your planner really comes into play. Not familiar with time blocking? I’ll give a little explanation.
Time Blocking is the practice of blocking out chunks of time dedicated to a certain activity. For instance, I usually do my major house cleaning on Saturdays. So I might block off 10 am – 12 pm in my planner every Saturday for my weekly cleaning routine. Or if I need an hour to setup my monthly budget, I’ll schedule that time with myself using a time block in my planner.
Once it is blocked out on my calendar, I consider it a permanent commitment. I wrote it down, I’m committed to it, it’s going to happen.
Time Blocking isn’t just for tasks on your to-do list, but really works for anything you want to include in your schedule. Playtime with the kids, going to a movie with the family, reading, crafting, etc.
Whatever you want to make time for can be blocked out on your schedule to help ensure it happens. And by using time blocking, you’ll be able to accomplish more because you’ve planned ahead.
One of the biggest reasons I love time blocking so much is because it gives me a mental break from planning everything in my head and writing endless to-do lists everywhere which inevitably leads to a major case of the overwhelms.
If I think of something that needs some dedicated time, I block it out in my planner. Once I’ve done that, it’s no longer taking up mental space trying to remember it. I know I’ll address it when I get to that time block. It’s a very freeing feeling.
3. Plan time to plan
This is one of my favorite organization tips because it seems obvious but is often overlooked. Having a planner and using the time blocking method are great, but if you don’t actually make time to plan, you’ll get nowhere fast.
I used to think I could wing it. And maybe when I was younger and didn’t have kids and slept more, I could. But now? No way.
I’ve realized that if I don’t set myself up for success by setting aside time to make a plan, I will fail.
What’s the saying? If you fail to plan you plan to fail. That really couldn’t be more true.
In addition to regular activities like cleaning, paying bills and grocery shopping, you also need to plan time for goal setting. If you allow yourself to spend all your time on day-to-day tasks, those “someday” goals you have will never become a reality. Be sure to include time for setting up and working toward your goals on a regular basis.
Planning your big goals will begin at a high level. Don’t get in the weeds of figuring out every detail. You’ll get down to the nitty gritty as you breakdown your big goals into smaller goals using monthly, weekly and daily action steps.
I’ll give you an example. If I want to lose 20lbs in 4 months I can break that down into 5lbs per month and about 1lb per week.
Next, I determine my action steps to get there. I might need to make sure I do weekly meal planning and exercise 4 days a week. So I’ll add time blocks for those activities in my planner to make sure I commit to them.
I might also establish a certain day of the week for weigh-ins and put that in my planner too. Now I have a goal and action steps to get there that are much more manageable than the big goal of losing 20lbs.
Ideally, you need to set aside 30 min to an hour each week and once a month to get your plan together. That’s after you’ve established your big goals and mini monthly goals to accomplish along the way.
I usually do my planning on the weekend or in the evening after the kids go to bed. Sometimes I’ll even do it during my lunch break at work. The key, once again, it to block out some time in your planner and commit to it.
At first, it may take a little longer to fill out your planner because you’re not used to the process, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll find it goes pretty quickly.
4. Family Calendar
Another simple organization tip is to use a family calendar. A family calendar is extremely important for running an organized household. I use Google calendar on my phone and a regular wall calendar at home.
I like both because I can pretty much see what’s going on at all times. Google calendar is great for things I need to share with my husband, but I don’t always want to get my phone out when I’m at home, so I like to be able to look at the wall calendar also.
The wall calendar is great for the kids too so they can see what’s coming up for the school week.
Staying organized and being prepared is a family effort and everyone needs to participate.
This helps kids develop good habits and experience the benefits of planning ahead and staying organized at an early age.
My favorite thing about Google calendar is that it sends reminders to me and my husband when we have something coming up.
This is a fail safe for me so if I miss something on the wall calendar, Google will remind me. I set the reminders to pop up in advance so if I need to make any preparations I have time to do it.
5. Enlist help
This is one of the best organization tips to get the biggest bang for your buck when it comes to managing your time.
As moms, we feel responsible for keeping the family on track. But it can sometimes feel like herding cats, right?
By enlisting the help of the whole family, not only are we teaching our kids self-discipline and responsibility, but we can accomplish A LOT more together than we ever could individually.
For instance, in my house we have a routine of family pickup time each night. This usually starts about an hour before bedtime for the kids. All screens go off for the night and everyone picks up, cleans or organizes for 15 minutes.
Now, if I were the only one doing this, I could get a fair amount done in 15 minutes. But if all four of us do this together, that’s an HOUR of combined work that we just got done in 15 minutes.
This has been one of the most effective habits we’ve implemented as a family. You’d be amazed at how much progress can be made when the whole family works together for a short 15 minutes.
Another thing to consider when enlisting the help of others is outsourcing. What do I mean by this? Hiring someone to help.
There are so many services available now to help with everyday tasks. House cleaning, yard work, personal chefs, subscription boxes, dog walkers, online grocery shopping or delivery. All of these services are huge time savers for busy working moms.
I know it can seem frivolous to hire someone to do a job you’re perfectly capable of doing, but consider these points.
1. Time Savings
Sure. You’re perfectly capable of cleaning your own house. And probably no one will ever do it exactly the way you would.
But what are you giving up in order to make time for all those hours spent cleaning? Play time with the kids? Date night with the hubby? Lunch with friends? Volunteering? Hobbies?
See what I mean? There is an opportunity cost to everything. By choosing to do one thing, you give up the opportunity to do another.
You have to decide what your priorities are and if you’re willing to spend some money to allow yourself time to focus on those priorities.
2. Return on Investment
To reap the rewards of outsourcing some of your tasks, you’ll have to make some room in your budget. But you really have to look at it as an investment in yourself and your family.
Taking a few things off your to-do list frees up your time, but also relieves stress and frees up your physical and emotional energy so you can spend them on other more enjoyable activities.
So, while you will be investing some money to outsource one or two items on your to-do list, you might just find that the return you get on that investment is worth every penny and you’ll wish you did it sooner.
3. Supporting small businesses
A lot of times when you purchase services, you’re supporting small businesses and entrepreneurs.
It could be another mom, just like yourself, who decided to start a cleaning business to help support her family.
Or a landscaper who does amazing work and is growing an already thriving business.
A great home cook who is looking to further develop their skills by working as a personal chef so they can one day open a restaurant of their own.
Not only do you benefit from using the services offered by these small businesses, but you’re also supporting the goals and dreams of the small business owners. That’s something you can feel very good about.
These organization tips are a good start to getting you on your way to using your time more efficiently and feeling less overwhelmed. But there is absolutely no substitute for hard work.
Writing down your plan will GET you motivated, but you have to take action to STAY motivated.
By following your plan, you’ll begin to cross things off your to-do list and reach those goals you’ve put off for far too long. You’ll start to see that you can accomplish so many things in the time you have as long as you plan ahead.
Picture it in your mind…an organized home, time to tackle projects and enjoy hobbies. The whole family working together to maintain it all. That would feel pretty great, right?
It is possible. And you can do it.
Take charge of your time and you will take charge of your life.
Please tell me in the comments what your favorite organization tips are. The more we share, the more we help other moms!