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Time Management

Time Management is one of the big areas that I am trying to work on and improve my ability to deliver on getting the work done that I need to complete, both for home and for the family. I separate because they are different. I have a load of DIY, housekeeping (tidying, cleaning floors etc) to do as well as doing everything to keep my wife and kids talking to me (shopping for food, washing their clothes, feeding them dinner (as well as the copious amount of snacks they keep asking for but don’t get), checking home works and playing with them.)

There are naturally a number of tools which we can use to improve on our own time management. And I’ve looked at a few that we can appreciate and benefit as parents.

To-do lists

I almost live by lists, my shopping is on a list on the phone, the work to do around the house is on a scrap of paper in my pocket so that when I have 2 min on my hands to do something I can check what needs to be done first. Because inevitably I tend to forget what I need to get done because I’m so knackered running around after 3 kids all day.

Hence today I finally managed to get the crack filler sanded down on the wall on the stairs where I filled it 2 weeks ago. I have to paint the whole bottom 3 ft of wall, as it is of course covered in greasy paw marks and scuffs from the kids running their hands along it as the go up and down the stairs.

Also on my list to get done is to fix a drill, get posters up for the P&T Group I go to, sort out my Engineers Ireland membership (I am an Engineer after all), finish a speech for Toast Masters and get this blog written.

Prioritization

With children as in work it is important to be able to prioritise the most important tasks that we need to get completed as SAHP as well as in work. Fortunately at home identifying these is usually a bit easier than in a work environment. However we do tend to commit the same mistakes by rushing to deal with what we perceive as being the most important and neglect others which need to be taken care of.

For example we rightfully prioritise our children’s needs, feeding, changing, education etc. But we also tend to get distracted by the phone, internet, Facebook, blogs when what our children want is time spent with us as one on one time.

We also prioritise our kids, neglecting our own relationship and social lives reducing ourselves to just parents or employees as we run around after our kids, then run back and forth from work- to running around after our kids. The number of incidences of couples separating because they have forgotten, or left behind the reasons why they got married in the first place is a terrible inditement of our lifestyles. So it is important that we make time to do things for ourselves (socially) and also to do things with our partners that we can both enjoy to save our own mentality.

 

Scheduling

Scheduling is very important so that we know where we’re going each day. It can be seen as a five-step process:

 

  1. Identify the time you have available.
  2. Block in the essential tasks you must carry out to succeed to keep the show on the road.
  3. Schedule in high priority urgent tasks and vital “house-keeping” activities.
  4. Block in appropriate contingency time to handle unpredictable interruptions.
  5. In the time that remains, schedule the activities that address your priorities and personal goals.

These days I don’t need to use a calendar or scheduling software to plan out my week , but I do use that bit of paper I keep in my pocket to loosely schedule the week. Daily it is usually scheduled around the kids, school runs, kids activities etc. Then I plan in the few things that I do: Toastmasters, a bit of running, writing this blog and go to P&T groups.

Then I’ve scheduled Monday and Tuesdays for the house-keeping that I have to get done, the deep clean that every house needs on a weekly basis.

Contingencies are allowed for every day, particularly for the school runs, the kids have to be in at 9, and the school and crèche is 8 min away, so naturally we leave 20 min before we need to be there. Why? Once in a while the baby decides that 8:35 is the perfect time to do a massive poo in his nappy requiring cleaning, and/or there is heavy traffic on the way which has in the past turned that 8 min drive to a 20 min crawl.

The remainder of my time is used as relaxation time, TV, those DIY jobs that need to get completed etc.  i.e. those which are not urgent but nice to do, and of course spending time with my wife.

We will also schedule a night out once in a while and especially a night away 2 or 3 times a year, just to get a bit of time together without the pressure from the kids in the morning, besides my parents love to be able to look after the kids for a bit.

Time Management Challenges

–          Managing interruptions

Interruptions can cause a nightmare with the schedule and getting all the jobs you have to get done, done. Hence it’s important to understand the interruptions for example understanding that occasionally traffic will delay you so you build in slack time in the schedule to allow for this and not be late.

I have a relative who was always late for events in school, it was only 100 yards from her front door to the door of the school, but because they were so close they only ever left with 5 min to get there. The problem is that any interruption will make you late, if you don’t manage the interruption properly.

Hence you need to know the interruptions you encounter and look at them to eliminate what you can. Especially with kids you need to manage phone calls, because they won’t give you the pleasure of a nice chat, so make them when the kids are asleep and if someone calls when you are trying to mind the kids, get them to call back when it suits or just accept that they’ll have no choice but be interrupted by a small child who has been perfectly silent playing by themselves for the last hour before the call and suddenly vocally wants your attention.

–          Organizing disorganised people

Kids are notoriously disorganised, my son was awful when going to school in the morning. As soon as the kids were told to get their coats on, Aidan would run off and hide, or go and take his coat or shoes off.  Now I use the power of distraction to get him organised by giving them something they want to do which happens to make my life easier and more organised. So the kids get sent out at 8:30 in the morning to feed the birds on the big green in front of the house with old bread. That way they are out, coats and shoes on and all I need to do is when the time comes, lock the front door and get in the car. I’ve found that finding little things to entice or entertain the kids helps in getting them to do as you need.

 

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