It was our great philosopher in a bowler hat, Boy George, who said it best when he sang: Time won’t give me time. It’s one of those hard truths working mothers (hell, all mothers!) know too well.
And for us WAHMs … listen. The juggle is real.
I recently wrote a “y’all, there’s a better way” post for Cool Mom Tech offering up eight simple, smart tips to help work-at-home parents up productivity and get more done in less time. I’m talking legit, actionable tips that you could start using this. very. minute. Many of these tips were things that I knew were effective, but that I somehow — in the breathless swirl of deadline-juggling, tightrope-walking and other circus dark arts — stopped doing. (For ex., feeding myself properly and on time; turning off notifications.)
But then there were some newer ideas that made perfect sense to me, and I incorporated imeejetly, like this super smart one I picked up from book marketing whiz Tim Grahl called the 80-20 Rule:
Carve out 90 minutes from your busy workday — or 20 percent of an eight-hour day — to devote it to the most important tasks on your work To-Do list. So even if you squander the other 80 percent of the day on the Twittuh or mindlessly scrolling through Pinterest, you can still bank on those 90 minutes to focus on your top goals or priorities and get something important done that makes you feel satisfied at the end of the day.
I mean, come on. Brilliance, right?
However, even with my new and improved plan to be all, “It’s handle,” with my writing and editing deadlines, I somehow still felt like I was working triage with my vampire-like To Do list. I was still waking up tired, moving through the day with this spilling-over plate and trying to be a present, focused mother to my 6-year-old son. tl;dr… it was all tew damn much — still!
I kept researching, looking for ways that I could feel like I had a better handle on the day/my life. Then I decided to go old school with this. I took out paper and pencil (not pen, because there will be erasin’) and literally mapped out a schedule for myself — when I would wake up, what time I’d go running, eat brekkie, shower, write undisturbed, read books, mess with social media, etc. I even plotted out when I would stretch (something that was falling to the wayside too often), and what time would be Lights-Out so I could grab at least 7.5 hours of sleep.
Uh, you’re not an android, Blades. I know, I know. Some might think this level of detailed scheduling is a tad extra. But it’s what I needed to get into a groove, plant the seeds for a habit. And, you know what? It’s working. I’m one week into my new schedule and I’m feeling rested, prepared and focused. Sure, I haven’t watched any of my shows on the telly, but that’s why Al Gore created DVRs, yes? The point is, I feel more in control of my time and how it’s spent.
I’m going to see if I can keep it going and really make this stick. Remember, Beyoncé did tell us all — back when she was writing forewords for vegan diet books — that it takes 21 days to make or break a habit. (Oh, who needs authentic scientific support for this? It’s Bey, people! :-| )
Nicole Blades is a novelist and freelance journalist who writes about motherhood, identity and culture. Her second novel, THE THUNDER BENEATH US (Kensington), will be published November 2016.
This post was originally published on BlogHer.com