Managing a home and family brings a ton of responsibilities. But those responsibilities don’t come with a schedule attached.
In some ways, that’s the beauty of managing your home – you get to decide when you want to do something (or if you want to do it at all).
No one is telling that it’s 4pm and time to start the laundry or help with homework. Nobody else cares if the shopping isn’t done (until the fridge is empty).
You have to create that structure and routine on your own.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned as a mom, it’s that if I don’t plan out my time, it somehow vaporizes like cookies on my countertop. If I want to add one more thing to my overly optimistic to-do list, I had also better decide when to do it or it will just sit there and fester and I’ll forget all about it.
That’s why I use time blocks to structure my day.
What is a time block?
A time block is a chunk of time that fits into the routine of the day and is dedicated to a particular type of activity.
Got a phone call to make?
That goes into an afternoon block. The kids will be busy playing outside and I can supervise them while still paying bills, handling household paperwork or making calls.
Want to do some baking?
That gets bundled into the pre-dinner routine or maybe during the after dinner clean up time.
Need to run errands?
Probably during soccer practice or on a morning that I’m not working.
Does the kitchen need some serious deep-cleaning?
That will happen either during the breakfast cleanup or dinner prep time. Hopefully dishes will get added to the dishwasher throughout the day, but if they start to pile up, I am not going to stop 10 times during the day to wash dishes.
I (or one of the kids) will do the whole lot all at once and minimize the time I spend on that chore.
How about playing with the kids, home business, other household chores, paying bills, etc?
Those all have spots in my day, too. I certainly don’t get to everything on my list every day, but at least having this structure in place makes it easier to get it all done.
Don’t forget downtime!
Downtime with your family and also for just yourself might just be the most important block to plan! You know that if you don’t insist on it, time for rest and relaxation is easily overtaken by more urgent things.
Busy moms really need a break from their kids! I neglected this advice for probably the first 10 years of motherhood and I suffered as a result.
Combine a loosely structured day along with a reasonable to-do list (here’s a different take on the traditional to-do list) and you’ve got the makings of a productive day!
How long should a time block be?
Between 15 minutes and 2 hours, depending on what you need to do. I rarely need more than 30 minutes to take care of household papers, bills, etc., but for cooking and cleanup, I plan for about an hour.
Of course if you have a baby or a toddler, you’ll have to work them into the mix.
In that case, you might want to schedule the tasks that require concentration or quiet (like bill paying or phone calls) for times when they are sleeping or someone else is watching them.
Can you mix up activities during a time block?
Maybe. I find when I attempt to multitask too much, I get into trouble. Some activities are great for multitasking (helping with homework + sorting the mail + making dinner = no problem).
However, when I mix things up too much, I end up getting nothing done (which is what happens when you don’t finish what you started).
Or worse, I make mistakes like doubling the baking soda in a birthday cake (true story!). Or the kids feel like I’m ignoring them and start causing trouble. NG (not good, mama).
So yes, multitask and double up on your time blocks, but do so with caution.
Moms are by necessity masters of multitasking, but if you do this too much, you risk becoming harried, flustered, and unproductive. I’m just sayin’.
Sample time blocks
Some examples of time blocks you might need are:
Meals / Kitchen
Housework / Responsibilities
Quick clean-ups (5 min)
Bill-paying / budgeting
Lawn and garden maintenance
Special projects (hobbies, deep-cleaning, home improvement, etc.)
Away from Home (combine these tasks whenever possible)
Kids sports & activities
Putting it all together
Using time blocks in conjunction with my strategy to finish what you started, is a powerful way to get more work done with less effort. When you decide how to structure your day, life is a lot more predictable and peaceful.