Shortly after settling into our cute little house I was offered a job on base, so I gladly took it. It was part time, then turned into full time some days, then back to part time once I found out I was pregnant. At this time I was also a full time student pursuing my bachelors degree. About a month after finding out I was pregnant I made the bold decision to start my own skincare business with Rodan+Fields, which I’ve briefly shared about in a previous post. I knew I wouldn’t be able to work once Kai was born, but I wanted to take on something that would allow me to be present and still contribute. I added a lot to my plate not knowing what the months ahead were going to bring and for some reason I thought that being a stay at home mama entailed watching Netflix and cuddling with a baby all day. I was sadly mistaken; it is a JOB.
I have finally gotten back into the swing of things and able to focus more of my time on what I love. I have really had to teach myself effective time management skills because I am too much of a neat freak and go-getter that if I don’t prioritize, I will lose my mind and ultimately end up getting nothing done.
I have made a list of 15 things that truly save me time, but that I have definitely had to learn along the way.
- Use Sunday night to plan out your week. I highly recommend using planner if you don’t already. I am and will always be a pen+paper kinda gal. I am obsessed with my planner & it would take a lot for me to use a different style/brand. As much as I love technology, it just doesn’t work for me when I am trying to make a list or plan how I am going to get things done. I have learned to spread tasks out throughout the week instead of putting an unnecessary amount of tasks in one day and becoming frustrated when I don’t accomplish them. I have started to do this with cleaning my house too. I used to knock it out all in one day — laundry, floors, bathrooms, sheets, towels, stairs, kitchen, laundry room. That is too much and it took too much time away from other things that needed to be done, so now I break it up into upstairs & downstairs and I have found that to be incredibly helpful.
- Plan meals ahead of time. The number one argument (and just about the only argument) in my marriage is “What do you want for dinner?” “I don’t care.” Sound familiar? Before Kai was born I found myself going to the grocery store multiple times a week because we would run out of things or not have what we decided last minute we wanted for dinner. That got real old and real expensive, real fast. We started planning our dinners for the week (we usually plan about 5 meals and get something quick or go out to dinner on a weekend night and a night during the week because there is always a day we don’t feel like cooking or it’s a late night at work for Gauge). Now we are spending way less money on groceries, we aren’t arguing (as much) about what to eat, and we are only grocery shopping ONCE!
- Become a morning person. I used to be really good about waking up early and getting things done and made that a priority of mine. Now I have a 4 month old who is not sleeping through the night, which means I am not sleeping through the night, so making mornings my thing has become difficult. We’ve gotten into a new sleeping routine (we’ll see how long it lasts), but Kai will wake up to eat around 4:30-5am and go back to sleep until about 7-8am. I have gotten so used to being up around 6am that my body naturally wakes up at that time even if Kai is still asleep. I use this time to get laundry started, wash bottles, and spend time doing what I want to do. I spend some time in the Word, work my business, respond to messages/e-mails, work on posts for the blog. Things that I thoroughly enjoy getting done uninterrupted.
- Get ready early. I don’t know about you, but I am about 100x more productive during the day when I get ready. I wash my face and I have gotten my make-up routine down to about seven minutes, eyebrows and all!
- Use your dishwasher. When we first moved into our house, I refused to use the dishwasher because I thought it was a sign of pure laziness. Then I realized that it’s actually one of my best friends and I use it at least every two days. However, someday when I have my big kitchen and my dream farmhouse sink, I probably won’t use it anymore, but until then…
- Clean the kitchen while you cook. Unless you’re my husband, of course. Seriously though I have found this to be one of the most helpful tips. Evenings in our house are pretty sacred because it’s the only time during the day that we all get to be together for the couple hours before bedtime; I don’t want to spend that time cleaning up the kitchen. So while meat is browning, veggies are in the oven, pasta is boiling, or whatever… I rinse the dishes, load the dishwasher, wipe down the counter, etc. This saves me time and makes the time it takes to cook dinner fly by! I’m one of those people who tries to get as much done as possible before the timer goes off! Or the microwave beeps. 🙂
- Don’t multitask. (Unless you just read tip #6 and you are cleaning up your kitchen as you cook) 😉 I used to find myself getting so distracted because I would do something, then start something else before I forgot, and it was this endless cycle of starting things and not finishing or taking way too long to complete simple tasks.
- Use nap time wisely. This is for all you sweet mama’s out there! Nap time can be bittersweet because it means you have to choose between crossing things off your to-do list and getting rest of your own, which is usually more important. This is where you kind of have to backwards plan… instead of staying up past bedtime to get things done, strategically plan what you need to accomplish during the day so you are able to go to sleep when your baby goes to sleep. Kai usually takes about a 45 minute nap before his last 2 feedings of the day and bath time, so I almost always use that time to shower, wash my face, and finish up any last minute tasks I have on my list for the day.
- Pack diaper bags/backpacks/purses the night before. I am a huge believer in getting things done the night before. We only have one car right now, so this doesn’t apply to us everyday, but when we have appointments or we are going to be out and about the next day, I always make sure the diaper bag is packed and by the door before I go to sleep. This leaves me less scrambled as we’re trying to get out the door. When Kai still fit in his infant carseat, we would strap him in while we were still in the house and carry him out with all of his stuff, but now that he is in a bigger seat that has to stay in the car, we have to carry him and everything that goes along with him out to the car.
- Stay on top of things. Gauge thinks I’m crazy and everyday he tells me “you clean too much” (rolling my eyes…I wouldn’t have to clean so much if he wasn’t so messy) 😉 I vacuum everyday, I wipe down the counters, I take out the trash when it gets full, I keep up on washing laundry (not putting it away LOL) because upkeep makes cleaning days easier. If I am good about keeping up the house, when it’s time to actually clean it, I can usually knock it out in an hour or less.
- Clean up before you go to bed. Throw the toys in a basket, fluff your throw pillows, clear off the kitchen counter. My favorite thing in the world is coming downstairs to a clean living room+kitchen first thing in the morning.
- Write things down as they start to run out. We have a small dry erase board on the side of our fridge and I always keep a pad of paper next to our little coffee bar. I try to catch things before they completely run out, especially cleaning supplies, but either way, I make a list as things start to run out and that becomes where I make my grocery list for the week too. It saves time by only making that one trip to the store instead of multiple trips because you keep realizing you are out of household items or ingredients. There is nothing worse than when I go to clean the floors and run out of Wet Jet cleaner less than halfway though…
- Set realistic daily goals. I used to think that I needed to get my entire lifelong list of to-do’s done in one day. Okay that isn’t even realistic for someone who has nothing going on… So be diligent and prioritize.
- Clean the stairs as you go up and down them. Growing up I always wished I lived in a two story house and now that I do, I am not sure why I ever wished for it. Anyways, if you have stairs and you’re anything like me, you probably stack things on your stairs because you’re too lazy to go up and down all.the.time. I’m not going to lie, just yesterday I finally took care of the growing pile of random things at the bottom of my staircase after I let it pile up for about a week. Really the only reason I go upstairs during the day is to put Kai in his crib for a nap…so basically my excuse has been that I’m holding a baby and just can’t carry anything else… LIES. So if you have things that need to upstairs, I am challenging you to grab a few things on your way up instead of it actually becoming a job when you can’t see your bottom two stairs.
- AMAZON PRIME. This is such a huge part of my life, so I saved the best for last. 😉 We literally order everything from Amazon Prime. It is the best annual fee I have ever paid. It’s complicated having things shipped to Hawaii because it either won’t ship or it costs an arm & a leg to do so. So when things ship free (like everything on Amazon Prime or the occasional Aerie purchase…) it’s a total win and completely worth it. Gauge uses special hair product that I can get on Amazon in a pack of three, boxes of our favorite baby wipes, mascara, and all the other things.
I hope these tips are helpful and you find a way to make them applicable in your life, no matter what season you’re in. I think most of us often wish there were more hours in a day to get things accomplished, but since that’ll never happen, let’s learn to make the most of the time we do have during the day.