1. Say “no” more often
If your kid loves karate, of course you’re going to find time to shuttle them back and forth to classes. But there are plenty of times we find ourselves committed to stuff that no one in the family actually seems excited about or YOU are excited about. When that happens, it’s okay to set boundaries. You can turn down an invite to a party or an event and just BE!
2. Streamline the morning rush
When mornings are chaotic, you may feel exhausted before your day’s even started — and that makes it hard to get anything done efficiently.
Take some of the stress out of the morning rush by prepping as much as you can the night before.
3. Put free time on the schedule
Forget spontaneity. If you need an hour to yourself — to do a workout, try a new recipe, or just veg on the couch with a good book — you’re going to have to put it on the calendar in between all the school projects, soccer practices, art classes, and bounce-house birthday parties.
4. Track how you spend your time
“If you’re in the process of improving your time-management skills, I recommend keeping detailed track of your time for a couple of weeks to figure out where your time is going,” Haworth says.
Use a bullet journal, passion planner, or productivity app, and make sure you include everything — how much time you spend working, how much time you spend driving, how much time you spend taking online quizzes to see what kind of burrito you are, etc.
If you find yourself asking “how is it bedtime already?!” on a near-daily basis, this will help you figure out where all the hours are really going — and identifying time-sucks will be the first step in getting rid of them.
5. Batch those “rabbit hole” tasks
Certain tasks — like checking email, reading the news, or running to Target for “just one thing” — tend to take waaaaay more time than you planned, so try to tackle those tasks in batches to limit the amount of time wasted. “When we chunk our time, we’re more productive and efficient,” Hakim says. Here are a few ways to do that:
- Instead of checking your email every time you get a notification, pick a few times each day to read and respond to new messages in your inbox all at once.
- Schedule as many errands as possible for the same day. Keep a shopping list on your phone so you’re not constantly running back out for forgotten items.
- Set a timer before you start reading the news, scrolling through Instagram, or looking up avocado toast recipes. “It’s very easy to get sucked in,” Haworth says. “Before you start one of those activities, decide when you’re going to stop, and set a timer to help raise your awareness of the time that’s gone by.”
6. Put yourself first
I used to promise myself I’d work out “as soon as I finish what I need to do today.” Surprise, surprise, I rarely got around to it, because… really, does anyone ever feel like they’re all caught up? Schedule that ME time!
7. Have kids, friends or spouses help with meal prep
Cooking healthy meals can take a big chunk out of your day, but it’s worth the investment: Research has found that more time in the kitchen is associated with a healthier diet.
8. Delegate some household duties
If you’re on nonstop chore patrol around the house, delegate some of the responsibilities to your kids, husband or even hire a house cleaner once a month to help you out.
9. Lean on your village
Resist the pressure to “do it all.” Your fellow parent-friends are probably just as stressed out and overscheduled as you are — so own up to it, and lean on each other for backup.
10. Make your family time more active
Instead of trying to balance kids’ activities, quality time with the family, work, dogs and your own workouts, get all three accomplished at once by planning active outings for the whole crew. You can make it part of the time spent with your friends and family!