Why Time Management is Crap
I'm going to say it right now: time management is crap. When you have a kid, or kids, all semblance of what you used to consider time management goes out the window. No longer can you plan your days down to the minute. If the baby needs fed, you feed them. If the diaper needs changed, you change it. If you give yourself 30 minutes to get the kids ready and out the door, odds are something will happen and it will take you 40. Our days cannot be as scheduled out as they used to be. The cold hard truth is that kids do not care about the strict schedule that you set for yourself. There will always be something that comes up and there will always be something that redirects your time from what you planned. If you don’t learn to adjust and roll with whatever life throws at you, you will feel like you are failing.
As a new-ish mother, I have found myself getting frustrated that I always seem to be running late. No matter how well I think I've planned ahead to get somewhere on time or to get something done on a certain day, it never goes exactly as I envisioned. Things that used to take me an hour or two, sometimes take three days. It is so easy to beat ourselves up over this, especially when you're not only trying to accomplish personal tasks but also business related ones. As a pet sitter, I'm expected to be at my appointments at certain times. I plan ahead but often times I'm running 5 to 15 minutes off schedule. I have tried to combat this by giving people a 15 minute range of when I will be there. It has been a good solution for me, I actually found that people don’t care if you get there at 5:10 instead of 5:00 and now if I'm running a tiny bit late I no longer feel stressed or embarrassed. It turns out, I had been causing myself undue stress for months and odds are, so are you.
The same time management problem can come up with goal setting. Most goal setting advice will tell you to be a specific as possible about what you want to get done every day and to start with the most important thing first to ensure that it gets completed. That does not work for me, and it probably doesn't work for you. As we have already discussed, kids don't care about your schedules and they certainly don't care about your to do list. If I make a list of five things I want to get done on a day and I only managed to get two done, I will feel terrible about myself and like I have failed. These feelings will then follow me into the next day and will continue to affect my mood and productivity.
To get out of this rut, I've switched from a daily to do list to 30/60/90 day list. I start with the 90 days and come up with all of the major things I wish to get done in that time. Then I break that down into smaller sections that I place in the 60 and 30 day columns. The great thing about this method is you can change it to whatever number of days you want. You can do it for 7 days/14 days/21 days or literally any other combination that works for you. For business I usually do the 30/60/90 days and for household chores I generally do 3/5/7 days. As much as I wish I could sometimes put off cleaning for 60 days, that kind of time just is not realistic when laundry and clean dishes are involved.
So for example, my current 90 day goal for my pet sitting business is to gain 10 new clients and update my website. Breaking that down, in the first 30 days I know I need to redesign and reorder my business cards and flyers to show new pricing and social media accounts. I also need to compile all of the new information that needs to go on my website.
In days 30-60, I know I will now have all my new marketing materials, so I will start advertising. I will set a certain number of places per week that I want to leave flyers at. During this time I will also send all of my website information to the person who manages my site so that the changes can be made.
During days 60-90, I will hopefully have been getting calls and can adjust my goal based on the response to my marketing. If I have gotten the number of clients I was hoping for, I will stop visiting places to leave flyers. If I have only gotten five out of the 10 then I will continue to flyer weekly until my goal has been met.
The amazing thing about this method is that it is so much more flexible than a daily list. If I get my 30 day goals done in 10 days, then I just move on to the next set of goals early. If I don't quite get them done I simply move them into the 60 day category and continue to work on them. Is setting such long term to-do lists ideal? No. Is it realistic? Yes! There's nothing wrong with things taking longer than they did before, we just have to accept that scheduling and managing our time is different once kids are in the picture. This is especially true when we work at home or from home and have to balance running a business and taking care of a child at the exact same time. Does it take longer to get things done this way? for sure. Does it quell feelings of failure when things do not get done immediately? Absolutely.
Whether you are struggling with getting out of the house in a timely manner or having a hard time completing business and personal tasks, you need to cut yourself some slack. We are no good to our families or businesses if we are constantly stressed and feeling guilty for not getting things done on time.
I hope you will give this extended goal setting a try and see how it works for you. Hopefully, it will ease your stress and allow you to be even more productive. I would love to know how this method works for you! Shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or drop a comment below!