Time Management for busy moms Part 2 – Guest Post by Sr. Bela Khan
Start with planning your day
No matter how strong is the desire to get started on working, take a few minutes to plan your day. For me, there is a clear distinction in the days that are planned and days when for whatever reason, I fail to plan. Take a piece of paper and write three things you want to accomplish. This should be something different than your daily chores. You already know that you have to do dishes and laundry.
Your to-do list must have something related to your personal passion or your kids/spouse. Also, there is a reason I am asking you not to have 20 items on your to-do list. First our mind needs simplicity and clarity. When you have 20 items on your to-do list and fail to accomplish them, the to-do list turns out to be a guilt-list and that hurts our neurons.
Secondly, three top important tasks prevent us from falling into the trap of overwhelm. When our mind knows what it needs to get done, we are more likely to get them done.
Remember, we are creatures of accomplishment. We love to scratch off items from our to-do list and that gives a boost to our self-esteem. Life is fast for everyone but it’s faster for a busy mom, a to-do list helps to us to keep up.
Lastly, don’t turn on any gadget, face book, twitter or anything else before these three things are done during early hours.
Turn your to-do list into your dua-list
After making a to-do list for the day, take a moment to connect to Allah SWT and make dua to Him to make your day productive. The best anti-procrastination dua comes from our beloved prophet s.a.w.
Allahumma inni ‘a’udhubika minal hammi walhuzni, Wal’ajzi walkasali, walbukhli waljubni, Wa dal’id-daiyni wa ghalabatir-rajal
O Allah, I take refuge in You from anxiety and sorrow, weakness and laziness, miserliness and cowardice, the burden of debts and from being over powered by men.’ [Bukhari] Start with what needs your brain
Usually busy moms have all the reason to get their laundry done first thing in the morning but this is the time when you must be doing everything that demands energy and input from your neurons directly. Therefore, starting the day with washing your kid’s dirty clothes is not a smart idea.
Start with something that demands undivided attention, that may include writing an article, preparing for your exam, getting done with office work, planning your homeschooling activity – or any similar activity that actually need you to sit down and focus. Cooking, cleaning, ironing are all kind of secondary habits that do not need as active presence of mind as do reading, writing and learning. It’s the game-changer, really.
Multi-task the smart way
Multi-tasking can be of two types. One is that you have opened a dozen tabs in your browsers and trying to reply to an email and writing an article and learning your lesson at the same time. As much cool as it sounds, unfortunately, it’s a myth.
Anything that needs laser focus can not be tied to another task or can’t be done with something else. Just like you computer gets slower when you open a gazillion softwares together, your mind gets slower when you try doing all these things at the same time. Therefore, for this category, one thing at a time.
There is then another category of work which doesn’t require the active presence of mind as I just mentioned. Here is when multi-tasking wouldn’t harm. For example, listening to a motivational/islamic lecture while ironing the clothes. Personally, I always play something at the back when I am cooking because it makes a boring task fun for me and also help me save my time which I had to spend on listening to those lectures.
If it makes your life easier, spend on it.
Few years back, I was having constant pain in my spine. I didn’t get any clue as to what’s going on wrong. I felt that a huge chunk of my time was wasted attending to that pain. When I started to look at the causative agents, I realized that the chair in my working space was very uncomfortable.
I used to spend so many hours sitting on that chair, studying, teaching, coaching and ending up with backache. When we went to find out a better chair, it turned out that the professional chair was very expensive. I, very reluctantly bought one. After that I never experienced any backache alhmdulillah.
Don’t hesitate to invest on what makes your life easier and comfortable. Your time and health matter more than anything else in the world to pursue your dreams. After that, I started looking for anything and everything that can make my life easier and simple. Come to think of it.
You are a homeschooling mother, a teacher, a coach and a student; can you really afford to spend hours and hours doing your laundry? I spent on an automatic washing machine after wards; I am still not weary of thanking God for that. It has saved me so much time and mental torture.
ACTION TIP: List down all the things that can make your life simpler and spare you much more time to look after your kids and work. Automatic washing machine, dish washer, a professional chair? Whatever it is, don’t think twice before investing on it. The return on investment is worth it!
A similar phenomenon is delegating. It will be hard to digest by some of those who really want to do everything by themselves and find contentment in it. No worries. If that doesn’t work for you, it isn’t for you. But if you consider this, it might give you ample time to be with yourself as well as your kids. If I argue with my mom on this, she’d call me a lazy cat. But come to think of it, hasn’t the time changed.
Was our previous generation as passionate about running a business, or studying or teaching or doing xyz with the family? Didn’t their day start with making breakfast, cleaning, preparing lunch, doing laundry, spending time with their kids, teaching and cleaning them and then ended with doing the dishes? We have exactly the same to do PLUS chase our own dreams and passions as well. To take out time for your dream and passion and raising amazing kids, you must learn to delegate. If someone else can do your cleaning and laundry, hire them. It’s similar to spending money on what can ease your life.
IMPORTANT NOTE! There is a very thin line between delegating tasks that really are your responsibility vs. tasks that really don’t matter. If you go to your office, leaving your kids to a nanny, that’s NOT delegating, that’s insanity. For this, again you need to prioritize. Your kids are your primary responsibility, an amanah from Allah and you will be held accountable for them. That’s the reason I am so much AGAINST nannies and baby sitters. You can’t delegate your kids to someone but definitely you can hire someone to wash their clothes and clean their room. Makes sense?
Bela Khan is a certified life coach and speaker. She is also the author of her book “Know Thy Values, Know Thyself.” Her forthcoming books are “How riches come to you” and, “9-Success secrets that Non-Muslims know and you must know too”. You can find more of her work at belakhan.com