Posts Tagged With: time management

The importance of a little bit of head space…

I started writing this post sat in the peaceful surrounds of a public library – always a reliable haven for mums with small children. Little Miss was at nursery and Little Mister was snoozing next to me in his cosy buggy.

For the first time in days, maybe a few weeks even, I felt able to just sit, still and calm, and be me.

Neither child was demanding anything from me and being out of the house removed the ever-present temptation to start filling this time with chores instead of taking a moment for myself.

It was bliss. The autumn sun was shining through the window. There may even have been a rainbow as I’d just ducked out of a heavy shower.

It was quiet. There was no CBeebies, Peppa Pig or nursery rhymes playing in the background! And, much as I adore her, no Little Miss asking constant questions or insisting I do or get something for her NOW!

I felt refreshed and it made me realise that I should prioritise trying to do this more often.

The importance of a little bit of head space... www.mummystodolist.com

Having two children is what I always wanted. I now have the perfect family I dreamt of, a girl and a boy, and I love them to infinity and beyond. But one of the things I have found most difficult these last few months is the lack of personal time and space.

I sometimes wonder if growing up as an only child has made the transition more difficult for me. Whereas my husband grew up in a busy household with three brothers (and a very naughty dog!), I suppose I’m just more accustomed to being on my own a lot. My dad worked long, irregular hours so it was often just my mum and I at home.

I am used to, and sometimes really need, time for peace and quiet. Incessant noise, after a while, makes my brain feel frazzled, my head ache and my thoughts feel all over the place.

Whenever we’ve done those personal development quizzes at work, the ones that try and categorise people by character traits, I always come out as an introvert. This used to surprise and slightly alarm me as I’m not especially shy and can be a terrible chatterbox at times. But I’ve grown to realise it means that I like, and need, my own space to function well.

But it’s not just a need for personal space that has made having two little ones feel overwhelming.

My other big problem is the demands I place upon myself. I crave time and space but when I have a chance to grab some I all too often fritter it away on some mundane household task that could, for the sake of my sanity, have waited. Or at best it could have been done much quicker if I wasn’t on a constant quest for perfection.

That’s why getting out of the house the other day was so good for me.

Usually on Little Miss’s nursery day I stay at home and set myself an impossibly long list of household jobs and admin tasks that I want to get done. I nearly always end up feeling disappointed not to have finished the list, even though it was unrealistic in the first place.

I also often spend too long trying to do simple chores to an unnecessarily high standard. And sometimes it feels easier not to start at all if I think my standards won’t be met in the time available.

It’s a catch 22 situation. I feel frustrated about my lack of time, yet when I have it I don’t use it wisely or get less done than I could have and end up feeling I must get even more done the next day. Ahhhhh!

Anyway, getting back to the point, taking myself out of my usual routine did me the world of good this week.

Instead of staying at home and filling my toddler-free day with hoovering, washing and housework – in between the nappies and feeds – I escaped our four walls, which can feel pretty claustrophobic even at the best of times.

My husband was heading to the quaint, historic Sussex town of Lewes for a work meeting and Little Mister and I went along for the ride, meeting him later for lunch. It’s a place I used to go with Little Miss when she was tiny too, so it brought back many happy memories and a strong sense of déjà vu.

I had a lovely, relaxing morning. I sat and fed Little Mister in a coffee shop – without having to chase a hyperactive toddler every few minutes, or bribe her into sitting still with biscuits or Peppa Pig on my phone. I drank a latte while it was still hot and I enjoyed a packet of crisps without having to share. Little luxuries, I know!

And then I hit the shops!

And although I was enjoying myself, the trip was very productive too and did actually enable me to tick quite a few things off my to-do list. It was a winner all round!

I bought Christmas cards and a fair few presents. With just under six weeks to go until the big day, I now feel that we’ve made a major dent in the shopping. Something my bank account was also clearly feeling when I checked last night. Whoops!

It was lovely to have time to look around for gifts – something which has become increasingly tricky when Little Miss is in tow.

Little Mister, when he’s awake, loves being out and about, with plenty to look at. And it’s nice for him to be complete centre of attention for once. He enjoyed smiling and gurgling at all the old ladies who stopped to admire him. He is a fantastic flirt – loves putting on his cutest performances for an audience!

It was lovely to be able to focus just on him for a while. He was rewarded with a nice new pair of Sock Ons! (for those not in the know, these are genius little things designed to keep babies’ footwear on their feet. Little Mister is terrible for rubbing his feet together to lose his socks).

And, once I was all shopped out, I still had time to start writing this, my first post in a while.

The day was a reminder, a wake-up call, that me-time matters. That, sometimes, it needs to be made more of a priority. My wellbeing is important and giving myself a bit of a day off from the housework was one of the best things I did this week.

It’s made me realise that I should try and carve out more time for myself – either to rest, relax or do nice things. If that means lowering my standards a bit at home then I think it will be worth it.

Having a bit of breathing space, time to clear my head, makes me a calmer, happier, more positive parent when I return to the joyful chaos of childcare.

So I will strive to do it more often.

I’m linking this post and the word ‘space’ with The Reading Residence’s fab Word of the Week linky. 

The Reading Residence
Pic credit: thaikrit/FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Categories: Mind matters, Motherhood, Things I've learnt..., Word of the Week | Tags: , , | 7 Comments

My top five posts at 50

So this week saw me reach my first big bloggy milestone, 50 posts (read more about it here). So I thought I’d have a look at my stats – something I should probably do more often (I’m a words more than numbers girl!) – and see what’s been happening and which posts have been most popular.

Here is …

Top five blog posts

1. Twin your toilet – easily my most-read post so far and one I hope has inspired others to help a special charity. Here in the UK we take our loos for granted but 40% of the world’s population, 2.5 billion people, don’t have this luxury and those who suffer most as  a result are usually women and children. We’re currently raising money to twin our lav with a new facility in the developing world.

2. Help change children’s lives on World Book Day – another charity post and a cause that really appeals to me as Little Miss and I love reading books. Book Aid sends sends more than 500,000 new books a year to sub-Saharan Africa, over half of them for children.

3. Toddler art: painting a hand print rainbow – It’s lovely and very fitting to see my 50th post actually make it into my top five! This one sees Little Miss, with a bit of help from Mummy, create a beautiful picture – dare I say work of art – which I just had to frame. And I also threw in some tips for ‘toddler art essentials’ for good measure.

4. Ten tips I learnt from reading I Don’t Have Time to Write – As a busy mum it can be tricky finding time to tend to the blog while keeping all those other balls in the air. This post shared some advice I learnt from reading this fab book.

5. Really easy toilet roll crafts for toddlers – My first crafty post and one that was great fun to write. I’m thrilled so many other people enjoyed it too. All hail the humble loo roll tube!

Pic credit: creativedoxfoto/freedigitalphotos.net

Categories: Blogging | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ten tips I learnt from reading I Don’t Have Time to Write

I Don't Have Time to Write by Nadine Hill front coverThe title of this book instantly grabbed me when I spotted it on Amazon a few months ago. I Don’t Have Time to Write – or at least enough time – is a phrase that’s constantly popping into my head, if not being uttered out loud at least a few times a week. Luckily my clever husband checked my Amazon Wishlist and the book turned up among my presents on Christmas Day. It’s a very quick and worthwhile read but if you’re even more strapped for time then I am then just take a look below at the top ten things I took away from it.

I Don’t Have Time to Write is written by mum-of-two Nadine Hill, who’s also a business owner, writer, blogger and speaker – you can see why she’s so busy! As I said, it’s a whizz to read and as a result can feel a bit rushed in places. But that’s partly the point. The book is written using the author’s time-efficient ways of working. It shows that a busy working mum can put the advice given into practice. It’s clearly not meant to be War and Peace. What it does do is offer useful tips and ideas and, if you want added depth, you can go away and build on these.

The book is aimed at all writers but includes separate chapters for bloggers and infopreneurs.

So here are the top time-taming tips I will be focusing on:

Ten tips learnt from I Don't Have Time to Write

1. Always have an end goal in sight.

It’s pretty hard to move forward without knowing where you want to get! Knowing why you are writing – whatever that might be – gives you focus and purpose.

2. Just get started! Get something written down. Create the skeleton and you can flesh it out later.

On a bad day, I can be a big procrastinator but as Nadine says: “It doesn’t matter where you decide to start first, start somewhere and it becomes easier to see where the next logical place is.” It’s true and I do this all the time now – getting the basics of a post written down first then coming back later to finesse.

3. Be careful with multitasking.

Save the juggling act for the low level tasks you can do without thinking, like basic household chores. Don’t fry your brain trying to concentrate on too many different things at once, you won’t do the big stuff as well as you could and it takes so much longer to get anything finished. This may mean you need to prioritise how much you take on.

4. Keep day-to-day life as organised as possible.

Sometimes easier said than done, I know, but by streamlining the everyday stuff you can create extra ‘pockets of time that are spare’. It’s common sense I suppose. Super-organised Nadine suggests simple things like batching tasks together to avoid duplicating effort, using  a diary and to-do list (aha!) to keep track of it all and spending ten minutes at night planning and getting stuff ready for the following day.

5. Consider batch writing posts.

Initially this felt a bit contrived but actually it makes sense to take advantage when your creative juices are in full flow and get several posts written at once. It takes the pressure off and these can then be scheduled, meaning if events conspire to prevent you from writing further posts – and a busy mum they often do – you’ve still got something to publish.

6. Capture ideas as they happen.

Keep a notebook (I have one by my bed for midnight flashes of inspiration), save them on your phone, email yourself if you’re at work, try using Microsoft One Note or a similar programme or app on your tablet or laptop. I do all of these. I can vouch for it saving a lot of time (and mental torment) later on when you can’t quite think what that earlier brainwave was! Store up all your ideas then you’ll never be stuck for a post.

7. Keep a rolling list for blogger outreach and prioritise.

“Blogging is a marathon!” says Nadine and unlike a book there is no natural end to a blog. “It evolves, transforms, grows and develops”. As any blogger will know, they also need a lot of nurturing, promotion and outreach. This all takes time – so big blogger pats on the back all round! I always regret that I’m not able to do as much of this as I’d like. At the same time, when I’m online I often find myself distracted by the first thing I see and head off in all kinds of directions (Twitter can be a killer for this!), meaning I run out of time to look at and engage with those blogs that are actually most important to me. So I’m going to give Nadine’s suggestion of a rolling weekly list a go and make sure I spend more time regularly connecting with my favourite sites.

8. Don’t waste time overthinking post comments.

I used to do this a lot before realising it’s always better to go with my gut instinct, that initial response, rather than trying to be too witty or clever. After all it’s meant to be a natural online conversation, not a rehearsed speech. As Nadine suggests, if you have that much to say you’d be better off creating a new post and linking back to the original. Not wasting time also creates more time to visit other blogs, make more comments and generally spread the blog love!

9. If something is hard to write it may well be hard to read too.

So take a break from it. If it’s still not working for you then it’s probably not the right approach or subject matter in the first place so move on. Simple.

10. Have realistic expectations of yourself.

An obvious one but always worth remembering. I often compare myself to others and lament the fact that I’m not the kind of blogger who can turn out several posts a day, or even just one every day. At the moment, with my other commitments, I simply don’t have the time. I’m not superwoman, so I need to learn to relax and recognise the good stuff I can get done. The end!

You can visit Nadine’s blog Juggle Mum and buy I Don’t Have Time to Write (paperback or Kindle) here on Amazon.

And if you’ve got any other tips that help you to manage your blogging time I’d love to know what they are.

Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com

Categories: Blogging, Reviews, Things I've learnt..., Working mum | Tags: , , , , , | 24 Comments

Word of the Week #3

It’s been another busy few days and the hours I’ve been keeping are summed up by my Word of the Week…

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It’s a time I’ve seen far too much of lately.

I can’t blame a frenetic social life. These days, as if! Nor is it down to a wakeful toddler. Thankfully Little Miss has always been a good sleeper – a bit like her mum in normal circumstances!

No, it’s an important work deadline that’s seen me burning the midnight oil.

Generally my work/life balance is pretty good. When Little Miss was nine months old I went back to work three days a week. I was lucky to be able to return to my old job on these part-time hours. But sometimes there just aren’t enough hours in the office.

I know this current spell of what is effectively unpaid overtime will be short-lived. Calm will be restored once that deadline is hit.

But for now I’ll be trying to channel the positive energy of my first Word of the Week, ‘can’. And by next week I should be back to the feeling of last week’s choice, ‘relieved’!

Are any other working parents out there feeling up against it at the moment? How do you cope when the pressure’s on?

This post is part of the Word of the Week linky run by fellow blogger Jocelyn over at The Reading Residence. The idea is very simple, every week you come up with one word to sum up your week.

The Reading Residence
Categories: Word of the Week, Working mum | Tags: , , , , | 11 Comments

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