Effective Time Management for Frugal Moms

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Frugal moms often struggle with a long list of tasks that need to be accomplished every day. These can range from preparing meals to bathing the kids, and from working an at-home business to cooking three meals every day.

A frugal lifestyle requires organization to work. And time management is simply organizing yourself. But going from knowing to doing in organizing your day requires some planning. Here are some ideas to help you get on track and stay there so your frugal lifestyle isn’t “derailed” by lack of planning and disorganization!

Lists are your friends. Learn to make them, trust them and most importantly – follow them! Use one notebook for all your lists instead of jotting things down on odd bits of paper or self-adhesive notes that are easily lost.

Get a planner in a size that works for you and use it. Choose from pocket size, 3″ x 6″ (this one doesn’t allow much room to write but fits easily in your purse), standard size 6″ x 9″ (which is the most common), or a large desk-size 8.5″ x 11″ (which allows the most room for writing but isn’t as portable). The idea is to get a planner you will really use.

Your planner doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive. But it’s important to have something that will work to help you manage your calendar, keep your to-do list and other important information in one place. There are even free printable planners online. Search Google and you’ll come up with several options. Or create your own by hand or on the computer.

If you choose to go with the larger size, you can easily design your own forms in Microsoft Word or another word processing program and print pages at will. Then you simply three-hole punch the pages and place them in a one-inch binder. You can use index tab sheets to divide your binder into as many sections as you need.

Create a section for Daily To-Do, Weekly To-Do, Monthly To-Do, Goals, etc.

A Master To-Do list of everything you want to do in the coming week is also helpful. This can be used to prioritize your daily lists and help you see at a glance how well you’re progressing. Taking the time to write down what you want to accomplish will help you manage every day more easily.

While a master list may seem like extra work, it won’t take only a few minutes to complete and it will make a huge difference in keeping you focused on everything you want to accomplish. Without it, it’s easy to get distracted by all those separate to-dos.

Create a new list of to-dos first thing every morning. Carryover anything that you didn’t accomplish the day before and add what will need to be done today.

Combine similar tasks such as household management, computer tasks, telephone calls, email, places to go, etc. That way you can batch similar jobs and accomplish more in the least amount of time.

Prioritize each task. Ask yourself what has to be done that day and give it a 1. Then consider what you’d really like to finish that day and give it a 2. Everything else gets a 3. That includes things you want to do, or even that you enjoy doing, but that–if they don’t get done–won’t create any real problems.

Remove distractions before you begin working on a task. If it’s a computer task, close programs and browser pages that you don’t specifically need to complete the project you’re on. If it’s a telephone task, close the door so the room is quiet and you can focus on what you need to say.

Do what’s important, not urgent. Do what you must do during the day and save the “want tos” for spare time. Email is a prime example of something that appears to be urgent and yet seldom is. There is nothing that says you have to reply to a message as soon as it’s received. Learn to recognize what really needs to be done and when.

If a specific task will help you manage your home better, earn money to pay the bills, or provide something your family really needs, that’s important. Noting these type tasks will help you plan long and short term goals and help you decide what needs to be accomplished during the day.

While multi-tasking seems admirable, research has begun to show that it actually hinders you from doing your best work. Instead, focus on one task at a time until you complete it. You’ll accomplish a lot more throughout the day.

Mark off every task you complete, then go back to your list to see what’s next on the agenda. Add tasks as they come up such as when you need to make a follow-up phone call to a call you made earlier, or when you need to send a letter in response to a discussion you had that day. Keep your list current and you can more easily stay on top of all you have to do.

Don’t be afraid to change priorities during the day if needed. Something may come up that becomes more important than other items on your list. Shift your priorities to make room for the change and don’t let this cause you undue stress.

Life is full of change, so things will happen that force you to adjust your priorities. But the goal is to manage your life, not your lists. Your planner, to-do lists, written goals, and other time management tools are just that… tools to help you accomplish what you need to.

Learn to say no. While it’s easy to fall into a “super woman syndrome” and think you can do everything, that’s simply not true. Learn to set limits for yourself and your children.

An administrative assistant had a sign on her desk that read, “Your lack of planning does not constitute an emergency on my part.” Let that saying become your motto. Do only what you truly feel you can do, and kindly refuse to allow others to create your priorities.

Keep your goals and your lists achievable. If you find you’re consistently listing so many tasks that you never seem to accomplish them all, it’s time to lighten the load–and the list. Ask yourself what would be the worst thing that can happen if something doesn’t get done.

Typically, you’ll be able to honestly say that the roof won’t fall in. Unless it might, cut yourself some slack and realize that you may not be accomplishing everything you’d like to do, but by managing your time creatively you can accomplish so much more than you imagined!


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