Being a single parent means you are often the only person left to manage the household chores, school run, parent-teacher meetings, cooking, cleaning, and finances as well as a million and one other things.
One of the most popular topics I covered on my personal development workshops a few years ago was time management. We all have the same twenty-four hours in a day, but it’s what we do with them that matters and most of us don’t have a clue on how to manage our time effectively.
I’ve read loads of books and articles on the subject with Stephen Covey’s approach, using the Time Matrix, being a preferred method amongst the business and coaching world. Covey’s matrix is the process of putting your tasks or to-do list into one of four boxes.
- Important and urgent
- Important and not urgent
- Not important and urgent
- Not important and not urgent
For me, this was a bit too entrepreneurial to meet my needs so I searched for a time management hack that I could integrate easily into my personal development journey as well as my day-to-day life as a single mum.
When my daughter sprinted out of the door one morning shouting over her shoulder, ‘I’ve just finished the toothpaste!’ I unexpectedly stumbled upon the perfect time management hack. At the time, I grabbed a pen and jotted it down on the pad we have stuck to the fridge door – buying toothpaste became an important task on my things to do list for that day. However, my eldest son was already out with friends in town so one quick text later and the toothpaste was on route and I hadn’t had to leave the house.
It’s a simple process that will keep you organised and calm, and it’s called the 3D’s!
- Do It
- Delegate It
- Ditch It (or defer it until later)
Run out of toilet paper and your gran is due in an hour? That’s in the do it category.
Forgotten to buy a birthday card for little Tommy/Emily’s school friend? Delegate that to your children; they can enjoy half an hour of arts and crafts and make a home-made card.
Summer is around the corner, and the shed needs organising? Ditch it until you’re sure the sun is going to shine and then you can drag out the patio furniture and organise the shed at the same time.
The 3D approach allows you to get through your to-do list quickly and efficiently.
Finally, don’t be afraid to ask for help. I’m a single mum and don’t have a partner to help out around the house. My children are all teenagers now, so it is easy to delegate certain tasks. I do have supportive family and friends though who would be only too happy to help me if I needed them. If my mum is heading to Tesco, I could ask her to pick up a forgotten item, or if a friend is taking their children to an event I could ask them to take my children too so I’m free to attend a work event. Find ways to make the 3D time management hack work for you and have fun trying it out.
Do you have any time management hacks of your own to share? What’s your favourite tool for saving time in the morning? I’d love you to share your tips in the comments.