Woman to Woman: How to Be a Master Multitasker
By Kim Atkinson
Sometimes it seems as though there isn’t enough time in the day to manage everything on your plate. Never before have moms multitasked the way we do today -- from succeeding at work and taking care of the children at home, to volunteering in the community and making time for our partners and parents.
So, if you feel overwhelmed sometimes, you’re not alone. More than half of all moms with infants in the U.S. work outside the home, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Even those who don’t are serving as CEO of their own households, presiding over everything from homework to housekeeping.
What’s a multitasking mom to do when the to-do list gets too long? Here’s your step-by-step guide.
The very first step is to prioritize what matters and what doesn’t. Mastering multitasking means asking yourself tough questions about what’s really important and being prepared to let the small things slide off the list (or at least to the end of it). “If your child is starring in a school play and it’s been on the calendar all year, make it a priority to be there,” says Susan Bartell, Psy.D., a New York-based psychologist who focuses on working mothers. “But if it’s one of many sporting events and you are needed at the office, designate someone to go in your place.”
Decide to Delegate
The next multitasking must is to delegate. Having a reliable support network you can call on to pinch-hit when you can’t make it to bat is essential, says Bartell. Make sure you have an organized list of your best standby team ready for emergencies. This can make handling the unexpected less stressful.
Practice Planning Ahead
With your safety net of people in place, now you can plan ahead, which is another time management tip experts insist on. When you map out your week ahead of time, your prioritized to-do’s rise to the top. “Decide which tasks can wait until the weekend,” says Bartell. “When that time comes, make your weekend chores a fun family outing.” Try to save your weeknights for family dinners and homework, or even a night out with your friends.
Set up Reminders
It’s not realistic to expect yourself to remember everything. Take advantage of all reminder tools available to you: Keep lists, set alarms for yourself and rely on teachers to remind you when tasks need to be completed, says Michelle P. Maidenberg, Ph.D., a New York-based psychotherapist who specializes in parental and family issues.
Drop the Guilt
Once you’ve firmed up your time management plan, don’t waste time on guilt. For the sake of your sanity -- and your family’s sanity -- recognize that it’s OK if you can’t do it all perfectly. “As moms, we all want to do everything competently and successfully, says Maidenberg. “We won’t ever be perfect at everything. Seek the supports available, whether it’s your partner, a baby sitter or a friend. And set realistic ways that your goals can come to fruition.”
Finally, be sure to make time for yourself. Whether it’s setting aside that extra 30 minutes in the morning to exercise or scheduling a night twice a month for yoga or coffee with your friends, it’s important to pencil yourself into your own schedule. “You need to regenerate,” says Maidenberg, “or else you won’t have energy to give to the people and things that need caring for.”
Woman to Woman: "How to Be a Master Multitasker"