Make time work for you

All we get is 24 hours in a day, and sometimes as working women, managing home and a career, that can seem all too little. A woman juggles multiple responsibilities and with all that juggling, she might feel that a lot is slipping through her fingers. But as most women do know, tasks get done concurrently, one can always juggle and shift and maximise time, stretch it to its most elastic. If you still feel you are falling short of time here are some tips that can help you extract the most out of 24 hours.

20 Tips to manage time:

  1. Get enough sleep. We tend to cut down on sleep and this will eventually affect our health and contribute to our stress levels. Make sure you get 7-8 hours of sleep.
  2. Rise early. Getting up 30 minutes before your regular time could help you get a head start. Use this time to exercise, read the newspaper, or meditate. A calm start to the day is always better than a rushed morning!
  3. Write lists. Lists can be lifesavers and take less than five minutes of your time. At the end of the day, write down what you need to do on priority for the next day. It makes the mountain of chores seem more manageable.
  4. Make a weekly menu. Deciding in advance what’s going to be cooked for every meal saves you last-minute decision-making time. Use a spreadsheet to plan meals and use the weekend to load the refrigerator with the necessary ingredients. If you have help with the cooking, you can have every meal cooked fresh. If not, consider cooking in batches and freezing portion sizes of generic things like daal, masala base for curries, dough for parathas or marinated meat. Also always have chutney, boiled potatoes, and idli/dosa attain your refrigerator to make a quick meal at a moment’s notice.
  5. Consciously multitask. We already multitask without thinking much about it. We tend to do this without planning and therefore end up being rather inefficient. If we consciously plan tasks that need to be managed simultaneously, it will be easier to get things done in a  minimum amount of time.
  6. Make the most of the weekend. Weekends are for you to relax and unwind from the stress of the week. Use this time to socialize with friends and family, but make some time to plan the week ahead. Schedule priority tasks for the weekend along with some downtime for yourself.
  7. Go online. Ordering groceries and home essentials online can save you a considerable amount of time. These services also allow you to compare prices of various brands without having to manoeuvre unwieldy shopping carts down crowded aisles. Also, shopping online with a list can be done anytime — during your commute, early morning or during your lunch break. What’s more, you can schedule home deliveries as per your convenience.
  8. Use technology to your advantage. Set reminders on your phone. Make task lists, grocery lists. Many apps will also help you plan meals, source recipes and plan nutrition needs for your family.
  9. Demarcate household chores. When you’re juggling work and home, ask for help. Your spouse and children should be allocated chores as equitably as possible. If your kids are young, they can start doing things to their level of ability e.g. helping set the table, helping make the bed or the light dusting.
  10. Learn to prioritize. Be clear as to what needs to be done immediately and what could wait. You’ll relieve yourself of a lot of unwarranted stress. Not everything is on fire, and you can schedule your day and week in a manner that you aren’t juggling too many balls in the air. Focus on the task at hand and move on to the next task once you’re done with it.
  11.  Delegate. There is no point in stretching yourself thin trying to do everything. One of the secrets to staying sane is to delegate and outsource as much as possible, whether at home or at work.
  12. Carve out some ‘me’ time. If you are constantly on a treadmill of tasks, you might find yourself being taken over by stress and resentment. To steer clear of this, do something every day that helps you unwind. It could be something as simple as reading or a yoga class or half an hour of meditation.
  13. Set clear boundaries. Home responsibilities are distinct from work responsibilities. When you step out of office, try to leave office work behind. And when you leave home, clear your mind of domestic chores until you’re back.
  14. Set daily and weekly goals. Having your goals listed out makes them attainable. It could be a quarterly spring cleaning at home or getting the weekly laundry done. Ticking things off a list is a good way to tackle a mountain of tasks.
  15. Schedule high priority, intense work for early mornings. There’s less distraction, energy levels are high and you can focus without any possibility of being interrupted. So if there is a report or a presentation to be made, get down to it first thing in the morning.
  16. Split your day. If you have flexible working hours, divide your work into manageable chunks. That way you work intensely in the first half, and leave some routine work for after dinner. Figure out what works best for you.
  17. Network strategically. It is important to be seen and heard professionally. However, you don’t have to be everywhere. Choose personal, individual interactions over huge events where you could be lost in a crowd.
  18. Cut down TV. Instead, use the hours you’ve freed up to read a book, watch an interesting talk. Alternatively, set limited time aside to watch a show. Avoid binge watching shows.
  19. Make correct estimates of how long anything will take. Whether it is a commute, a presentation or a meal to be cooked — try and get the closest time estimate of how long the task will take. This is crucial if you want to plan your time efficiently and if you want to stick to the schedule.
  20. And finally, reevaluate your schedule every few months. If something is not working for you, drop it, change it, or alter how you approach it. Being flexible about how you manage work and home is the key to staying on top of it.

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