We know that being a single parent and having to juggle many demands on your time is extremely difficult. Believe it or not, learning how to manage time and organise your day efficiently could save you hours (some of which we insist you use on yourself)!
Here are our tips to help you maximise your time as a single parent, and make your life easier:
Make a To-do List
Sometimes you may feel as though you spend hours doing important chores, yet at the end of the day you have nothing to show for it. Having a to-do list will allow you to see which tasks you’ve completed and which ones you haven’t. As you go through the day, tick off the tasks that are getting done then give yourself a pat on the back. Of course writing it all down also helps to ensure that you don’t forget anything!
Having made your to-do list (above), you need to have two columns, one for urgent tasks, and the other for jobs that are less time-sensitive. This will help you get through your tasks in the right order. It also means that if you do for whatever reason run out of time you’ll have the essential tasks covered.
Plan your Time
Once you have a list and know which bits need to be done first try allocating an amount of time for each task. This works brilliantly for some people and not for others, however, is worth trying a few times. By scheduling your time you create an urgency which can be quite motivating (and it allows you to be realistic about how much you can actually fit into the time you have).
Take a Break – When you’re extremely busy taking a break may seem like the last thing you should do, however, a short break will give your brain time to catch up with everything. A fifteen-minute brisk walk will also help to dust off the cobwebs and you’ll feel refreshed and be more productive!
Allow Time for Yourself – When you’re writing up your to-do list, don’t forget to factor in time for yourself. We’ve all heard the proverb, “All work and no play makes …. [fill in your name here]a dull …”, and it’s true. You can’t go on living life as a busy single parent, doing everything for everybody else and leaving no time for yourself.
Switch Off Social Media and Stop Answering Calls and Texts
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media channels are all fabulous time eaters. A quick “I’ll just reply to that” ends up as a 45-minute browsing session which includes sharing pictures of dancing dogs, posting a picture of your lunch and getting pretty much nothing important done (not that dancing dogs aren’t important).
When it is work time or you have something you need to be doing switch off social media, leave texts unanswered until later and if the phone rings check caller ID before deciding if it is likely to be urgent (i.e. school calling).
Instead of allowing interruptions to disrupt your day and your productivity, schedule them in. If for example, social media is your main form of procrastination schedule in 15 mins here and there as part of your day to check updates and catch up before getting back to it. There’s no need to go cold turkey, just set an alarm so you know your 15 minutes of distraction is up and you have to get back to work/ doing what needs doing.
Diarise and Carry a Schedule
Having your schedule on you all of the time will mean that you’re able to add in things that pop up throughout the day or week and you won’t feel so overwhelmed. Keep a notepad or diary to hand (or one of the many apps) so that you can keep a note of everything you arrange whilst on the go.
Is every weekend packed with plans for meeting up with friends or family? Try to give yourself a “one-week-on/one-week-off” system, so that you can allocate extra time to yourself and to getting things done.
Rise and Shine – What time are you getting up? Statistically, those who rise early not only get more done but are also more successful, because their productivity levels increase. Waking up a little earlier than your children will allow you to get those extra bits done and dusted. It’s amazing how much you can get done in that extra quiet half hour or hour. Make sure you adjust your bedtime to fit in with your new rising routine and aim to get seven-to-eight hours’ sleep per night.
Say “No” to Saying “Yes”
It’s easy to fall into the habit of being a people-pleaser, especially if you don’t like to disappoint others. Try to remember that you have a right to prioritise your own needs and learn to say, “No” to demands on your time. If the other person tries to change your mind, be strong. The only way that you’re going to keep on track and get through your to-do list is by learning to say, “No” to tasks that aren’t important to you.
Ever feel like you don’t even have time to think? Having alone and “me time” is extremely important for your physical and emotional well-being which will then have a positive, knock-on effect on your family. This means that there’s no guilt allowed when it comes to taking some me time as everybody benefits when you do.
What Counts as “Me Time”?
It probably goes without saying that “me time” doesn’t involve playing with the children, doing the cooking or the ironing, or trawling through emails to catch up on work. It’s up to you to choose your own definition of “me time” based on your favourite pursuits. Whether you enjoy reading, writing, running or any other sport, it’s important to catch up with yourself and revitalise for the week ahead.
*Just to clarify, Me Time is not enjoying the rare opportunity to go to the toilet alone and uninterrupted, that is something entirely different and magical all of its own.
Becoming a single parent is hard by anybody’s standard and doing it alone may not have been your choice. Managing as a single parent can be a scary prospect but hopefully, you have others around you who care for you and will be there for you no matter what.
Your friends and family are the closest support network that you have. If they understand the circumstances that you’re in they will help no matter what, be it with some babysitting to help you crack on with what you need to do or to enjoy some me time or with other practical help to lighten the load.
As a single parent, you’ll appreciate how valuable time actually is. Once you get to grips with how important time is to you, you start to realise the things that you should be focusing on in life and the things that are most definitely worth forgetting about. Now all you have to do is put these tops tips into practice so that you have time to get everything done, to enjoy some me time and to reduce your stress levels (we’ve been there and we understand).