When you’re a mom, it often feels like there’s never enough time in the day. Between juggling household chores, managing appointments, and taking care of your loved ones, finding time for yourself can seem like an impossible task.
It’s easy to fall prey to common mistakes in time management, thinking you’re maximizing your day when, in reality, these missteps could be stealthily sabotaging your schedule.
But what if I told you that there are common time management pitfalls that you could be making that are holding you back from reclaiming your time?
What you thought was good time management might be the reason why you struggle with it.
What seems like diligent planning and organization might not be recommended time management strategies after all.
From trying to multitask to perfectionism, you might be inadvertently adding to your workload instead of easing it.
In this post, I’m going to explore the top 7 time management mistakes you’re making and practical solutions to help you overcome them.
By identifying these pitfalls and implementing effective strategies, you can streamline your days, reduce stress, and create more opportunities for self-care and personal fulfillment.
Learn how to avoid common pitfalls of bad time management and reclaim your time. Ready to start practicing smarter time management?
Let’s get started!
Mistake #1: Not Tackling the Hardest Task First
It’s human nature to avoid the hardest task. In some cases, starting small and working your way up is the best approach. The key is to not avoid the hardest task because it leads to procrastination.
If you are starting with small tasks first but staying consistent, not procrastinating, and seeing progress, then you are on the right track.
On the other hand, if you are cherry-picking the smallest tasks because you want to avoid a task you perceive as too burdensome (but still necessary), then you probably want to ask yourself why.
The vicious cycle of deferring and procrastinating on important tasks will ultimately hinder your productivity.
To overcome this mistake, try adopting an “eat-the-frog” approach. Mark Twain once said, “If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning.”
For many of us, tackling the most challenging task right at the beginning of our day, when we have fresh energy and focus, sets us up for success.
Accomplishing this difficult task will give you momentum and motivation to tackle the rest of your prioritized to-do list with confidence.
Mistake #2: Chasing Shiny Objects
In today’s digital age filled with constant notifications and distractions at our fingertips, it’s easy for you to get sidetracked by multiple distractions. Whether it’s checking social media or responding immediately to every email that pings your inbox, these distractions can eat away at precious time that could be better spent on important tasks.
To minimize distractions, it’s crucial to create a workspace that prevents distractions from happening in the first place. Find a quiet area in your home where you can focus and establish boundaries with your family, letting them know when you need uninterrupted time.
Consider using productivity tools and apps like Freedom that block access to distracting websites or set timers for focused work sessions.
By setting up a dedicated and distraction-free space, you’ll be able to handle interruptions more effectively and stay on track.
Mistake #3: Not Prioritizing
When overwhelmed with an endless to-do list, it’s easy to fall into the trap of spending time on tasks that don’t have a meaningful impact. This mistake leads to wasting precious minutes on activities that don’t align with your goals or bring you closer to achieving what truly matters.
To avoid this mistake, prioritize your tasks based on their importance and urgency. Start by identifying the high-priority items that require immediate attention and focusing your energy there.
The Priority Matrix is a tool every busy mom should familiarize herself with. Learn more about it here.
Learn to say no to non-essential commitments or delegate tasks whenever possible. By consciously allocating your time to activities that align with your values and goals, you’ll make significant progress toward what truly matters in both your personal and professional life.
Mistake #4: Doing Low-Value Work
Ever found yourself drowning in tasks but still feeling like you’ve accomplished nothing by the end of the day?
This is the result of low-value work or ‘busywork’. The tasks that eat up your hours but you don’t make any progress.
The thing is, being busy doesn’t always mean you’re being productive.
There’s a big difference between simply doing stuff and doing the stuff that really matters.
Think about where you’re spending your energy and time. Are you focusing on tasks that truly push you toward finishing a task and/or reaching your goals? If not, it might be time for a rethink.
Reasons why you engage in low-value work
Doing busy work is a habit that’s hard to break. You engage in it because it’s what you’ve always done.
It seems easier because it doesn’t demand much as much mental effort as high-value work does.
But here’s the catch: this low value work only gives you a false sense of accomplishment. Like running on a treadmill, there’s lots of movement, but you’re going nowhere. It’s a deceptive comfort.
How to stop doing low-value work
Recognizing when you’re engaging in low value work takes some self-awareness but is worth it. You will save so much time and energy.
Stop doing low-value work and thrive. Here’s how to avoid wasting your time:
Keep your to-do’s short and prioritized.
Long to-dos don’t work if you don’t have a plan and are trying to accomplish everything in a short period of time. Use a prioritization method of your choice to narrow down what matters.
Set those boundaries!
Are you being asked to do something that doesn’t benefit you? You decide what projects and tasks matter most.
Delegate, automate, or eliminate.
Offload some low-value work to someone else if you can. Automate any mundane tasks to free up valuable time and finally, eliminate tasks that are not urgent, important or help you make progress towards completion.
Mistake #5: Using the Wrong Time Management Tools
In the quest for effective time management, you might have fallen into the trap of using popular tools without considering your specific needs and preferences.
While digital tools may work wonders for some moms, you might find traditional methods better. The key is finding a tool that resonates with you and helps you stay organized without adding unnecessary complexity. Simple and effective are best.
When choosing a time management tool, keep it simple yet powerful. Look for features such as task lists, calendar integration, goal tracking, and reminders. Experiment with different options until you find one that suits your style and enables you to make real progress and achieve tangible results.
Remember, the tool is meant to serve you, not the other way around.
My top recommendations for productivity tools for moms
It’s free, accessible, and easy to use. Alternatively, you can use Microsoft calendar or a physical calendar. Keep in mind that a physical calendar can’t be seen anywhere outside of one place, like your home or in a personal planner. You also can’t make changes that can be seen in real-time, like digital calendars. This is useful if it’s a shared family calendar.
I use this project and task-tracking app to help me keep track of everything I do in a day and review it at the end of the week. It has lots of great features, like Pomodoro sessions, which are very effective ways to chuck your time and allow for much-needed breaks to keep you motivated. It connects to your Google calendar as well.
An effective time and task management tool I’m using that I love is the Todoist app. If organizing tasks is your jam and you want to keep them all in one place, you are going to want to sign up asap. Click here to learn more.
There are plenty of options for their free account, including 5 projects with invitations for up to 5 people per project. Add deadlines, comments, and templates, and set priority level for tasks. There are plenty of integration options with tools you might already be using, for example, Trello, Toggl track, Google Calendar, and more.
A simple to-do list app that offers good personal use tasks. Not as extensive as Todoist, but their free plan will give you everything you need for personal projects that can be shared with your family. Both Todoist and Any.do will help you manage your tasks, it all boils down to your preferences on the design and user-friendliness. Sign up for your free account to get started.
Getting stuff done is hard when there are so many distractions. Moms face multiple distractions a day. Prevent them with the Freedom app by blocking specified websites for a period of time so you can focus without distractions. Save yourself hours every week; try Freedom.
Mistake #6: Neglecting Your Needs
It’s easy to put your own needs on the back burner while tending to the demands of others. However, neglecting self-care is a time management mistake that can have significant consequences for your overall well-being and productivity.
Taking care of yourself is essential for maintaining balance and fueling your ability to show up as the best version of yourself.
Make self-care a non-negotiable part of your schedule.
Schedule regular breaks throughout the day to recharge and engage in activities that bring you joy and relaxation. Whether it’s taking a walk, enjoying a hobby, or simply some quiet moments with a book, prioritize self-care as an integral component of effective time management.
Remember, never neglect your self-care because it will hurt your productivity and progress.
How to take care of yourself when you're busy
1. Set ‘Hydration Alerts’ via your phone or computer to make sure you are drinking adequate water every day.
2. Commit to short bursts of exercise daily. Start small, 10-15 minutes whether it be a walk or other low-impact exercises.
3. Make sleep non-negotiable. Aim for at least 7 hours. Adjust your routine to promote better sleep because your body needs it.
4. Take 5-Minutes calming breaks daily. Exercises like deep breathing, or sitting quietly without noise or distraction will refresh your mind and give your brain a break.
5. Arrange for meal kit delivery. Meal prepping is great if you have time. If you’re overbooked, take some of the load off, and get prepared meals or kits for simple and easy dinners.
Mistake #7: Not Understanding Parkinson's Law
Parkinson’s law, simply put, states that “work expands to fill the time available for its completion.”
This means that if you allow two hours for a task that could be completed in one, it will inevitably stretch to fill those two hours.
It’s easy to fall into the time management trap, and that’s probably why so many people say they work best under time pressure. Because they know if they don’t set a tight deadline, it will drag on and take forever to finish.
Misunderstanding or disregarding this law can lead to wasted time. It’s vital to set realistic and somewhat strict time frames if you tend to take up more time than needed for a task. This prevents procrastination and ensures productivity.
You will maximize your efforts and accomplish more in less time, freeing up moments for activities that are essential to you. Always remember that understanding and effectively applying Parkinson’s law is a powerful strategy in your time management toolkit.
How to get stuff done on time
1. Stop trying to do it all. When you’re juggling work and home life, there will be tradeoffs. Not everything needs to get done right now; focus on your priority projects and tasks.
2. Prioritize like your life depends on it. When you don’t prioritize, your time and energy get sucked up by things that don’t make any meaningful progress. Prioritizing consistently is a strong indicator of effective time management.
3. Use a calendar and set (realistic) deadlines. This one is obvious but an important reminder to have a calendar system.
4. Stick to your own goals. You’d be surprised at how many people chase goals that are not their own. Identify your values and stick to them.
5. Take breaks. Another obvious point, but when was the last time you took a break? By not taking sufficient breaks, you lose even more energy, make unnecessary mistakes, and take longer to complete a task.
Make These Changes Today to Boost Your Productivity Tomorrow
Even the most well-intentioned time management tactics can sometimes lead us astray. By recognizing these top time management mistakes, you can not only reclaim precious hours but also enhance your well-being.
The journey to efficient time management is ongoing, but with the right approach, it’s certainly within reach.
Don’t let these common pitfalls hold you back any longer. Apply the practical solutions I’ve discussed and take the first step towards more efficient and organized days.
If you want more tips tailored specifically for the busy mom on-the-go like you, sign up for my newsletter.
You’ll get weekly tips, ideas, and guides designed to boost your productivity and keep you one step ahead of your busy schedule.
Sign up now and start reclaiming your time and gaining confidence in your journey as a mom.