Some people say “Never multitask! It makes you LESS efficient!” To that I say, “You’re just not doing it right.”
With planning and executed in an organized way, multitasking gets work done efficiently, leaving you more time for yourself and your family. Here are a few ways that I manage:
- First of all comes the organization. If I know I’m going to have a really busy day, especially with household chores, I write it all down on a daily-planner. But I’m super cheap and don’t want to use a piece of paper every time. So I found an Excel template for a day-planner, printed it out and put it in a heavy-duty sheet protector. I use a dry-erase marker to plan out my day, blocking out time for playing with the kids and fitting work and chores between.
- Now for the multitasking… Every at-home parent knows that the best time to get anything done is while the kids are napping. Period. That’s a no-brainer.
- While waiting for my computer to process or upload something, I’ll take five minutes to get Megan started on some project or play with John. Usually after five minutes they’re done with me and will play on their own for a while. A few minutes of my undivided attention gets me tens of minutes of peaceful work time.
- Have a list of one-handed, non-thinking, quiet tasks that I can do when on the phone with a client who is, shall we say, particularly talkative.
- Megan watches a PBS Kids show every morning. Sometimes she begs me to watch with her. Honestly, I don’t particularly want to. But she’s perfectly happy if I just sit down on the couch next to her with my laptop. I don’t do paid work during that time, but it’s fine for catching up on emails, updating ads or anything personal. It’s also a good time to work on knitting.
- Many SAHMs don’t think they’d have time to do things like baking fresh bread if they had an at-home job. That’s not true at all, you just have to think it through strategically. On my favorite bread recipes I’ve written down how long it takes from start to finish. I take that time and count backwards from when I want the bread to be done. There’s usually two or three 10-15 minute periods of actively working with the dough. With as much as an hour at a time of rising or baking where I can work or do other tasks.
- Some SAHMs considers themselves busy “all day” on laundry day. Not to ridicule them or anything, but I can do laundry AND get six hours of work done WITHOUT neglecting my kids play time. Sure it takes all day, but you’re not actively working on the laundry more than five minutes at a time, then maybe an hour of folding at the end. Start a load and walk away to take care of kids or work. I don’t get a whole lot else done on those days, but, hey, I’m not a maid, my husband is perfectly capable of pushing a vacuum around the house when he gets home!
- When I have time to make a casserole for dinner, I make two and freeze one of them. Wrapped well with foil, with the date and any baking instructions written on the foil. It doesn’t take much more time to double the recipe, and then I have a dinner I feel good about when I don’ t have time to do it. Just remember to put it in the fridge at least a full day before I plan to bake it. Same goes with soups.
I could go on forever about each and every way I cut down my workload. If you find yourself overloaded with work, kids and a household of things to do, take a look at your daily, weekly or monthly tasks. Chances are, a lot of them can be done at the same time. I just have two rules: when I’m playing with the kids, I’m playing with the kids, nothing else. And when I’m on the clock for paid work, I don’t do anything else without clocking-out.