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Organize and prioritize: Effective time management tips for the rushed parent

Venkatesh Varadachary Venkatesh Varadachary 3 Mins Read

Venkatesh Varadachary Venkatesh Varadachary


If you are one of those parents, who is always strapped for time or finds it difficult to efficiently manage work and home, don't fret. Here are some valuable tips to get you sorted

Organize and prioritize: Effective time management tips for the rushed parent

Do you wait for the weekend, even when it's just Monday? Do you feel constantly rushed? Do you feel that your life has been reduced to solving problems one after another? Then, it is likely that you are not managing your time efficiently.

If you feel that you are the only one facing such time challenges, you are wrong. Yet, you wonder how so many other parents manage to balance family life and a successful career, while the rest of us move from one crisis to another. All you have to do is start managing your time properly.

Quality time

Increasingly, we now have many dual-income families where both the parents work. The challenges for such families are manifold. On the one hand, they have to turn in a minimum level of performance at the workplace to have a good career. On the home front, they need to spend quality time with their kid(s).

One of the great paradoxes of our time is that we are living together and at the same time we are so alone. One of my friends who was affected by the Chennai floods a couple of years ago mentioned that there was a silver lining to the whole catastrophe. Because there was no electricity and Internet, the family finally got down to sitting together and talking, and finally getting to know each other!

Sort out your priorities

Using time efficiently requires you to prioritise and make time for important activities. This way you spend time on things you like doing more.

Managing time properly means acknowledging that there are more things to do than you have time for. So, you have to give importance to certain activities and make sure you actually do them. If this means that you cannot do other relatively less important but enjoyable activities, then so be it.

Classify activities

After prioritizing activities, it is important to classify them as 'Important and urgent', 'Important but not urgent', 'Urgent but not important,' and 'Not urgent or important'. This time management framework was given by the late Stephen Covey in his book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, and has changed the lives of millions of people in a good way.

Effective people focus on activities that are important. When you systematically channelize your time on these activities, you are tackling them before they become urgent. However, most of us spend our time from one urgent activity to another, without really getting to the important activities at all.

Like the story about filling a jar with large stones first, then the smaller stones, and then with sand, we need to allocate time to the really important activities first. How do you do that? By scheduling them! For example, it is a good idea to have at least one meal together, so that the entire family can bond and discuss how their day was.

With the Covey framework in mind, here are a few things that you can do to manage your time:

  • Schedule and make time for the most important things, like family time. Make these non-negotiable
  • Stay organized to avoid spending time on searching things you misplaced. As far as possible, prepare the night before for your next day at work/school, so that your mornings are relaxed.
  • Limit screen time for the whole family, not just for the children. Most of us are spending way too much time on our devices rather than spending time with our families. Spend the time with real people who matter.
  • Plan your week ahead every weekend. Swimming classes, guitar classes, babysitting sessions - all of these can be rescheduled as long as you respect other people's time and do it well in advance.
  • Have a common calendar for all your family members. This is very important, as you need to have everyone in the family rowing in the same direction.
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