Never Enough Time: Take Control Over Your Calendar and Take Back Your Life and Sanity

Jan 30, 2018

Being a working mom, one of the greatest struggles I’ve had is time. I have always felt that there was never enough time – not enough hours in the day, not enough of me to go around. From the second my alarm woke me in the morning, until the moment that I laid my head on the pillow at night, I felt like I was in a constant race against the clock. I was constantly trying to squeeze as many tasks as possible into as little time as possible. 

In the morning I would get myself ready for work, get my daughters ready for school, make breakfast, try to squeeze in another housework task like laundry or do the dishes; while also checking my phone, and responding to work emails. My morning felt nonstop before the work day even started, and my days and nights were no better.

I am not alone, as this describes the experience of many other working mothers that I know. We spend our days in a state of nonstop motion – going from task to task. We consider ourselves fortunate when we have a moment to ourselves to go to the bathroom. This issue is not unique to working mothers, but working mothers often feel the burden of the “second shift” more profoundly than others.

The issue is that this pace of nonstop tasks, the feeling that you never have enough time, leads to anxiety, stress and potentially burn-out. It is not healthy for you and it is not good for your family.

One of the best ways I found to start to feel like it is you, not your endless “to-do” list that oversees your life, is to take control over your calendar. 

When I taught time management and productivity to executives, one of the most powerful tools is your calendar, as what is scheduled is what gets done. One of the biggest challenges that executives had was if they, or in many cases their administrative assistant, fills their calendar with all day meetings, often back to back. The challenge they had was they were always in meetings and had no time left for strategic thinking or for getting critical work done. Doing the things that were most important and critical often were left to occur after-hours, as the day would get away from them. There are always things that will drain your time if you let it. You need to schedule the time to do the most critical things each day.

This same concept is just as relevant outside of work and is applicable to everyone, not just executives. Managing your calendar is fundamental to taking back control over your life. 

Establish dedicated time in your calendar each day to do the things that are most important to you. 

This should include work tasks and personal tasks. Most of us do a good job at scheduling time for work tasks but don’t apply the same discipline when it comes to our personal lives. You need to carve out dedicated time in your calendar for spending time with your children, spouse, friends, going to the gym, running errands, downtime/quiet time, etc. 

There are several reasons why:

  1. If you have it reserved on your calendar, you are less likely to let other things creep into that time. You wouldn’t be checking your phone or hanging out on Facebook if you had a meeting you needed to attend, yet these items often eat into our personal life.
  2. The human brain works more effectively if it can focus on one type of task at a time. When you think you are multi-tasking, you are in most cases serial-tasking, which is shifting from one task to another in rapid succession. The research has proven that when you shift focus from one task to another, there is a time lag for your brain, even though it may seem instantaneous. Although we like to believe multi-tasking makes us more productive and efficient, it reduces both our productivity and efficiency and acts as an energy drain.
  3. Making decisions, including decisions about what to do next, requires mental energy. The more choices and decisions you must make, the more you fatigue your brain. As your brain becomes fatigued, the quality of your decision-making ability decreases. By using your calendar to organize your day based on your key priorities, you are making a conscious decision about how you want to structure your time, which reduces the strain on your brain.

Again, often what is scheduled is what gets done on a given day. Your calendar can be a great tool to help you carve out the time - on a given day, week or month - to do the things that are most important to you, professionally and personally.

If you want to start to feel a greater sense of control over your life, then an excellent place to start is by actively managing your calendar.

If you enjoyed this post and want to learn more, check out NonstopWomen, dedicated to helping women manage their work and life while maintaining their sanity. Subscribe and get a free copy of my new book, “Career Catalyst: 9 Drivers of Career Success and Fulfillment”. You can also connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

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