3 Time-management hacks to reclaim your time: a guide for busy moms

About 8 years ago my brain needed a boost- I get bored fast if I’m doing the same thing- so I decided to get another degree. Because by then I was already a CPA in New York, I got a half tuition scholarship from Baruch College, CUNY.

MBA is a b….

If you know anything about MBA degrees, they’re heavily regulated, so you can rest assured that your degree will be just as good as anyone else’s. And you’ll do just as much work, too. It’s 57 credits, and a presentation for every class and every semester. I used to be afraid of public speaking — and after the first semester in MBA, I no longer cared.

During the first semester, we had to take “Business Communications” course — a 0 credit course, yet still required. Imagine doing something for nothing. That’s what it felt like. Our professor insisted on us calling her Nora, and informed us that a white paper will be required by end of semester.

About 2 months into it, I started writing the white paper and finished it over the weekend. The following week, Nora was giving us guidance and was encouraging us to start early. I said — well, I finished it.

Everyone was speechless, including Nora. She then asked why, how, when and babbled something else, and I simply said (not bragging) that I have a business, a child and no time to waste.

If you want something done, give it to the busy person.

Nora said she’s had a few moms in her classes before, and just realized that moms are the ones who “get sh-t done, fast”. And it’s true. I was a great time manager before MBA — got used to it when I was running 5–6 small business bookkeeping clients and taking 5–6 classes a semester to finish my Bachelor’s by August 2009 (when New York was changing licensing requirements for CPAs).

But the MBA took it to the next level for sure. I learned not only to study on the train, but write in the evenings, yet the hardest was being in tax season while going for the MBA.

Time management hacks that saved me — and can save your sanity, too.

1.  Remove distractions. Gary Keller, the author of “the One Thing” talks about multitasking scientifically proven to not work. You know when a computer has 4 tasks to complete, it does phase 1 of task 1, switches to task 2, phase 1, and so on. Human brain is incapable of doing that.

In fact, when we switch out of a focused task to a distraction (an email, a text, a call), to get back into the same focus you just were, it takes 8 min on average for out brain to recalibrate. Multiply that by the number of emails you get and respond to immediately… and you’ll get the picture.

How to solve this? Well, turn of the sound of email on your computer. Turn off the preview notification. Check email/text after you’ve finished a focused task. This way you’ll accomplish more and will work collectively less.

2. Calibrate your brain forward. Our subconscious is very powerful, probably more powerful than you know. The late Dr. Maxwell Maltz, plastic surgeon for a number of years turned researcher, wrote “Psycho-cybernetics” book, where he talked about the fact that our brain actually doesn’t discern what happened in real life from what the brain thinks happened.

Many coaches talk about this now as if it were their own, but Dr. Maltz was actually the one who researched it. What this means is that if you really really believe in what you want, if you believe that it really happened, your brain will start acting (or pushing you to act) as if it did, and so you will get what you want because your brain thinks you already got it.

Moreover, when you print out or look on your screen your plan for tomorrow, or next week — your brain starts calibrating for those things you need to accomplish, which is amazing! Isn’t it? A lot of the work, maybe even half, is done by your subconscious and that’s powerful. You get to do less. And in less time.

3. Create a structure to your day/week/month. My coach a few years was teaching me about structured week. Doing certain things on certain days. When I started working on mine, I didn’t fully get it. I started planning every hour of my day. Well, that didn’t work much.

I tried leaving an hour for FLEX time, an hour for email checking twice a day. And a few other things. But that didn’t work at all. In fact, I don’t think I stuck to it for a day.

Same Gary Keller (of Keller Williams and the author of “The One Thing”) talks about orienting yourself toward your, let’s say, 5 year goal. Where do you want to be in 5 years? Wrote it down? Okay, now what do you need to accomplish by the end of this year to keep you on track for your 5 year goal?

What do you need to accomplish by the end of this quarter to keep you on track for your 1 year goal, to keep you on track for your 5 year goal. What do you need to accomplish by the end of this month, to keep you on track for the quarter-end goal, to keep you on track for your year-end goal, to keep you on track for your 5 year goal? You get where I’m going, right?

And just like that you create a focus for what you need to accomplish today to keep you on track for the week-end goal. That’s how you get to focus on the priority. That’s how you keep moving toward your goal.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Us, moms, can get that structure thrown out the window easy. Kid gets sick, stays home — voila, you’re not getting anything done. I am here to tell you that it’s OKAY. It’s okay to shift priority for that one day, or that week, just keep your eyes on the prize and you will get there.

Having a plan is always better than not having one. Having a structure is always better than chaos. Your brain is so powerful and, here is a secret by Dr. Maltz, it helps you help yourself.

Bottom line: help your powerful brain make it easier for you. You will save time, do less work and be more productive, and will always be ready to shift as you get a curve ball every now and then.

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