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Tackling the time crunch

Kiran Dodeja Smith
Correspondent

Whether you’re 17 or 75, you deserve time for yourself. Sure, you’ve heard that it’s good for you, but the bottom line is that it just makes you feel good. At the end of the day, it really is possible to get it all done and get time for yourself.

Personally speaking, I have four children ages 8 and under. By no means am I an expert, but I’ve learned some lessons along the way that allow me to spend time with my family, work 15 to 20 hours a week, and still get a little bit of “me time” daily.

Planning is priority No. 1. In fact, it’s crucial. Get yourself some type of schedule/planner/online calendar – iCal, Google Calendar, even the old-fashioned Day-Timer will do. But don’t just use it for work appointments; include meals, workouts, dates, etc.

To keep myself on track, I use both a hand-written planner, as well as one that synchs to both my phone and computer. If I make an appointment while out, it immediately goes into my phone and is written down shortly after.

I recently discovered www.plantoeat.com, which has been a lifesaver for both my family and me. Each Sunday I use it to plan our meals for the week; I post the plan on a dry-erase board in the kitchen (no more having to answer “what’s for dinner” eight times a day), and it has streamlined my grocery shopping. (No need to shop five times a week).

Work ahead. Each day, I’m up at least 15 minutes before anyone else in the house. It allows me to get up peacefully, to get breakfast for the family started, and to feel like I’m on top of things. By the time I wake up my school-age kids, I’ve gotten the routine going and am ready to roll. Lunches are always packed the night before; clothes are picked out then, too, and backpacks have been packed. Feeling prepared in the morning makes for a much better start versus running around frantically.

Multitask. I’d venture to say it’d be impossible to get it all done without multitasking. While my first- and third-grader do homework, I prepare dinner and wash dishes in the sink. Use TV time to fold laundry; instead of meeting for lunch, meet a friend for a workout.

How can you do two (or three) things at once?

Be aware and be present. Time is precious and 24-7 technology threatens to take more of it. When it’s work time, minimize your personal email and steer clear of shopping web sites. When it’s family time, forget the iPhone. Distinguish the difference between work time and free time, and live in the moment. (Full disclosure: This is a work-in-progress for me!)

Remember this from organizational expert and best-selling author Jennifer Ford Berry: “life is about balance.”

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