Organized Mammas -Please Share Your Tactics and Tips for Time Management

Updated on March 01, 2016
M.M. asks from Vail, CO
14 answers

I always seem to be 10 minutes late everywhere, all the time. I cannot stand it anymore but I just cannot seem to get everything done despite being late. Organized mammas can you please share your tactics and tips for time management and organizing to avoid clutter?

Thanks in advance

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answers from Springfield on

i combat clutter by tossing things right away (junk mail, news papers, packaging from deliveries, and i don't keep dust collectors sitting out. no chachkies for me.)
i am on time only because ALL my clocks are set 10 minutes fast. so when i think i am going to be late i arrive on time and no one knows that i scrambled and screamed to get there on time. because till i walked in the door i thought i was late.

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answers from Washington DC on

yes! i can do that!
start early. in my case, i get up 4 hours earlier than i need to leave the house. my husband is aghast that it takes me that long, but i'm 56 and know what i need.
that gives me time to drink 2 cups of coffee, noodle around on MP, feed the birds, unload the dishwasher, make the bed, feed the horses, clean the barn, make sure the house critters have what they need for the day, give a flying thought to dinner, take a shower and put on my warpaint.
the plan is also to do a small workout in that time frame. almost never happens.
then as the hour to leave gets closer, i make sure that i check FB several times, update my fitbit info, email my cookie aunt, send a text to my bestie, check in with my kids on various media, check the weather, and watch a few minutes of cupcake wars.
on the way out the door, usually already 5 minutes late, i make sure i've looked at my netflix queue, scooped the litter boxes, and maybe stop to water a plant. because it must be done. right then.
then i race screaming and cursing out the door.
it's a brilliant way to live.
you're welcome.
BTW, this is me now, with just myself to contend with. you should have seen it when i had two little boys thrown into the mix!
:( khairete

6 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I think these are two separate issues.
I'm organized by nature, I hate clutter, I get rid of stuff constantly. I have baskets, bins, hooks, all kinds of systems in place but the main thing here is:
So get rid of things, clothing, toys, paperwork, whatever is taking over your space. Chances are you don't need half of it.
As far as being on time? Well that's easy, just plan to be 15 minutes early where ever you go. That way when you are running late you are still on time.
I assume you've had a job, right? You had to get THERE on time every day, and your kids must get to school on time, so apply the same principles.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

Always make your deadline a sufficient time before the real deadline. If you are late you are still early. The biggest mistake people make is it takes me ten minutes to get to the mall, then there is an accident, or the cat threw up as you walked out the door, or mom calls, or you forgot your glasses. Now you are late.

So if you are always ten minutes late then you need to focus on leaving ten minutes earlier.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Toledo on

I think you're really asking two different questions. How do you get places on time, and how do you avoid clutter. I really stink at handling clutter, so I'll just talk about getting to places on time.

You have to be realistic about how long it will take to get there. If it takes 10 minutes to get to the school, don't think, ok I can leave the house at 10 till. Rather, make sure you are pulling out of the driveway more than 10 (or 15) minutes before you need to be there. Walking out of the house, getting to the car, getting everything and everyone settled in the car and actually pulling out of the driveway all take time. You might even need to consider how long it will take to park and get everyone inside.

If you try that and still find yourself running late, pad the numbers. If you think it should take 10 minutes, tell yourself it will take 20 and plan on that. Most people who are perpetually late are just not being realistic about how long things take.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

What's slowing you down? Are you trying to do one or two more things before you leave the house? "Gee, I have 5 minutes, so I'll fold the laundry"?? Stop doing that! You don't have the time you think you have. My husband sets his watch 5 minutes fast and has for 30 years.

Are you waiting on other people? Stop that! Put the kids in the car in pajamas if they aren't ready, or throw a coat on top of them instead of waiting for them to put their arms in the sleeves and zip it up. If they're cold, they'll cooperate the next time. No one ever got sick from getting in a car without a coat zipped up. Have a boot tray for shoes. Even the littlest kids can match shoes and socks and put them in the tray by the door.

Are you looking for stuff at the last minute? Have a basket by the door with your stuff - and perhaps a hook or basket or bin for each kid. Put stuff in ahead of time. If kids are old enough, make them responsible for their own stuff, and stop micromanaging them.

Finally, give up the idea of "getting everything done." Cut stuff off the list that's just what people expect but not what people really need. Delegate more to others in the family. If they go without, even once, they won't forget the next time.

Make lunches the night before, make kids in charge of putting their own snacks in the lunchbox - if they forget, oh well, they will survive. Don't listen to the protests and the whining. Your mantra is, "How unfortunately for you. Maybe tonight you will plan better." Every kid in school gets a folder for homework, permission slips, notes to the teacher. One place, one folder. Prepping it the night before is what they do before watching TV or having any screen time.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

One calendar with everything I use outlook, so it's on my computer and phone, and give me a reminder 30 minutes before each event. DH and I use the 'invite' function on the calendar, so I put all the kid stuff on both our calendars simultaneously, so we both always have everything with us. And he 'invited' me to anything work-related that he has that falls outside his normal 8-4 work day. Everyone has a different color on the calendar. At the end of each week, I can also print the upcoming week and put it on the fridge.

When I say everything, I mean _everything_ goes on it. Sports, Dr appointments, all my work stuff, family birthdays (recurring annual events so I don't have to keep up with them) and even things that need to be done periodically. For example, our bathroom shower gets sealed once a year. We just did it last weekend, so I will put it on my calendar for a Saturday in February 2017. When the time comes, I might have to move it, but we won't totally forget to do it.

I have no answer for school paperwork clutter. I try to pitch all but the most adorable of school projects, but it still takes over.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

Figure out what MUST be done - everything else gets dropped off your list.
If you're always 10 min late - start leaving 20 min early.
If I'm going someplace I've never been before I always leave me some 'getting lost' time.
I'm always early unless there's a car accident in front of me and I always have a book with me to read and relax a few minutes before events begin.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Figure out systems that work for you. In my house we bring in the mail, open and sort right away. Junk or unneeded mail it tossed into the fireplace. The rest (which is usually a piece or two) is put in a spot on the counter. Outdoor coats and hung on hooks in the hallway so they never end up anywhere else. Shoes, boots, etc are put in storage cubbies in the entry way.

When the kids were little and going to school everything was done the night before so that in the morning they didn't have to search for anything. Clothes layed out, backpacks packed with everything and lunches in the fridge just waiting to be plopped in the lunch boxes.

For myself I always picked out my clothes on the weekend and hung full outfits together so that I just had to grab and dress instead of deciding anything. I also did all the cooking on the weekend so during the week the main dish just had to be reheated while I threw together the sides in a half hour.

Time management is really being realistic about how long something takes to get done vs how long you think it does.

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answers from Miami on

Ditto what Ziggy says about this being 2 different issues. But I'll bet the clutter interferes with you being able to concentrate, so even though they are 2 different issues, one affects the other.

If I were you, I'd pencil in some time in your busy schedule to do what I recommended to JB in her question about how to declutter:

About being late. Well, what is it that holds you up THE MOST? Deal with that first! If it's the kids who won't get dressed on time, according to how old they are, put them in the car howling in their pajamas and make them go to school like that ONCE. They won't do it again! Or make them sleep in their clothes and go to school looking like they slept in them.

Are your kids older and are you trying to do all the work? Make them responsible for something. Add onto their responsibilities as they start to manage. Carrot and stick approach, mama. They won't just help out of the goodness of their hearts if you haven't taught them from little on up. I have a feeling you do everything and that doesn't teach your child how to manage "life".

Like you are being told here, "pad" the time to have to leave. Also, have everything ready for the morning. The kids clothes laid out the night before. Backpacks done the night before WITH the kids helping. Sit them beside the door. Lunches made and in the packs sitting in the frig opened up. Just gotta grab them, zip them up and go. Coats laying on backpacks.

And your stuff. ALL the night before. Lay out what you're going to wear as soon as you get your kids in the bed. Have your purse, briefcase, lunch, whatever, totally prepared and ready to take out that door along with your kids. If there are things that could be put in the car (garage?), do that. A checklist on the frig, if you need it, might make a big difference in helping you the night before as well.

I did ALL of this when I had to drop kids to daycare and get to work. I got it down to a science. Yes, there were times that the kids had something go on with them that would run me late. Usually that meant that they had to eat breakfast muffins in the car instead of getting to eat regular breakfast at the table. So what. I got to work on time and they ate. I had healthy muffins in the freezer for JUST that. (Stick them in the microwave.)

Anyway, you need a rounded approach, which all these suggestions provide for. Hope you'll use them!

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answers from Santa Fe on

I plan on leaving early for everything. I often am the early one there, but I don't care. I just will wait. I am guessing you are not good at keeping track of your time vs. the amount of things you need to get done. Make a list of everything you have to do in the morning before you have to go. Start off by writing out a schedule and following it...just for you to see how long it takes you to do things. You may notice when you make the schedule that you will need to wake up earlier in order to get everything done. Or you may need to get a certain number of these things done the night before. Mornings for example...I will lay out clothes for the day for myself and one of my kids. Backpacks will be all ready the night before. Sometimes lunches or part of the lunches will be made the night before. I know I need to wake up an hour and a half before my kids in order to get ready. I know how long it takes to make lunch boxes and get backpacks ready. I know how long it takes to feed kids and myself. I know how long it takes for the kids to get ready, hair done, teeth brushed, etc. So I know what time to wake them up. How much time do you give yourself in the morning? For example if we leave at 8:30am, I know I have to wake up at 6am because I know I am slow at first and need to sit and drink coffee to wake up. I always plan on leaving the house by a certain time because then we get to the school 15 minutes before the first bell. So if we are running late we still get there on time. I know when I say, kids, time to get in the car, that they are slow and forget things so I say it to them 10 minutes before we really need to go. If we are early, so what, we just sit in the car 10 minutes before they get out and walk into school. For someone who is chronically late you should plan on leaving much earlier than you do. Plan on being early. As for avoiding clutter...that is a whole different topic! Avoid owning too much stuff. Get rid of stuff as soon as you do not need it. Put stuff away immediately. Have a place for everything. Pick up as you go.

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answers from Los Angeles on

My rule, allow a full hour of prep no matter what. If i want to leave the house for work at 7:00, I wake up at 6:00. Even if my lunch is packed, outfit is chosen, and I *really* could get ready in 30. I want Dinner at 6:00? I start making it at 5:00 even though it's a 30 minute meal. There are inevitable distractions and disruptions. It always takes an hour. I want to take the 3 kids to church at 9:00? We start getting dressed and ready at 8:00.
Bottom line, it's never too early to start getting ready to leave the house. And, like the oxygen mask thing, always get yourself ready first. Your kids will be cut more slack for looking disheveled upon arrival than you will.

Always keep bags packed. the baby bag stays ready to go for next time with diapers and pantry snacks stocked in it. As soon as I wash the ballet leotards/tights they go right back in the dance bag to take to out the door Tuesday mornings. Some of our random toys are stored in backpacks or bag in case we ever have to go somewhere boring that's what we grab to take. Cell and keys are stored in purse or at least next to it. It's never too early to pack a bag.

On to Clutter:
Places for everything and everything in it's place, try to get everyone in the house on *your* system.

Immediately process anything that comes in the house: mail, backpacks, lunchbags, whatever's been purchased on errands, etc.

I divide my house into 2 staging areas (in my mind)- primary and secondary. primary area is the main living area downstairs- front room, dining, kitchen. Those rooms are my focus on staying clutter free. Secondary area is the two bedrooms downstairs and the upstairs. So if I bring stuff in the house, even if it doesn't get put away, it at least goes to the secondary staging area right away. My babysitter is not really onto my system (refer to #1, ha!) so as soon as I get home from work I tidy up my primary areas immediately and get all the clutter back to the secondary areas to be dealt with later.

I also never leave a room empty-handed. If I come in from car I have an armful of trash, purse, papers, whatever with me. If I go upstairs I am taking a pair of shoes, toy, bill-to-pay with me.

This goes without saying probably but you should have lots of various receptacles for things- bins and baskets for toys, baskets for mail/papers, small bowls or whatever for keys, loose change, buttons, lego men, beads, all the weird stuff that floats around.

Don't be afraid to throw away upon immediate receipt of something, homework your kid brings home- one look and in the trash. "oh what's this catalog, maybe I want to look at it later..." NOPE, in the trash. "Whats this cheap plastic spinner toy, does it go with anything...?" NOPE trash. Trash is your friend. I have never (OK very rarely) wished I DIDN'T throw something away later.

Hope this helps!

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answers from New York on

To avoid clutter we regularly purge. We keep our decor to a minimum and we keep our horizontal surfaces clear. We use a robot vaccine and mop which means we save time and keep our floors clean.

F. B.

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answers from Phoenix on

I can’t stand to be late! I am almost always one of the first people there. My husband, however, is always pushing it and it stresses me out! For example, when he knows we are leaving for church, he’s quickly doing stuff…that doesn’t need to be done! So now I’m always saying, “that isn’t a priority right now, getting to church on time is a priority.” Only then will he stop. He is a turbo and if something needs to be done he will do it…even if he should be doing something more important at that moment.

So you need to figure out your priorities. If you need to leave for church no later than 10:30 then you don’t start to respond to an email at 10:28. Or decide to take out the trash, or unload the dishwasher, or feed the dog, or mow the lawn, etc. You don’t start something that you KNOW will put you past the time you need to leave.

As far as clutter goes, see my long comment on the other question about downsizing the house. “Own less stuff. Enjoy more freedom. It really is that simple.” I just posted this on FB today. Get rid of EVERYTHING you don’t love and need. All the “extra” stuff and make sure the things you keep have a place and put it back there when you are done with it. I’m not quite at that place perfectly but I have downsized a tremendous amount. And even with the stuff I have left, it’s so much easier and nicer! Even the kids can “feel” the difference. And what’s interesting is now when I go to my mom’s house (who is basically an organized hoarder) I am totally stressed out. She has so much stuff everywhere I don’t feel comfortable there anymore. I can “feel” the difference between having clutter everywhere and having some clutter but on the way to very little clutter.

It’s a process. Just start looking at what you have and get rid of it. Throw it in a box or bag and donate it to immediately be done with it. Google “living simply” and read some articles. They are life changing. Good luck!

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