1 LEARN TO ESTIMATE
Knowing how long an activity actually takes as opposed to how long you think it takes is key. So track how long it takes you to get your child to bed as opposed to how long you’d like it to take. You may find you have to start the whole process a bit earlier. And follow the ‘100 per cent rule’: if you’re allocating time to getting groceries, don’t forget the time it takes to empty the boot and put away the groceries once you’ve bought them.
2 MULTI-TASK BETTER
Multi-tasking can be inefficient if employed indiscriminately, but you can do it consciously and carefully. So try, for example, folding your laundry and calling your family on speakerphone at the same time. But don’t leave the room to try to tackle three other things in the same half hour (who, me?).
3 USE UNEXPECTED MOMENTS
What do you do when unexpected time opens up, like when a meeting ends early? See this as ‘found’ time, says Vanderkamp ‘making unorthodox hours more fun.’ Have ideas to hand for time that might appear. Don’t while it away checking your phone – ‘Cleaning out the inbox feels productive, but it isn’t accomplishing much,’ says Vanderkamp. Better options: listen to a favourite song; do some stretches; read a book; fit in a five-minute walk… the list goes on.
This is a lesson I learned myself while trying to balance the competing elements of my life. While budgeting for our wedding, which had to be planned quickly, I questioned which things mattered most and focused on those. Suddenly, I realised what was actually important and everything else fell away. Try thinking of your time in the same way – you only have so much of it. What is it you really want to do?
‘I Know How She Does It: How Successful Women Make the Most of Their Time’ (Penguin, £9.99) by Laura Vanderkam is out now.