Balancing motherhood and working full time means I'm constantly looking for ways to be more efficient with my time. Whether by multitasking or streamlining steps in my daily routine, I'm able to save precious minutes here and there to make room for more moments that matter (time with Sloan and G, time for myself, time to do quality work, time with friends). Here are five small ways I do just that.
1. Closet Capsule.
Every Sunday, I've started going through my closet and picking five core pieces to serve as the foundation for Monday through Friday's looks. I hone in on items I haven't worn in awhile and want to get more use out of, so I don't fall into a rut of wearing the same-old workhorses again and again. It's not about planning full outfits, it's just about highlighting a "capsule weekday wardrobe" so outfit creation isn't a blank slate each morning. Having a set number of items to pull from has completely changed my mornings by eliminating the time-suck of staring into the abyss of my closet without a purpose.
2. Night-Before Oatmeal.
The bottom line is that mornings are too hectic to be slow-cooking anything, and you're up against the finish line of getting out the door. To free up time in the a.m. rush, I've started making a big batch of oatmeal at night that I keep in a glass dish in the fridge, so I can quickly heat up individual servings in the morning with blueberries and brown sugar (bonus - Sloan loves it too). It keeps me full for hours and saves me time all week. Sloan is asleep before 7 p.m. in the evenings, so I can simultaneously let the oatmeal cook while tackling other tasks, and also have more time to play with her in the mornings.
3. Wet Skin Moisturizer
As I wrote about here in my morning routine post, I take speed-demon showers before work because we take a family walk each morning (which is my current workout). By the time I'm actually in the shower, I'm usually low on time and feeling frenzied. I've become obsessed with applying Jergens Wet Skin Moisturizer in the shower right after I've turned it off, because it's formulated to instantly absorb when applied to wet skin. It's so fast and easy and makes my skin addictively soft - it literally glistens afterwards, but without feeling lotiony or sticky. I honestly don't have time to wait for my skin to fully dry before slathering on lotion and further waiting for that to dry before getting dressed, so this has become a life-saver for my mornings. I use the coconut oil version, which smells and makes me feel like I'm on vacation all day.
4. Podcast Prep + Double Duty
I used to have the time to kick back on the couch and just listen to a podcast, or read a book on a lazy weekend. These days, I've made it a practice to pop my headphones in to listen to podcasts or audiobooks when doing tasks around the house, taking walks, commuting to work, or standing in line. It keeps me up to date on current zeitgeist, because I'd otherwise never have the time to listen to the latest Serial, etc. The key is dedicating a sliver of Sunday to researching and downloading a fresh batch of them so I'm always prepared with something new to listen to and time is never wasted.
5. Top Two Trick
I learned this trick from my friend, whose academic advisor taught it to her when she was feeling overwhelmed by the daily demands of medical school. It's to identify the top two most important things necessary to accomplish each day (whether the night before, or the morning of) and put them at the top of your to-do list. Picking just two non-negotiables focuses your day around ensuring those two things get done, no matter what. Of course you'll probably get other things done too (depending on how large and time-consuming your "top two" are on a given day); but it helps guide the course of your day and where you direct your time, minimizing feeling overwhelmed while ensuring you conclude each day with a sense of accomplishment. At the very least, you'll have crossed off those two tasks.