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“If only I had more time!” seems to be the cry of many busy moms today. Our days seem to fill up, speed up, and pass us by before we are really able to accomplish what we had planned, or to spend as much quality time with our families as we had hoped! I am writing this article on what happens to be an “extra” day….the rare and fabulous February 29th!

I started to get excited about the concept of an extra day and wanted to share my thoughts with other moms.

Leap year only comes around every four years, but what if we could actually have an extra day not every year, but every week? If we could free up two to three hours every day, that would easily feel like an entire extra day. (To do the math conservatively, even just two extra hours Monday through Friday would give you an extra ten hours a a week….sounds luxurious doesn't it?)

What would you do with an extra three hours a day? Does that seem impossible? I've spent hundreds of hours studying time management over the last few years because I struggled personally with the “never enough time” syndrome. I've researched and tried many different solutions and discovered what really works in my own life and I'd like to share some favorites with you.

Three simple ways for busy moms to find as much as three extra hours a day:

1. PLANNING

Brian Tracy, productivity expert, states that for every minute you spend planning, you save 10 minutes. How about that for a return on your investment? Just taking 10 minutes could save you 100 minutes! We may say, “I just can't take the time to plan”, but perhaps we are actually “too busy NOT to plan” (I am taking that phrase from a wonderful book, “Too Busy not to Pray” by Bill Hybels. As an important side note, my planning does include inviting God into my day. Things seem to go more smoothly when I pray and I am more likely to stay calm and focused when I stay connected spiritually!)

I invite you to think about when and how you could make the investment in time to plan. How could planning help you “find” more time in your day?

2. DELEGATING

As busy moms, we have many roles and responsibilities and sometimes we are guilty of doing too much without asking for or receiving help. We may have a difficult time giving up control if we worry that other people will not complete the job as well. I invite you to consider if your husband, kids, or other household members could do more if you asked them? This may involve letting go of some of our expectations, but often family members like to be asked. I also believe kids benefit tremendously from age-appropriate responsibilities around the house. We are doing them a disservice if we don't let them practice various chores and to develop confidence in new abilities. Your young child may not do an amazing job vacuuming, but can it be “good enough?” (yes, this strategy may take a little extra time in the beginning, but over time it is worth it!)

Hiring help for various tasks is another option. If you are a working mom, it is helpful to consider how much your time is worth when you are involved in your “money-making” activities. You can then decide if it would be worth it to pay a neighbor teen to cut your grass, or for a housekeeper, or to pay for help in your business. If money is tight, I encourage you to accept help when it is offered or be creative. For example, if your children are young, invite a favorite older child to be a “mother's helper” and keep the kids entertained while you focus on getting a task done without interruptions.

How could you delegate more and how much time could that free up?

3. SINGLE TASKING (and “chunking” our activities”)

We may think of ourselves as master multi-taskers. We may even take pride in our “juggling” skills! However, research shows that we are really not as effective when we try to do multiple things at once. Now, this doesn't include mindless, “background” activities (I'm a fan of folding laundry while I watch a show I've DVR-ed on TV!), but have you ever tried to answer your child's question while you are trying to type an email? I'll keep this brief, but I'm sure we can all come up with examples of how we aren't doing a task as well or being fully connected with another when we try to do more than one thing at the same time!

Dave Crenshaw, author of the book, “The Myth of Multi-Tasking” says that we actually engage in “switchtasking”. We waste time when we have to shift gears and try to get back into the initial task. He argues that we easily double our productivity when we “batch” or “chunk” our tasks together…to stay focused on one thing until it is completed. For example, turn your alert off on your email and only check it at regular times. Or I've set the timer and told my kids…when I am done emptying the dishwasher (and now I have them help me!), then I can give them my full attention for the next activity. When are you guilty of trying to multitask? Which activities deserve your full attention, so they can be done more effectively and efficiently?

Ultimately, for many of us, we want more quality time with our family. When we can take the personal steps necessary to find more time in our day, we can be more present and available for our loved ones. So, go ahead! Plan, delegate and single task so you can look your loved ones in the eyes, give them your full attention, and enjoy the moments you create together!

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