Thursday, April 17, 2008

Going Frugal: Time Management

I've said this many times in my posts: I seek to not only be frugal with our money (my husband's and mine) but with my time.

This means if there's a potentially great deal out there that will cost me a great deal of time - usually time needed to travel out of my small town to find this great deal - I usually decide to focus my efforts elsewhere.

Between the daily driving I do to take my two oldest children back and forth to their two different schools, to run the necessary errands, and to appointments and meetings, I spend a great deal of time racing against the clock and sitting behind the steering wheel. As this costs me not only time but also gas money, I happily opt out of the endless In Search Of Savings mania. I do well enough saving money at the Kroger, CVS, and Walgreens in my own zipcode.

I also try to be disciplined in my time at home by using a monthly calendar to keep me on track of household chores, blogging, paying bills and financial planning, and carving out some much needed free time for myself or with my husband.

Household chores I organize as Weekly, Bi-Weekly, or Monthly. Weekly Chores include things like cleaning bathrooms, laundry (with three kids, this is a twice a week chore!), vacuuming, dusting (ugh - how I hate this chore; oh, let's be honest, I pretty much hate all housework!), and menu planning. Bi-Weekly Chores include things like washing the windows (three pairs of kiddo hands + two wet doggie noses = smudge city!) and bill paying. Monthly Chores include things like steam cleaning our downstairs carpets (three kids + two dogs + spring mud = mess!), and reviewing the monthly budget.

But here again, I have to be honest all of you: I usually falter on keeping up with this schedule.

Why? Well, there is this thing called LIFE that gets in the way. People get sick. Events and meetings and volunteering at school and church coincide on one week and eat through my and my husband's extra time. Holidays and birthdays and just-because days bring the chance to celebrate with family and friends. Seasons change and bring new sports for the kids and new around-the-house and yard tasks.

No matter how well I try to execute my plan, there is always something that comes up and sets the schedule on it's side. And what I've learned is this: that's perfectly ok. Life in a family, and for me, life as a mother of three children 6, 4, and 2 years old, is filled with all sorts of surprises that require quick thinking, flexibility, and, in the end, a willingness to chose people over tasks.

My ToDo list and schedule are simply tools that help me stay on track; if they become my masters instead, then I've failed to use them wisely.

All that being said, one of my current ToDo's is to create a general schedule for blogging. I'd like to make it easier for visitors here at The New Frugal Mom and over at my personal blog, Writer-Mommy, to keep up with what I'm publishing each week.

This is a work in progress; I'll keep you updated. My question to you is this: is there anything you'd like to see highlighted on a weekly basis here at The New Frugal Mom? Feel free to chime in with a comment.

Thanks for dropping in today and spending some of your valuable time here. I appreciate it!

And if you're struggling for a little help in managing your time as a busy mom, I recommend checking out FlyLady (this is an unpaid endorsement - the truth from me to you). Her methods will spark your imagination and help you in finding what best works for you.

Good luck!


Jennifer said...

Great Post Marianne! And I LOVE the Flylady!! I ahve her timer and don't know what I'd do without it!! You really can get a lot done in only 15 min LOL!!

mamatwoboys said...

I sooo sppeciate your candidness about being frugal with time. I live 30 minutes from a larger town and although I try to be prepared I am guilty of needing a last minute something or other from time to time. There is a small (read more expensive) grocery in my town and I frequent it to buy those last minute items. I feel like my time and gasoline cost trumps the better deal I could get if I drove to the larger town. I sometimes feel guilty but realize that my personal sanity and efficient use of time and resources is important to me and my family.

Marianne Thomas said...

Thanks for commenting ladies; I don't know if it's because I'm getting older (as I tell my daughter, I am currently older than dirt), or because any errands I do run need to work around The Schedule and are run by me with two or three kids - whatever the reason may be, I hate to waste time. Time is the one resource that is completely non-renewable.

My friend Jill pointed me to FlyLady. It's so similar to what I evolved into doing on my own when I had a 21 month old and a newborn. Just tackle a little bit, every day.

And give up on perfect already!

Thanks again for stopping by!

Sarina said...

Hi I would LOVE to get some advice on how you get started in saving money when you haven't done all the prepwork beforehand. I just started a blog about my misadventures and as you can see there a great many pitfalls when you just begin have a goal of being frugal.

Jerry said...

This is an interesting post, because life does lead to things getting in the way, and there is simply no insurance policy that will help people avoid STUFF that happens! When I worked in Germany, I used to work with a gentleman who suggested making A, B, and C plans for the day, so that no matter what life threw at you, you could still be productive in some way. It works pretty well, most of the time!

Robyn said...

Good post. I appreciate your mention of FlyLady because I have been noticing a lot of bloggers that talk about her same tips and habits but not her system, and I always assume they are flybabies in hiding. =)