We’ve all been there – bouncing a baby on your left hip, phone tucked between right ear and shoulder, all while making the dinner. A big crash from the living room, you run to investigate while still bouncing baby and talking on phone; the toddler has managed to break into the ‘good’ china cupboard and pull out the Newbridge cutlery set.
 
Hissing sound back in the kitchen – the milk you were heating for the cheese sauce has boiled over and is not only creating a stink that makes you gag, but is attaching itself to the oven top in a way that you know will take a good week to scrub off.
 
Ah yes, good old multi-tasking; where would us mothers be without it.
 
For years I’ve worn my multi-tasking badge with pride – I’m a women, I can do ten things at the one time. But multi-tasking is fraught with problems such as mistakes, missing important details and of course, stress.  Working on one task at a time is by far more effective, but what busy mother has the luxury of focusing on one task solely?
 
Here are a few tips to help make your time more efficient:
  • Enlist the help of your partner, mother, sister, granny once a week to look after your children. Use this time to focus on a clearly defined list of tasks that need to be done. 
  • Hide the technology. All the gadgets (e.g. smartphones) that are supposed to make life easier, quicker, more accessible are also great time wasters. If you’ve got an important task, don’t quickly check emails or Facebook before starting - you’ll easily squander forty minutes.
  • Do tasks in batches e.g. pay all your bills together in one batch, answer your emails and then log off before moving on to the next task
  • Delegate – especially with your partner. Women tend to be have the attitude it’ll get done properly and quicker if I do it myself, but as a working mother we’ve got to learn how to share the load. 
  • Take short cuts where possible. As working mothers it is so difficult to do everything perfectly. Getting the job done is enough, however it gets done…if you can afford to hire a cleaner for a couple of hours a week, do it. Buy your daughter’s birthday cake instead of making it. Find the shortest path, run it and move on.
Mum-of-two Martina Perry is part of the two-person team running The Working Mother.

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