OUR EXPERT:
Vanessa Tan, motivational speaker and founder of life coaching company, Vanessaism Inc, shares her tips on how you can cut down on the time you spend on these activities, to carve out more personal time.

We asked you... What do you spend most of your time doing, outside of work?

1 68% Grocery shopping
Solution: Don’t browse aimlessly. Browsing is the culprit that eats into your time, says Vanessa. A good two hours, too, our reader poll revealed. Cutting down on this makes you a more efficient shopper.

“As a working mother myself, I find it useful to plan the family’s dinner menu from Monday to Friday. I visit the supermarket every Sunday and only pick up what I need for the menu,” she says. Making a detailed groceries list also keeps you focused so you buy only what you need.

2 50% Household chores or ferrying the kids around
Solution: (Household chores) Let go of some things. Accept that you can’t do everything. “Women want to take care of everything on our own,” says Vanessa. “Learn to relinquish control and delegate duties. And acknowledge that it is okay not to do chores every day.”

Solution: (Ferrying children to activities) Share the duties. “If you’re always the one taking your children to and from their activities, get your husband to take over for just one weekend in a month,” suggests Vanessa. This gives you a few hours to unwind and catch up on your own activities.

It also helps to establish a good support network between you and your husband – so you can enjoy your me-time without mummy guilt.

3 39% Family obligations
Solution: Focus on quality time. Weekly visits to parents and in- laws, and family gatherings, can take up a lot of time, especially when you have other errands. Vanessa advises that the best way to manage your time is to limit your visiting hours.

“Stick to a two- or three-hour time frame and focus on quality time – no mobile phones, iPads or other distractions. Your family members will appreciate that you’re making an effort to be present in the moment and spending a meaningful part of your day with them,” says Vanessa.

4 36% Kids’ homework
Solution: Set a time limit. While your kids may have tuition, the tutor won’t be around every day to oversee their work. On days where you have to step in, don’t sit with your child for hours at a time. It can be tiring and frustrating – for you and Junior.

Vanessa proposes: “Agree on a fixed amount of time that you’re going to spend teaching your child, then take shifts with your husband – maybe an hour each for a two- hour stretch.” This will reduce the amount of stress on yourself and your child, and also cut down on your overall time spent.

5 29% Preparing for the next day
Solution: Draw up schedules and lists. Packing school bags, making lunch, preparing outfits, etc. Vanessa suggests creating a systematic weekly family roster. “For instance, if staff meetings are held every Monday morning, keep that in mind when picking out your outfit or your husband’s. You’ll cut down on the time needed to choose outfits the night before.”

Make a list for your kids to use when they pack their schoolbags. Then check to see if they’ve followed the list, instead of doing it for them. This helps them learn to be independent. In time, you’ll be able to trust them to do it themselves.

This article was originally published in Simply Her October 2012.

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