As I am a super busy mama, my answer wasn't "neat and tidy" but I hope you all will enjoy learning of the ways that I manage my time...
A mish-mash of things come to mind as I think of this topic.
Organization and routine are key. Also having proper expectations.
It is easy to keep 'just me' organized. The balancing act comes into play when I have to organize me AND my daughter who experiences Autism and who thrives on things being "just so"....And, when life isn't "just so" (whatever that means in her mind on that day), then my organized (or what is organized to me) world can unravel pretty quickly.
A few things that help us are as follows:
1. I use Cozi to organize schedules of respite providers and caregivers. I use 2 different agencies and I have 7 different respite providers that service our family. Keeping all of their schedule availability and time needed off organized in my mind can be a circus and exhausts me mentally. However, Cozi allows me to color code each one of them, put their specific information in my calendar, set up repeating appointments and also send them email or text reminders a few days/hours in advance of their work schedule! It is awesome!! (Cozi also has other features like To do lists, grocery shopping, meal planning and etc - I mainly use it for the calendar.)
2. If our routine (remember routine is so important to our kids) has to change or we are introducing something new, then we utilize a schedule (see this previous post) for our daughter. Social stories also apply to this scenario.
3. I keep a proper mindset regarding flexibility. I set my own expectations that "nothing is set in stone" and that my daughter is my most important priority. If she can't handle what is required to complete my to do list for the day then that item gets moved to a new day. (example: If I need to pick up a few groceries but the lights and sounds in the store are really bothering her that day, then I don't go- nothing is more important than her comfort)
4. I do A LOT after my daughter goes to bed and before she wakes up. Those are golden hours to me.
5. I multi task as much as I can. I never just watch TV, I'll watch TV while folding laundry or I'll watch TV while paying bills. My husband knows this about me, so if he feels I really need to relax, he takes me to a movie vs renting something to watch at home. I have a really hard time just sitting and doing nothing.
6. PPPPPP - proper prior planning prevents poor performance - This is one of my husband's favorite military acronyms. We lay out our clothes the night before, schedule doctors appointments, schedule days off, I buy or make for birthdays and Christmas way in advance. I think about teacher/therapists Christmas gifts in June, schedule our volunteer work, schedule photo shoots and etc. The one thing we haven't mastered is meal planning- so we are a work in progress.
7. I do believe in taking time for me, but it still usually involves mutli tasking - I read while my nails dry, I read in the bathtub. I compose emails while watching tv, I facebook with my international students while I drink coffee. I even know of one family who keeps a bulletin board of missionary prayer cards pinned on the wall in front of their toilet so even that time is not wasted. (I love that family- they inspire me.)
8. I also confess that my house is the last thing that receives white glove treatment. We LIVE in our house - and it is very small. My front door leads into my living room which is also my family room which is also the tv room which is also the toyroom, which is also the dining room and the laundry folding room. It usually looks like a hurricane hit it. Things are clean, but people are LIVING there. My daughter is exploring her world - and is she ever adventurous! I also admit that it bothers me that this is the first room that everyone sees and that by looking at it, you would never expect that I am as organized as I am. But the bottom line is that I made a CHOICE - a very difficult one for my personality- to remind myself that my daughter will only be young once (and someday I will wish for her toys to be underfoot), and I will be thankful that my husband and I are crowded into the same room (cause many wives wish their husbands would stay for a while) and that folded laundry isnt so bad (it can be put away) and that Love really does grow best in little houses (love that song). My family has shared experiences and bonding and I wouldn't trade it for the world.
9. I will also mention that worrying about what other people think really inhibits time management. I eliminate this somewhat by educating everyone I can about "Kylie world". I prepare lists of how to prepare Kylie foods, how to put her to bed, how to calm her, her favorite toys, her likes/dislikes, things that set her off, phrases that she uses and how they are interpreted. How to administer her meds, favorite activities and toys, emergency contacts and etc. When we have respite providers come I lay out her bedclothes, prepare her bedroom, have her meals planned in advance and etc.
10.) When waiver renewal approaches, it helps if I have been diligent about filing important paperwork the previous three years. Reports from doctor's offices, pay stubs, insurance reports, medication changes, incident reports, therapy reports, growth charts, immunization forms and etc. Looking for all of that on the fly can be a nightmare!!
I'd love to hear tips on how you effectively manage your time!
To read the full series of articles on Time Management that I helped contribute to, click here. There are LOTS of great ideas.
hope some of this helps!