Parents: Organise Your To-do List By ‘Time Pockets’

If you’re home with young children and have work to do, I’m sorry. This is hard. There’s no denying that. You’ll have use the “in-between” moments — usually nap times or quiet times — which are never long enough, but alas, they’re what you have available.

The thing is, here’s what usually happens: The moment your kid finally (finally!) falls asleep or is otherwise occupied, you freeze. Time. It’s ticking. What should you with it?! You start weighing your tasks, calculating which is most critical.

Your brain is on overload and so you decide to sit down and rest for a second. It’s all just too much. You pull out your phone and start looking at Instagram. Or the Target sale. And then, before you know it, your kid needs you again and your opportunity to get anything accomplished has passed.

You need to work with your imperfect timeline. You need to organise your to-do list by time pockets. This is something productivity expert Katelyn Patton does, as she explains on her blog:

My kids are 5 ½, 3, & 18 months and only my youngest naps. I do a large majority of my work during my youngest’s second nap because that’s also when my older 2 have quiet time which means distractions are at a minimum.

Outside of that, I mostly work in 10-20 minute pockets throughout the day and then after they’re in bed. It’s important that you use your pockets of time wisely. That means knowing what you’re going to do as soon as you find the pocket. I have a list of 10, 20, & 30+ minute tasks so when I have a pocket of time, I don’t waste it trying to figure out what I need to do.

You can arrange your list just as Patton does, or however it makes sense with your kids’ schedules. In 10 minutes, you might be able to send out a few emails or fill out your expense report. In 20 minutes, perhaps you can outline next month’s budget. If you’ve got a marathon napper who gives you two hours of solitude, gosh, what can’t you do?

One thing I’d suggest, however, is to not get in the habit of only tackling the quick tasks on your to-do lists during these small time pockets. Because at the end of the day, when you’re ready to take on some of your bigger, more meaningful projects, you’ll be out of mental fuel. Instead, divide these projects into smaller, more manageable chunks and add them to your list. You can do this at night for the next day.

Then when it’s “go” time, you’re ready to run. We also suggest creating a Sudden Opportunity List for fun things, too. In this frenetic stage of life, every minute counts.


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