Time Management for Manic Mums (by Allison Mitchell): A review

time management for manic mums

So recently I thought – enough is enough, I’ve been trying to fit things in to my life which it just hasn’t felt like I have the time for, and yet every day I read other people’s blogs and wonder how on earth they manage to do so much, be so creative and juggle so many demands. OK, OK, of course I realise that people portray themselves with a little spin every now and again and we don’t always know the full story of where they find their little oasis of ‘me time’ (with small children – is it having the luxury of paid childcare without having to work too, or is it just children of a certain ‘manageable’ disposition? Is there such a thing?)…

Then I started thinking about being more accepting of my situation after reading this post by Judith over at Secrets of the Sandpit, and wondered if maybe I should get into meditation and ended up buying Mindfulness (for Dummies) (which is quite a shameful thing to admit to!). I haven’t got around to reading much of it yet, however at the same time as wondering about the benefits of cultivating a zen attitude to life (think the motherhood version of Kung Fu Panda and Yoda all rolled into one) , at the other end of the scale I realised that learning some ‘secrets’ of how to live a calmer more ordered life at a moment which could well be described as ‘time-poor’ would not be such a bad thing either, so I also invested in Time Management for Manic Mums by Allison Mitchell.

This one I made time for (it seemed more urgent than learning how to empty my mind somehow although, ironically, meditation is encouraged within this volume) and I have to say it took a bit of wading to get to the good stuff. The author spends a good few chapters asking us to examine our thought patterns in minute detail, even providing lists for us to fill in which confirm that, yes indeed, we are complete idiots who could not organise a piss up in a brewery. She also liberally sprinkles in random ‘Tip!’s which somehow seem a bit surplus to requirement (“Use the speed-dialling function on your phone”). Eventually though, she does provide some good guidance and solutions which include introducing a ‘Daily Diary’ and a ‘Destiny Diary’ into your life with a code for prioritising each item.

There is also a lot of talk of focusing on your goals and thinking positive, affirmative thoughts instead of negative ones. She argues that, whilst people often tend to believe that they are either ‘glass is half full’ or ‘glass is half empty’, anyone can train themselves to live in a more positive frame of mind and therefore, live a happier, more fulfilled life. I have to say that, if this is anything like remembering to do pelvic floor exercises, I’m not starting from the greatest position here with regards thought training – lets just say trampolining has been crossed off my to do list since giving birth…

Anyway I like her idea of making a 14-day meal plan with rolling menus and having a rolling schedule for annual or bi-annual stuff that gets easily forgotten or overlooked. I got a bit caught up in her advice which is clearly aimed at parents with older children but I like the fact that I can come back to this at a later date. I also agree that her idea of ‘living by lists’ is one I am pretty sympatico with – getting stuff out of your head and down on paper (whether it be ‘to do’s’, rants or just diarising [why am I uncomfortable with the way that last word sounds in my head?])  it always feels like a way of moving forwards unburdened by spaghetti brain.

I have to say I found her style at times to be somewhat patronising, it feels like the reader is being treated a bit like a dim kid who needs ‘cute’ metaphorical stories and anecdotes to fully understand what is, essentially, a simple case of writing lists and positive thinking. Focusing on goals, eliminating unneccessary time-wasting, overcoming procrastination and learning to delegate and make ‘use’ of other people’s time feature heavily.

On the whole I like the fact that reading this book has made me immediately sit down and create a list of things that need doing (or which I would like to do/accomplish/achieve) in 2014 – this is probably the right time to be getting one’s head in gear for forward planning a year in advance.

With that said I’m off to organise my Birthday celebration (in August!). So if nothing else thanks for the kick up the a**e Allison Mitchell!

4 thoughts on “Time Management for Manic Mums (by Allison Mitchell): A review

  1. Love the speed dialling tip! if I’d come across that early in the book I think I would have started to feel some trepidation about what I’d picked up.

    Seriously though my time management has been massively improved by two things: children growing up and being able to occupy themselves and not saying “I’m bored” every twenty minutes, making me guiltily drop what I am doing. And a much dampening down of my previous guilt complex where I do much less for other people now.

    For me I am lucky enough mainly just to do things I love and this has much reduced procrastination. I’m lucky that I enjoy work, I enjoy being a school governor and I enjoy writing and am happy to leave it at that.

    Also liked your description of the dim kid! Despite your exasperation I’m glad you found this useful and look forward (in advance) to hearing about the birthday.

  2. Its funny that you should mention doing less for others now because she does also specify letting go of guilt and learning to say no as well as reducing the amount you commit to and commit your children to as well. On the other hand she also suggests ‘outsourcing’ jobs with a ‘helpful’ list including leaving cleaning to a cleaner, gardening to a gardener and childcare to a nanny. Hmmm. think I detect one small flaw in that plan!

  3. Happy New Year! I am a bit like you in that I am a little sceptical of self help books but I think I would probably have read this book in the same way that you have, ie taking from it the useful stuff that you think you might be able to implement and obviously dismissing the naff stuff like speed dialling! Sometimes, these books can give you an idea to do something that you haven’t done before and so that can be a good thing. A friend recently wrote in her blog about her ‘destination station’ where she puts everything that she needs for when she is going out the next day. It may sound simple enough but I never even thought to do stuff like that and I need to as although I think I am organised, it’s quite chaotic organisation! Is it worth me getting it do you think?

    • Its worth you getting it if – as you say – you will use it for its motivational factor alone. The buying of the book feels like a positive first step. I told my mum that it was basically about making lists and positive thinking and she said “I could have told you that”! But the point is, how would she have known that that was advice I needed to hear if I didn’t even know myself?… There are other similar books on the market which may have less twee anecdotes so may be worth shopping around!!
      And Happy New Year to you too!

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