As a deployment grinds on, many spouses feel that they have too much to do and not enough time to do it. For many, juggling it all can feel overwhelming. Army National Guard spouse and editor of Military.com Amy Bushatz offered us her top tips for productivity during times of stress.
6 deployment time management hacks to help you be more productive during deployment
Where are you ACTUALLY spending your time?
“The first and most important thing is to do a deep dive and find out where are you spending your time,” Bushatz said.
She recommends keeping a time journal for five to seven consecutive days (including a weekend day) and recording your time in 15-minute increments as a way to analyze how you fill your day. “Be honest with yourself,” she said.
With your time analysis in hand, the next step is to take stock of how you fill your days. Are you wasting time on social media without realizing it? Are you running errands all over town? More importantly, Bushatz recommends asking yourself larger questions about the activities and how they make you feel.
“Can you Marie Kando your life? Did these activities bring you joy?” she asked.
What can you outsource?
So now that you’ve identified the tasks that are adding stress to this deployment, can you outsource things? Bushatz recommends doing a cost-benefit analysis of outsourcing the least enjoyable tasks.
“And remember, outsourcing doesn’t have to cost,” she said. She recommends getting creative such as working with another mom to share carpool. “As military spouses, we aren’t used to asking for help but now is the time to do so,” she said.
Another tip is to think about where you want to spend money and ensure that those funds actually help alleviate stress. For example, do you dread making school lunches? Pick two or three times a week that the kids can buy school lunch. Another tip is to utilize your local CDC and YMCA (many centers offer a deployment discount) as budget-friendly options for childcare or even sharing childcare duties with another spouse.
Be careful what you say yes to.
“Sure, you can walk and chew gum at the same time,” Bushatz said. “But you can’t walk, chew gum, listen to the birds and listen to a podcast.”
The basic point is that there aren’t enough hours in the day to do it all.
Bushatz recommends reframing the concept of trying to do it all.
“The more important question to ask yourself is: ‘What should you be saying yes to?’” she said.
Now that you’ve analyzed your time and outsourced certain tasks, suddenly you now have the power to say yes. Get your work or chores done, and you have time to say yes to that trashy TV show you love to watch that can help you relax during deployment.
There is power in making a schedule.
There are pros and cons to scheduling your time but, according to Bushatz, you won’t know unless you try it. Another popular time management tool is time blocking. Designed to increase productivity, your schedule is blocked out in chunks of time, with hard-stop limits.
“If these tools help you, use them. If they don’t, throw them out,” she said.
Get enough sleep and work when you are best.
According to Bushatz, scheduling seven to eight hours of sleep should be the first thing you plan for your day.
“Not sleeping isn’t sustainable, nor is it laudable. You’ll do more and feel better with the proper amount of sleep. You can’t get anything done unless you start with your sleep.”
Another tip is to do your work when you work best. If you’re a night owl or the proverbial early worm, slot the time that works for you and stick to it.
“No one gets a prize for being a morning person. The prize is for getting through the deployment feeling like you have the time and energy to accomplish the tasks and goals that you need to get done,” Bushatz said.
Incorporate these new habits into your life.
Bushatz mentions Daniel Pink’s book “When” and Laura Vanderkan’s “Off the Clock: Feel Less Busy While Getting More Done” as resources for incorporating effective time management habits into your life.
Lastly, she recommends folding the habits you’ve built during deployment into your daily life when your spouse returns.
“Organize your schedule so you know how to pivot when things change. That’s just a great life hack,” she concluded.
By: Susan Malandrino