How to be efficient with your time if you have a family

In part one of this blog last week I wrote about what I learned from reading 168 Hours: You have more time than you think. Time is our most precious resource. Today, you’ll learn how to optimize time and live a fuller life while juggling work and family.

8) You’re in charge of your schedule. No one is going to give you time for your passion projects—it’s up to you to clear your calendar to make time. You have to give that time to yourself.

But remember, if you have a family, organize a work-life schedule that reflects this.

9) Doing a time track caused me to discover my time sucks. You can download a time tracker from her site,

I already outsource most of the cleaning and use a meal prep service to save time cooking, but housework, household admin, and errands still kill me. These things eat into the time I could be focusing on my family or writing.

Running my household causes opportunity costs in my two careers: as a physician and a writer.

I’ve started to take the boys along for errands after school on Fridays. Normally I’d use the golden hours during the day when they were at school to do my errands. Now I stick them in time out right in the running store when they disobey me about wrestling in stores (why do I feel like only mothers of two young boys would get this?).

10) Flip your schedule to fit your core competency. I am a morning person. By the time the kids get out of school, most of my mental energy has been spent. So having to sit down and do homework with them is like stabbing needles in my eyeball.

Now, that golden hour in the morning I’m with them anyway before they leave for school is when we do a lot of the homework. Win-win: I’m not reaching for patience, am getting quality time in with them, and they get to play more in the afternoons.

11) Shake the weekday schedule up. Treat your children as one of your core competencies—but to do so, you must spend chunks to time with them.

Plan ahead to have a dinner picnic at a park or go to evening hours at a museum. Have a campfire and make s’mores. Go indoor climbing at a gym or attend a ball game.

12) Become a weekend master: think through and plan your leisure time ahead. As in, plan it out as a block ahead of time. She suggested discussing with the family at Sunday dinner what their goal for a leisure activity would be the next week so everyone could have input and look forward to it during the week. Check-in mid-week to cement plans for the weekend.

She also suggested getting input from the family on what they liked about their time away and assigning research/reservations to various family members for future outings.  Consider local festivals, historic sites, church activities, volunteer opportunities, classes in the community or family projects (scrapbooks, tea parties, etc.). Run, swim, hike, or bike/then picnic somewhere you usually wouldn’t have time for during the week. Bring the kids along for this exercise or trade off childcare with the other parent.

“…plan ahead…and fill your leisure time with enough meaningful activities and constructive relaxation that TV doesn’t become the default activity when you don’t know what else to do.”

13) Share your expertise and passion with your kids. If you’re excited about it, chances are they will be to—plus you get to spend time together, whether it be biking or running together or whatever.

14) Each parent should get one night off a week. That way they can take care of themselves, either by joining a sports league, choir, or a girl’s night out, etc. The other parent “dates” the kids and takes them to a movie or the library, park, pool, or whatever.

Adults: take care of your mental health and refill your buckets.


There you have it folks: ways to find more time and live a fuller life. After reading this book, I realize that for the foreseeable future, I need to devout more time to an ongoing writing project. This means I’ll change production of my blog content to every other week. Meanwhile, DH plans to post next week about tax loss harvesting.

Until next week, have a beautiful, purposeful life!

5 thoughts on “How to be efficient with your time if you have a family”

  1. I thought that when I retired from medicine, I would have lots more time to do stuff. That didn’t happen. Even when you have all the time in the world (and you do by the way) you still need to purposely schedule your fun time or it won’t happen. Time slips away whether or not you do anything with it. Choose to make family fun part of your schedule proactively. I like the idea of a Sunday meeting to plan next week’s fun. You probably use this concept already to plan family vacations. Plan your family fun every week with the same enthusiasm you use to plan your family vacations.

    Dr. Cory S. Fawcett
    Prescription for Financial Success

  2. Tracking your time is as life-changing as tracking your expenses. I spent how much on what?! It’s a wake up call, and if you take it as an opportunity to course correct, it’s often just the impetus one needs to pivot.

    Even the concept of treating kids as “Core Competencies” gets my mind spinning with humorous ideas. We ought to invest in parenting CME, whether it’s reading books, developing a unique skill set (stunt kite flying is my personal favorite), and reporting to an accrediting body (“Sorry Dad, looks like you’ve only taken 25 CME credits over the past two years in lieu of the required 50. I’m afraid we’ll have to suspend your license for fatherhood…”)

    I’ve never worked fewer clinical shifts, and never felt busier! Best of all, it’s the good kind of busy, where I am SO EXCITED to hit that next activity that I want to optimize the time available to perform it.

    Appreciate the perspective!


    CD (Catching up belatedly on my favorite bloggers!)

    1. CD, I hear you on the being busy! I am sometimes so excited about what I have scheduled for the next day that I can’t get to sleep because all I want to do is go to sleep ASAP so I can wake up and tackle the next day’s project.

      And lol, I laughed about the parenting CME…if only!

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