All about self-management

This week, we interviewed Kathy Peel, an author, speaker and expert on family management, about a topic you might not think is part of managing your home: self-management.


4word: What is self-management and why is it important?

Kathy: Managing everything in your life is really about managing yourself. Aside from your career, there are seven departments of your life that you have to manage: home and property, finances, nutrition, family and friends, special events (like vacations and parties), time and scheduling and, finally, yourself.

And in all honesty, there are things in the other departments that don’t really affect the rest of your life that much – if you let the laundry pile up, for example. But if you don’t take care of yourself and keep sharpening your body and mind and nurturing your spirit and faith, you will eventually crash and burn. Then everything else in your life suffers.

Self-management is really a critical part of family management. It may even be the most important.

4word: So how can busy working moms squeeze in time for self-management?

Kathy: A lot of moms say, “I’m too busy taking care of other people to take care of myself.” And that’s a lie. You can’t give your best to others in your life unless you take time to take care of yourself.

It’s all about priorities. We make many choices every day, and we also make mini choices. It’s those little choices that we make every day that make a difference in our lives. First you make choices; then they make you.

For example, when you get home from work, you have to decide: “Am I going to sit on the couch, eat potato chips and watch TV all evening or am I going to do something to nurture my mind and body?”

4word: How do you squeeze in time for self-management around your job, time with friends and family, time with the Lord, etc.?

Kathy: I use a daily hit list. I look at all seven of my departments and ask, “What can I delete? Do I really need to vacuum every day?” If there’s nothing I can delete, then I ask, “What can I delegate?”

If you’re a busy mom or a single mom and you don’t have anyone to delegate to, try bartering. Let’s say that you’re naturally a good cook, but you’re terrible at organization. You might say to your friend who is great at keeping her house neat but horrible at putting food on the table, “I’ll come over to your place and help you get some meals in the freezer if you’ll come over this weekend to help me organize my closet.”

4word: Wow, that’s a great idea! Any other tips?

Kathy: The whole family manager system is about applying good organizational strategies to your life. It really does reduce stress to have standard operating procedures for your home. For example, we have a seven-minute sprint every night. Seven minutes before bedtime, we set a timer, and everyone rushes around to do one small clean up task like vacuuming one room or taking out the trash. When seven minutes are up, we go to bed, but doing this every night helps us stay on top of things.

4word: You say that creating SOPs (standard operating procedures) helps reduce daily stress. How so?

Kathy: It frees up time in your day when you’re not always reinventing the wheel. You’re not arguing over whose turn it is to do a certain chore. You don’t procrastinate as much because you have a SOP in place that has become routine. As a result, you actually have more free time to do the things that matter most to you—and things that refresh your body, mind and spirit.

4word: For those of our readers who haven’t been making time for self-management, how do you reclaim time in your busy day to take care of yourself?

Kathy: I’m a big believer in capturing five-minute increments to get things accomplished. If you start one task – say cleaning out the fridge – and work on it every time you have a spare five minutes, it will eventually get done. But if you keep putting it off because you don’t have time to sit down and do it all at once, you will never get that fridge cleaned! By working on onerous chores in five-minute snippets of time, you make progress and feel better about taking time for yourself.

I also believe in multi-tasking. There are some things that just don’t require your full attention. Take watching TV. If you’re going to spend time on that, then get something else done too. Fold laundry, brush your pets, pay a few bills, clean out your purse. Do something!

There are a lot of time robbers in our lives. It’s important to remember that when we say yes to something, we’re saying no to something else. Don’t let it be taking care of yourself—because everyone around you suffers if you burn out.

The bottom line: We all have 60 minutes in each hour, 24 hours a day. Time is made up of moments, and the moments are manageable. The moments of our days come with a choice: we each must decide how we will spend them.


If you’d like to continue the conversation with Kathy or learn more about self-management, visit her website,, and click on “learn.” You’ll find several great resources listed there.