This is the life of an anxious, busy mother who just can’t seem to find a way off the merry-go-round of her long list of “things a mother needs to do in a day.”
All of these physical feelings are the symptoms of the more emotional side: Overwhelmed. Resentful. Tired. Alone.
But the real problem isn’t even fitting all of this in. The real problem is that we want to be more than just the sum of our family errands and chores and work deadlines. We don’t want to be all work and no play.
We want to live. We want to be present. We want to do what makes us feel happy and joyful. We want to feel like we’re alive. We want to have fun on our weekends.
Here’s the thing, though: all those things we want to do to live a good life — those things that make us come alive — are possible. We can fit them in. Maybe not all at once or right now this second, but we can over time.
An intentional life and being more productive just requires a new mindset and some key strategies.
The Dark Universe of Lost Time
Moms are such high performers.
We do so much. Physically. Emotionally. Mentally.
All that output tends to be on intangible things and moments — in-between moments.
The time spent waiting for the shoes and the coat to be put on.
The time spent driving in between one place and another.
The time spent standing by for the bath or shower to be done.
The time spent stirring the dinner on the stove.
And then there’s the Dark Universe of Lost Time spent worrying, stressing, fearing, and researching what to do about today’s top family issue. A clogged sink. A lost gym shoe. A missing set of car keys. Tonight’s dinner not thawed.
When you factor in everything that you and your brain do in a day, you might finally start to feel proud of all of your accomplishments.
Time management of running a house, a life and a family is like trying to fit a teenager into a onesie — an impossible squeeze that sounds ridiculous.
Earlier this year I began hosting live Abundant Mama monthly planning sessions in my alumni program for the Abundant Mama Way. We get out our planners, calendars, to-do lists and all that jazz and we ask a lot of really deep questions about living intentionally for the month. What I’ve learned from working with busy mamas on planning is that many feel like they either get it or they do not.
We can all learn how to manage our time better. But, just like living intentionally takes hard work, so does creating a peaceful family through an intentional planning system.
Today I’m sharing 3 Strategies for Being More Productive at Home that I use personally, for my business and in my family wellness coaching sessions with Abundant Mamas:
The Power of One Thing
When I wrote my book Savoring Slow, my intention was to really help modern moms understand that we’re always going to be busy but we don’t always have to FEEL busy.
One of my favorite exercises in the book is about turning a crazy long list of to-dos into just one thing at a time.
And just one thing can easily be done but it’s really, really hard.
(Just how many applications or windows do you have open on your device right now?)
The power of one thing is constantly being sabotaged. We go to the kitchen to grab a trash bag, see the dishes in the dirty sink and start to wash them only to remember that the laundry needs to be put over into the dryer and so we rush to do that and see a toy on the floor that we’ll quickly put away and get sidetracked in helping a child find a lost Lego piece.
Or is that just at my house?
The Power of ONE means that when you go to the kitchen to grab the trash bag to empty the trash in all the rooms that’s the one task you are going to stick to no matter what. you will ignore all the rest for now.
This works with just about everything. (Even writing this blog post.)
HOW TO IMPLEMENT: Write down everything you want to get done today. Be reasonable with the amount of time and energy you have. Set a timer to do each one on your list and do just that one thing. If it’s clean the kitchen, then that’s all you do until your timer goes off.
Accept Less than Perfect
One of the biggest productivity killers we have going against us is our own mind. Our own mindset.
Our own rules about how things get done.
But the truth is that to really be productive, we have to be fast and furious with some things and slow and meticulous with others. A great list will only get you so far.
Your mindset about how to get through your long lists of tasks is what is going to make it or break your feeling of success and contentment each day.
If the list says to rake the leaves this weekend, that doesn’t mean every single leaf. It means get the job done and check it off. More leaves will fall. It’s an endless cycle just like laundry, just like kitchen floor stains, just like toys on the floor, just like clutter on the counter.
Get things done in the time you have and then move on even with the job not perfect. Just move through the list.
HOW TO IMPLEMENT: Experiment with delegating without expectations. Give a task to someone else and allow them to do it their way, on their own timeline and without judgment. Experiment with how it feels to just let go of that inner control freak for a while.
Get Active and detailed
One of the worst things we can do is just write up any old to-do list. Often a list looks like this:
- Work proposal
The problem with a list that isn’t created with intention and active use of verbs is that it becomes too loose.
A good list includes only the most important tasks you need to accomplish in a day to feel productive and content and active words to tell you HOW and WHEN to do the tasks.
A better list would go like this:
- Wash the dishes after breakfast.
- Fold the laundry while watching the news in the living room.
- Write first page of proposal at 11 a.m. in office.
- Call two friends to schedule playdate for Saturday.
- Go to the library on the way to pick up groceries.
- Make list and plan out grocery shopping for Tuesday.
HOW TO IMPLEMENT: Use this formula VERB TASK WHERE WHEN. Repeat for all tasks. Try it just for one day and see if it shifts how you look at what you are trying to work in each day.
When we implement strategies to make ourselves feel more calm, we start to lean in a little closer to the Abundant Mama Way. That’s when we can really start to create more time, space and energy for the good stuff we really want to do — the things that make us feel like we are finally living authentically.
What time management strategies do you use?