Scientist and Experiment

When you’re making changes in your life, it’s not just building willpower and repeating something every day until it sticks. It’s taking a look at all the activities and people in your life and changing these sources of influence to better support you.

One of my favorite books on habits is Change Anything: The New Science of Personal Success, by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, David Maxfield, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler.

It looks at six sources of influence and how they impact your life. 

Let’s start with willpower. Have you heard of the Marshmallow Experiment? The one where kids are told to sit in front of a marshmallow. If they can go 15 minutes without eating it, they get a second one? The kids who were able to delay gratification of eating that marshmallow were shown to be more successful in life. 

Most people assume that means the kids simply had more willpower. But that is far from the truth. The kids who were able to delay gratification had skills that helped them. Skills that we can all learn. 

This means that your struggle to get up early every day, stop eating chocolate, or stop shopping at the $1 bins at Target has very little to do with willpower. When we blame our failures on willpower, we ignore all of the influences around us that impact our ability. 

We try the latest fad to lose weight (it doesn’t stick). We follow the KonMari method of organizing and get rid of everything that doesn’t bring us joy (then go out and buy more stuff). We wonder if we’re ever going to stop procrastinating or reach any of our big life goals because we can’t seem to get a handle on our to-do list. 

One thing that’s missing here is that everyone is different. What works for you might not work for someone else. We need to try things, see what works and tweak where necessary. We need to constantly examine what we’re doing. 

Be The Scientist and The Experiment

Try being both the scientist and the experiment in your life. Start thinking about the behaviors you want to change. Where do you struggle?

Answer the questions below. These answers will help you on this journey. 

  • What are your crucial moments? Where is it that you fall short of your goals? 
    • These moments may be physical, emotional, or involve certain people or places. 
    • Start becoming aware of these moments.
  • What are your vital behaviors? What actions do you want to take when you are in a crucial moment? 
    • These actions or guidelines help influence your behavior.

Keep reading about these ideas here.

If you want help with building new habits in your life, contact me!

More Productivity Myths

Here are two more productivity myths. How do they fit in your life?

I’ll never get caught up. Tasks just keep coming at me and I spend all day putting out fires!

What does caught up even mean? You’re never going to get to the end of that to-do list and that’s ok!

What if you knew that the tasks you worked on each day were the ones moving you forward in life? And over time, as you get better at planning your days, you get ahead of those fires?

It is possible to feel on top of your to-do list!

I have to do it all yourself. If someone else does it, it won’t be done right.

What happens if it’s done differently or not up to your standards? And how exhausted are you trying to do it all and never letting anyone help?

What if you talked to someone about how you prefer a task done, then let them do it? It’s one less thing for you to worry about!

Yes, it does take a village. Your family or team should be helping – let them!

Where do you struggle with your productivity? Let me know!

If you’re ready to change these myths in your life, start here.

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Productivity Myths

productivity myths

Let’s take a look at some productivity myths. It might seem like while we are drowning in our tasks and commitments, we can’t take the time to fix things. We just stumble through, feeling like someday things will get better.

But they don’t. Because we’re not making any changes. We’re too overwhelmed. We don’t know where to start. We don’t feel that things are going to get better.

Productivity Myths

I can’t take a break or even get a good night’s sleep. I must keep working and crossing things off my to-do list.

Actually, at some point, you stop being productive because you’re so tired and exhausted.

Taking restorative breaks and even sleeping helps you get more done.

The world will not stop spinning if you take a few hours or possibly a day to take care of yourself.

And, when you rejoin the world, you’ll be more productive!

I didn’t cross everything off my list. I’m such a failure. Why can’t I get anything done?

First off, you are not a failure! My guess is you get more done each day than you give yourself credit for.

You likely have more on your list than you can actually accomplish on any given day. We only have so much time and so much energy.

Figuring out what tasks need to be done each day and letting the rest go is a big step toward changing your relationship with time.


Next time, we’ll look at two more myths. In the meantime, if you’re ready to make some changes to your relationship with time, email me. I’d like to hear where you struggle with productivity!

If you’re ready to change these myths in your life, start here.

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Tuesday Tune-Up

We have reached the end of the first quarter of 2021. That means it’s time for a quarterly check-in. Whether you work for yourself or are employed by a company, this is a great time to take a step back and see how you are doing on everything you wanted out of 2021.

Action Changes Things
Tune-Up
Quarterly check-in

Whether you set lofty, detailed goals or are using a word of the year, take some time to check in with yourself. Personally and professionally, how are you doing?

Are the things you’ve said yes to, the projects, commitments, activities, in alignment with your values? If not, can you find a way to get out of it? Renegotiate parts of it? Delegate it? Or is it something you simply need to make happen?

Take some time this week to identify what is working and what is not working in your life. What routines need to be tweaked? What steps need to be taken towards a goal? What needs to be tuned up in your life?

Track your time if you haven’t recently. It helps you know where your time is truly going. Here are some resources to help with that.

If you want support around this process or you feel you need to make some changes around your productivity to help you with these goals, set up some time to talk!

How Do You Know You Are Busy?

I was recently talking to someone about being busy. She said she knows she’s busy when she’s been working 7 days straight for weeks on end. Not making time for anything fun. 

And yes, that is busy. I also wonder if being busy includes those fun activities that we said yes to long ago but no longer find fun. 

If you’re used to plowing through each day, hauling kids from one activity to another (or running to your own), crossing tasks off your list as fast as you can, falling into bed exhausted at the end of the day, then you might not even be aware of how you are spending your time.

We committed to something and continue to do it because we feel we should or we don’t know how to say no. 

We do what’s on our task list because it’s there, not really thinking about why we are doing it and if it’s worth the time. 

How do we break this cycle?

What if you tracked your time, every 30-60 minutes for one, maybe even two weeks? (Find resources on how to do that here.)

Then spent time evaluating where your time is really going. 

Yes, even in a pandemic. 

know you are busy

When we track our time, we know where it’s going. We might think we’re spending a lot of time working, but we’re really not (or vice versa). Or that we’re rarely on social media, but in reality, the amount of time we spend mindlessly playing on the Internet surprises us. Or that all we do is laundry and dishes. But in reality, it’s less than 20 minutes a day on both. 

Then, what if we took that information and started being more intentional with our time? Finding ways to stop doing the things that no longer serve us. Focusing on the tasks that are moving us forward in our lives, both professionally and personally. Wrapping up the projects that we’ve committed to but they linger because we’re not invested in them anymore. (and, wrapping up could include delegating or deleting, if that’s possible). 

What does your time look like? Are you busy? Or are you spending your time intentionally?

If you want to talk about tracking your time and what to do with that information once you have it, schedule a 30-minute call with me!

Busy Is A Four-Letter Word

Yes, I said it. I think busy is a four-letter word. And not a good one.

Are you constantly doing something? A task on your to-do list? A commitment or activity?

busy is a four-letter word

Is everything that you’re doing moving you forward personally or professionally? Or the required parts of living, like dishes and laundry? 

Or are there things on there that you do but aren’t really necessary? You’re going through the motions, without thinking about what you’re doing? (It’s ok, be honest with yourself here). 

I think our society treats being busy as a badge of honor. 

We’re a country that doesn’t guarantee time off. Most companies who do offer vacation time only offer about two weeks. And those of us who have vacation rarely take that time. And if we do, we’re checking emails and taking calls. 

We never really rest. 

Outside of work, we have ourselves and our kids signed up for every activity under the sun. Every minute is a scheduled play date, sports, or music activity. Weekends are full of birthday parties, more play dates, more sports. 

We can’t let ourselves or our kids ever utter the sentence I’m bored. (Side note here, I’ve read isn’t actually that they’re bored, but that they want connection with you. And giving them connection, and sitting with them in their boredom for a few minutes, moves them out of it). 

We never stop that constantly running list in our head. When we’re working, we’re thinking about the house tasks and if we’ve spent enough time with our kids. When we’re with our kids, we’re thinking of all the other tasks we’re not doing. 

So we’re never really present in our lives. This is part of our overwhelm. This constantly feeling like there’s something else we need to be doing.  

And we complain about it, but in a way that makes it seem like there’s really nothing we can do about it. (Or that we enjoy it, maybe, we’re not sure. We’re too tired to really figure it out). 

So what do we do?

What happens if we say no to a few of those birthday party invitations? To all the activities? Picking one or two for each family member each season? 

What if we make time for leisure? For rest? 

Those to-do lists are always going to be there. There will always be something that needs to be done.

If you have ways to manage your tasks (something I talk often about here and in my virtual community) you know that your big stuff is taken care of. It’s documented. It’s scheduled. There’s time. So you can focus on the work task or spending time with the kids.

What are you going to do with this leisure? 

Want to keep reading? Here’s more!

If you’re struggling with how to make time for leisure or letting go of the guilt of it, schedule some time with me!

Next week, we will look at how to know if you are too busy!

Stop It

Stop redoing the dishwasher after someone else has loaded it. Stop picking up the toys your kids needed to pick up. Stop taking on more tasks around the house or at work because you think no one else is going to do it as well. 

stop it.

You are wearing yourself out. 

Sure, you might be able to fit more dishes in the dishwasher if you loaded it. But, if someone else already loaded it, then the task is done. Cross it off the list and move on. 

In college, I had a roommate who would reclean the bathroom after I did it. Because he didn’t think I did a good enough job. So I stopped cleaning the bathroom. What was the point? I wasn’t wasting my energy doing something that wasn’t respected. 

And I wonder if this happens in our own houses. As women, we take on tasks or redo tasks because no one else is going to do it up to our standards. 

But how is that serving you or those in your household? What is that teaching your kids? 

Of course, your kids aren’t going to put their toys away exactly as you would. But if they’re put away (even if they’re in the wrong boxes), does it matter? Sure, your partner does things differently. He or she is not you. My husband folds towels differently than I do. That doesn’t mean it’s wrong. I occasionally fold them that way now too. 

The point of all of this is a mindset shift. Find a way to let go of the way others do things. Let them be a part of the household, helping each other get things done. 

If it’s important to you that something is done a certain way, explain it to the rest of your family. Help them learn it. Then let go. Or, if it’s really important, do it yourself. But you don’t get to complain when no one else helps. 

I’m not saying this is easy. I still struggle with it on occasion. But I’m working on saying to myself, Great, that’s one thing I can cross off my list.  

And I move on to the next task. 

Let me know what your mindset shifts need to be! What are you working on this week?

Here’s more on this topic.

Mindset Shifts: It’s All In Your Head

This month we’re going to look at mindset shifts. Mindset is a big part of productivity. 

What? It’s not just getting as much done as possible every day? Finding tweaks to be more efficient? 

No, not to me at least. And no matter how efficient you are, there will always be more to do than we have time for. That to-do list will never end. And that is ok. 

My goal is to focus on getting the right things done each day. Those tasks that move me forward, both professionally and personally. That I’m not just putting out fires every day. I’m making progress on projects and making time for myself and the things I enjoy doing (even if that means letting the laundry sit for awhile). 

In trying to keep up with house cleaning, we clean half the house each week. It feels less overwhelming this way. In an ideal world, we work together as a family. We refer back to a book we read,  The Great Zooberry Debacle. It’s all about how many hands make light work. 

Recently, my five-year-old had no interest in helping us clean. I had asked her to pick up some toys that needed to be put away. She threw a fit, I got mad. No toys were cleaned up. 

A little while later, I hear her picking up the toys. She said she was cleaning up to make mom happy and help mom clean. 

The way she said this bothered me. 

We don’t clean the house to make mom happy. Yes, I might be the one leading the troops through it. But we all work together. We all help each other. It’s not just for me. It’s for all of us. We all live in this house. 

We say it’s great when a husband or dad helps out with house chores or the kids. But the men live here too. They are parents, not babysitters. My husband is my teammate, not an employee. We may have different levels of cleanliness. One of us may be more particular about how something is done than someone else. But we are a team. 

I’m talking about a subtle mindset shift here. That it’s not one person demanding everyone else clean to his or her level of cleanliness, on their timeline. It’s not taking on this level of stress making everything happen ourselves as the women in the household. 

It’s working together as a team. It’s communicating with others in the household. 

And one way to do this is through family meetings. 

Change is a Process, not an event. mindset shifts

Family meetings are so helpful in keeping the house functioning and everyone on the same page. What you talk about will change from week to week and season to season. 

Start having weekly family meetings. Our meetings are maybe 5 minutes long, that’s all my kids can handle. And right now, all we really talk about is cleaning tasks and what one fun thing we each want to do over the weekend. We also ask the kids about what went well for them this past week and what they’d like to see us do differently next week. 

Here are some other things you can talk about during a family meeting. 

  • Division of household tasks
  • What’s going well / what’s not working
  • Upcoming schedules
  • Discussion of bigger family issues – vacations, new routines, changes to a schedule, etc. 

If you want to learn more about family meetings and mindset shifts, join Chaos Contained, my virtual community for overwhelmed women!

What would a family meeting help you accomplish? 

I Don’t Have Time For That

Do you keep appointments you make for yourself? What about making time to do those things that aren’t high priorities but are things you’d like to do someday?

The things you know would make you happy or contribute to society in some way, but you’re too busy cleaning the house, completing work tasks, and entertaining the kids to get to?

What if you made appointments with yourself that you kept as strictly as you would a client meeting, doctor’s appointment, or coffee with a friend?

I’ve had several people ask me how to make time for things they’d like to do but aren’t high priorities. Taking digital classes (personal or professional), volunteering, doing things outside of chore and work lists.

I suggest spending just 30 minutes taking a class. It’s not much, but over time you will make progress. Treat the time you schedule for yourself with as much respect as you would a client appointment or coffee with a friend.

Another suggestion includes letting go of the need to keep up with all the household tasks all the time. I’m not saying let your house grow mold. But what if you spend one afternoon a month volunteering (when it’s safe to do so)? Your house isn’t going to fall apart during that time. Volunteering can be something social, where you meet new people. It can be something you do as a family.

And at the end of your life, you’re not going to remember having a spotless, well-maintained home. Or how many things you crossed off your task list. You’re going to remember the things you did with your family and friends. The experiences you created.

I’m not saying you should skip out on your priorities. But we also need to make time for ourselves and time for fun. And it’s ok to schedule it. You should schedule it, otherwise, it’s not going to happen.

And, when you take breaks from your task list, you just might find yourself more productive when you come back to it. You might find that doing something else helps you solve some big client problem or gives you an idea for something at work.

Are You Letting Tech Control You?

Let’s talk about technology. It can be a wonderful thing. Caller ID. Text messaging. The ability to see the faces of friends and loved ones who live far away. Any funny meme that helps you get through the day.

But technology is also full of time sucks and interruptions. Your phone constantly dinging with message alerts. Your email notifications popping up while you are working. Someone commenting on a Facebook or Instagram post.

All of this distracts us from our priorities. We can’t focus on deep work when we’re constantly being interrupted. Or, we think the interruption is a priority so we stop what we’re doing to answer the phone, read the emails, respond to the text messages.

What if you took back control of your time and focus? What if you turned off those notifications, closed the email programs, and didn’t have your phone constantly in your hand or pocket?

I’m going to guess that the world will continue on just fine. It won’t stop spinning. And, you are likely to be more productive and not feel pulled in so many directions!

Here are some more ideas to stop letting tech control you!

  • Respond to those messages and calls on your time.
  • Have auto-responders for your email stating you received their email and will respond within 24 business hours (or whatever your company requires for responses).
  • Have specific times of the day that you sit at your computer and process emails. Block the time on your calendar. Spend that time only processing your emails.
  • Turn off all notifications to email, text, etc.
  • Turn your phone on silent or leave it in another room when you are doing some deep work.
  • Put an analog clock somewhere in your office so you’re not looking at your phone to check the time. Plus, analog clocks give you a better understanding of the passing of time!

What are you going to do this week to stop letting tech control you?

If you want to talk further about better control over your tech, schedule a 30-minute phone call with me! Or read more about multitasking (which you’re likely doing with all those tech interruptions!)

But I’m Good At Multitasking!

Are you constantly checking email while on phone calls? Or jumping back and forth between tasks on your computer?

Do you end your days feeling frazzled, like you got nothing done and wondering where your time went?

Studies have shown that effectiveness drops by 69% for women when we multitask! That’s huge! I’ve also heard that it can take 90 seconds to get back to a task for each email notification that distracts us (turn off your notifications!) Think about how many emails you get in a day and much time is wasted with these distractions!

multitask

Imagine how much more you could get done in a day if you focused on one task at a time?! Our brains can’t work efficiently when focusing on more than one task at a time.

Yes, some things can be done simultaneously. Running a load of laundry while you’re cleaning the kitchen. Exercising while listening to your favorite podcast or talking to a friend. Stirring something on the stove while talking on the phone. Tasks that require little focus (or no focus, like laundry) can be done together.

But if you’re working on a big work project, only focus on the tasks associated with that project. Processing emails count as needing focus. (and please, no talking or texting while driving. Driving counts as one of those high-functioning tasks that you should focus on while doing it).

We’re so used to multitasking, what can we do about it? Here are some ways to break the habit:

  • Be aware of when you start to multitask. Catch yourself and get yourself to focus on one task.
  • Set a timer for 15 minutes and focus on one task. You can stop when the timer goes off, or you can reset it for another 15 minutes.
  • Focus on one task at a time. If another task pops into your brain while you’re working on something, quickly write it down on a nearby piece of paper and get back to the task.
  • Know your top 3-5 tasks for the day and have a general plan.

​Let me know how you feel about multitasking. Do you think you’re good at it or do you feel that it pulls you in too many directions?

Pandemics and Planning

It feels hard to plan much of anything in the middle of a pandemic.

plan

If your kids are in school, you never know when you’re going to have them home for the next 2 weeks due to possible exposure to COVID-19.

It’s hard to plan for much of anything beyond the next few weeks because we just don’t know what life will look like this summer or fall.

This feels more complicated and disruptive than a snow day or a sick day. Maybe it feels heavier. Maybe the endless, monotonous days are getting to you! (They’re definitely getting to my family).

So how do you plan anything or pay attention to how you’re spending your time?

One way we can have more control over our time is to identify our daily and weekly priorities. When you know what you need to do each day, it’s a little easier to focus. If you’ve planned out your week (with room for things to shift) then you can handle last-minute surprises.

These last-minute surprises could include a snow day or a sick kid or your kids moving from in-person learning to remote learning due to COVID-19 exposure. They could also be a last-minute project your boss throws at you.

It’s easier to focus when you know your top priorities for each day. It’s easier to shift things around when you know your priorities for the week.

This does not mean planning every minute with tasks. This means planning your top 3-5 priorities and leaving room for things we didn’t plan for.

Take some time each day and start planning your top 3-5 priorities for the next day!

If you want help with identifying your top priorities for each day, schedule a call with me! Or, check out my virtual community.

Enough With The Interruptions

As we head into the last week of January, we’re wrapping up our discussion on interruptions. This month has been full of them and I’m guessing not much work has been done in the last few weeks. Hopefully, we can take a break from doom-scrolling for a while and focus on other things. And also look at the other interruptions in our life.

Interruptions

We’ve talked about how this pandemic is one big life interruption and taking time to reflect on how we want to be spending our time. We talked about scheduling office hours so you can get things done and there’s time for family and colleagues to ask you questions.

Now, I want to share a few ideas on dealing with interruptions that are simple and easy to implement today.

  • Turn off all notifications to emails (even better, close your email program unless you are processing emails). Have an auto-responder letting people know the times you respond to
  • Schedule time each day to process emails and return phone calls.
  • Turn your phone off, put it on silent, or put it in another room.
  • Only have the tasks on your desk that you are working on. Don’t have a bunch of tabs or programs open on your computer or lots of stuff on your desk.
  • Remove apps from your phone or tablet that easily distract you.
  • Keep a piece of paper nearby for when you think of another task you need to do. Don’t stop what you are focused on now. Simply write the idea down and come back to it later.
  • Set a timer and focus on one specific task for that amount of time.
  • Take regular breaks. Your brain can only deal with so much at any one time. Step away from your desk and move your body at least once an hour.

Pick or choose a few to use in the next few weeks and let me know how it goes!

Are You Tired Of The Interruptions?

We’re spending this month talking about interruptions. Last week we looked at how this pandemic has been one big life interruption (and 2021 isn’t shaping up to be all that different!) and how now is a great time to really examine the life we are creating. What activities, people, habits, things do we want in our lives? What is important to us?

This week we’re going to look at a practical idea for dealing with interruptions both in your house and at work.

interruptions, office hours

Think about scheduling office hours. This minimizes interruptions and can be used in the office or when working at home. You get to focus on deep work, the stuff you never get to because you’re always being interrupted.

Let people know that during certain hours, you do not want to be interrupted unless it’s an emergency. If someone does interrupt when it’s not office hours, ask if they can come back. If not, decide if it’s worth the interruption. And make a note of what you were working on so you can get back to it when it’s time.

Find a way to mark your office door, calendar, or wherever you work so your family or colleagues know you’re working.

Then, during certain hours, your door is open and people can ask questions and talk to you. Focus on work that can be easily interrupted, such as processing emails, work that requires less thinking, etc.

Yes, it might take some time for your family to understand and learn to respect these boundaries. Especially if they’re used to interrupting you and having you respond immediately.

But hold to these boundaries. Everyone will be happier in the long run, mostly because you’ll be less annoyed!

Want to talk more about dealing with interruptions in your life? Schedule a free 30-minute phone call!

One Big Interruption

This pandemic has been one big life interruption. Everything we took for granted, all our routines, everything has been interrupted.

interruptions

By now, we’ve likely created some new routines and maybe even feel like we’re doing a bit more than surviving. Or maybe you still feel like you’re simply surviving each day (or barely hanging on). There is no right way to be dealing with a pandemic.

As much as we’re frustrated by this pandemic, it’s also an amazing time for a reset. I’ve heard from several moms about how much they enjoy not running from one activity to another. How much they enjoy dinner together as a family every night.

As we move into 2021 and see a light at the end of the tunnel, start thinking about what’s next.

Now is the time to start building routines, identifying what’s important to you, what you want your life to look like going forward.

  • What is it you truly want to continue doing as we move toward the next chapter of normal in our lives?
  • What needs to shift?
  • What’s really important to you and what does that look like in your life?

Take this time. I promise it will be well spent.

Want to read more? Head here.

Schedule a 30-minute call with me to talk about your relationship with time!

Stop Wasting Time

How much time do you waste on a daily basis? Are you aware of how much you procrastinate or put off a task because you don’t want to do it or are not clear on the next steps? A 2015 time/work survey showed that 70% of people waste time because they feel stressed or uninspired. And 50% spend too much time procrastinating. Does this sound familiar?

Stop Wasting Time

I’ve noticed my kids fight doing something they don’t want to do. They spend more time arguing with me or coming up with excuses to get out of doing something, like taking a bath or picking up a few toys, than if they’d just do the task. In most cases, watching TV is waiting for them at the other end of this task. And if they’d just do it, they’d have more TV time. They’ll be running around the house. I’ll ask them to pick up a few toys. Suddenly they’re laying on the floor, too tired to help!

Think of the emotional and mental drain of this!

Stop Wasting Time!

So how do you work through this? Here are a few ideas.

  • Identify the next steps. Break any overwhelming projects down into small steps. Then you take the next step, then the next, until you complete the project
  • Set mini-deadlines. Take the small steps you identified and set deadlines for each one. Hold yourself to those deadlines. Make yourself accountable to someone else or set up payment to a non-profit you can’t stand. If you don’t make the deadline, your payment goes!
  • Set a timer. Work for 30 minutes or any predetermined amount of time. When the timer goes off, you can stop for the day. Or, you can keep working. Sometimes getting started is the hardest part.

Are You Avoiding Something? Figure Out Why.

Maybe you’re avoiding a project or task for a specific reason. It’s boring and tedious. Sometimes, you have to power through something to get to the good stuff on the other side. Maybe it’s challenging (break it down into doable steps). Maybe it’s something you don’t like doing for your own business but you’re not at the level yet where you can outsource it.

Spend some time figuring out why you’re avoiding something and you can likely figure out a solution. Also, think about what you could be doing with your time if you’d complete those tasks. Your future self will thank you!

For support with your relationship with time, schedule some time with me or send me a message!

Feeling Uprooted? Start Planting New Seeds.

Feeling uprooted? Plant new seeds.

Are you feeling uprooted? Like this pandemic has turned everything in your life upside down? Me too. I’ve lost track of how many weeks we’ve been home. And although our city and state have lessened restrictions, we’re still staying home as much as we can.

I can sense that people are aching to get back to normal. But I don’t think things are ever going back to the way they were before this pandemic hit. And I’m ok with that. Why? Because now is the time to rethink everything. It’s a blank slate. A time to start fresh.

A time to plant new seeds.

Where do we start?

We have some work to do first. We need to grieve the life that once was. So many people have lost loved ones, jobs, livelihoods, innocence, a sense of security. Maybe you’ll come out of this mostly unscathed, but I bet it’s touched you somewhere in your life. Spend some time grieving.

I’m grieving my youngest having her preschool graduation without her friends. Surrounded by her teachers, her sister, and her parents, it was only her, wearing her cap and gown. During a timed ceremony so we wouldn’t interact with too many others. I can only imagine how parents and kids who didn’t get their high school or college graduation ceremony feel. These rituals bring such closure.

I’m grieving the last few months of spending every Tuesday with my daughter before she heads off to kindergarten. I’ve spent every Tuesday of the last 7 years with one or both of my girls. Although I was tired of figuring out how to entertain a small child every week, Mommy and Ellie days were special.

What do you need to grieve? Spend some time sitting with it and working through it. Mourn the memories that never were.

Once we’ve grieved, we can begin planting new seeds.

Next comes the part I’m most excited about. There is such an opportunity here. It’s time for a shift in thinking. Instead of longing to go back to the way things were, let’s reinvent. Let’s look at our schedules and priorities and figure out what really matters. How do we want to be spending our time?

I want to see our society have some big, deep discussions about so many things. Work, education, the division of housework and parenting. Generally, the way our society functions.

I’m not looking to have a big political discussion here. But we need to start with learning how to have deeper discussions. Instead of constantly complaining about how things aren’t working or dismissing someone who thinks differently, we need to listen and work to understand each other. Maybe once people start feeling heard, we can come together to fix things. People won’t dig in their heels and refuse to hear someone else because they won’t feel attacked. One place I’ve started is by reading Crucial Conversations and taking this quick mini-course.

Let’s start with work.

I do understand that not every job is flexible. You have to show up for a shift at the grocery store, hospital, just about every job in the service industry. Maybe there are ways to put more flexibility into these jobs. I’m talking about knowledge workers here. There are plenty of jobs focused solely on how much time you spend at your desk in the office. It doesn’t matter how much you do while you’re there. But you better be in your seat.

My husband was let go from a job many years ago because he wasn’t in the office by 8:30am every day. He was working close to 70 hours a week, but some of that was at home. He had young kids and wanted to be around to see them. This company couldn’t see that the amount of work or the quality of work is what mattered. It didn’t take the time to notice anything but when he was at his desk.

The shift in thinking here comes from defining success for these positions. Then, setting expectations and a deadline, and letting employees make it happen. I bet there will be a lot more creativity that comes from that freedom. Plant some new seeds.

Also, take a look at how many meetings are necessary and how people are communicating. I’m guessing some things can change there too. Does every meeting end with defined next steps? Or are they just a waste of time? Watch this quick 1-minute video about one thing you can do for more productive meetings.

The workload for women.

And what about the workload, both at work and at home, for women? Why is it that women are asked how they balance working and parenting but we never ask the dads? Why is it women are expected to do it all but we don’t expect it from the dads? Don’t tell me it’s because women are better at multitasking (I’ll get into that some other time). Think about what we’re teaching our kids – that it’s ok for the men not to help and the women need to do it all because no one else is capable.

There needs to be a shift in thinking here. A shift that we’re all in this together. That we all succeed or fail together. We need to stop with this thinking that we need to do it all by ourselves. Plant some new seeds.

Let’s rethink how we spend our time.

Have you created new routines during this pandemic? Maybe you’re walking the dog every morning or taking family walks before dinner. My husband and I are taking one night a week to play cards after the kids are in bed. I’ve wanted to cancel my gym membership and have more flexibility in when I work out but never made it happen. I’m exercising more now that I’ve made space for it in my living room.

Are you finding yourself enjoying more leisurely family dinners? Taking the time to watch your kids play in the backyard? Is it nice to not be rushing from one activity to another? Or maybe you’ve been so overwhelmed by work and remote learning and having the kids home that you’re exhausted.

I hope there’s been more quality family time. I hope that as activities begin to resume that you don’t go rushing out signing up for everything. I hope you find some peace in not rushing from one place to the next. In having family dinners (or breakfasts!) on a regular basis. Before you start filling up your schedule, figure out how you truly want to be spending your time. Commit your time carefully. Plant these new seeds meaningfully.

What about our stuff?

You’ve likely spent the last few months surrounded by your stuff. Is it driving you crazy? Are you finding it useful? Have you spent time sorting through and organizing it? We’ve rearranged toys to make them easier for our kids to use. We have a table just for arts and crafts now. We have a charging station for tablets and computers. We have learned more about how we use our space. That we really don’t need a big house and that when every toy is on the floor, it feels like a lot.

When we have less stuff, it’s easier to maintain an organized home. And it’s easier to use things because it’s not so overwhelming and we can find what we’re looking for. If our house is too cluttered, we can’t find what we need.

So take a look around your space, figure out what you love and need, and let the rest go. How do you want to feel when you are in your space? Comfortable? Content? Happy? Work towards getting your space to create that. Plant some new seeds with your space.

And related to our stuff, what about our spending?

Since you’ve been home, have you saved money because you’re not wandering through stores buying things you don’t need? Or are you just overbuying on Amazon? I’ve loved not spending money buying things we don’t need. It’s been nice to think about repurposing something we have in our house to fulfill a need. Or knowing that we don’t need more stuff in our lives. Plant some new seeds around spending. It relates to clutter as well. Retail therapy leads to short term relief. The stuff you buy takes up space in your house. It needs to be maintained or it just creates clutter. Take some time to figure out what’s behind that and find new ways to fill your cup. Plant some new seeds.

Time to plant some new seeds.

We need a shift in thinking. Let’s do things differently. Let’s move forward into something better. Let’s plant some new seeds.

If you’re ready to plant some new seeds in your life, let’s talk! And, if you’re an overwhelmed working mom, ready to take back control of your time, join Chaos Contained, an online community providing support in productivity.

Stop Surviving. Start Thriving.

When my kids were younger, I remember a friend asking me how I was doing. My usual answer was hanging in there. Suddenly, I was tired of that being my answer. When does just surviving stop? When do I start thriving? My kids aren’t going to get easier. I think they get more fun as they get older, but there will always be something we’re working on (arguing about?!). So enough with this hanging in there

Don't be busy, be productive. Start thriving.

Part of this hanging in there was how busy I felt. I don’t think busy is always a good thing, yet we cram every minute of our days with activities. We need to be crossing items off our to-do list. We have so much work to do that we don’t know where to start (or when to stop). Our kids are signed up for every activity under the sun because we feel they need to be enriched and entertained all the time (pre-pandemic). 

Stop Overcommitting

I get it. I’ve looked at my schedule and wondered how I committed to so many things. What happened? When did I get so busy? I’ve looked at how much I crossed off my to-do list and wondered if those were really the tasks I should’ve focused on today. Or did I just do what was the easiest to cross off? Let’s call me a recovering over-committer

I’m on a mission to help end the mom guilt. To help moms shift from putting out fires every day to feeling more proactive and in charge of their time and to-dos. Because I’ve been there! So let’s stop with the guilt. Let’s focus on our big rocks. On the choices we make with our time, where it goes, and how we spend it. Let’s start thriving. And let’s see the amazing things we do accomplish every day. Let’s tame the chaos. 

Join Chaos Contained today! A virtual community for overwhelmed working moms to help you tame the chaos. Your future self will thank you! 

Just Slogging Through

Feeling like you’re just slogging through each day? I get it, I have started giving myself pep talks to get out of bed! If my phone didn’t tell me the date, I likely would have no idea. Every day is starting to blend into the next! Weekends don’t feel any different (we really should do something fun to change that, huh?)

I don’t want to add one more story about how we should be productive right now since we have all this time. Working from home, helping your kids remote learn, and keeping everyone fed is enough! You might feel even busier! I do want to help you feel like you’re moving forward in your life, even while stuck at home. Read on for a few ideas!

  • Define what your work hours look like. Tag team with your partner. Someone is with the kids while the other one works. Trade every few hours as necessary. It’s also ok to put the kids in front of a movie and get some work done. Or send them out to the backyard to play.
  • Identify 3-5 priorities for each day. Yes, you might do more. You feel more accomplished if you know what needs to be done to move yourself or a project forward. Think about how it would feel to cross 5 tasks off your list of 5 tasks versus 5 tasks off a list of 15 (that you were never going to have time to do all anyway. Listen to what Laura Vanderkam has to say about limiting your to-do list.
  • Create a ritual between work and home life (even if work life is at your kitchen table). Find an activity to do before you switch between work and home. This helps your brain realize it’s now doing something different. Try a quick 5-minute meditation, a dance party, or a quick walk around the block.
  • Create visual boundaries if you’re working from the kitchen table. Put on headphones, signaling that you’re working and are not to be disturbed. Or you can put up some form of barrier, like a 3-sided poster display board. This could also be a place to put tasks and reminders! It’s like your own cubicle space in an open-concept office.
  • Break your projects into small, clear steps. If my to-do list says ‘Create workshop,’ it’s not easy for me to do what’s next. If it says create an outline for workshop, create marketing for workshop, or some other next step, then I know what to do next. Otherwise, I stare at it for a week and nothing gets done.

Still feeling stuck on how to get through the day? Schedule a 15-minute call with me to talk about your situation. Or take this quick 10-minute video on productivity.

Slogging through

We Do It To Ourselves

I’ve been wanting to write this post for a while now. I’ve long had this theory that women get mad at our partners for not helping when in reality, we’ve taught them not to. Then came a worldwide pandemic and I wasn’t sure if it was relevant. However, I do think it’s still relevant. Because we’ve all been thrown into this crazy time of trying to work, take care of our families, and homeschool our kids. And we can’t do it all at the same time and do it well. We need to give ourselves a break. So read on and let me know what you think!

We do it to ourselves

I had a roommate in college who would reclean the bathroom after I cleaned it. So I stopped cleaning it. Now, depending on who you are in this story, you may think I was lazy because now I never cleaned the bathroom. Or you thought, sure, what was the point of cleaning the bathroom if someone else was going to redo it? That would be a waste of your time!

We, as women, create this scenario all the time. No one else can clean the kitchen or do the laundry or clean up like we do. Because, of course, it’s not done right if it’s done differently. So we do everything ourselves. We reload the dishwasher or don’t let our partners do the laundry. Because heaven forbid, it’s not done to our exacting standards.

Then, we complain because our partners aren’t participating in the housework. When in reality, we’ve driven them to this point. We treat them like they’re unable to do anything, so it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. They give up and we continue treating them like they are unable to do anything right.

We need to stop doing it all ourselves.

We can’t have it all. At least not all at the same time. And what does that even mean? We can’t magically do everything we want/need to and do it all well. It’s not possible, yet we beat ourselves up for not doing it every day. We overdo it and we constantly feel like we’re failing. Yet, we’re not. We have crazy high expectations that we’re never going to meet.

And this is what we model for our kids – that we must do it all instead of working with our partners. Whether you’re raising boys or girls, they’re watching you and seeing how you work with your partner. So the little girl watching her mother struggle to do it all instead of asking for help or letting something go is going to grow up to be the same crazed, stressed-out woman trying to do it all, feeling bad about not succeeding (even though it’s impossible). And the little boy is going to grow up believing that they don’t need to do much of anything. Because those were the examples they had growing up.

What if we changed that story?

What if we came into the kitchen that was mostly clean and thought great, someone loaded the dishwasher, now all I need to do is wipe down the counters? Or, said thanks for doing the laundry, can I help put it away? Or had the conversation of having too much on your plate and you need things to change? It’s not just helping each other – you’re in this together, you’re partners.

So let’s stop trying to do it all.

Let’s realize that life is like a symphony. Sometimes the violins are loud, sometimes it’s the drums. Sometimes there’s rest. But it all comes out a beautiful song in the end. Sometimes we’re going to work all day, sometimes we’re going to spend all day running errands, or playing with our kids or out on some adventure. And at the end of the week, we’ve covered most of it. And if it didn’t get done, it wasn’t important, and it can wait until the next song.

If you’re tired of feeling like there’s too much on your plate, I’d love to help you feel less overwhelmed! Let’s work together to create a task list and schedule that works for you! Let’s do this together instead of all on our own. If you’d like to chat more about this with me or want to learn more about how you’re spending your time, contact me or schedule a call.

Stop trying to do it all yourself!
Stop trying to do it all yourself!