Do you ever feel like there just isn’t enough time in the day to do everything you need to get done? Do you go to bed exhausted just to get up again the next day and do it all over again? Are you running on empty trying to juggle your kids, family, home and work?
Imagine for just a moment that you had a system in place that allowed you to figure out what tasks you really need to complete each day (not just think you do), find more time and energy to complete them and eliminate the overwhelm.
How much better would your life be? How much happier would you be? Would it make you a better mom and a better wife? Would you finally be able to find time for yourself, maybe fit in the massage you’ve been wanting or even just a nap? 🙂
Well, that’s exactly what I’m going to lay out for you right here. I’m going to give you a four step system that will help you to do less of what you think you have to do, more of what you actually need to do and a lot more of what you want to do.
I learned this system from watching The Mom Conference in an interview with Jenny Layton of TheHappyGal.com and let me just tell you right now… It works!
So, stick with me and I’ll help you figure out how to get more done each day.
Your Time and Energy Bank Account
The first thing we need to talk about is your time and energy bank account.
Okay, I can hear you now…
Well, think of it this way – you only have so much time and energy to complete all the tasks you have to do in a day (let’s call in your bank account).
And, for every task you complete there’s a cost or a withdrawal from that account.
At the end of the day, you’ll have either used up your entire account, leaving you at a zero balance, have spent too much and be overdrawn or have saved a little.
The goal is to become more efficient in what you do so that you always keep a little reserve in your account.
Now that we’ve got that analogy in place, let’s look take a look at the 4 steps to getting more done each day and avoiding the overwhelm.
Step #1 – Identify the Fires
Fires are tasks that you can’t procrastinate on, ignore or put off until tomorrow. These are tasks that you absolutely must complete today.
These are tasks that have a deadline – maybe a project at work, helping your kiddo with homework or getting the flat tire on your car fixed.
The problem with fires is that they are the most expensive tasks when it comes to your time and energy bank account. They throw you off your game. And, when you have to devote too much of that precious time and energy to them, you lose balance and sets up a toxic productivity cycle.
That’s because when you spend all day putting out today’s fires, you have no time to get ahead for tomorrow and then the cycle repeats itself. Tomorrow you’ll have a whole new set of fires to put out.
But, if fires are such important tasks that you can’t put them off, what can you do to avoid that toxic cycle?
The key is to slow down and look at what these tasks really are. What you’ll find is that sometimes your mind plays tricks on you and tasks that you think are fires really aren’t.
Here are three questions to ask yourself in order to douse a fire:
- Is this task someone else’s responsibility?
As a mom, you probably find yourself in the role of rescuer a lot! Your husband, your kids, your parents, your friends… they all need you for something and it’s easy to let someone else’s emergency become yours.
But, since you only have so much in your time and energy bank, if you put out someone else’s fire, you’re going to have to say no to a responsibility that really does belong to you.
And, yes I know that it can be really hard to say no and take a step back when it comes to taking care of a task for someone you love. Just remember that when you do, you’re doing a favor for both of you.
For example, when you let your kids do their book report on their own, their learning responsibility and coping skill that will last a lifetime. And, as a bonus, you won’t resent that you had to miss out on your favorite show or stay up 3 hours later and get up exhausted the next day just because your kiddo chose to put it off to the last minute.
Just say no once and you’ll discover that it really can be a win-win for everyone.
- Should this fire be part of a routine?
This question is used to figure out if there’s a way you can prevent this problem from becoming a fire again in the future.
For example, if you find yourself doing laundry at eleven o’clock at night because your daughter needs her shirt to wear to chapel the next day, is there a way to set up a routine laundry day that would avoid the need for last minute panic?
You want to set up routines that keep these fires from building up and blowing up in the first place.
- Does this really need to be done now?
This question goes back to the whole idea that you may think something is a fire that really isn’t.
In order to decide if the task really must be done right now, think about what the consequences will be for not doing it.
As an example, if you think that you have to run to the grocery store instead of going to bed because you’re out of milk, think about what is the consequence of not having the milk in the morning.
Will your kids really not have anything to eat for breakfast or will they just have to eat something other than their favorite cereal? You may find that you’ve been putting out fires that weren’t really burning.
Once you’ve asked yourself these three questions, you may find that you really only have one or two fires to put out for the day rather than the six to seven you started with.
And, when you reclaim the time and energy you’ve been spending on these fires, it allows you to get more deliberate with the things you have to do each day to make better decision, become more efficient and get more done.
Step #2 – Identify Your Regular Tasks
Now that you know what your real fires are, it’s time to make a list of your regular tasks.
These are any tasks that need to be done consistently for best results, predictable tasks like laundry, yardwork, bills, spending time with your kids and cooking meals.
You’ll find these tasks make up about 75% of your workload because as a mom, there’s a lot of repeat.
The goal for these tasks is to set up routines to take the stress out of them. Routines are the secret sauce when it comes to getting things done and being more productive.
I know that not everyone is a fan of routines – they can seem boring and mundane but if you skip this step and don’t make your regular tasks a routine, they have the potential to flare up into fires.
But, you have to set up your routines the right way or you will fail.
To learn the four step system to setting up routines that work and help you crush your to-do list, check out this post.
Step #3 – Identify Your Projects
The next step to getting more done and eliminating the overwhelm is to identify any non-routine tasks that require a series of steps and usually can’t be completed in one sitting – in other words, your projects.
These could be organizing your bills, re-decorating, re-doing your yard for the change of seasons or planning for Christmas or a vacation.
When it comes to projects, there are two different groups of people who have a hard time with them. You might see yourself in one of these.
- The first is the people who can’t even start their projects because they’re too busy trying to keep up with normal life.
- The second is the people who love projects and get them started but have a hard time finishing. These people usually move from project to project, getting started but then fizzling out.
If you’re one of the first group, that just can’t figure out how to find the time to even start, here’s what to do…
Since you’re really good at doing the day-to-day, you have to make your projects part of your regular life rather than seeing it as something you’ll do someday when you finally have the time.
Set up an appointment with yourself. It can be every day, three times a week, or a two-hour block once a week where you give yourself the gift of project time.
If on the other hand, you’re one of those people that gets a project going and you’re so passionate about it and moving forward but then life always seems to interfere, do this:
Don’t take too much time away from your project. When it comes to completing a large task like this, momentum is your friend.
So, instead of taking a couple of days away from your project to do laundry and clean the house, only take a couple of hours away each day so that you can still continue to work on the project.
That way, by the time you come back to the project, you haven’t found a passion for a new project instead.
And, chunk you project up.
That sounds weird but what I mean by that is to not pick too big of a project but instead split it into multiple, more manageable projects.
For example, don’t say, “I’m going to organize my entire house.”
Instead, set a goal of reorganizing your pantry and then reevaluate to see what area of your home needs to be worked on next.
Also, don’t avoid projects fearing the time and energy they take to complete.
The good thing about these big tasks is that when you complete them, the feeling of accomplishment you get actually replenishes your energy and nourishes your spirit, keeping your bank account balanced.
Step #4 – Identify Your Priorities
Now you’re going to set your priorities (tasks you can to today that will have a positive impact on the future, restore personal balance and bring you fulfillment).
Here’s the deal…
We all know that we’re supposed to have our priorities in order. But, more often than not, we allow ourselves to fall to the bottom of the list.
Do you see yourself in that? Always putting your kids, husband and work first? Never having time to take care of yourself and do the things that make you happy?
It’s easy to do as a mom – but, when you’re running on empty, you don’t have a lot to share with other people. So, it’s time to refill your tank and your time and energy bank account by finding time for yourself.
Ask yourself this one question…
“If everything else just melted away, what would I want to spend my time on today?”
There’s no wrong answer and it will be different for everyone.
Maybe you would want to go out with your friends for a girl’s night. Maybe you want to finish that scrapbook you’ve been working on. Or, maybe you just want a nap.
Whatever your answer to the question was, it is now one of your priorities – no longer to be put off in order to take care of everyone else.
Remember, in 10 years, doing this one thing to make yourself a happier, more balanced person will change the way your kids see you, your marriage and your health for the better.
Okay, there you have it…
Those are the four steps to get more done each day, eliminate the shoulds and do more of the wants and finally say goodbye to overwhelm.
Start implementing them today to start making deposits into your time and energy bank account and find more time in your day for you.
To make it simple, I’ve created a free printable you can download here to help you identify your fires, regular tasks, projects and priorities and determine what you need to do each day, what you can cut out and how to fit in time to become a healthier, happier you.
Hope it helps you on your journey!
And, as always I wish you a strong family, optimal health and smart incomes,