Being a woman is complicated. Being an entrepreneur is complicated. Being the CEO of a family is insanely complicated. Put them all together and you come by insanity honestly!
Making every moment count is a difficult task. Compartmentalizing each task and developing a schedule is the only way to survive all the ‘details’ and win back some ‘me’ time.
Here’s a couple of strategies I had to learn the hard way:
- Vomit Draft: get a large legal pad and write down EVERYTHING that must be done: Income tax forms, building a website, marketing your business, work out, dog to the vet, drop off stuff at second-hand store, clean the fridge, make the birthday cupcakes, write a client schedule, mail products, set up a bill schedule, grocery shop, laundry, dishes, pick up new soccer shoes, etc. ßyou get the picture. Don’t plan or schedule, just write this list until your brain is empty (this could take a while.)
- Calendar: You’ll need a monthly calendar with big squares. Don’t overthink this. I like the kind that hangs or the big one with lines in the squares that lays on my desk. Just be sure it’s easily accessible.
- Lined weekly calendar: You can buy schedule-calendars, or you can just draw them out on a sheet of lined paper. On the left side column write the time in 30 min increments starting with the time you get up, until the time you go to bed. We’re going to try to get you more sleep. Put the days of the week above and draw lines between.
- Mark off the time slots on your weekly calendar that don’t change. For example, if you work from 9-2 Mon., Wed, Friday, then draw lines through those times. Then calculate commute time, and prep time like taking a shower, getting dressed and eating. This means that your job really commits you from 7-3 or more. Put in things the family does regularly like sporting events, church, dinner, etc. Once you’ve added in all the locked in times, you can begin to see where your other events can fit. This will help you see where you have available time or realize when it’s time to drop some time spenders. It makes it so much easier to say ‘no’ when you can actually see that you have no available time. This helps to also ‘clump’ activities. For instance: I keep a basket by the door that holds: mail, a shopping list, returns to the store, and anything else that needs to go out to the car on the next trip out. I used to run the kids to sports, drop off the mail, pick up the missing item for dinner, and grade papers while I watched their practice. Those little trips can become major to do list check offs when they’re well-planned.
- Next, prioritize your vomit to do list.
- A items-must be done today
- B items- need to be done this week or soon.
- C items – need to be done when you can get to them.
- The benefits of prioritizing items gives you a quitting time, the downside of not prioritizing means that all your B and C things will become A items and you’ll be chasing fires, exhausted and overwhelmed.
- Tips: mix your list up with hard tasks and simple tasks. The goal is to accomplish a day’s work in a day. It takes some time but starting the day with a priority list give you more hours in your day.
- If you find yourself avoiding tasks or feeling overwhelmed address it: Overwhelmed can be not being organized, packing a day too full, not being good at delegating, fatigue, or negative self-talk. Avoiding tasks might be: it’s too difficult for you so you need to call in help, there maybe an emotion connected to it that keeps you on tilt—stop and deal with the emotion rather than pushing it away. You may even have an unclear vision of your goals—stop and clarify 1 goal, then ask yourself is this action taking me farther from my goals or closer to it? If it’s farther from your goal then it might just be a bad habit—stop, change the habit. Or at least call it what it is and start the first step of changing.
These steps aren’t easy. We often want to do them in our heads, but don’t. This is how we get tangled up, exhausted and overwhelmed. The tasks never seem as bad once we see them on paper…and it gives us a starting place for 1 item rather than continuing to mentally attack everything.
Determine work hours and then stick to them. Often the toughest person to train is us. We try to squeeze one more thing into the day and it is often our spouses and relationships that suffer. You need to be the CEO of your life and manage it well enough to not get fired!
Another tip I can’t stress enough is a clean working space. The more things we own, the more they own us. Rethink your possessions and decide who owns who. Learn to treasure memories and relationships over things. Develop routines and personal rules. One of our rules is: Never step over it, pick it up and put it away. I also limit the flat surfaces in my house so there’s very few places to lay things. Then strategically place items like cell phone chargers, car keys, etc. with items needed for the day.
I hope this helps. Start small—baby steps—but start. Soon this will become habit.
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