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You know busy. You are so good at giving. You amaze the masses at all you do to serve. Your family depends on you. Work takes every ounce of energy you give. Oh, you don’t “go to the office?” Staying home during the day you are on the job non-stop: raising kids, cleaning up, making PB & J’s, and the never ending laundry.
All day long you move from task to task, answering questions, solving problems, fixing things. It’s one thing to the next.
You are a human Siri. Except that while you are answering the current question, you are internally planning the next 3 steps to take place.
Girl, aren’t you exhausted?
If you don’t use your resources wisely you could be on the verge of burn out.
Yes, burn out.
You are more than a smart phone
When your phone is at 10% battery you don’t decide to update many apps. It doesn’t have the capacity at that point. It can’t handle it.
Why do you expect it from yourself? Why would you ever think you could tackle a major project while you’ve got little energy?
You are so much more than your smart phone.
You’re nodding your head as you read this, aren’t you? You’ve been there.
Don’t give up doing all the good you are doing in the world. Rather, you need to be strategic with your energy.
Consider these few ideas to keep up with your life and still increase productivity.
Work with your energy level.
Your energy level matters in the work you produce.
Determine your most productive time of day. Some women wake with endless energy between 5am-6am. (Ahem. That would not be me.) Others know that between 10am-noon they can handle just about anything. Some Moms know that nap time is their treasured mine to produce all the work they have been saving.
The point is to make your high-energy time your most productive time. Don’t waste that high-energy time on low-priority items. Save those for other times during the day. Use your high-energy time for your most important projects.
Recently, I have consciously chosen to work on high-priority items during my high-energy time. This one change as allowed me to make tremendous progress on personal goals. I’m not taking away from my life, I’ve been able to add to it.
Focus on ONE.
Successful women stay 2-3 steps ahead of the crowd. It’s what keeps you leading, seeing the big picture while you are moving the masses. It makes you efficient.
Yet, it also drains your brain’s energy. Find that happy medium.
When was the last time you completely immersed yourself on the one project you were working on?
This is a goal I’ve been working on for a few weeks: staying completely focused on that one item. By focusing on that one item, the quality of my work has greatly improved. And it’s not just on the stuff of life.
Because of the “focus on one,” concept, my relationships have improved. I am a better listener to my daughter when I say to myself, “We are sitting down for a few minutes. Put the phone down. Listen to your child. Give her your time.”
I learned the “Focus on One” concept from Greg McKeown’s Essentialism. Fantastic read. Put that one on your “must read in the next 90 days” list.
Set realistic expectations.
You need realistic expectations. And by realistic, I don’t mean, like the high-achieving woman’s standard of measurement. See exhibit A.
Here’s something we need to remember: productive does not mean perfect.
It is so easy to see how small tasks turn into major events because we add so much.
Life isn’t perfect. Not everything you add to the world can be perfect. Because if you wait until it’s perfect– you’ll miss it.
The event will never happen. Dinner with friends won’t happen because you were waiting until your home was “5-star hotel worthy,” rather than cleaned up and fresh.
You’ll miss life.
Don’t miss your own life due to your unrealistic expectations.
Understand that sometimes getting the job done is the best you can do.
Achieve the task. Be satisfied, even if you’re not pleased and move on.
Set your deadline. Before the deadline.
Some of the projects that drag on because we have no specific deadline.
Set your own deadline. Give yourself a buffer of time before it must be done.
With the holiday season coming up, I was thinking of the shopping trips. Thanksgiving grocery store trips can be brutal. Consider getting the groceries the week before, save the fruits and vegetables. Instead of spending hours at the check-out, you’ll be in an out quickly.
Set reminders on your phone to complete your major projects 2-3 days before they are due. When you complete the task and report in before it’s due, you help yourself, your team or co-workers, and avoid the perfect “overly-stressed-out-exhausted-zombie-look” we see in too many.
Multi-task in the mundane.
We’re women. We multi-task, it’s just what we do.
Strategic multi-tasking is the key.
Listen to podcasts while you wash dishes. Do not try to listen to podcasts while you are making dinner and kids are asking homework questions.
I make my laundry folding time into my Netflix binge time. It’s pure delight, even while folding undies. Who knew?
Time waiting for children at their activities can be used for social media, clearly. But go one step further.
Rather than sit to wait for my daughter at piano lessons, I walk around the store. I take laps. I get more steps in, I listen to headphones of my recent Audible book, and support my daughter in her pursuits.
Be strategic. Boost your productivity.
Life will continue to hand you more than expected. Multi-tasking, productivity hacks and tricks can be helpful.
Ask yourself before you set out to multi-task, “Is this the smartest use of my attention?” Spreading your attention on too many things will drain your energy quickly.
Try a couple of the methods we discussed: work with your energy levels; focus on the one; adjust your expectations; set your own deadlines; and multi-task in the mundane.
Tell me in the comments below: How do you increase your productivity?
This month has been extremely productive. And a complete failure.
I’ve been able to accomplish a lot of items in preparation for some upcoming events. That’s been great.
I just haven’t been a good Mom. Read: I haven’t been there for my daughter.
TV was a babysitter this month, not a reward.
Lunch was out while running some pressing errands, not something fun just for us. This happened waaaaay more than I would ever like to share on a blog about saving money and building wealth.
Time was my enemy, not the tool I usually manage much more efficiently.
How on earth did I miss this? Where did I fail? And why does Mom Guilt call up a family reunion so you’ve got Mom Guilt reuniting with Wife Guilt. Fantastic.
But really, what can you and I both learn from my month of trying to be super productive that was really just a visit to the Distant-Mom-Zone.
Money doesn’t replace time.
I got completely lost this month. I was rushing to accomplish more with my time, but guess what? I did not have a plan. Some projects that I thought would just take a half hour took a few solid hours. Instead of finishing the small project with my morning routine, running a couple of quick errands and ensuring that we were home at lunchtime- we found ourselves out in town and HANGRY. So, of course, we just picked up something quick.
And something quick in town usually means= unhealthy and cheap or junk food.
Regardless of which, the lesson I’ve learned is that I ended up spending money to catch up on time.
I hate to admit this. It makes me sick to think. But my lack of planning this month has cost us a few hundred dollars.
This month has been like that movie where you know the train is going to wreck, but only the superhero can fix it …but instead of everything moving quickly and racing past, the movie slows down and this haunting music brings everything out of focus except for that one thing.
I thought that I was just going to do that. Focus on that one thing and be able to power through.
Uh. Nope. My life is not a superhero comic. I just crashed.
And it wasn’t just my daughter that suffered. My husband would come home after a long day at work and without saying a word, start working on the mountains of laundry I’d let slip by.
Because I was being focused, I thought.
If I were smarter, I would have packed some snacks to allow for the 20 minute drive home.
If I were smarter, I would have sorted laundry before I went to the computer to complete the task.
If I were smarter, I would have realized that these extra projects I took on were much more time consuming than I realized.
If I were smarter, I would have said no to more things and understood the value of my time.
But I didn’t.
And I lost time while our family lost money this past month.
I learned that even though we had a budget in place like we always have, I got out of control. I completely lost my focus.
Because I didn’t plan my time.
Money doesn’t replace relationships.
I really missed out on some quality time with my little girl this month. This is a time when she needs me, too. Letters are becoming more than just shapes in her mind. They are becoming real. We might be able to pull a few letters together and make a couple of words by summer’s end. But I missed the mark this month.
What I realized is that I would convince myself on several of these crazy, harried-rush-Mom’s-in-a-mood days, that I was spending money on fast food and thinking “Well, we’re spending some time together. She’s fine.”
So naturally I was still being a good Mom.
Uh, we can all see how ridiculous that is. But while I
In that moment, that’s what I was thinking.
The only way to have a good relationship is to invest in the relationship. I was trying to make up for time lost with my child by spending money.
The thing is, my husband had a very full month of work, too. Inside of checking in and really talking at night, we were both in our own worlds.
That will never work.
We’ve seen how parents think it’s easier to buy stuff instead of spending time with their children. I became one of those this month.
We’ve seen how couples get so involved with their own lives, they forget to nurture their marriage. Money can’t fix that. Only both partners in the relationship can choose to work on it to fix that.
We took time and evaluated what has happened this month and made some changes.
I’m completely disappointed in myself. And weirdly, kind of grateful that I had 3 weeks of this nonsense to wake me up to exactly the kind of person I don’t want to be.
Money doesn’t replace listening.
Sometimes the best thing I can do to show my love to my little girl is listen.
She’s got some big dreams and a vivid imagination. If I don’t take the time to listen, she will find someone who will.
There is power in listening to others. A power that money can’t buy. Listening says, “I appreciate you. You are important to me,” in a way that money never could.
Ironically, sometimes, that’s the best thing I can do to show my love to anyone.
You can’t replace that with money. Even sending a gift to someone is a kind, lovely gesture. But what of the listening? You will never be able to understand another person more without taking the time to listen.
And I learned that the hard way this month.
I’m not asking for sympathy. This has been a tremendous wake-up call for me. My time, my relationships, my life matters and I didn’t value that this month. And I didn’t just slip on those things.
I spent too much money along the way.
Money can not fill the void.
In several different ways, I can see how I was using money to fill a void.
Not going to give your child the attention they need? Buy something.
Don’t want to take time to prepare healthy meals? Buy junk food.
Don’t want to invest in my relationships? Spend money frivolously.
All of these mistakes were made to fill the void of emptiness in my life as I thought I was focusing on other projects. It reminded me of a time when my husband was gone for work and I had a nearly one-year-old. I had never been so lonely. Target became a friend. Spending was filling that void.
I thought I had beat that. I’m so disgusted I missed the mark this month. It will not happen again.
I’m asking you now for your insight:
Have you ever used money to fill a void? How did you overcome that?