I recently read a really good blog post by The Blog Maven about the importance of cleaning up your sidebar. I admit, that is one area on my blog I find difficult to ruthlessly edit. Her article mentioned that a person can only concentrate on one thing at a time and to be wary of taking your readers attention away from your writing with unnecessary distraction over there.
Funny how life works the same way.
The sidebar of my life right now is monumentally busy. So, I continue to try and edit and make it less distracting so that my attention can be on what it really needs to be on. Which as a wife and mother is my husband and our 5 children. But one can only edit obligations so much.
The sidebar of my life currently has:
- home renovations
- Working part time as a Speech Language Pathologist
- the obvious: cooking, cleaning, laundry, chauffeuring children to activities, grocery shopping, and any other errand that cannot be left “undone”.
- Usually my life sidebar has student as well as a few semesters ago I went back to school to learn a foreign language and get a second degree in History but Amen, it’s summer break!
And if you are a SAHM with a family, outside obligations, etc or a working Mom who is out of the house 20-40 hours a week in addition to parenting, then you feel my pain.
So what do I/you do? I can’t ruthlessly edit the above or anything to do with parenting, and I don’t want to. So I looked at the stuff lower down in the sidebar to see what could go.
Here is what currently is NOT in the sidebar of my life..
- TV (trust me, you won’t miss it)
- Telephone conversations that take longer than 5-10 minutes (those people who used to call and talk on and on and on about their dramas, kids, pets, whatever? Sorry, I love you but I don’t have time to hear every minute detail of your week; I’m still trying to survive MY week). Not my circus, not my monkeys.
- Pinterest (I have an account, I do pin, but I no longer troll boards over there sucked into a vortex of time wasting/craft WISHING that I could be using Craft MAKING).
- Facebook: I’m still on it and still post to my personal and blog pages, BUT like the phone calls, I’m on and back off in five-ten minutes. Ruthless editing, folks. I’m not the most social person in my fb groups, but I have a lot more interesting things to write about now because I am spending time doing more interesting things than scanning FB. As a blogger, I take advantage of their scheduling feature so posts for my blog page for the whole day I can write in the morning before my kids are up.
- I say “No” or “not at this time” alot more…to volunteer opportunities or anything else not family related. And though nice, I am unapologetic about it.
- I gave up a group activity this past year that I was involved in, that I was leading, that took two Saturdays a month not counting planning time. I released it to the universe and am letting someone else shoulder than responsibility. Ahhh, freedom.
- I blog around my life and not the other way around. Family comes first. A clean house comes first. Homeschool comes first. Laundry comes first.
I am not an expert and I still feel there are days that got away from me time wise, but here are ten tips that I use to maximize my day. After all 1 husband, 5 kids, a new puppy, homeschool, my outside the house career, my school etc. and a blog (and I love my blog) don’t just seamlessly come together. But if you’ve ever wondered how I do it , or others, this is how…
1. Get up early. The bottom line is, if I get up early enough to have some time to organize and have a little Mom-time before my kids get up, the day goes great. When I don’t, it doesn’t. I get up early. Even when I have went to bed late. I treat Motherhood as a profession and I want to show up on time and NOT in my pajamas.
2. Daily Priority List. Each morning. A list with NO MORE than three things on it. Those are the things I know I have to get done. Serious…no more than three things.
3. Motherboard. In our house, its the kitchen calendar. Everything is on there so I can see the month at a glance. If there is a day or two together where there is white space, I guard it with my life. White space is good.
4. Fuel. I eat really healthy because I want/need lots of energy. I don’t eat, I fuel my body. When put in those terms I don’t want to put junk in my body. This is not a discount body and I don’t want to put discount food in it. I need to keep up with the world’s busiest four year old every day and her 4 siblings. When I changed my diet for the better, it was like getting an extra hour or two built into each day. How’s that for diet modification motivation?
5. Sleep. I know my body. I will never be one of those get 5 hours of sleep a night and everything will still be awesome type of people. I need 7-8. This is an unmovable, fixed number in the grand scheme of how do I want to spend my 24 hour day. I can tell you; I’m spending close to 8 of it sleeping. I envy those of you who do fine on 5 or 6. My husband is that way. When I go more than two days at under 7 hours, it starts looking like an episode of walking dead around here…
6. No little trips. I go grocery shopping once each week. Little trips suck away gas, money, time and energy. Little trips are bad for the environment and bad for productivity. I meal plan and do one trip. Then I don’t have to think about what is for dinner or grocery shopping for another 6-7 days. Which is good, because with two teenage boys the grocery bill is depressing enough once a week…
7. Delegate. Even small children can have chores and will (hang with me here) enjoy them. Kids like to feel they are a part of something bigger than themselves; we all do. Everyone likes to feel needed. I give big verbal praise and let my children know how valuable (and it IS ) their contribution is when we do our “morning work” time. I don’t give them a lot cause they are all still young, but what they do do (put their own laundry away, take their own dirty clothes to the laundry room, pick up their own toys~~see the pattern) is time I don’t have to spend doing it for them.
8. Find hidden time. Hidden time is any time that you can multitask. My main ones are (yours may be different):
- I utilize the time when I am waiting for my kids to get done with their activities. Before grad school, I visited with the other Moms when I was stuck in waiting rooms, you know, waiting. Now I use that 1-2 hours to study, meal plan, make my daily priority lists and write blog posts.
- I return calls, (when I return calls), while I am folding clothes or some other rote activity. I do not return them in the car while driving. I used to, but I realized my attention needed to my on the road and there are always amazing little people in the backseat I can spend that time talking to, visiting with, and learning more about what’s in their mind and on their hearts.
- I am never without a book or my Nook so that I can either study myself or help the kids study or read to them if we are caught with unexpected wait time.
9. I Chunk my time. Homeschool time is homeschool time. Laundry time is laundry time. Blogging time is blogging time, etc. This way I don’t feel guilty that I’m not folding laundry while homeschooling and not feeling guilty that I’m not homeschooling while cleaning, etc. I have given myself the freedom to delegate time to specific tasks. My attention is not divided between multiple things at once, I became a better teacher and my house got cleaner. Just by allotting time to each activity on its own.
10. Organize. Everything. Not in a total OCD kind of way, but really, how many days in a row do you want to give time to activities like finding your keys, finding your kids soccer shoes, looking for…whatever? If you aren’t an organized person, make small steps toward this. Hang a key holder by the door, clean out one drawer or shelf a day. When you know what you have and where it is, you save time and money.
Time is the Currency of your life and no one gets younger as they go through life. I am the author of the life I live and I want that book to be full of memories, goals achieved, trips taken, and more so I guard my time, my life’s currency, as the valuable commodity it is.
Do you have other tips you could share in the comments?