As a mom of four and editor of a parenting magazine, I’ve got a lot of balls in the air. Sports balls, school balls, work balls, church balls, home balls just to name a few.
As the kids get older, the number of balls seems to increase. And the older I get, the worse I seem to be at juggling them. Last fall, for example, I completely forgot to fill out health forms for my high school freshman, and I had to do some major scrambling so she could attend her first day of orientation. I’ve also become completely unreliable when I agree to take on tasks for the school’s parent’s club or kids’ sports teams. I’ve been known to start a task and completely forget to finish it. This is not at all helpful for whomever I agreed to help.
Not surprisingly, I’m starting to feel a bit beaten down by the falling balls. So recently, I decided to take a friend up on her offer for a bit of “life coaching.” I had no idea what life coaching was. I thought she might try to prioritize my life — tell me to cut out some of the activities my kids are involved in and find a job that would require less time and more pay. But that’s not at all what she did. She actually gave me a few simple tips that she thought might help me keep the balls in the air without expending quite so much energy.
Here are four things she told me to do that have stuck with me (disclaimer: these may actually be my take on her suggestions and not exactly her suggestions)
- For three days, write down everything you do. This gives you a bit of perspective of how you are spending your time and maybe some insight as to how you might spend it more effectively.
- Plan purposefully. Schedule your day. Write down all the things you have to do, things you hope to accomplish and calls you need to make. Schedule in the little things like making doctors appointments, filling out paperwork, and even reading and answering emails.
- Write down things floating in your head that need to be done. This way you don’t waste energy trying to remember them. If it’s something you have been procrastinating, schedule it on your calendar so that you actually do it. Dreading something wastes energy. Checking it off the list will be freeing.
- Minimize distractions when working in order to be more productive. If you have set aside an hour or two for a specific task, don’t get sidetrack checking and answering emails. Only respond to an email if it’s going to take less than a couple of minutes. If it’s going to take longer, add it to your to do list. Schedule a chunk of time to deal with filed emails.
These suggestions are so simple, and I can see how they could be very effective in helping me organize my life. Have I started? Um… a little bit. I’ve been trying to write down all the stuff floating in my head. And I’ve been trying to write down what I hope to accomplish each day both for work and for the family. I’ve been procrastinating writing down everything I do everyday for three days, but I’ve been noticing things that I’m doing wrong or ineffectively. Like, getting into text conversations with friends while trying to get work done. Or letting an email divert my attention from what I’m working on — when I get distracted, I often forget what I was working on and start doing something totally different, throwing off my momentum.
Being a working mom defiantly requires good juggling skills but there’s only so much a mom can handle. I’m hoping my life coaching session helps me get a better grip on my life. But first, I need to actually put some of the steps into place.
I’ll let you know how it goes!
FranklyStein is a blog by Chesapeake Family Magazine editor Betsy Stein who lives in Catonsville with her husband, Chris, and four children, Maggie, 14, Lilly, 13, Adam, 13, and Jonah, 9.