This article is also featured in the Huffington Post.
Dreaming about all of the extra hours you’ll have with the kids back in school? Determined to get on top of your to-do list and have space in your day to do more of what you really want to be doing?
Here’s the truth. Those ‘extra hours’ will disappear into the ether if you don’t watch it.
That’s exactly what happened to me back when my youngest began nursery school.
I was thrilled to have three bonus hours a day to get stuff done. I imagined my amazing life with an additional 12 hours a week!
But it wasn’t long before I felt just as busy as ever.
Two years later when he started ‘big school’, I conjured up more images of what my life would look like with all of the ‘extra’ time I’d have.
I’d create filing systems, put photos in albums, finish the baby books, learn Spanish, train to be a yoga teacher, do volunteer work….
But that time evaporated too.
Here’s what I’ve finally learned (and I hope this fast tracks you through the process):
Your time expands or contracts to fill whatever you put into it. If you’ve got one hour to rush out and buy a birthday present, you’ll do it in an hour. If you have more time than that, you’ll take longer to do it. Sometimes a lot longer.
Full time working mothers will tell you that they manage to get things done in a short space of time because they have to. They won’t go to three separate shops to find a missing ingredient for dinner, they’ll substitute it for something else. They won’t comparison shop, they’ll make a gut decision and move on.
Working mothers look at stay at home mums and wonder what in the heck they do with all of that time. Stay at home mums look at working mothers and can’t comprehend how on earth they get it all done.
We all have the same 24 hours in a day, it’s how you choose to spend your time that matters.
We need to make conscious decisions every day or we won’t get the right things done – and end up frazzled and frustrated.
Having a daily plan doesn’t have to mean you’re tied to a set routine, nor does it need to feel suffocating. You’re the captain of your ship. You set the course for your day. If you decide you’d rather be socialising or hanging out online, that’s your choice. But take control of your decision and drop the guilt. If you can’t enjoy it because you feel bad about all of the things you ‘should’ be doing, see it as a message that you need to do things differently. Let it catapult you into action.
Two first steps to get started:
1. List the things you’ve been wanting to do, but never have time for.
Anything from organising photos and videos, decluttering and purging old toys and clothes – to taking a course or attending a workshop, making a career change, getting into a fitness groove or meal planning healthy dinners.
Now decide what you truly want to make time for. Not because you ‘should’, but because you want to.
Get clear about why you want to make time for these things. (Maybe you don’t actually want to do the work, but you want the result you’ll get by putting in the work.) Focus on the outcome and how you will feel when you’ve done these things.
2. Create an Action Plan.
Print off a Design My Day Action Sheet and begin each day by identifying your 3 M.I.T’s (Most Important Tasks). Get those out of the way first – then move on to the things on your list above. If you don’t schedule them in, they’ll never happen.
I’ve achieved so much by doing this. Over the past few years I’ve become super organised, got fit, learned Spanish, did online business school and started my online business.
All of this is down to getting clear about my goals and being focused.
Be determined to spend your time how you want to spend it. As a busy mother there’s bound to be obstacles thrown your way and you’ll need to be flexible and forgiving! No beating yourself up. When things calm down, get yourself back on track again.
Jump on the Project Me mailing list to hear about the next goals programme, on-line workshops and webinars on productivity. You’ll also be sent the Project Me Life Wheel® for doing a quick self-assessment on what needs your focus first.
In the comments below, please share what you’re going start making time for. The Project Me community is here to support and cheer you on!
Mixing practicality with self-awareness, Kelly helps mothers get on top of their endless to-do’s, set goals and improve their lives one small step at a time.
Grab her free Life Wheel Tool for discovering what needs your focus first.
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