So when I started writing the blog, I discovered that I had too much to say about it and broke it up into two parts. The ideas below are adapted just for moms from Michael Hyatt’s blog “Are you tired of feeling overwhelmed?” If you missed the first four points, you can find them in my previous blog…Executive Mom Part 1.
5. Do the math. This one is a little more tricky since we don’t actually get paid to be moms. Michael Hyatt’s thought was if he made $50 an hour, then he should stop doing the things he could pay someone $12 an hour to do. When I think about this as a mom, I think about trade-offs. Everything costs me something. Often the only question we ask is “Can I do it?” Of course the answer is “Yes, I can!” and we therefore conclude that we should. However I’ve found the better questions is “Am I willing to make that trade-off?”
For example, the other night the kids wanted to go to the pool. I knew that if we went to the pool it would make dinner later than usual and I would have to find a quick option instead of trying to cook something. However I ultimately decided that having some time at the pool spending time together was worth not having dinner on the table when Andrew came home.
Now that school has started, all the requests for volunteers started pouring in. Can you be a room mom? Can you tutor? The teacher’s birthday is on Monday, can you bring her lunch? I could do anything of those things; I am a strong, capable woman. However now I ask myself if I’m willing to make the trade-off. Am I willing to give up my writing time during the day (one of my big payoffs) to take the teacher lunch? Probably not. I might find another way to honor the teacher for her birthday that doesn’t take as much time out of my day.
It works the other way too. If I’m spending time doing something that takes me away from investing in my kids, then maybe I need to re-consider what it’s costing me, especially if it is not one of my big payoff activities. Everything has a trade-off. No mom can do everything. I can only do what God gives me strength and breath to do each day. What has He given to you to do today? Are you willing to make the trade-off?
6. Hire a virtual assistant. Okay…so at this point I can hear you chuckling. I would love to hire a personal assistant, a house cleaner and a nanny, but that’s definitely not in my budget. However I do want to encourage you to take advantage of the technology you have available to you. I have an iPhone 4, and it is the main way I check email or facebook any more. There are also apps for keeping track of chores (Chore Piggy is one I have used), grocery shopping and almsot everything else you can imagine. You can also use websites for couponing and meal planning (I used e-mealz.com for a long time). I use text messaging to book my babysitters.
7. Schedule the important tasks. The idea here is to get your schedule to the point where it reflects your priorities. If you looked at your schedule this week, how much time do you have set aside for your high payoff activities and the things that are the most important to you? In my week, there are certain things that are “automatically” on the schedule. Drum lessons, baseball, gymnastics, boy scouts, and community group are there every week. Those are activities that we have decided as a family are important to us and worth the trade-off. I’ve also worked my schedule this year to have two and a half “kid-free” days. I could use those days for kid-free grocery shopping, paying bills or kid-free house cleaning. But I have other activities I put into those days first: my accountability/deep waters group, writing time and meetings/correspondence for ministry. Everything else fits in where it can.
Some of you have heard this analogy before, but I think it bears repeating here. Think of your time as a jar. Moms have things that have to be done in a week, including dishes, laundry, grocery shopping, and house cleaning. These are like sand, the little things that all add up can take a lot of our time. Many of us have filled our weeks with “sand.” We run from doing one urgent thing to the next. Then we have rocks, the high payoff activities that we want to put in our week. But when someone asks us about our dreams or hobbies or what God is calling us to do, we say we don’t have time because the sand has completely filled up our jar. When the jar is full of sand, there is no room for those big rocks, and we feel discouraged and overwhelmed.
But something interesting happens when you put the rocks in the jar first. The sand fits in around the rocks and you have room for both. When I put my high payoff activities in first, I find that I have more energy and feel more fulfilled even when it comes to the sand. Then suddenly I have time to do the things that God is calling me to do and I don’t feel so overwhelmed.
I remembered a few years ago complaining to God that I didn’t have time to write and do what I felt He was calling me to do. The answer that came back was “You all all the time you need to do all that I am calling you to do.” I began to look at my schedule and found that I was spending a lot of time watching TV. I had all sorts of excuses like “That’s my down time,” “It’s just one hour a night.” But I started taking that time to go to my room and write (high payoff activity) instead of sitting and watching TV (productivity sinkhole). Over time, my television watching has gone down and my writing output has gone up because I have decided to put the rocks in first.
I hope that you will prayerfully invite God into answering these two questions: What trade-offs are you making? What are the rocks that need to go into your schedule first?
P.S. If you have any technology apps or websites you like, please comment and share!