Groceries, quiet time, cooking, exercise, cleaning . . . A mom’s list is never ending. How can you fit it all in? The truth is you can’t. Wait, what? Well, let me come at that again, you can’t if you are trying to do it all every day.
So, how do you fit things in? You prioritize. You choose what is most important to you in that moment and you do that thing, you do it well, you do it without guilt.
This sounds simple; yet, it is so hard to actually accomplish. How do I choose what is most important and how do I keep from decision fatigue each and every day? Preparation the night before, rhythms and focus are the answers. Let’s look at them one by one.
Preparation the night before – Each day prior to settling in for the night, I grab my planner and decide three things that are most important for my following day. These tasks can vary from doctor’s appointments to grocery shop to read for book club to make yogurt to a Zoom coffee chat with a friend. I write down these three tasks in my planner and I stop. Though I may feel like I have a thousand other things pulling for my attention, I refuse to write down more than three. Three is what I know I can accomplish . . . three is not overwhelming . . . three is manageable. By having these three tasks written down ahead of time, decision fatigue does not set in. The decision is made before the day even begins. If I happen to get through my three things and find myself with extra time, I can consider other things that may be on my list but that is my choice.
You might notice that homeschooling and cleaning aren’t any where in that list of examples for preparation the night before. This is because those are rhythms that happen in our household. They are consistent from day to day.
Rhythms – Routines fall flat on their faces in our house. Rhythms on the other are doable. Rhythms allow us to be flexible and work with the constant change that comes with being a homeschooling family. Rhythms work for us instead of us us working them. Rhythms are things that happen as a series of event. Our morning work rhythm is one example. After breakfast is served, we begin our morning together work as a family. This all happens as the children eat. We enjoy our lessons and as they wrap up the children know to clear their dishes, get dressed, brush their teeth, and begin their morning independent work. I know my next few tasks include doing the dishes, cleaning the table, sweeping the floor, moving the laundry to the dryer and checking my email for work. The tasks always happen in the same order. This helps us to avoid having to think what comes next and thus reduces the number of decisions once again helping us to avoiding decision fatigue and frustration.
Focus – When I begin a task, I go all in. I don’t try to listen to one child recite his memory work and answer work emails. Nor, do I make a grocery list and try to clean out the refrigerator at the same time. Focus allows me to get more done in less time. It may sound counter intuitive but focus makes a greater impact than multi-tasking. Though for years, I worked as a proficient multi-tasker, I have learned that focusing on one thing truly makes what I am doing more precise and stronger. It also makes it go more quickly. Focus is hard to accomplish but it is worth it.
By preparing the night before, using rhythms and focusing on one thing at a time, I can do more than most people deem possible in one day and you can too. You need to find your groove. You need to quit trying to do it all every day. You need to start living your priorities and let the other things go. Keep it smart. Keep it simple,