(Today is a guest post from Kari Denker!)
Some people think I’m amazing.
Some think I’ve totally got things together because I do “so many things”.
Some think I’m successful and brave.
But really I have so far to go, and I’m constantly teetering on the edge of scared to death.
But the question I hear the most is: How do you do everything?
I’ve found that when I’m asked that by people, it’s really more of a shake their head and smile and walk away kind of question, not a real “I truly want to learn” kind of question.
So my usual answer (which is VERY true) is: “I don’t do everything.”
I can guarantee you that you are better at staying on top of a bunch more stuff than I am.
I let things slide.
I get discouraged, overwhelmed and tired.
My desk is a mess.
I have a million ideas on a thousand scraps of paper.
And I waste time like it’s an unlimited resource if I’m not very careful.
But on those days where I do have success, and for those people who truly want to know how to improve and see “how to do it all” (again, it’s a lie, NO ONE does it all), I can tell you the things that work for me, learned over 30 years of doing nothing too spectacular and a couple of years hustling.
1. WRITE IT OUT.
I’m highly distractible and get bored very, very quickly and jump to something shiny and new at the drop of a hat. So the thing I have to be sure I have is a written routine for my day. I also write out goals, meal plans, quotes that inspire me, notes to talk to the boys about, errands, projects, bullet journals, planners, thank you notes, etc. And, I write about 90% of my stuff long hand. Analog. Pen and paper. I also write in books… shhh… Writing helps me think and plan and form action.
2. DO YOUR BEST WORK FIRST.
I used to do this backwards for most of my life. I would make sure all the monotonous stuff was taken care of, thinking it would clear my head and then I could really get down to focused work. But after years of not really accomplishing much, I now realize how crucial it is to do my best, most important, most creative work FIRST off. The emails, facebook, blogs, and housework can all wait until I’m done with the important. Sometimes creative work sucks me dry, wrings me out, and uses so much of my brain that I’m not good for much more than clicking the mouse or folding laundry, and that’s okay. Leaving that stuff for my dry moments re-energizes me and I can keep that cycle rolling.
3. GUARD YOUR QUIET HOURS.
In a house full of pre- and teen boys I have precious little QUIET. In fact once they are out of bed, quiet is a soft, gossamer dream trampled and kicked aside by smelly feet and man-sized bodies. I have to MAKE my quiet hours happen. I have to get out of bed at a crazy-dark hour and be very ritualistic and solid in using those hours to the fullest. I have to plan and do the things that I cannot do with any sort of distraction first and in descending order, tweaking for every season.
I also delegate. A lot. I have three strong, completely healthy boy-men in my house. There is NO reason why I should be doing their laundry, cleaning the toilets they defile, doing the dishes, cleaning their room, cleaning our cars, mowing the grass or cooking every meal. I am in a constant battle with entitlement and delegating more tasks helps that battle. They have daily chores, weekly chores, and chores that pop up when we need help. It’s taken years and years of doing this, but now, about 13 years into it we’re starting to see some fruit. Our boys are becoming hard workers and sometimes will even do it without an eye roll or muttering. Sometimes.
Yes. Rest. Take a break. I go to my room with my iPod and apps of nature sounds (ocean, river, rainstorm) and do a 23 minute nap (three minutes to fall alseep, twenty minutes to enjoy it). It takes time to get your body into the routine of it, but it will. Sometimes and on some days I don’t ever fall alseep, but I will still lay down, listen to the sounds, and close my eyes. When my boys were little, I would do a quiet hour where they could do whatever they wanted as long as it was in their room, and it was quiet. Now that they are older, I just tell them I’m taking 23 and they know. (Some days, if time allows, I change this to 43 and read for the first 20 minutes, and then rest for the other 23. Those are GOOD days!)
Reading is HUGE. Read everything. Blogs, books, fiction, non-fiction. READ! If you haven’t read for a while (I didn’t read for myself at all for the first 10 years or so of being a mom), it will take some time for your brain to get used to it. But it will if you keep working at it. I find the time to read by scheduling it. I have part of my morning routine blocked off to workout. I have given myself an hour to do it, but I really only workout for about 30 minutes a day on average. I have that other 30 minutes reserved to cool down by reading a book while drinking the rest of my water bottle for the morning. I really look forward to surviving that workout because I know it means I get my 30 minutes of reading and water.
I listen to a lot of audio books and podcasts. I love inspirational podcasts especially when I’m slumping mid-day and running out of energy. I can listen to them while I’m doing routine work in the yard or home and it gives me motivation for finishing strong.
If you want life change, you’ve gotta do it. You’ve got to re-think how you do everything and change just one thing. After you get that down, change another thing. Then another. Think. Reflect. Grow. Screw up. Try again.
(For more great stuff from Kari, check out her blog!)