Category Archives: habits

What Are You Escaping?

I know my life is reaching a point of overwhelm when there are too many post-it notes. When I feel like all I’m doing is creating to-do lists. But not actually doing any of the tasks on the post-its or lists.

When this happens, I take a few minutes to get all the tasks and ideas out of my head. Then figure out what really needs to happen right now, today, or this week.

When we have a sense of our commitments, it’s easier to say yes or no to something. If it’s a work project, we can talk about renegotiating deadlines. If it’s a volunteer commitment, we know if have the time to give. If it’s our kids asking to do one more activity, we can have a conversation as a family about whether it makes sense or will lead to more overwhelm.

How many things have you said yes to in your life because:

what are you escaping
  1. Didn’t know how to say no at the moment?
  2. Felt obligated to do it even though you really didn’t want to?

Remember that every time you say yes to something you are saying no to something else.

And sometimes we have to say no to something that seems like a great opportunity because we know that there’s a better one out there. (Or, we know we need to leave breathing room in our schedules). Make sure that yes is worth it.

I want you to design a life that you don’t need to escape from. One that doesn’t have you dreading every Monday. Where you aren’t resentful of the activities you and your family are committed to outside of work and school.

It’s a life full of activities and tasks that deserve to be there.

This takes time and reflection, both of which I know you feel you don’t have enough. But we can change that, together!

Are You Blorft?

“I was a little excited but mostly blorft. “Blorft” is an adjective I just made up that means ‘Completely overwhelmed but proceeding as if everything is fine and reacting to the stress with the torpor of a possum.’ I have been blorft every day for the past seven years.” ― Tina Fey, Bossypants

I was sitting on the playground recently, watching my kids play and listening to a group of parents talk about how hard it was to get together with their friends.

A dad was describing this long text thread of trying to get together with a friend to go rock-climbing. They live 30-minutes away from great climbing, but could not find a time when they were both free at the same time.

blorft

Same story for a mom trying to make plans with some girlfriends.

There were all the activities that the kids were doing. Soccer. Piano. Swim lessons. Dance. Gymnastics. Tuesdays and Thursdays were out. Saturdays too because that’s when the games are. And the multitude of birthday parties and other kid-centered activities that happen.

If there’s more than one kid, the activities likely fall on different days, so there goes most weekdays.

And I say there thinking to myself – it doesn’t have to be this hard, does it? It shouldn’t be this hard to make time to see our friends. Why do we design our lives to revolve around our children?

Society has led us to believe that we need to do everything for our children and keep them fully entertained all the time. That it’s selfish for us to do anything for ourselves.

Play dates. Sports. Music. They must be achieving and growing.

What happened to kids entertaining themselves while mom and dad sit and have a quiet cup of coffee together?

What would happen if you said no to a birthday party and instead spend some time with just your family? Or hired a babysitter (or a neighbor) to watch your kid(s) while you and a friend went and took a walk or went for a cup of coffee?

What if each family member took one activity off their plate for the next few months? What would that extra time do for all of you?

You can design a life you love. Not one that’s requiring you to respond to stress with the torpor of a possum.

What would you let go of today to make more time for your friends?

Your future self will thank you!

Valerie

It Doesn’t Have To Be This Hard

Do you have days where you feel like you missed a class on how to be an adult?

Where the to-do list is overwhelming and never-ending? And you wonder if you’ll ever feel on top of your game?

I know I have!

This is why I created Stride Productivity and my virtual community, Stride Together.

Because being a mom is hard. Being a mom while also working a full-time job or running your own business is hard. If you’re a stay-at-home mom, it’s hard!

And I want moms to know they’re not alone.

I want moms to know what it feels like to not have clutter and tasks in every crevice of their day.

To make time for fun.

To spend quality time with their families.

And to have a sense of control.

It is possible.

If you want to learn more, schedule a Get On Track call with me today. Let’s talk about how to help you stop feeling so exhausted and drained.

She Wanted To Help Me

How did it get so messy? Does a pack of wild animals live here?

Big sigh

We were all picking up toys and clutter so that we could more thoroughly clean it. My 5-year-old daughter refused to participate. She’s 5. She’s stubborn and she’s not going to do anything she doesn’t want to do.

So I let it go and we all moved on.

A little while later, I hear her saying she’s cleaning up to help me. Because mom needs it.

Now, I understand that often our kids do stuff around the house to help mom. Mom’s the one who manages the chores and house cleaning (more on why this is a problem at a later date.

But I didn’t like the way she said this. I didn’t like that she was only doing it because mom was mad.

We are a team in our household. Keeping the house clean and organized is not just mom’s job. It’s everyone’s job. Because we all live here.

We don’t clean the house to make mom happy. We clean and declutter the house so we can find what we need and don’t get ants.

Everyone participates in keeping the house functioning.

Here are some ideas to get everyone involved:

  • Make it fun. Don’t tell your kid to go clean their room. Their brains will shut down and it won’t happen.
    • Help them play the seek and sort game.
    • Turn it into a game. We play basketball with my kids’ laundry. You can do the same with any toys that go into a bin. (side note, don’t use bins with lids.
    • Have kids race against you (never against each other. Siblings are already competitive enough). See if they can put something away faster than you.
  • Make it easy to put things away. (Lids add one more step).
  • Have special time with them first.
  • Do something fun together as a family once you’re done.
to help me

If your kids are older, these same guidelines apply. Get them to participate. Ask them how they want to participate (and skipping out is not an option).

Build routines around decluttering and cleaning.

Keep it small. We clean half the house each weekend so it’s not overwhelming. We pick up most of the mess each day so it doesn’t get overwhelming.

Everything has a home, so it’s easy to put things away.

How cluttered your house gets is up to you and those who live there. What is your level of acceptance of mess? I don’t have the energy for a spotless house every day. I do like a weekly reset.

Figure out what works for your family.

Spend some time this week talking with your family about how to start working together to keep the house functioning. Pick one of the above ideas and put it into action!

Watch As She Bends But Never Breaks

In the song, Surface Pressure, from Encanto, we find Luisa singing the following lyrics.

I take what I’m handed, I break what’s demanding But

Under the surface

I feel berserk as a tightrope walker in a three-ring circus

Under the surface…

I’m pretty sure I’m worthless if I can’t be of service…

Pressure like a drip, drip, drip that’ll never stop, whoa

Pressure that’ll tip, tip, tip ’til you just go pop, whoa-oh-oh

Give it to your sister, it doesn’t hurt

And see if she can handle every family burden

Watch as she buckles and bends but never breaks

Luisa is singing about how she feels so much pressure and is wondering if she can handle it.

She’s always been expected to be the strong one in the family. And the family and town keep throwing tasks at her and expecting her to take more and more on.

She feels herself crumbling under the pressure. She also starts to realize that she doesn’t always have to be the strong one. That she doesn’t always have to take everything on. That she’s more than the strong one. And she really needs a break.

Do these words resonate with you? Do you feel the pressure of taking everything on yourself?

You take everything that’s thrown at you. You bend but never break.

But underneath everything, you feel a bit berserk? Trying not to crumble under the pressure? Feeling like your worth is wrapped up in service to your family?

Maybe you too are developing a twitch in your eye from the pressure.

Know that you don’t need to carry the weight of the world by yourself. That you and your family are a team. You work together.

Know that you don’t have to do every task on your to-do list today.

One of the things I work on with my clients is making sure that what’s on your list belongs there. Today and long-term. You don’t have to say yes to everything.

The world will continue to tell you that your worth is wrapped up in your task list and how you serve your family.

I will continue to tell you that this isn’t true.

If you are curious about what it would be like to work with me, schedule a Get On Track session!

Are You Still Making Their Lunches?

In the movie Bad Moms, Amy (played by Mila Kunis), has taken on so many tasks in her family. She does her best to make her kids’ lives magical. She does their homework. Makes their breakfast. Makes their lunches. Drives them to all their activities.

She does it all.

And she’s exhausted.

At one point, after she’s realized how hard she works and how she’s done doing all the tasks, she tells her kids to make their own lunch. They look stunned. Mom has always done everything for them! And now they have to do something for themselves.

And you know what happens? They figure it out.

Yes, they grumble a bit. They leave a mess in the kitchen. But they make their own lunches.

Moms have been told, over and over, that in order to show our kids that we love them, we must do everything for them. From making fancy breakfasts every morning to packing their lunches, and maybe even doing their homework.

Go overboard for the holidays with decorations, gifts, food.

Throw elaborate birthday parties.

We sign our kids up for so many activities and schedule numerous playdates.

Because society has told us this is what we’re supposed to be doing. That this makes us good moms.

When in reality, it makes us tired and resentful. And makes our kids rely on us for everything.

Now, I hate making lunches. Always have. So I taught my kids from a young age how to make their own.

Do they make a mess? Yes. Do they help clean it up? Yes. Are they getting better at it? Yes.

We make it as simple as possible. Pack snack-size containers with raisins and goldfish on the weekends so that they’re ready to pack (the kids help with this too). Keep ingredients to make sandwiches on hand. Have a list of easy-to-make lunch ideas. And we work on making lunches together, after dinner each night.

Eventually, they’ll be able to pack their lunches without help.

What’s something that you can start teaching your kids to do on their own? Something you can eventually move off your plate, onto someone else’s?

Yes, it might get messy. Yes, it might take some time for your kids to learn. But in the long run? It’s better for all of you!

Reply to this email and let me know what you are going to start working on with your kids?

Your future self will thank you.

P.S. Want to learn more about what it’s like to work with me? Schedule a Get On Track call!

Do You Ever Do This?

When I was in college, my roommate would reclean the bathroom after I cleaned it. He didn’t think I did it right.

So I stopped. What was the point of me taking the time to do something that someone else was going to redo?

Have you ever done this?

Do you ever redo a task that someone else has done because you didn’t think it was done well enough? Maybe it’s the dishwasher, maybe it’s folding laundry, maybe it’s something for work.

Be honest, no one is watching you read this.

And how often do you complain that others in your house don’t help? Do you spend your time with friends complaining about how you do it all around the house? How your partner just doesn’t see all that you do or even know that you do it?

You’re exhausted, overwhelmed, tired of it all?

I wonder if we bring some of the chaos on ourselves.

I wonder if we have such high expectations of ourselves and those around us that no one will ever live up to them.

Or society has conditioned women to believe that we’re the only ones capable of doing these tasks. And if they’re not done our way, then we’ve failed somehow.

What if, by redoing a task that someone else completed, we take away their power and motivation. Thereby starting a cycle where they stop doing it and we get mad because now they’re not doing it.

reclean the bathroom Woman standing over dishwasher

I have a friend who argued with his wife about their dishwasher. She was constantly reloading it after he loaded it. He told her he was going to stop loading it if she continued to redo it. What was the point of him doing it if it was just going to get redone?

What if our partners (and maybe even our kids) feel this way? They’re tired of being nagged, of having their work redone. Wondering why they even bother if it’s not good enough.

I’ve talked about how men and women have the same level of messiness. But women are conditioned by society to care more, to get to it quicker. So we expect tasks to be completed on our timeline. Not allowing others to have their own agency.

I wonder what would happen if we set the expectation of when something needs to be done and then let our partners do it in their own way. Didn’t remind them. Didn’t nag them. Let them do it on their own.

Instead of maternal gatekeeping (something that’s seated deep within women where mothers know best and should be in charge), what if others participated?

Remember that half the population wasn’t raised to see all the work it takes to run a household and raise kids.

It’s not that they’re ignoring it. They don’t know it exists. And, as women, when we take it all on, our partners still don’t see it because we’re doing it all.

These changes require patience and time. We’re not going to change these deep-seated tendencies overnight. But we can start.

Let’s start by making it more visible. Stop doing all the housework after everyone else is in bed. Stop redoing something someone else has already done. Even if you can fit more dishes in the dishwasher or think something should be folded differently, stop yourself. Try celebrating that someone else did it and now you don’t have to. That’s one thing off your plate!

Think of what you can do when you’re not doing everything?

My kids don’t fold their clothes. The clothes get sorted by item and shoved in drawers. They know how to fold, but I’m not going to spend a bunch of time folding their clothes or nagging them to do it. We sort them, play a game of basketball as they toss their clothes into the drawers, and call it a day.

Give someone ownership over a task. They’re not helping you, you’re working together.

Start paying attention to everything that you’re taking on. It’s not going to change overnight, but let’s start with some awareness.

Your future self will thank you.

Let me know the last time you redid the dishwasher! (I’ll keep it between us!)

And come join me on Instagram!

Some Days It Never Ends

Some days, it never ends.

Get the kids up.

And get breakfast ready.

And help the kids pack their lunches

And remind the kids to put those lunches in their backpacks, not the counter.

And get kids out the door to school.

some days it never ends

Then start my work day.

And then remember we need to figure out what’s for dinner. And maybe buy groceries.

And add 3 more things to my task list for work.

Some days, it never ends!

It feels like the task list never gets shorter.

Some days the list truly gets longer!

At times it feels like we’re failing. Maybe you’ll try a new tool or hack and it’ll work for a while. But you eventually find yourself back where you were, overwhelmed and overcommitted. Feeling like it’s never enough.

Sometimes we wonder if we missed a class in school on how to do this thing called life.

I assure you that you did not miss a class. You are not failing. Our society has led women to believe that in order to have it all we have to do it all.

When dads don’t get paternity leave, moms simply get better at doing all the things. Not because they’re better at it by nature, but because they’re the ones doing it every day.

Over time, this leads moms to feel like we need to take on everything related to the house and kids, on top of running a business or growing our own careers. Because we’ve been led to believe that this is what good moms do and nothing will happen if we don’t take care of it.

But when both partners are involved with the household and raising of children, life is richer for everyone.

Getting everyone involved in a household doesn’t happen overnight. And it doesn’t happen by putting up a chore chart or reminders.

It takes time. Conversations. Family meetings. Work on everyone’s part.

But it can happen. This is the work I do with my clients. The work we talk about in my community.

Want to get started? Go here.

If you’re wondering if you missed a class on how to do life, let’s chat! Schedule a call with me!

Your future self will thank you!

It’s Not That Simple

I’m standing in my kitchen. I need to empty my coffee maker. I’d like to clean it out too.

it's not that simple Toys on stair with foot about to step no them.

But I’m stuck. The compost bin is full and if I attempt to dump coffee grounds in it, the grounds will end up all over the counter.

I don’t want to take the time to empty the compost bin before I clean out the coffee maker. It’s a few steps, but it feels like too many right now. I have other things I need to get to. 

So, I do what any sane person would do in this situation, I walk away to deal with it later. 

While this is a simple (and maybe silly) problem, this feeling of being stuck, of wanting to deal with something but feeling overwhelmed by the steps, is common. 

It might be wanting to hire a housecleaner or a nanny. Maybe it’s getting your kids to do more around the house. Or you want regular date nights with your partner but don’t have a reliable babysitter.

Whatever it is, take a few minutes to figure out the steps to get you there. Whether it’s researching babysitters or asking your neighbors for their housecleaner recommendations.

Whether it’s something where you need to do it yourself or you want to delegate it, getting started is tough.

But think about what that’s costing you in the long run. If you could hire a nanny or a house cleaner, what kind of time would that get you? 

Figure out the first step and then take it.

If you’re based in Denver and that project includes offloading a chore, try https://callemmy.com/

Receive a free PDF to help get you started.

    The Ideal Mother

    Last week we talked about maternal gatekeeping. How, as women, we’re conditioned to believe we’re better at parenting and housekeeping than our partners. How we are the ones who need to control everything, to ensure it’s done right (or done at all). And how we need to stop letting society create these ridiculous standards. 

    This conditioning comes from what’s known as the Ideal Mother. This is the idea that a mother know’s best. We’re led to believe this from a young age. 

    Men are conditioned to believe they are the ideal worker and the breadwinner. Jobs are designed around the ideal worker. The person who is always available for their work. They don’t have a life outside of work. It’s expected that there’s someone else (usually a wife), at home making sure the kids are taken care of, the house is cleaned, and dinner is on the table. 

    So what happens when the wife works too? Life gets complicated. Women are expected to work like they don’t have a family to take care of and care for their family like they don’t have a job. 

    But this isn’t possible and it isn’t fair. And it’s time to break this expectation. 

    And it starts with a conversation. 

    Yes, this might feel like one more thing you have to do. And it is. But it’s also the only way we’re going to change things. We need to get our partners on board here. And not in a guilt and shame-filled way. But in a way that leads us to be true partners, sharing childcare and household tasks in a way that’s fair to everyone. (that is different from sharing things 50/50). 

    woman overwhelmed by too many tasks around the house. the ideal mother maternal gatekeeping

    One of the first things to discuss is an acceptable level of cleanliness and which Eve Rodksy, in her book Fair Play, labels Minimum Standard of Care. These are the agreed-upon expectations of everything in a house. Who cleans out the cat litter and when does it happen? What about the trash? What about family activities, like soccer, piano lessons, church choir, etc.? How many activities does each family member take on each season? How often do you have family dinners? 

    When my kids started elementary school, I decided we were only attending birthday parties with my kids’ friends. Not every birthday party. We were not going to sign up for every activity possible. Each person gets one, maybe two activities per semester. 

    Remember, you do not need to spend every day after school driving your kids around to activities. Pick one of their favorites. Carpool. Schedule things so it all happens on one crazy day, where you have take-out for dinner. Or where you can trade off with your partner on who does the driving. Meet a friend for a walk around the park while your kids are at soccer practice. Or spend one-on-one time with one kid while the other(s) are at practice. 

    Don’t feel obligated to say yes to everything.

    There is no need to wear yourself out. It is ok for kids to be kids. To learn how to entertain themselves. Let them figure it out. 

    If you want to talk more about how to incorporate this in your life, how to let go of all of the tasks, schedule some time with me!

    If you want a PDF to get you started down this path, sign up below.

      Overwhelmed By The Options

      As we’re coming out of the pandemic fog and intentionally rebuilding our lives, let’s take a look at our task lists. There might be piles of things that need to be cleaned out or purged. Maybe you have lists of house projects you wanted to do during this past year but never got around to. You might have activities you want to get yourself and your family back into. Are you overwhelmed by the options?

      man looking at stickie notes of question marks on the wall. Overwhelmed by the options.

      Around here, we had delayed doctor’s appointments (dentist, eye doctor, physicals, etc.). We had closets full of things we’d purged but hadn’t donated. There are projects around the house we’ve been delaying. All of these are decisions weighing on our brains that we’re not taking care of. So they rattle around in our heads because our brains wonder why we’re not immediately taking care of them. 

      We’ve been talking about what we want the next few months to look like. Our kids won’t be vaccinated for a while, so not much is going to change for us. We’d like to spend much of the summer camping. There are a few friends we’d like to see. Otherwise, we’re going to continue staying home, hanging out in our backyard. Making homemade ice cream and playing in the sprinkler.

      Last week I asked you to start thinking about the things you want to keep or shift going forward. How’d that go?

      Are you diving back into everything or taking it slow? 

      One of the things I’ve most appreciated about this past year is how it forced families to slow down. To stop running from one activity to another. Families are no longer spending their weekends attending birthday parties and soccer games or other sports. And no longer reaching Sunday night exhausted and not ready to start the next week. 

      I think society has us conditioned to believe that we must say yes to everything that comes our way. Our kids won’t get into a good college if they’re not playing multiple sports in elementary school. That our kids are going to cause trouble if every moment is not scheduled. 

      But what does that do to our family time and our own sanity? When we simply become activity directors and drivers for our kids. Scheduling playdates, music lessons, sports, etc. for every minute of the day? When do our kids simply get to be kids and learn how to entertain themselves? It is possible for your kids to learn how to entertain themselves. It might take some time, but it can be done. 

      As you discuss what you’re going to start doing over the next few months, think about creating family meta-decisions. This is an overarching guideline used to make decisions. It could be that each family member gets 1 activity per semester, including parents. Maybe it’s one sport and one other activity. One could be that each parent has one night each week where they are out of the house. Every Friday is a family movie and pizza night. Whatever works for your family. 

      Create these guidelines and they’ll make your schedule easier to figure out. These guidelines create guardrails against the craziness of diving right back into everything we think we missed. They will help contain the chaos! 

      Read more about meta-decisions here.

      If you want to talk more about how to incorporate meta-decisions in your life, schedule some time with me.

      And, if you want a PDF on how to start thinking about these ideas, sign up below.

        Coming Out Of The Fog

        We’ve all been in a fog this past year. There has been so much unknown, fear, and uncertainty. As we move forward to the next chapter, it’s like we’re coming out of the fog. Let’s make sure we come out of this fog with some intention and focus.

        I’ve heard from many moms how much they’ve enjoyed having family dinners together on a regular basis. Not rushing around from so many activities. Not being so overbooked on the weekends. I’ve enjoyed not rushing around in the mornings getting everyone ready for the day. I like that we all sit down for lunch together.

        stone steps through green grass. coming out of the fog

        Yes, moms have been overwhelmed with so much this past year. The unknown. Remote learning. Decision fatigue. Working while your kid is sitting next to you at the dining room table. The piles of laundry and dishes that seem to accumulate when you’re not looking (which, let’s be honest, is not just a pandemic thing). The fact that everyone has to eat what feels like all the time. The worrying about the health of loved ones. The laying awake at 2 am worrying about everything. Again, the unknown.

        So what’s next?

        As life around us starts to open up, what are you doing next? Take some time to answer these questions. Ask your family these questions! Use them as a starting point for what’s next.

        • What is it you want to keep about this past year? (For me, it’s Sunday night card games with my husband).
        • What from your pre-pandemic life do you not miss? (For me, it’s saying yes to things because I feel I should. I’m going to be much more intentional about how I spend my time).
        • What do you want your life to look like going forward?

        Let’s not go back to the crazy, overwhelmed, rushing around we did pre-pandemic. Say yes to what is important to us. Let’s build back better than we were in 2019. Let’s get intentional about our lives.

        Who’s with me?

        Keep reading about this topic:

        One Big Interruption

        Feeling Uprooted? Start Planting New Seeds

        If you want some guidance around getting started on these ideas, schedule time with me or sign up below.

          Scientist and Experiment

          When you’re making changes in your life, it’s not just building willpower and repeating something every day until it sticks. It’s taking a look at all the activities and people in your life and changing these sources of influence to better support you.

          One of my favorite books on habits is Change Anything: The New Science of Personal Success, by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, David Maxfield, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler.

          It looks at six sources of influence and how they impact your life. 

          Let’s start with willpower. Have you heard of the Marshmallow Experiment? The one where kids are told to sit in front of a marshmallow. If they can go 15 minutes without eating it, they get a second one? The kids who were able to delay gratification of eating that marshmallow were shown to be more successful in life. 

          Most people assume that means the kids simply had more willpower. But that is far from the truth. The kids who were able to delay gratification had skills that helped them. Skills that we can all learn. 

          This means that your struggle to get up early every day, stop eating chocolate, or stop shopping at the $1 bins at Target has very little to do with willpower. When we blame our failures on willpower, we ignore all of the influences around us that impact our ability. 

          We try the latest fad to lose weight (it doesn’t stick). We follow the KonMari method of organizing and get rid of everything that doesn’t bring us joy (then go out and buy more stuff). We wonder if we’re ever going to stop procrastinating or reach any of our big life goals because we can’t seem to get a handle on our to-do list. 

          One thing that’s missing here is that everyone is different. What works for you might not work for someone else. We need to try things, see what works and tweak where necessary. We need to constantly examine what we’re doing. 

          Be The Scientist and The Experiment

          Try being both the scientist and the experiment in your life. Start thinking about the behaviors you want to change. Where do you struggle?

          Answer the questions below. These answers will help you on this journey. 

          • What are your crucial moments? Where is it that you fall short of your goals? 
            • These moments may be physical, emotional, or involve certain people or places. 
            • Start becoming aware of these moments.
          • What are your vital behaviors? What actions do you want to take when you are in a crucial moment? 
            • These actions or guidelines help influence your behavior.

          Keep reading about these ideas here.

          If you want help with building new habits in your life, contact me!

          Busy Is A Four-Letter Word

          Yes, I said it. I think busy is a four-letter word. And not a good one.

          Are you constantly doing something? A task on your to-do list? A commitment or activity?

          busy is a four-letter word

          Is everything that you’re doing moving you forward personally or professionally? Or the required parts of living, like dishes and laundry? 

          Or are there things on there that you do but aren’t really necessary? You’re going through the motions, without thinking about what you’re doing? (It’s ok, be honest with yourself here). 

          I think our society treats being busy as a badge of honor. 

          We’re a country that doesn’t guarantee time off. Most companies who do offer vacation time only offer about two weeks. And those of us who have vacation rarely take that time. And if we do, we’re checking emails and taking calls. 

          We never really rest. 

          Outside of work, we have ourselves and our kids signed up for every activity under the sun. Every minute is a scheduled play date, sports, or music activity. Weekends are full of birthday parties, more play dates, more sports. 

          We can’t let ourselves or our kids ever utter the sentence I’m bored. (Side note here, I’ve read isn’t actually that they’re bored, but that they want connection with you. And giving them connection, and sitting with them in their boredom for a few minutes, moves them out of it). 

          We never stop that constantly running list in our head. When we’re working, we’re thinking about the house tasks and if we’ve spent enough time with our kids. When we’re with our kids, we’re thinking of all the other tasks we’re not doing. 

          So we’re never really present in our lives. This is part of our overwhelm. This constantly feeling like there’s something else we need to be doing.  

          And we complain about it, but in a way that makes it seem like there’s really nothing we can do about it. (Or that we enjoy it, maybe, we’re not sure. We’re too tired to really figure it out). 

          So what do we do?

          What happens if we say no to a few of those birthday party invitations? To all the activities? Picking one or two for each family member each season? 

          What if we make time for leisure? For rest? 

          Those to-do lists are always going to be there. There will always be something that needs to be done.

          If you have ways to manage your tasks (something I talk often about here and in my virtual community, Stride Together) you know that your big stuff is taken care of. It’s documented. It’s scheduled. There’s time. So you can focus on the work task or spending time with the kids.

          What are you going to do with this leisure? 

          Want to keep reading? Here’s more!

          If you’re struggling with how to make time for leisure or letting go of the guilt of it, schedule some time with me!

          Next week, we will look at how to know if you are too busy!

          Stop It

          Stop redoing the dishwasher after someone else has loaded it. Stop picking up the toys your kids needed to pick up. Stop taking on more tasks around the house or at work because you think no one else is going to do it as well. 

          stop it.

          You are wearing yourself out. 

          Sure, you might be able to fit more dishes in the dishwasher if you loaded it. But, if someone else already loaded it, then the task is done. Cross it off the list and move on. 

          In college, I had a roommate who would reclean the bathroom after I did it. Because he didn’t think I did a good enough job. So I stopped cleaning the bathroom. What was the point? I wasn’t wasting my energy doing something that wasn’t respected. 

          And I wonder if this happens in our own houses. As women, we take on tasks or redo tasks because no one else is going to do it up to our standards. 

          But how is that serving you or those in your household? What is that teaching your kids? 

          Of course, your kids aren’t going to put their toys away exactly as you would. But if they’re put away (even if they’re in the wrong boxes), does it matter? Sure, your partner does things differently. He or she is not you. My husband folds towels differently than I do. That doesn’t mean it’s wrong. I occasionally fold them that way now too. 

          The point of all of this is a mindset shift. Find a way to let go of the way others do things. Let them be a part of the household, helping each other get things done. 

          If it’s important to you that something is done a certain way, explain it to the rest of your family. Help them learn it. Then let go. Or, if it’s really important, do it yourself. But you don’t get to complain when no one else helps. 

          I’m not saying this is easy. I still struggle with it on occasion. But I’m working on saying to myself, Great, that’s one thing I can cross off my list.  

          And I move on to the next task. 

          Let me know what your mindset shifts need to be! What are you working on this week?

          Here’s more on this topic.

          I Don’t Have Time For That

          Do you keep appointments you make for yourself? What about making time to do those things that aren’t high priorities but are things you’d like to do someday?

          The things you know would make you happy or contribute to society in some way, but you’re too busy cleaning the house, completing work tasks, and entertaining the kids to get to?

          What if you made appointments with yourself that you kept as strictly as you would a client meeting, doctor’s appointment, or coffee with a friend?

          I’ve had several people ask me how to make time for things they’d like to do but aren’t high priorities. Taking digital classes (personal or professional), volunteering, doing things outside of chore and work lists.

          I suggest spending just 30 minutes taking a class. It’s not much, but over time you will make progress. Treat the time you schedule for yourself with as much respect as you would a client appointment or coffee with a friend.

          Another suggestion includes letting go of the need to keep up with all the household tasks all the time. I’m not saying let your house grow mold. But what if you spend one afternoon a month volunteering (when it’s safe to do so)? Your house isn’t going to fall apart during that time. Volunteering can be something social, where you meet new people. It can be something you do as a family.

          And at the end of your life, you’re not going to remember having a spotless, well-maintained home. Or how many things you crossed off your task list. You’re going to remember the things you did with your family and friends. The experiences you created.

          I’m not saying you should skip out on your priorities. But we also need to make time for ourselves and time for fun. And it’s ok to schedule it. You should schedule it, otherwise, it’s not going to happen.

          And, when you take breaks from your task list, you just might find yourself more productive when you come back to it. You might find that doing something else helps you solve some big client problem or gives you an idea for something at work.

          Are You Letting Tech Control You?

          Let’s talk about technology. It can be a wonderful thing. Caller ID. Text messaging. The ability to see the faces of friends and loved ones who live far away. Any funny meme that helps you get through the day.

          But technology is also full of time sucks and interruptions. Your phone constantly dinging with message alerts. Your email notifications popping up while you are working. Someone commenting on a Facebook or Instagram post.

          All of this distracts us from our priorities. We can’t focus on deep work when we’re constantly being interrupted. Or, we think the interruption is a priority so we stop what we’re doing to answer the phone, read the emails, respond to the text messages.

          What if you took back control of your time and focus? What if you turned off those notifications, closed the email programs, and didn’t have your phone constantly in your hand or pocket?

          I’m going to guess that the world will continue on just fine. It won’t stop spinning. And, you are likely to be more productive and not feel pulled in so many directions!

          Here are some more ideas to stop letting tech control you!

          • Respond to those messages and calls on your time.
          • Have auto-responders for your email stating you received their email and will respond within 24 business hours (or whatever your company requires for responses).
          • Have specific times of the day that you sit at your computer and process emails. Block the time on your calendar. Spend that time only processing your emails.
          • Turn off all notifications to email, text, etc.
          • Turn your phone on silent or leave it in another room when you are doing some deep work.
          • Put an analog clock somewhere in your office so you’re not looking at your phone to check the time. Plus, analog clocks give you a better understanding of the passing of time!

          What are you going to do this week to stop letting tech control you?

          If you want to talk further about better control over your tech, schedule a 30-minute phone call with me! Or read more about multitasking (which you’re likely doing with all those tech interruptions!)

          Are You Tired Of The Interruptions?

          We’re spending this month talking about interruptions. Last week we looked at how this pandemic has been one big life interruption (and 2021 isn’t shaping up to be all that different!) and how now is a great time to really examine the life we are creating. What activities, people, habits, things do we want in our lives? What is important to us?

          This week we’re going to look at a practical idea for dealing with interruptions both in your house and at work.

          interruptions, office hours

          Think about scheduling office hours. This minimizes interruptions and can be used in the office or when working at home. You get to focus on deep work, the stuff you never get to because you’re always being interrupted.

          Let people know that during certain hours, you do not want to be interrupted unless it’s an emergency. If someone does interrupt when it’s not office hours, ask if they can come back. If not, decide if it’s worth the interruption. And make a note of what you were working on so you can get back to it when it’s time.

          Find a way to mark your office door, calendar, or wherever you work so your family or colleagues know you’re working.

          Then, during certain hours, your door is open and people can ask questions and talk to you. Focus on work that can be easily interrupted, such as processing emails, work that requires less thinking, etc.

          Yes, it might take some time for your family to understand and learn to respect these boundaries. Especially if they’re used to interrupting you and having you respond immediately.

          But hold to these boundaries. Everyone will be happier in the long run, mostly because you’ll be less annoyed!

          Want to talk more about dealing with interruptions in your life? Schedule a free 30-minute phone call!

          Stop Wasting Time

          How much time do you waste on a daily basis? Are you aware of how much you procrastinate or put off a task because you don’t want to do it or are not clear on the next steps? A 2015 time/work survey showed that 70% of people waste time because they feel stressed or uninspired. And 50% spend too much time procrastinating. Does this sound familiar?

          Stop Wasting Time

          I’ve noticed my kids fight doing something they don’t want to do. They spend more time arguing with me or coming up with excuses to get out of doing something, like taking a bath or picking up a few toys, than if they’d just do the task. In most cases, watching TV is waiting for them at the other end of this task. And if they’d just do it, they’d have more TV time. They’ll be running around the house. I’ll ask them to pick up a few toys. Suddenly they’re laying on the floor, too tired to help!

          Think of the emotional and mental drain of this!

          Stop Wasting Time!

          So how do you work through this? Here are a few ideas.

          • Identify the next steps. Break any overwhelming projects down into small steps. Then you take the next step, then the next, until you complete the project
          • Set mini-deadlines. Take the small steps you identified and set deadlines for each one. Hold yourself to those deadlines. Make yourself accountable to someone else or set up payment to a non-profit you can’t stand. If you don’t make the deadline, your payment goes!
          • Set a timer. Work for 30 minutes or any predetermined amount of time. When the timer goes off, you can stop for the day. Or, you can keep working. Sometimes getting started is the hardest part.

          Are You Avoiding Something? Figure Out Why.

          Maybe you’re avoiding a project or task for a specific reason. It’s boring and tedious. Sometimes, you have to power through something to get to the good stuff on the other side. Maybe it’s challenging (break it down into doable steps). Maybe it’s something you don’t like doing for your own business but you’re not at the level yet where you can outsource it.

          Spend some time figuring out why you’re avoiding something and you can likely figure out a solution. Also, think about what you could be doing with your time if you’d complete those tasks. Your future self will thank you!

          For support with your relationship with time, schedule some time with me or send me a message!

          Feeling Uprooted? Start Planting New Seeds.

          Feeling uprooted? Plant new seeds.

          Are you feeling uprooted? Like this pandemic has turned everything in your life upside down? Me too. I’ve lost track of how many weeks we’ve been home. And although our city and state have lessened restrictions, we’re still staying home as much as we can.

          I can sense that people are aching to get back to normal. But I don’t think things are ever going back to the way they were before this pandemic hit. And I’m ok with that. Why? Because now is the time to rethink everything. It’s a blank slate. A time to start fresh.

          A time to plant new seeds.

          Where do we start?

          We have some work to do first. We need to grieve the life that once was. So many people have lost loved ones, jobs, livelihoods, innocence, a sense of security. Maybe you’ll come out of this mostly unscathed, but I bet it’s touched you somewhere in your life. Spend some time grieving.

          I’m grieving my youngest having her preschool graduation without her friends. Surrounded by her teachers, her sister, and her parents, it was only her, wearing her cap and gown. During a timed ceremony so we wouldn’t interact with too many others. I can only imagine how parents and kids who didn’t get their high school or college graduation ceremony feel. These rituals bring such closure.

          I’m grieving the last few months of spending every Tuesday with my daughter before she heads off to kindergarten. I’ve spent every Tuesday of the last 7 years with one or both of my girls. Although I was tired of figuring out how to entertain a small child every week, Mommy and Ellie days were special.

          What do you need to grieve? Spend some time sitting with it and working through it. Mourn the memories that never were.

          Once we’ve grieved, we can begin planting new seeds.

          Next comes the part I’m most excited about. There is such an opportunity here. It’s time for a shift in thinking. Instead of longing to go back to the way things were, let’s reinvent. Let’s look at our schedules and priorities and figure out what really matters. How do we want to be spending our time?

          I want to see our society have some big, deep discussions about so many things. Work, education, the division of housework and parenting. Generally, the way our society functions.

          I’m not looking to have a big political discussion here. But we need to start with learning how to have deeper discussions. Instead of constantly complaining about how things aren’t working or dismissing someone who thinks differently, we need to listen and work to understand each other. Maybe once people start feeling heard, we can come together to fix things. People won’t dig in their heels and refuse to hear someone else because they won’t feel attacked. One place I’ve started is by reading Crucial Conversations.

          Let’s start with work.

          I do understand that not every job is flexible. You have to show up for a shift at the grocery store, hospital, just about every job in the service industry. Maybe there are ways to put more flexibility into these jobs. I’m talking about knowledge workers here. There are plenty of jobs focused solely on how much time you spend at your desk in the office. It doesn’t matter how much you do while you’re there. But you better be in your seat.

          My husband was let go from a job many years ago because he wasn’t in the office by 8:30am every day. He was working close to 70 hours a week, but some of that was at home. He had young kids and wanted to be around to see them. This company couldn’t see that the amount of work or the quality of work is what mattered. It didn’t take the time to notice anything but when he was at his desk.

          The shift in thinking here comes from defining success for these positions. Then, setting expectations and a deadline, and letting employees make it happen. I bet there will be a lot more creativity that comes from that freedom. Plant some new seeds.

          Also, take a look at how many meetings are necessary and how people are communicating. I’m guessing some things can change there too. Does every meeting end with defined next steps? Or are they just a waste of time? Watch this quick 1-minute video about one thing you can do for more productive meetings.

          The workload for women.

          And what about the workload, both at work and at home, for women? Why is it that women are asked how they balance working and parenting but we never ask the dads? Why is it women are expected to do it all but we don’t expect it from the dads? Don’t tell me it’s because women are better at multitasking (I’ll get into that some other time). Think about what we’re teaching our kids – that it’s ok for the men not to help and the women need to do it all because no one else is capable.

          There needs to be a shift in thinking here. A shift that we’re all in this together. That we all succeed or fail together. We need to stop with this thinking that we need to do it all by ourselves. Plant some new seeds.

          Let’s rethink how we spend our time.

          Have you created new routines during this pandemic? Maybe you’re walking the dog every morning or taking family walks before dinner. My husband and I are taking one night a week to play cards after the kids are in bed. I’ve wanted to cancel my gym membership and have more flexibility in when I work out but never made it happen. I’m exercising more now that I’ve made space for it in my living room.

          Are you finding yourself enjoying more leisurely family dinners? Taking the time to watch your kids play in the backyard? Is it nice to not be rushing from one activity to another? Or maybe you’ve been so overwhelmed by work and remote learning and having the kids home that you’re exhausted.

          I hope there’s been more quality family time. I hope that as activities begin to resume that you don’t go rushing out signing up for everything. I hope you find some peace in not rushing from one place to the next. In having family dinners (or breakfasts!) on a regular basis. Before you start filling up your schedule, figure out how you truly want to be spending your time. Commit your time carefully. Plant these new seeds meaningfully.

          What about our stuff?

          You’ve likely spent the last few months surrounded by your stuff. Is it driving you crazy? Are you finding it useful? Have you spent time sorting through and organizing it? We’ve rearranged toys to make them easier for our kids to use. We have a table just for arts and crafts now. We have a charging station for tablets and computers. We have learned more about how we use our space. That we really don’t need a big house and that when every toy is on the floor, it feels like a lot.

          When we have less stuff, it’s easier to maintain an organized home. And it’s easier to use things because it’s not so overwhelming and we can find what we’re looking for. If our house is too cluttered, we can’t find what we need.

          So take a look around your space, figure out what you love and need, and let the rest go. How do you want to feel when you are in your space? Comfortable? Content? Happy? Work towards getting your space to create that. Plant some new seeds with your space.

          And related to our stuff, what about our spending?

          Since you’ve been home, have you saved money because you’re not wandering through stores buying things you don’t need? Or are you just overbuying on Amazon? I’ve loved not spending money buying things we don’t need. It’s been nice to think about repurposing something we have in our house to fulfill a need. Or knowing that we don’t need more stuff in our lives. Plant some new seeds around spending. It relates to clutter as well. Retail therapy leads to short term relief. The stuff you buy takes up space in your house. It needs to be maintained or it just creates clutter. Take some time to figure out what’s behind that and find new ways to fill your cup. Plant some new seeds.

          Time to plant some new seeds.

          We need a shift in thinking. Let’s do things differently. Let’s move forward into something better. Let’s plant some new seeds.

          If you’re ready to plant some new seeds in your life, let’s talk!