Category Archives: Help

Here’s What I Know About You

Here’s what I know about you.

You’re exhausted.

You’re feeling pulled in too many directions.

There’s too much on your plate.

And you are tired of feeling this way.

You desire the time to spend with your kids without thinking of all the tasks not being done.

You desire to know that you’re completing your work tasks in a timely manner and that you’re home for bedtime each night.

You want something to change.

I have just the thing! Work with me!

If you give yourself this gift of time, you can expect to learn how to:

  • Shift your mindset from I must do it all today to I am going to focus on these specific tasks today.
  • Identify the right tasks and priorities to focus on each day. The tasks that are moving you, your business (or career), and your family forward.
  • Uncover where your time is going and why.
  • Create simple routines and systems to keep your life running smoothly from day to day. And get your family involved!
  • Learn to say no to any commitment or task that isn’t a ‘heck yes!’ from the beginning.
  • Be more proactive with your time. No more spending your days putting out fires.
  • Shift your routines as life changes. Because you know things change.

Schedule a call with me to talk about how you can make these changes in your life!

Your future self will thank you!

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!

Dads Don’t Babysit

When you see a dad at the playground with his kids, what’s the first thing that goes through your head? Is it different than what you’d think about a mom at the playground?

When your partner takes care of the kids for an afternoon while you run errands or hang out with some girlfriends, what is going through your mind?

dads don't babysit

When I or my husband heads out for an evening with friends, the other one is fully in charge of the kids. That means if there’s a meltdown happening as I head out the door, I leave. Because my husband is also a parent and he can handle it. But I’ve had friends bail on dinner because one of their kids was having a tough time going to bed.

Now, I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that. If you feel your kids need you, then give them that attention.

But if you’re staying because you don’t think your partner can handle it, let’s talk about that.

There is this double standard in our society. When dads do something like take their kids to the park, we see it as this hero move. Oh, look at him, spending time with his kids. He’s such a good dad.

Yet, I could guarantee you we don’t say that about moms. When we see a mom at the park, it’s not a big deal. We’ll judge her for being on her phone or not playing with her kids. Maybe the kid falls down – it’s the mom’s fault. Not just what kids do.

My husband doesn’t babysit. He’s not a hero for taking the kids to the park or sitting down to play legos with them. He’s a dad. This is what parents do.

I’ll stay off my soap box for how our society has created this mess and how we feed right into it as parents.

But remember this, dads don’t babysit!

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

Are You Often Striving For Perfection?

Do you have such high expectations of yourself that you feel like you are never living up to them?

That you are constantly striving for perfection and it’s never enough?

Maybe you spend time late at night cleaning the house so it’s organized and clean all the time.

Or you stay up late perfecting a report for work, a presentation you’re giving, or an email you need to send a client.

Maybe you worry that you’re not doing enough for your kids. That they’re not in the right activities that are going to get them in to the right college.

And you feel like it’s never enough and that you are failing every day.

It seems like if we don’t meet our expectations, we question ourselves, not the expectations.

When maybe it’s our expectations that are the problem.

I think it’s society that’s setting us up for failure.

One of the things I focus on in my client work is designing a life that you want. Not living like society or social media tells you.

But focusing on what’s important to you and your family.

Instead of striving for some version of perfect that society is telling you to strive for, clarify your own version of success.

striving for perfection

What are your goals? And what small step can you take today to move toward them?

What short-term tasks can you let go of to focus on a long-term goal? It might be letting the laundry sit for another day while you do some research on spending a summer in a foreign country. It could be hiring someone to deep clean your house once a month so you can spend time hiking with your family.

Ask yourself if the world will stop spinning if the task isn’t done perfectly. I’m guessing the answer is no. So maybe good enough or done is OK.

Don’t waste your days living someone else’s life!

Define your own success!

If you’re ready to figure this out in your own life, schedule a Get On Track call.

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!

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!

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.

    Let’s Play

    Have you lost your ability to play? 

    ability to play. 
empty swing on a beach.

    When we become mothers, we’re so focused on raising children, taking care of the house, working, etc. that we forget how to have fun.

    Our society makes us think that leisure time or doing anything for fun, without a purpose, is lazy. That there must always be a purpose to something. And yes, we talk a lot about productivity and priorities here. 

    It’s also important to play. Taking a break, resting and recharging helps our productivity. We might come up with a solution to a work problem while on a hike. Maybe the next great idea for your business comes while walking your dog or spending time with friends. 

    We often collapse on the couch to watch TV because we’re too exhausted to do anything else. But watching TV is not always restorative. We choose it because we’re not sure what else to do with our time. It’s an easy choice. Or we’re folding laundry, paying bills, or doing something else while we watch TV. 

    And we don’t need one more thing to do. It’s easier to keep plugging away at our to-do list. We’ll do something fun when our kids are older or the to-do list is done.

    What if we took the time to play? 

    The National Institute of Play says on their website that play is the gateway to vitality. 

    Studies have shown that kids who have more unstructured free time to play are more social and academically proficient in life. It’s important for kids to have unstructured free time. This is where they learn social skills, their own limits, etc. 

    But play shouldn’t be only for kids. Adults need it too. And it needs to be something we for the fun of it. 

    Escape Adulthood is one of my favorite places to remind me to add a little play to my life. They remind me to stop being so focused on my to-do list and be more present. To find ways to add fun and whimsy to my days. And that it doesn’t need to be a big event for it to be fun.

    Play could be learning a new instrument, taking voice lessons, learning how to sew, volunteering, taking a class on any topic that interests you, hiking. The point is to do it for the fun of it. Not because you need to do it for work or you want to lose ten pounds. 

    I want to add more play to my life. Find new hobbies, learn new skills. And learn to be more present. I’d like to buy a piano soon and start taking lessons again. I’d like to snowshoe and cross-country ski. I also want to check out some dance classes from Put On Your Dance Shoes (POYDS). Or, if you want some virtual yoga or meditation in your life, check out Cindy Glennon Wellness

    What about you? What do you for fun these days? 

    Email me and let me know what you do for fun! Or schedule some time to chat so we can help you find time to play!

    Big Rocks and Sand

    You’ve likely heard the story or watched a video about big rocks and how it relates to your time.

    what are your big rocks?

jar of rocks.

    Big rocks are the important things in your life. Tasks that support your values. To-dos that move you forward in your business or your personal life. Activities that are important to you. And the sand and pebbles fill in the other parts.

    If you fill a glass with sand (emails, interruptions, time-wasters), there is no room for the big rocks (exercise, time with family and friends, work tasks that truly move your business or career forward). But, if you fill the glass with big rocks first, the sand fills in the cracks around them. 

    You can have the same amount of sand and rocks. Same size cup. Different order of dealing with them. 

    Spend some time this week thinking about your big rocks. What are they? Are you making time for them and scheduling them first? Figure out what they are and start scheduling them first. 

    Let the sand fill in around them. 

    And remember, sometimes we have to say no to things that seem good because they’re not great. And they don’t support our big rocks. Maybe they get put on the someday/maybe list (a topic for later this month). Or maybe you simply say no because they don’t support your big rocks. 

    When we focus on our big rocks, even through small steps each day, big things can happen. 

    Schedule a call with me or send me a message if you want help figuring out your big rocks! Or get a 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.

        More Thoughts On The Dishes

        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. 

        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 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. 

        I had a college roommate who would reclean the bathroom after I cleaned it because he didn’t think I did a good enough job. So I stopped cleaning the bathroom. Maybe he got mad and now he thought I was lazy, but I’m not going to do something that someone else is going to redo. It’s not worth my time and effort. 

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

        Last week I 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 on their time.

        It can start with a conversation. With our partners. With our families. With a counselor.

        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. 

        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! 

        Folding laundry
Arm throwing laundry in to baskets
redo a task

        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. 

        Ask for help and give the other person ownership over the task. They’re not helping you, you’re working as partners. Buy the cards from Fair Play and use them as a discussion around household work. 

        We aren’t going to solve this problem with a conversation, but we can start shifting it with a conversation. 

        Want to keep talking about this? Join my FB Group.

        If you want a PDF to help get you started on this task, simply provide your email below.

          The Dishes. Again.

          The dishes. Again. 

          With four people home all the time, we run our dishwasher a lot. There is often a clean load in the dishwasher, with even more dishes sitting on the kitchen counter waiting to be dealt with. 

          I realized recently that I had it in my head that my husband expected me to deal with the dishes. Yes, we’re both home all day. But my schedule is more flexible, I’m with the kids more during the day, working while they’re in their remote learning classes. So, of course, why wouldn’t I be the one to deal with all the household tasks too? 

           dishes. again. let's change the narratives.

          Then I realized how incorrect this thinking is. It wasn’t that he expected me to do it. He wasn’t thinking about it at all. He was focused on work. And he would deal with the dishes later, after work, while he was making dinner. 

          I read an article in the Atlantic about how men and women are equally messy. But men don’t notice as much. Women feel a lot of pressure to keep their spaces clean and organized and pretty. Ourselves too. Now, I will leave space in here on how we feel more in control of our lives when we’ve cleaned and purged our house. I too clean and organized when I’m stressed out.

          But, women are conditioned from a young age that keeping the house and family organized is our responsibility. We wrap our worth up in it. Women operate on a different time scale than men. So it appears that we take it all on because men won’t. When men just haven’t been conditioned to deal with it as quickly as women. 

          And the pattern continues. Women take on the tasks because we think men aren’t going to do it, instead of letting them do it on their own time. Then the men just stop doing tasks around the house, because the women do it all anyway. And it continues. 

          And our kids see this. They see mom doing all the household chores and the organizing of schedules and planning of everything. And they grow up thinking that’s how it’s done. 

          It’s time to change that narrative. 

          I realize that I’m asking women to take on one more thing here. I’m also asking women to get their partners in on this. To start having these conversations together. To start shifting the dynamics in your house to more equity. Involve everyone in the household. Down to the youngest child. 

          When my kids complain about not wanting to do something around the house, I remind them that we all live here. We all contribute to the household and we all need to work together. And then we read a book titled The Great Zooberry Debacle: A Tale of Many Hands.

          Here are some more thoughts on this topic. And if you want to talk more about this, schedule a 30-minute phone call with me.

          If you want more information on how to start this work, sign up below! You’ll receive a free PDF with questions to help get you started.

            More Productivity Myths

            Here are two more productivity myths. How do they fit in your life?

            I’ll never get caught up. Tasks just keep coming at me and I spend all day putting out fires!

            What does caught up even mean? You’re never going to get to the end of that to-do list and that’s ok!

            What if you knew that the tasks you worked on each day were the ones moving you forward in life? And over time, as you get better at planning your days, you get ahead of those fires?

            It is possible to feel on top of your to-do list!

            I have to do it all yourself. If someone else does it, it won’t be done right.

            What happens if it’s done differently or not up to your standards? And how exhausted are you trying to do it all and never letting anyone help?

            What if you talked to someone about how you prefer a task done, then let them do it? It’s one less thing for you to worry about!

            Yes, it does take a village. Your family or team should be helping – let them!

            Where do you struggle with your productivity? Let me know!

            If you’re ready to change these myths in your life, start here.

            Productivity Myths

            productivity myths

            Let’s take a look at some productivity myths. It might seem like while we are drowning in our tasks and commitments, we can’t take the time to fix things. We just stumble through, feeling like someday things will get better.

            But they don’t. Because we’re not making any changes. We’re too overwhelmed. We don’t know where to start. We don’t feel that things are going to get better.

            Productivity Myths

            I can’t take a break or even get a good night’s sleep. I must keep working and crossing things off my to-do list.

            Actually, at some point, you stop being productive because you’re so tired and exhausted.

            Taking restorative breaks and even sleeping helps you get more done.

            The world will not stop spinning if you take a few hours or possibly a day to take care of yourself.

            And, when you rejoin the world, you’ll be more productive!

            I didn’t cross everything off my list. I’m such a failure. Why can’t I get anything done?

            First off, you are not a failure! My guess is you get more done each day than you give yourself credit for.

            You likely have more on your list than you can actually accomplish on any given day. We only have so much time and so much energy.

            Figuring out what tasks need to be done each day and letting the rest go is a big step toward changing your relationship with time.


            Next time, we’ll look at two more myths. In the meantime, if you’re ready to make some changes to your relationship with time, email me. I’d like to hear where you struggle with productivity!

            If you’re ready to change these myths in your life, start here.

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            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!

            Stop Surviving. Start Thriving.

            When my kids were younger, I remember a friend asking me how I was doing. My usual answer was hanging in there. Suddenly, I was tired of that being my answer. When does just surviving stop? When do I start thriving? My kids aren’t going to get easier. I think they get more fun as they get older, but there will always be something we’re working on (arguing about?!). So enough with this hanging in there

            Don't be busy, be productive. Start thriving.

            Part of this hanging in there was how busy I felt. I don’t think busy is always a good thing, yet we cram every minute of our days with activities. We need to be crossing items off our to-do list. We have so much work to do that we don’t know where to start (or when to stop). Our kids are signed up for every activity under the sun because we feel they need to be enriched and entertained all the time (pre-pandemic). 

            Stop Overcommitting

            I get it. I’ve looked at my schedule and wondered how I committed to so many things. What happened? When did I get so busy? I’ve looked at how much I crossed off my to-do list and wondered if those were really the tasks I should’ve focused on today. Or did I just do what was the easiest to cross off? Let’s call me a recovering over-committer

            I’m on a mission to help end the mom guilt. To help moms shift from putting out fires every day to feeling more proactive and in charge of their time and to-dos. Because I’ve been there! So let’s stop with the guilt. Let’s focus on our big rocks. On the choices we make with our time, where it goes, and how we spend it. Let’s start thriving. And let’s see the amazing things we do accomplish every day. Let’s tame the chaos. 

            Just Slogging Through

            Feeling like you’re just slogging through each day? I get it, I have started giving myself pep talks to get out of bed! If my phone didn’t tell me the date, I likely would have no idea. Every day is starting to blend into the next! Weekends don’t feel any different (we really should do something fun to change that, huh?)

            I don’t want to add one more story about how we should be productive right now since we have all this time. Working from home, helping your kids remote learn, and keeping everyone fed is enough! You might feel even busier! I do want to help you feel like you’re moving forward in your life, even while stuck at home. Read on for a few ideas!

            • Define what your work hours look like. Tag team with your partner. Someone is with the kids while the other one works. Trade every few hours as necessary. It’s also ok to put the kids in front of a movie and get some work done. Or send them out to the backyard to play.
            • Identify 3-5 priorities for each day. Yes, you might do more. You feel more accomplished if you know what needs to be done to move yourself or a project forward. Think about how it would feel to cross 5 tasks off your list of 5 tasks versus 5 tasks off a list of 15 (that you were never going to have time to do all anyway. Listen to what Laura Vanderkam has to say about limiting your to-do list.
            • Create a ritual between work and home life (even if work life is at your kitchen table). Find an activity to do before you switch between work and home. This helps your brain realize it’s now doing something different. Try a quick 5-minute meditation, a dance party, or a quick walk around the block.
            • Create visual boundaries if you’re working from the kitchen table. Put on headphones, signaling that you’re working and are not to be disturbed. Or you can put up some form of barrier, like a 3-sided poster display board. This could also be a place to put tasks and reminders! It’s like your own cubicle space in an open-concept office.
            • Break your projects into small, clear steps. If my to-do list says ‘Create workshop,’ it’s not easy for me to do what’s next. If it says create an outline for workshop, create marketing for workshop, or some other next step, then I know what to do next. Otherwise, I stare at it for a week and nothing gets done.

            Still feeling stuck on how to get through the day? Schedule a 30-minute call with me to talk about your situation.

            Slogging through