People often ask me how I get so much done and keep so many balls in the air. It doesn't seem like I'm doing anything special, so I usually answer with some kind of flip answer like, "Oh, I rarely bathe," or, "My house is really messy!"
But that is not completely true. Upon further reflection, I've discovered that:
a. I do bathe at least as frequently as the average mom of three, and
b. I have a fairly clean, organized house, and
c. I have some tips that may be of use to you!
So here are my ways of getting a little more done in a little less time and enjoying it a little more:
1. Use "wasted" time. I spend a goodly portion of my day behind the wheel of my car. My three kids are at three different schools, spread out across five miles. Plus we have basketball practices (2 kids), baseball practices (1 kid), soccer practices (1 kid), and wrestling meets (1 kid, not counting the "unofficial" meets that take place on the family room floor each night). I easily spend an hour or more in the car each day, with one or more of the kids. I use this time to connect (if we're one-on-one), or to "do" something together (our choice: Books on CD). Listening to a story together has cut down on the backseat fights tremendously, and turned "wasted" time in to "quality" time.
2. Lower your standards. When the prolific poet William Carlos Williams was asked how he managed to write a poem each and every day, he answered, "I have very low standards." This is my advice when it comes to parenting, homemaking, and life in general. Most people (and probably all of my readers) are perfectionist-types who like everything "just so." You want the perfect home, the perfect career, the perfect kids, the perfect body, the perfect scrapbook pages, the perfect marriage... and it's just not all possible. Maybe you can settle for "just okay" in some of those categories.
3. Multitask. I know there's a renewed interest in single-tasking, or mindfulness. While it's a wonderful skill to master and put into play in certain situations (romantic evenings out with your spouse, for instance), there are plenty of moments throughout your day that do not require your full attention. My kids and husband like to watch movies; I do not, unless I'm doing something else. So I'll sit on the couch with them while they watch their Rockford Files reruns, and I'll check email. They have my presence, and that's enough. Other examples:
- I check my email on my iPhone and read while I ride the bike at the gym
- I dictate spelling words in the car
- I knit at the kids' basketball/soccer/etc. games and practices
- I listen to podcasts while doing the grocery shopping
- I take walks with my girlfriend to catch up while exercising
- I carry a book with me at all times to take advantage of those 10-15 minutes of "waiting" time that pile up throughout the day
image from Natalie Dee
4. Make technology work for you. With the wonders of technology, you can seem to be everywhere at once! You can schedule tweets to go out after your bedtime. You can set up emails to be sent later, and replied to in bulk if they require the same answer. In fact, I'm writing this post on Monday morning to be published on Tuesday, because now is when I have the time. Take advantage of Crock Pots, iPhones, cell phones, and WiFi.
image from Linzie Hunter
5. Love your life. Remember that all these things (kids, in particular!) are for the most part joys! You're swamped because your life is overflowing with opportunity and love. You have passions you enjoy, people you want to be with, and goals to achieve -- and THAT'S why you feel overwhelmed. You have an abundance of riches! Remembering this will not help you get more done, but it may help you be a bit happier while you're doing what you have to.
I hope these little hints will help you think about your own schedule and areas of overwhelm. And if all else fails, I'm not above a little Prozac. ;)