Balance In The Chaos of Family Life: Is It Even Possible?

chaos family balance

The Search for Balance

Family life is so chaotic, especially this time of year, but we are committed to learning how to balance “it all”.

My husband is a dad, Special Ed teacher, Grad student, singer, and runner.  I am a mom, blogger, artist, and walker. I also occasionally meet friends for coffee…by myself.  My husband and I go on dates from time to time, and sometimes have someone over for dinner. Our home is constantly one mess after another but it is simple to reset (due to organizing systems I have set in place) even though we have two kids and a dog.

In other words, we are busy. And though we don’t have it all figured out, I wanted to share some things we have found that help us achieve some kind of balance.

How We Do It

First of all, we embrace a “a progress not perfection” mindset. For example, if it’s 8 pm and it’s time for me to blog and the dishes weren’t done yet, oh well. That was all I could do today. I truly work on not beating myself up about it. Honestly, it’s a great lesson in humility.

Image result for litany of humility

I Put the Big Rocks in First

Here’s a story I heard at mass about how we should use our time, talents, and treasure. I learned you have to put the big rocks in more. What I mean by this is, we prioritize.  When I think about my next course of action, I try to think in terms of reality and not what my schedule says, (this is so hard for me) and do the next right thing based on my circumstances. So many things in life are important, but they are not urgent every single day. This quote helps me to  have peace when I didn’t accomplish as much as I set out to:

“Let God tend to the hopeless-looking things…You can’t get everything done in a day, nor can you get any part of it done as well as you’d like it; so, like the rest of us, you putter at your job with a normal amount of energy, for a reasonable amount of time, and go to bed with the humiliating yet exhilarating knowledge that you are only a child of God and not God.” – Fr. Walter Farrell, O.P.

 

I Check My Emotional State

If little things are starting to bother me that my husband, children, or even dog do, it’s probably a red herring for the real problem: I’m in need of self-care. It could mean I need to eat something, take a nap, drink some water, call a friend, do some exercise, or do something creative. Usually, if I stop and think about what I need, and take action, I feel much more in balance. In fact, that’s the best way to know you have balance – check how you are feeling.

I Keep a Schedule

I have a Mother’s Rule, my daily schedule which I update on a regular basis. I view it as a guideline of which to live out my goals for my faith, myself, my husband, my children, and my work. I block out my time and leave plenty of margin for activities like meal times or bed times. I want you to know that I normally don’t complete every single thing on my schedule. I fail every single day. But that only makes me rely on God more. I am only human, after all. And life happens. And sometimes I get distracted.

I Reflect

I try to reflect on how I am doing in my vocation on a regular basis. Besides going to confession and doing an examination of conscience, I also think in practical ways how I could have been more productive or attentive on any given day and apply that to the next day.

 

I’m Learning to Surrender to My Husband

This might be one of the most important things that keeps everything in balance. I have to stop myself from trying to be super-woman and doing everything and controlling everything. I have to say “I can’t” and let my husband see my vulnerability and receive his help and gifts graciously. This is very hard for me, but this book has been life-giving for our marriage and family.

We Believe Our Marriage Comes First

If my children interrupt me, or my husband, when we are talking, we try to teach them to wait and say “excuse me”. We want them to know how to respect us and the bond we share. I set aside time each day to be available for my husband. Am I perfect about it? No, but as with any goal I have, I am more likely to get closer to it when I put it on my schedule. I try to write my husband a love letter every Sunday and we go on a date night at least once a month, we are blessed to have in-laws who are willing to do that for us.

We Use Technology to Help us Reach Our Goals

Sometimes my kids watch more T.V. than I prefer, but it is for the sake of my sanity. The rest of the time I do my best to involve them in chores and other activities. It’s all a matter of balance. I have an app on my phone that reminds me of certain habits I am working on. It helps me stay accountable to my goals and not forget to keep in touch with friends and family.

We Prioritize Every Family Member’s Health, Not Just Our Children’s

My husband and I have set up our home life in such a way that each of us can have some dedicated, uninterrupted time on a regular basis. This is for our mental and emotional health. For our physical health, I usually take walks with my kids or dance around with them. I try to keep track of what I eat on myfitnesspal. I don’t skip meals unless intentionally (i.e. intermittent fasting). I consider it my duty and responsibility to stay sound in mind and body for the sake of serving them. My husband goes on a run during his work day. I meal plan and do Walmart grocery pickup.  We take care of our spiritual health by praying, attending mass, and making it to confession as often as we can. We sleep trained our children so we would all be able to have adequate sleep. I take a quiet time each afternoon alongside my children. All of these things together help us manage the stress of such a busy life.

We Are Always Growing

My husband and I don’t stay stuck in a rut. While I am definitely the self-help junkie of the two of us, he is definitely committed to growing as a person. I’m always reading books, working towards goals, tweaking my routine.

I Protect My Peace

I say “no” based on the commitments I have in my schedule. I know what those commitments are because I have a schedule. I have already discerned that I cannot forgo quiet time without bankrupting myself emotionally. I say “I can’t”. (For example, I can’t do the dishes when I have a headache.) I let myself take breaks. After dinner, I go directly to the bathroom and take a shower. That way I get one before I am too tired to do it. I don’t ask my husband to watch the kids. I just say “I’m going to take a shower”. He’s smart. He realizes that means he will be watching them. And guess what? Everything is okay without me.

We Nurture Friendships

Recently, both my husband and I have set up a recurring meetings with one of our closest friends, he sees his friend on Wednesdays after we put the kids to bed, and I see my friend on Thursdays. We are also slowly becoming more hospitable and opening our home more often to friends and family for visits. I make a habit of reaching out to my friends, just to say hi and see how they are, even if it isn’t reciprocated 100% equally. The way I see it, if I miss them it’s my responsibility to say hi and not wait around for them to do so. I also accept that if I want to have a vibrant social calendar, I need to be prepared to be the one doing the inviting 99 % of the time, it’s just reality. We are all so busy and it is so hard to be intentional. I can’t make people invite me, but I can invite them! It’s not so much about what you get from social interactions as it is what you give.

We Do “Special Time”

We try to spend one-on-one time with each of our kids. It could be simple like just reading a book together, or going on an ice cream date. The idea is that each of our children gets some individualized attention so they know how special and precious they are. Do we do this everyday? No, but since it’s on our radar it happens more often than if it wasn’t a goal to begin with.

Even though we are busy, we feel as though we do have a sense of balance

So as you see, the way we make all of things work is both being blessed but also through being intentional. You can have it all, but you have to let go of perfectionism and you have to understand that all the things you want to have in your life may not happen every single day, but over time. You have to accept that most of the time, you will be off track and life will be a roller coaster ride with ups and downs, but when you have your goals set, you will still be going the right direction, and you will still be making progress.

Make Your Schedule as a Mom and Grace for when Life Happens

two nuns looking up praying

What you’ll find

In this post, I am going to tell you all about how to make your schedule as a mom. It will be completely tailored to your life- something for moms who work outside and inside the home. (Mine is from the perspective of a work-from-home mom) . You’ll also learn how to approach your schedule when life happens – you know the drill – your kids get sick, the dog throws up on every blanket you  own, you have unexpected company, etc. You will take stock of all of your responsibilities but also take into account time for prayer and time to do things you enjoy.

Take a look at your life

What does your daily life look like right now? Do you dread waking up in the morning because the demands of the day just seem insurmountable? Find yourself yelling at your kids most of the time and snapping at your husband? Feel like you are working SO hard but you never get anywhere? Well, my friends, it doesn’t have to stay that way!

The solution

What you need is to make your schedule as a mom. This will help you keep track of all of your responsibilities and get the important things done and at the same time keep your sanity.

A fabulous book

My life changed dramatically when I read this book , “A Mother’s Rule of Life“. It’s about a stay-at-home , homeschooling mom, who is tired of feeling overwhelmed and stressed out all of the time. She went searching for peace. She was inspired by the simple schedule of religious orders, like the Missionaries of Charity, and how they led productive lives but spent great amounts of time in prayer. When the bell rang for the next block on the schedule, they didn’t hurry trying to finish everything up , they practiced obedience – “okay God, I guess that’s all you wanted me to do today.” (Man, could I use some of that kind of acceptance in my life!) Their goal wasn’t efficiency, it was to serve and to do it peacefully. Because, the old saying, you can’t give what you don’t have, right?

Let’s get started, make your schedule as a mom

  1. Buy a Mother’s Rule of Life. Seriously. You won’t regret it.
  2. Decide on a wake up time and bed time.
  3. Count how many hours you have in a day.
  4. Decide how much time to spend in prayer.
  5. Write down how much time you need for grooming and bathing.
  6. Include time needed for activities you enjoy like reading, drawing, writing.
  7. Include a few break times, 15 minutes each.
  8. Don’t forget time with your husband or social time with those you care about.
  9. Include time with your kids.
  10. Include time for chores
  11. Input meal times (cooking and cleanup) and bed time routines. Overestimate how much time you think you need. This allows margin.
  12. Include time for working. This may be before your kids wake up or you may go to work inside the home.

Now is the time you see if you have any time left over. You probably don’t! This is good though! This is validation that you have so much to take care of and you aren’t just lazy! If you have any leftover time, decide where it should go and if you don’t, decide where you have to cut. If we want to lead a peaceful life, we have to be very discerning about how we use our time.

My mother’s rule

5:30 – 7 :00 AM – Pray, get dressed, drink coffee, work on blog, put makeup on

7:00 – 8:30 AM – Breakfast , say grace, & cleanup & morning chores

8:30-9:00 AM – Kids dressed

9:00 – 9:10 AM- 10 minute break for me

9:10 – 9:40 AM – Put laundry in the dryer and walk the dog

9:40 -9:50 AM – Ab workout

9:50 – 11:50 AM – Outing/errand

11:50 – 12:00 PM – 10 minute break for me

12:00- 1:30 PM – Lunch, say grace, cleanup, laundry put away, story time

1:30 – 2:30 PM – Quiet time me and my son while my daughter naps. I read, blog, draw, or watch You Tube.

2:30 – 3:30 PM – I call this Admin time. It’s for meal planning, week planning, budget planning, etc. If I don’t need to do these things its more quiet time.

3:30-4:30 PM – Kids outside play while I do my afternoon tidy and cleanup routine.

4:30 – 6:00 PM – Make dinner, say grace, cleanup, night cleaning routine

6:00 – 8:00 PM – I shower,  then my kids take a bath, and we have family time, story time and then the kids go to bed.

8:00-9:00 PM – Time to chill with my husband and watch a show or talk or have some other quality time.

9:00 – 9:30 PM – I wind down for bed.

How I Occupy My Kids

My goal is to occupy my kids without screens. To have them play quietly when I need dedicated time.

But life happens. And sometimes life happens A LOT (pregnancy, illness, emergencies, sleep deprivation, newborns, mothering multiple young children, or some other hard or serious circumstance) .

What I’m trying to say is, the TV is a tool in a mom’s toolkit guys. As long as it’s not being used to excess, the content is appropriate, and isn’t there as a substitute of other important activities, I think it’s okay. With that said, my kids watch quite a bit of TV, probably more than the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says they should – but AAP doesn’t know me. They don’t know about what my needs are and our family’s unique circumstances. They don’t know that my kids also help me around the house, play with toys, play with me, bake with me, play with the dog, make messes, play in the dirt, go to the park, go on play dates, read books, roughhouse with my husband, visit family, etc. Sometimes I need to have things a little quieter for my sanity.

Only you know the needs of your family, and you shouldn’t feel guilty when your kids watch more TV than you like if you have a serious reason to do so.

When you are off track

You are going to get off track. And trust me, it’s going to be most of the time.  (It is for me.) So, when it happens, just get back on track as soon as the next block starts. Sometimes this may mean there are dishes left in the sink. Remember, the goal is peace not efficiency. But if this keeps happening over and over again, for months on end, it’s time to adjust and re-evaluate your rule.

Maintenance

Plan to evaluate your schedule once every three months or as needed. Three months seems like a good plan to me, though, because by then with my two little ones, my life tends to look quite a bit different.

Conclusion

If your life is spiraling out of control, take heart! No matter what season you are in, you can take control and get the important things done. So go make your schedule as a mom! If you already have one, please let me know in the comments below!

 

Make Laundry Easier, Faster, and Less Overwhelming

How to make laundry easier

Laundry is a nightmare, but it doesn’t have to be.

I am going to show you a way to make laundry easier, faster and more possible. Because when it starts to pile up,  I don’t know about you, but it seems impossible! But first let me explain what a volcano has to do with this blog post.

I once worked with an endearing older lady in my coffee shop days. She was frustrated with her son because he wasn’t doing chores. Because English was her second language, she didn’t know the word for volcano. So she told him “If you don’t do your laundry, I will throw all your clothes in a pile and make a fire mountain!” Needless to say, we both had a good laugh!

There are five of us. Myself, my husband, my two toddlers and our dog. So that means laundry. And lots of it.

All.the.time.

And there are accidents. Vomit, poop, mud, urine, food messes, liquid spills, you name it, it’s happened. It’s not pretty. Sometimes accidents equal four more loads of laundry that I wasn’t counting on. Ouch!

And even when there are no accidents, I still have to put it away if I want a tidy, comfortable house. So, after years of clean laundry waiting to be put away, dirty clothes waiting to be washed, folded laundry never making it into the drawer, clothes not getting properly dry because the load was too big, I’ve discovered some hacks that work for me and my family.

My best laundry hacks:

  1. A hamper for each family member and one for the house. The hampers are great for keeping everyone’s laundry sorted so I don’t have to do that step when it all comes out of the dryer. If you can’t afford Pinterest-worthy hampers right now, just  do what we did and use these from Dollar Tree:
  2. For our family 2 loads a day keeps the laundry at bay. But you probably need to add an extra load for each additional family member. 2 a day also keep me from having to do laundry on Sundays.
  3. Don’t take the laundry out of the dryer until you are ready to put it away. No procrastinating! This is so important if you don’t want a monster pile of laundry on your bed or in the corner. And when the loads are small the laundry takes less than 10 minutes to put away. I know it’s not fun. Just do it. Use the five second rule. Put on a YouTube video for fun if you have to.  I can proudly say since putting it away immediately I no longer have piles of laundry anywhere. It’s truly a miracle.
  4. I fold my laundry the Konmari way. But not perfectly, I do it quickly so the laundry can stand vertically in the drawer and the clothes are easier to find that way and I can fit more clothes in a single drawer. If you haven’t read the LifeChanging Magic of Tidying Up, do so now! It truly is life changing!

  5. I give myself grace when the laundry piles up because life happens. And I just start where I am. I think, do we all have something clean to wear, clean underwear, and clean socks? Then we are okay.
  6. Get creative with where you keep dressers. Seriously. A huge reason why my kids’ clothes wouldn’t get put away is because when I finally had time to put them away, the kids were asleep in their room for a nap or down for the night. In our home, we have a built in set of drawers where I keep most of my kids’ clothing.

Although it is such a bore, there are things you can do to make laundry easier and you might even enjoy it. Just a little.

What are your best laundry hacks? Let me know in the comments below, I’d love to find out!

And for more inspiring productivity tips, click here!

Why Are You So Worried and Stressed Out?

What is the cause of your stress/anxiety? Have you ever stopped to really think about it?

Conventional wisdom tells us to “take a break” or “relax” when we are feeling this way. This advice may be sound if the reason you are feeling this way is due to overworking .

But what if it’s not?

What if you are experiencing a lot of stress because of:

  1. Not eating regularly
  2. Not exercising
  3. Not sleeping enough
  4. Too much entertainment (and not enough time taking care of responsibilities)
  5. Procrastinating
  6. Not being able to let go of control
  7. Comparing yourself to others

These are some other things that can cause stress. So how can you get some peace? Focus on what you can do and let God do the rest!

You can :

  • Set a daily schedule with regular meal times and learn about what your nutritional needs are.
  • Be realistic and commit to trying to exercise everyday. Keep it simple, walking is enough. And don’t beat yourself if you miss a day. Just get back up and try again.
  • Give yourself a bed time and awake time. Try to stick to it but give yourself grace when life happens.
  • Make a list of which things your ideal day includes. Chances are it will have a lot of hard things like exercise and reading books and maintaining your environment and cooking healthy meals etc. and probably not include copious amounts of screen time (phone, T.V., games, etc) A.K.A. You are probably wasting a lot of time on these things. Some screen time isn’t bad- it can be good – but not when it gets excessive. It will zap your time and energy and you will feel like you wasted your day.
  • Read The 5 Second Rule by Mel Robbins. It will help you stop procrastinating and do all the above things. I think more people suffer because of procrastination than because of working too hard. Just sayin’. The basic idea of the book is you count down “5,4,3,2,1” and you take physical action. It’s truly life-changing.
  • Aside from controlling the above things , a lot of life is out of your control and thank God. I’m so glad it’s not all up to me because I’d definitely screw it up! You gotta learn to let go & let God, people. Do what you can do and let God do what only He can do.
  • A priest at mass once gave this advice- stop comparing yourself to others, focus on your gifts and have gratitude for them and bless other people and build them up whenever you feel jealous and you are caught in the comparison trap. This will surely bring you some peace.

And on that note, may peace be with you!

Is French Parenting Better than American Parenting?

I love to learn about child-rearing practices in different cultures. Especially cultures where women get a super long maternity leave and extremely high-quality daycare. Yeah, I’m a total francophile. So when I found this book about French parenting, you better believe I was intrigued.

Image result for bringing up bebe

This book is well-written and has humor that any woman can relate to. Its about an American mother’s experience observing the common behaviors and patterns in French parenting. I especially loved the parts about sleep training, meal times, and learning to wait.

Some of the key takeaways are:

  1. French women do “the pause” to help their baby sleep all night, usually by 3 months.
  2. French women teach their babies to wait from the beginning.
  3. French babies eat what the family eats, and the baby just has to “taste” it.
  4. If the baby is happy and safe playing on his own, the French just let the baby “live his/her life.”
  5. The French are strict about bedtimes, T.V., and meal times, the rest of the time is unstructured. French children do not snack outside of the 4:30 pm snack time. From three months on, they eat (drink formula or breastfeed if they aren’t having solids yet) breakfast at 8 am, lunch at 12 pm, a snack at 4:30 pm and dinner before bedtime at 8 pm.

Buy it here on Amazon You can get it for less than $2 used (plus shipping). Trust me, it’s worth it. Here’s why:

  • It will give you permission to practice self-care.
  • It will give you and your baby adequate rest.
  • It will help teach your babies patience and independence.
  • It will help you teach your children self-discipline.
  • It will help you to create boundaries and set limits.

But Let’s Talk About Sleep Training

There are so many schools of thought on sleep training, and if the way you are doing it with your children is working for you, Amen sister, I’m so happy for you. But if you and/or your baby are tired and exhausted and co-sleeping is turning into more “co” than “sleep”, this is the book for you.

But sleep training isn’t easy. With my son, it was simpler but with my daughter, I struggled. She learned to sleep through the night easily enough by learning “the pause”, but falling asleep by herself was a different story. It was very difficult for her because she was stimulated  by my presence and didn’t know how to fall asleep on her own. It wasn’t until she was 8 months that I finally decided to let her cry-it-out which was very difficult but necessary for both her and I to receive adequate rest.

Did these ideas work for me?

For the most part, yes. I found this book while I was pregnant with my first and reread it when I had an about to be 15 month-old and a 2 month-old. I tried doing “the pause” with my eldest and he slept through the night by about 1 month old, and was sleeping for 10 hour stretches at night at about 2 months old. The same thing is happening with my youngest.

Does breastfeeding make a difference?

The way I fed the baby doesn’t seem to matter either – I formula fed the oldest and breastfed the youngest. While I do think many factors are at play, like how much your baby weighs etc, I do think the way you parent at night makes a difference.

The way “the pause” works : you “pause” when your baby makes a noise or cries in the night time – only for a few minutes, and you see if the baby was just waking up between sleep cycles. If the baby still cries after the pause, go ahead and feed the baby or change her diaper or do whatever you think she needs.

Aren’t newborns supposed to eat every 2-3 hours?

I think moms aren’t told enough that if the baby is eating well, wetting plenty of diapers, gaining weight and otherwise has no other health problems, it’s OKAY to let them sleep and stop waking them up to feed them every 2 hours. I asked my lactation consultant if I could let my baby sleep and that is what she told me. I think sometimes parents can inadvertently train their babies to wake up in the middle of the night. But , again, every situation is different, and every family has different needs and desires.  I think this technique is worth a try, though, if you want to get some more sleep yourself, and definitely seek help from a professional if you have concerns.

Wait, aren’t kids supposed to eat 6 times a day?

I am well aware of the ideas here in the United States about how many snacks toddlers are supposed to have, but I have tried to keep the same schedule outlined in this book, with meal times only 4 times a day. Not only has this taught my children patience and self-control, it has forced me to learn more self-control as well- because I have to set a good example, after all! My kids have done just fine without frequent snacking and they are hungrier for the healthiest meal of the day at our house – dinner.

The Allure of French Mothers

One thing I perceived about French mothers in the book was a lack of this sense of martyrdom and competition that I see in motherhood in the United States. These mothers don’t seem to lose their sense of self. They remain in touch with their other roles and interests in life. And they don’t neglect their husbands. They seem to have this elegant maturity, a natural balance, and acceptance of their role. They seem to have peace.

I was eclectic and funky before kids, why not still be me after kids?

 

And speaking of self-care and setting limits, here is a design I made.

So do I think French parenting is superior?

While there is no one-size-fits-all approach to parenting, and no such thing as a perfect mom, I must say that what is outlined in this book has much wisdom to be gained from it.

5 Clues For Uncovering Your Blue Flame

In Jennifer Fulwiler’s new book “One Beautiful Dream” she talks about having a blue flame. (Also this book may be the best book I’ve ever read. Just sayin’. Get.It..Now )

What is a blue flame? It’s something that you have such burning passion for that if it were a flame it would turn blue because it’s at such a high heat. For Jennifer , it’s writing. It is a gift or talent that energizes you but that also can bless others.

But what if you don’t know what your blue flame is? What if you feel like you have no talents? Or you can’t pinpoint a main talent among your many talents and interests? I have been confused in this way , but I’m discovering their may be clues to help you discover it:

  1. What causes you to straighten up in your chair because you are so excited to talk about it?
  2. What are you always researching/ reading about?
  3. What do people tend to notice about you?
  4. What do people ask you for advice about?
  5. What do you feel drawn to do whenever you have some uninterrupted time?

For me it boils down to self-discipline – especially time-management / routines which includes organization because being organized affects your mental state which will help you save time and implement your routines. I could talk for hours about routines. I could name 10+ books I’ve read on the subject. When I have free time I watch YouTube videos about it. People have noticed when they visit me my house looks well managed even though I have two highly active toddlers and that I am well dressed and have makeup on. I’m always analyzing how I could make things run smoother in my life to better serve others, take care of myself and my household. Self-discipline truly is essential for a life well-lived . A life lived with intention.

So what do you think your blue flame is? Do you have more than one? Let me know in the comments below!

How to Be Your Own Superhero

We are the masters of our own happiness. We can’t depend on others to make us happy. We have to save ourselves, people, and be our own super heroes. We all need ways to improve our lives, make them easier and more streamlined and maybe even make us feel cherished like someone is serving us. Here are some ways to do that:

  1. Make goals and make them specific.
  2. Track your goals.
  3. Prep your breakfast the night before.
  4. Set out your clothes the night before.
  5. Get a coffee pot that has a timer so your coffee is brewed when you get up.
  6. Each day write down 5 things you are proud of that you’ve accomplished.
  7. Tell yourself great job when you do something good; rewrite the broken record that always reminds you of all your failures.
  8. Admit that your life is hard, but do something about it.
  9. Don’t compare yourself with others, compliment others while having gratitude for what you have.
  10. When you have a meal, use fine china and have the table completely set and play classical music. Even if it’s just snack time with your two toddlers.
  11. Bathe in the evening.
  12. Plan your weekly meals.
  13. Automate recurring household and work tasks by creating routines. 
  14. Buy your groceries online and pick them up at the store or have them delivered.

You will see all these things take time and effort, but trust me, once you experience the results you won’t regret doing it! You will have saved yourself from a lot of unnecessary stress.

This App Will Help You Create Balance

 

Accountability is Key

Recently, I came up with some new work/life balance goals I want to focus on – blocking out time for blogging, time for prayer, time for family and friends, and time to waste with my husband. But I decided I really need help with accountability. I was successful in losing almost 30 lbs because I had accountability.  I was in a fitness group on Facebook where I had to weigh in every week. Without accountability, I am lost. I am the type of person who will do my best not to let anyone else down, but when it comes to letting myself down, it’s easy.

See the source image

 

So, I wanted something similar for my current goals and I found this app:

Balanced

5 things I love about this app, it:

  1. Is easy to use.
  2. Shows me how well I’m done in each area.
  3. Helps me to create balance in my life by bringing up tasks that should be next according to the frequency I’ve set as a goal or because I’ve neglected it.
  4. Regulates recurring tasks so I don’t have to put them on a to-do list Every. Single. Day.
  5. Keeps me making progress and staying focused on my goals – the things that I’ve identified I need to work on, not the things that have already become habits.

What are your favorite apps? How do you create balance? I’d love to hear in the comments below!

Be Productive in a Balanced Way

See the source image

The Dilemma

We all have so much to do, and so little time to do it. It’s not good enough either to just be busy, we need to learn to be productive in a balanced manner.

The Solution

Inspiration

I was watching the youtuber, Do It One A Dime, and I heard her talk about this method of planning your day, so I decided to try it. Here’s how it works:

You decide on your 3 weeds for the day. These are important and urgent things that you probably don’t want to do but need to get out the way, like laundry or making an appointment, etc. Then, you decide your 3 seeds for the day. These are things you want to accomplish that will help your business grow, or will nurture a relationship, or self care.

I really like this method of planning because it simplifies my to-do list and helps me prioritize. Its much more realistic to pare my day down into my top 3 seeds and top 3 weeds. I definitely feel more or sense of accomplishment because I don’t look at all the undone parts of my to do list and if I am unable to finish, I don’t feel as much of a sense of dread. It helps me adopt a mindset of progress not perfection.

Here’s the video!

How to Effectively Plan , Manage Your Time, and Change Your Life

how to plan

The importance of writing things down

Do you ever wonder how to plan and organize your time? How do all those super successful people like Oprah and Martha Stewart get so much done in a day?

Well, I’m not sure exactly what they do specifically, but I’ve read enough books about success to know that they don’t keep everything in their head! They write to-do lists, plan, keep a schedule, use calendars, etc. Think about it. How else could they remember everything? Our brain only has so much capacity for information, and the more stress we are under the more likely we will forget something. So yes, it is necessary to write things down and get them out of our heads and onto paper. 

Let’s go way back

In high school, they gave us planners to use. They were called “PSAs”. (What that stands for, I have no idea.)  Yes, I decorated it with stickers and pictures I printed from my computer to showcase my individuality (ha!), and I wrote in it, yes, but did I actually use it? Nope!

I have never been a naturally organized person. But I hit a turning point when I went back to school in 2014 and took my orientation class at Arizona State University. I learned all about scheduling bite-sized tasks on a calendar to get homework done and remember test dates. I was so inspired I actually started doing this for the other aspects of my life. And it worked.

Why I don’t use a planner right now

 

To plan and organize my time, I just have a calendar and a journal. Nothing fancy. Although I love planners! And if you have one, use it! There are even planners just for specific seasons, like this one:

I don’t use a planner right now because they are a bit pricey but its also because I enjoy the freedom of a blank page. I tend to feel guilty when I don’t fill up every pretty little box in one of those planners from Michael’s.

Can’t I just use my phone?

You can certainly use an app on your phone as well but I prefer pen and paper. Sometimes my phone can frustrate me because it can be slow.

Where I keep my planning notebook and calendar and what I put in them

To make sure I actually use my planner, I keep it readily available on the kitchen counter.

On my wall calendar I put:

  • appointments
  • events
  • birthdays
  • when to buy birthday presents (10 days prior to the event, that way I have time to procrastinate, ha ha)
  • date nights
  • bill due dates
  • finance meetings with my husband
  • coffee dates with friends
  • book club meetings

In my notebook, I put:

Any recurring tasks go on a routine list or are on my daily schedule, but that’s another blog post!

How my life has changed

Since I’ve started planning and keeping track of important dates, I am much more in line with the kind of person I want to be. I am living my values. It is much easier to be intentional. As a result:

  • I get the important things done on time
  • I see people I care about more often
  • I can be a person who keeps their word
  • I am so much less likely to forget something
  • I take better care of myself
  • I take better care of my family
  • I know at a glance if I can take on a new commitment
  • I feel so much less stressed
  • I very rarely double book events (I hate when that happens)
  • I am just happier
  • I am more likely to be on the same page as my husband

When I plan

Every  year I purchase a new calendar and input birthdays, and bill due dates. At the beginning month I input any new events that came up as well as make sure my appointments and date nights are written in and I have babysitting arrangements planned. Each week I take less than an hour to look at the week ahead and see what’s coming and I write a meal plan.

While you might get by keeping “all the things” in your head, try writing them down

Now you know more about the importance of writing things down and getting them out of your head and the monumental impact it has had on my life. So tell me, how do you plan? Do you write everything down on pen and paper or use your phone? Let me know in the comments below!