How to Put Out Life’s Fires – Part III
This is the final part of a three-part series on how to reclaim your time and truly enjoy motherhood.
One of the many complaints from busy mothers is the feeling that there is never enough time to accomplish everything to truly enjoy motherhood. A mother’s life is busy; this is a fact. Yet, the busyness of motherhood doesn’t have to rob you of the joy and fulfillment of getting things done. In this final part of the series, you’ll discover the nuts and bolts strategies you’ll use to practically implement the ideas discussed in the first two parts.
The Time Management Matrix
Before tackling your to-dos and action items, the first step is to pass them through a time-filtering tool called the Time Management Matrix. This matrix uses the principles of urgent and important that you learned in the first part of this series.
Set aside fifteen minutes of quiet, uninterrupted time to sit down with a blank sheet of paper and pen. Write down everything you did the previous day, making sure to list the BIG things and the small things. Review your list and decide under which quadrant each activity falls. Where did you spend most of your time? Your goal is to focus the majority of your time in quadrant II—important, non-urgent matters (see the Part I of this series)—while managing the unexpected things that come up in quadrant I. What will tomorrow look like for you?
Whether you’re already a quadrant II person, or run a frantic quadrant I lifestyle, the next step is to apply three simple time management strategies:
1. Plan Weekly: Many moms have a haphazard schedule that is managed by their toddlers’ moods, emotions, and wants. If you work, then your schedule may also be dictated by your employer’s needs. You can still have control over your time. At the beginning of a new week (usually Sunday or Monday), open up your calendar for the coming week and begin by setting aside time for your quadrant II activities. For instance, if you’ve been meaning to read a bedtime story to your daughter at night, but just never seem to get around to it, make it an appointment on your calendar with her. This step ensures that your priorities truly become your priorities. As the saying goes, “If you don’t plan your week, someone else will.”
2. Prioritize Daily: Either the evening before or first thing in the morning, prioritize the tasks on your action list. Always begin with your quadrant II activities (unless you’ve already appointed a specific time later in the day). It’s important to keep a list of three to five quadrant II activities with you at all times. You can use a small notebook that fits in your purse or diaper bag. This list will keep you focused throughout your day because inevitably you’ll be interrupted. With a list, you can always go back to it after the “emergency” has subsided.
3. Share the Workload: It’s common for moms to take on far more than they can handle and then refuse to ask for (or accept) help. Commit to sharing your load lovingly with your spouse, children, friends, and co-workers. Delegating actually fosters stronger relationships when people know you trust them to accomplish things you always seems to do so well on your own. When delegating to others, remember to be clear about your expectations, provide any necessary resources, and then agree on accountability. Initially, sharing your workload will create some challenges, but as you and the people around you learn how to give and accept new responsibilities, it will become easier.
Related Story: How to Put Out Life’s Fires – Part I
Related Story: How to Put Out Life’s Fires – Part II