time

Now that school is back in session, vacations have been taken and we’ve transitioned from flexible days to scheduled ones, it seems appropriate to share it with you all.  Enjoy!

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be inspired workshop cut

T  I  M  E

Perhaps the question I receive the most here on the blog is “how do you do it?”

I’m completely flattered by the question and hope to give you some very practical and inspiring tips, but first I must make a little disclaimer:

I am not super-woman.

Women put a lot of pressure on ourselves to do it all and do it all well.   We want to be attractive wives and doting mothers and wise mentors and savvy shoppers and loyal friends … all the while keeping our houses immaculate, whipping up gourmet meals, growing our own vegetables, getting that recommended 30 minutes of cardio a day,  volunteering in our kids’ classrooms, decorating our homes and fitting in some good quality alone time.

And then when we can’t quite master these things, we get down on ourselves, compare our failures against the abundance of other women who seem to be successful and fall into a pit of insecurity – a debilitating feeling of not measuring up.

High expectations are good. Unrealistic expectations are from the devil.

And so, I must first say that I am in the same boat. I have so many things I want to be/do and so many that I think I should be/do and if I don’t get a handle on the truth, then I get into that same ugly tangle of insecurity.

What I’m discovering is that I must first admit that I CAN NOT DO IT ALL.

There, I’ve said it. Now say it with me …

I CAN NOT DO IT ALL.

Doesn’t that feel good? Freeing even?

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The truth is, we must make sacrifices in one area to be able to achieve in another.

For instance, sometimes our family eats out so that I don’t have to do dishes.  Sometimes my boys are upstairs for hours playing legos by themselves while I am working.  Sometimes the laundry mounds up well beyond what my grandmother would deem acceptable.  Sometimes I don’t shower for four days.

You get the point and I’m sure you can relate.

So, to answer the question of how I do all that I do, I have to admit that I make plenty of sacrifices.

Okay, now that that is out of the way, let’s dive into the practical ways to carve out time for YOU.

It may sound backwards, but making time for yourself is one of the least selfish things you can do for your family, your friends and you.  You know that old saying “if momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy”? It’s really just making the point that the mother is often the one who sets the tone for the entire family.  If you are frazzled and unhappy and unfulfilled, most likely your family has picked up on it and are not functioning at their highest level either.

We decided several months ago to home school our children.  Many aspects of home school are appealing to us and we felt like this was the right direction for our family.  But as time went on and I began pouring more of myself into my blog and business, I started to have second thoughts.  I was talking with my sisters about it and they both shared their concerns with me.  One said, “I just worry that you will give so much to your kids that you will lose yourself – your own passions and interests outside of them.”  This was a big struggle for me.  While I felt like home school was the best thing for our kids educationally, the added responsibility on me to spend a large portion of my time, energy and creativity focused on schooling them would mean I would not have the time, energy and creativity to focus on my hobbies – namely my business.  If I chose not to home school because it would require too much of a sacrifice of my own interests would that make me the most selfish woman alive?  Or would our family function better if I was fulfilling my passions?  The fact that this Workshop exists and that our first-grader is at school down the street today tells you what decision we made!

{For the record, I’m a big fan of home school and I’m not saying that if you home school, you will not have time for yourself. This was just a conclusion that we came to for our family at this point in time.}

The point is, reflect on your life and make sure that you realize the importance of taking time to focus on you. Whether that means joining a book club or taking a bath, you need to take care of you. Ultimately, the goal here is to free up time for you to pursue your creative passions and turn them into a business – a nearly impossible task if this habit of taking time for you is not incorporated into your daily life.

So how exactly do you make time for yourself when you have so many other responsibilities?

Here is my list of time management lessons:

1. Some things can wait.

Laundry seems to be a big issue for me – it feels like a constant game of catch up that I can never master when I’ve got six people daily sabotaging it {i.e. actually wearing & dirtying those clothes!}  But I’m learning that some things can wait.  I don’t need to get the laundry folded and put away right away, I’ll get to it when I have a moment. I can dvr a show and watch it at a more convenient time then it’s original airtime {perhaps while folding my foe, the laundry, and accomplishing #3 – see below}.  My mom can wait on a returned phone call until I have a moment to think.  We live in a ‘I want it NOW!’ society, which is sometimes such a blessing {high speed internet? Genius}, but can also bully us into thinking we have to do it NOW!  Take a deep breath, decide if it is really important, and if it is not, let it wait.

2. Do little things as you go.

I’m the visual type.  The way spaces look make a big difference to me and how I function in them.  When the kitchen looks like a bomb went off in it, I don’t enjoy making dinner for my family.  If my bed isn’t made, I don’t feel like I have a handle on my day.  When my car is littered with trash, you know I’ve been a busy girl {or that my kids are not picking up after themselves …}.  I find that it helps to do little things as I go to keep my home more visually pleasing and therefore allowing me to function in it more effectively.

So I try to load the dishwasher after each meal {which also avoids having to scrub the dickens out of the crusted-on oatmeal}.  We keep a basket on the stairs to collect all the random toys and trinkets that find their way out of the playroom to the downstairs. Throughout the day when I see something that belongs upstairs, I’ll toss it in the basket.  Once it gets full I take it upstairs and we put the things in their correct places.  When I get the mail {perhaps my favorite time of the day – I really love mail} I sort through and toss the junk mail into the recycling so that it doesn’t clutter up my life.

Little things make a big difference. So cheesy, but it really is true.  When tasks are broken down into smaller pieces, they don’t seem quite so big.

3. Multitask.

I’m sure I’m preaching to the choir on this one since women seem to be the masters of multitasking, but do your best to always do two menial things at once.  Load the dishwasher while your english muffin is toasting, talk with your girlfriend on the phone while you are driving {with a headset, of course, and only if you can do it safely!}, compose a blog post while you are nursing your baby {I’ve become quite talented at one-handed typing}, write a thank you note while waiting at the doctor’s office.

You can certainly take multitasking too far, which I’m not recommending. For example, don’t check your email while your child is trying to tell you about his day {not that I’ve actually done this…} or go outside to water the plants while sautéing onions {again, not me!}.  Be careful that you don’t sacrifice your priorities {or your safety} with something that can wait.

Multitasking is a challenging balance, but can be so practical if done effectively.

4. Stay focused when it matters most.

Sometimes you need to complete a project that requires your full attention {filling business orders, taking important phone calls}. This is not the time to multitask.  Not only will you be more effective in what you are doing, but the quality of your work will show when your attention is not being pulled in a million different directions. Silence your cell phone, turn off the radio, and get rid of any distractions.  This may require some pre-planning {see #6}, but you’ll be thankful in the end.

5. Delegate & ask for help {and then accept it}.

I’m just going to admit right here that I am terrible at this one.  You know that kid in school who took on the entire group project alone? That was me.  I like things done a certain way and sometimes {okay, most of the time} I’d rather just do it myself than deal with the alternative.  But I have a lot of children and a husband and friends and a big house and I’m not able to do it alone. Remember what we talked about up there? I CAN NOT DO IT ALL. I think we should add ALONE to the end of that statement.

So have your kids make their own beds {and just deal with the fact that the sheets are not straight}.  Ask a friend to bring an appetizer to your dinner party.  Trade babysitting with another family.

We were created to live in community with others and will be much happier, effective ladies if we stop trying to do it all alone and start to ask for help.  Plus, we may find extra time to do what we enjoy when the less-enjoyable tasks are spread around.

6. Create a schedule.

Obviously, having a daily schedule helps immensely with day-to-day time management.  Children respond well to having a routine, and adults do as well.  I’m all for a daily schedule, but I also appreciate some flexibility when an opportunity comes around. I’m not a ‘wake up at 7:02, breakfast at 7:08’ type of scheduler, so I won’t claim to be an expert on daily calendaring.  But I will say that making {and keeping} a schedule will allow you to decide what you do and don’t want to be part of your day.  One thing that may help is for you to write down everything you do in a day. Once you see it all on paper, you’ll be able to figure out if there are things you can cut, what is most important to you and where you spend your time.

In terms of scheduling larger projects, I do have some experience with that.

My busiest time for my business is Christmas card season. To say I become overwhelmed during the holiday months is an understatement.  But as my husband has taught me {and has to re-teach me each year}, breaking up a large project into small pieces is the most effective way to tackle it.  So start at the end {the deadline, goal, etc.} and work backwards. Figure out what needs to be accomplished and break each task into do-able chunks. Give yourself one or two tasks per day, write them down on a calendar, then stick to it.

It is helpful to plan for a buffer day or two.  By scheduling projects this way, you will have peace in knowing you don’t need to finish the entire project in one day and you can move on with the other important aspects of your daily life.  The best part? If you keep to your schedule, you will finish it by the deadline without {too much} stress.

7. Limit tv watching and internet searching.

I like my tv shows {Project Runway, Survivor, Monday Night Football – yes, you read that right} and I certainly enjoy looking around on the internet {did you see my blog post on a few of my favorite blogs?}. But just like the sweets that I crave, too much of a good thing can be bad.  The problem with tv watching is that it sucks you in and before you know it, 3 hours have passed.  The same goes with reading blogs or updating your status on Facebook or shopping online.  Its amazing how much time can go by without even realizing it.

If you are wanting to free up some time in your day to pursue your creative ideas, I’m guessing these two time-suckers will have to be limited.

8. Let go of guilt.

Part of managing your time means letting some things go.  There’s a trade-off, remember?  When I want to get dinner made, I often turn on a kid show to entertain my kids. Is tv watching the best form of entertainment for those three little boys? Absolutely not. Should I feel guilty about using it to distract them? I chose not to.  Life is about balance and sometimes you just have to do the best you can with what you’ve got and not feel bad about it in the end.

9. Grab hold of the really valuable moments.

When it all comes down to it, we must remember what is really important.  As I was writing this , my baby girl woke in the middle of her nap.  So I walked upstairs, held her in my arms and rocked her back to sleep.  My head was fully in ‘work mode’ and I really didn’t want to be bothered. But my heart adores that baby and the best place for me in that moment was cuddling and comforting her.

Remember the Bible story of Mary & Martha?

Luke 10:38As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

41“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42but only one thing is needed.[f] Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

I think that sums it up perfectly. We need to choose what is better. We can not do it all. We must make little choices daily, little sacrifices, let some things go, allow for messes and unfinished projects and dirty bathrooms and too many kid shows and in the end, know that  grace is what gets us through.

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Feel free to download a list of some of my practical ways to balance work and family

balance download

and practical ways to delegate

delegate download

If you’d like your own “I can not do it all” print, they are now available in the shop.

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71 Responses to time

  1. Amy January 17, 2011 at 9:56 am #

    Fabulous post and an EXCELLENT point. I’d love to print one of the signs but I seem to be computer illiterate-when I click on the image to download I just get a larger version of it. What am I doing wrong?

  2. Krissie January 18, 2011 at 12:00 pm #

    Thanks so much…. I just transitioned to working from home, and although I don’t have kids right now, I know I will in the not too distant future. I’ve been struggling to figure out the work from home thing, I’ve only been doing it for a few weeks now. I didn’t realize how much of an adjustment it would be. So great to get some advice! Very helpful!

  3. Kathleen January 27, 2011 at 9:52 pm #

    Thank you so much for this post. I feel like I am constantly failing between a buys house and working full time. But this post showed me that just because we are down to the last pair of socks, I am not a failure. Our Home is constantly filled with fellowship in the form of many types of gatherings. I needed to see that as success, not just the fact that I have a large laundry pile as a result. Thank You!

  4. Abbey Lewis February 12, 2011 at 8:22 am #

    I know that this post/workshop was done a long time ago, but I just read it and it could not have come open to me at a better time! I am a somewhat newly made SAHM… I loved my career but found that it was putting a severe wedge between me and my family! I love staying at home but also find that I feel, at times, like I still don’t have enough time to do all that I want in the way or manner that I want! Thank you so much for putting into words how I feel and for letting me know that I am not alone… far from it!!! Your blog and business is amazing and very inspiring! Thanks for all you do!

  5. Barbara July 27, 2011 at 9:01 am #

    I was sometimes overwhelmed with two little ones…I don’t know how you do it with four! Congratulations. I was able to grow my last business, working from the home. I scheduled time each day with the sitter and tried to stay as focused as possible on work-work, during that time. When the sitter wasn’t there, I was still able to get some work done and the kids knew to be quiet, early on, when I said “business call”. I think, as a young mother, you have to keep reassessing your priorities. A family is like a delicate mobile. If one person isn’t happy, everything gets out of balance and balance is so important! Stop doing everything for your kids! A 2 year old can dress themselves, believe it or not. It may not be the outfit you would have picked, but it will free you up to do something else. Don’t underestimate their capabilities. Not only will it free you up, but empower them! And you’re right…you can’t do it all!
    Best,
    Barbara@TheTreasuredHome.com

  6. Tiffany February 2, 2012 at 8:31 am #

    Great post, I really need to work on # 7 & #9! Found your blog through ‘A Holy Experience’. Have you posted any pics from your homeschool room? I would love to see what you’ve decided to do. I’m having a difficult time keeping mine from looking like a cluttered mess and am looking for ideas.

  7. Pamela Abeyta January 18, 2014 at 2:51 pm #

    Emily,
    I recently started following you. I love you love of life, family and Jesus. Simply put your creativity is inspiring as it reflects the great Creator. Thank you.

    God bless,
    Pamela

    • emily January 19, 2014 at 2:20 pm #

      Thanks Pamela!

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