Running short on time? Why won’t the world just stop for a while so I can catch up!!
But the truth is – we have all been given 24 hours and it is our task to use those hours wisely. That time is given to us by God and that I should be grateful rather than complaining about not enough. If God doesn’t withhold any good thing from me, then 24 hours a day must be just right! My task is to be a good steward of what He gives me.
There are days though that I feel overwhelmed; I have too many tasks to do, too many commitments, too many projects to balance. Or at least it feels that way. On days like this I have to take a break and get my head sorted.
- Am I looking after my whole self – my spiritual, my physical and my emotional (including relationships with husband, children, and significant others)
- Am I doing the things that I should be doing? Are my commitments consistent with our family goals?
- Am I procrastinating? Am I just lazy? Am I distracted?
- Am I filling my days with other stuff (material stuff and social commitments) because I am not content?
- Am I aiming for perfection rather than excellence?
When I feel overwhelmed it is usually because I have all the different departments of my life out of balance. I may have let the housework slip, or I may have focused on the housework and not done enough phonics, I may have taken on one too many church committees, or started 3 family projects all at once, when one would have been wiser! The feeling over being overwhelmed will look different for each woman but here are five tips that help me when I am feeling overwhelmed.
5 tips that help when I’m overwhelmed:
- Stay Organised
- Work as a Team
- Be Committed
When I feel overwhelmed with tasks the first thing I need to do is get my head organized.
- I write up 5 coloums (business, homeschool, misc. tasks/projects, house, people,) and sort through everything that is in my head, on bits of paper, in my diary – anything that I can think of that needs to be done.
- I then highlight the incredibly urgent tasks. My goal is to be able to work on the important, but when I’m overwhelmed it is generally because things are out of whack and I’m stressed by too many urgents!
- I then look at my diary and slot in times where these tasks can be met. This is the hardest thing because it means saying no to some things, possibly even canceling on other things. When I feel overwhelmed I must make these things on my list a priority.
Often when I feel overwhelmed, with seemingly too much to do, it is helpful to speak to Peter and he helps me make my priorities match up with the family goals and vision. He has a different perspective so can help me make my to-do list realistic.
It may not initially make sense to spend an hour or so decluttering when there are so many things to do – phone calls to make, phonics lessons to deliver, bills to pay, haircuts to happen etc…. Step one was really decluttering my mind, now I have to declutter my environment. It doesn’t have to be perfect just the surface stuff put away and each area ready for the task for which it was designed. My priority areas usually are:
- declutter my desk
- declutter my kitchen and dining table
- declutter the family room (where the kids do their lessons)
- declutter the lounge room (so we are ready if people drop in)
If these areas are decluttered from extra toys, papers, books, dirty dishes, then not only is my head ready to be productive by my house is too. There are other areas, such as my laundry, or bathroom, or bedroom, that may not get this decluttering treatment, and this will be different for each of us and may even be different in different circumstances. This is a short term solution, while I focus on that overwhelming to-do list.
Work as a team
My children are a part of this family team. In some areas they may well be “in training” but in other areas they have developed skills that can be put to use. This of course will depend on the ages of your children. My children often declutter for me while I organize my lists. This is working together as a team. I can delegate certain tasks to my kids – they can photocopy, they can sort out a box, a cupboard, they can create a power point presentation for me or they could cook a simple meal for dinner. We need to learn to use the strengths of our family and not go solo. Not only do they grow in their own ability with a variety of tasks but they have the internal satisfaction of being needed, and being a part of a family direction.
Even young children, who are going to have playpen or room time can be told that they are helping mummy by playing. Of course, we don’t want to over use this as they will begin to resent but there is a place and time for them to be aware that they too are a part of the team.
I know I think I can multi-task and to a degree that is true. I certainly train the children while I cook dinner, bring in the washing while I chat on the phone etc but when it comes to intense productivity – I need to be focused. For me to get on top of things, or to get through an exceptionally busy season I need to have blocks of focused, and purposeful time, where I am focused on one thing at a time. My day’s focus list may look like this
- Housework – dinner, laundry, floor
- Homeschool – Daniel’s phonics, math, FIAR
- Office – pay a/c, banking, newsletter
- Phonecalls – Spotlight, customer,
These are blocks of time, with specific tasks that I am going to accomplish in that time, other things may happen but these things are my priority for today. I try and group all like-tasks together, this makes my time more efficient; all phone calls together, all emails or web based tasks, etc. Of course my children can’t be confined to one block of time, but I can set aside one block where my purpose for that block is to teach them, that is dedicated focus, not to be distracted by other concerns.
The Bible talks about the double minded man – how he will be swayed with whatever comes his way. Managing the hours in our day, is a little like this. Unless we are committed to the course we set ourselves, we will be tossed around by the very next phone call, the next email, the next great idea. We need to be unswerving, resolute, and steadfast to the things that we have said are our priority. We need to know that this is a season – that this too will pass. But for this moment in time I have to buckle down and get through this.
To see these days as a season in my life – it isn’t the norm, I don’t want it to be the norm – helps me stay focused. (If it is the norm, other techniques and principles need to be considered).
By the end of the day I need to remind myself once again that I have, like everyone else, 24 hours in my day, and that I need to look after not only the business end of my life, but the relationships and of course, my own health. Food, family and sleep have to happen as well. There comes a time in my day that I have to say, I have been diligent, I have persevered and done the best I could today – now for some rest.
Tomorrow is a new day!