Many moms struggle with managing their time and putting out life’s fires. With so many priorities it can be difficult to keep everything together. The good news is that it’s not impossible. You can reclaim your time. It begins with knowing the difference between “important” and “urgent,” (discussed in Part I and then adopting three essential attitudes. You’ll learn those attitudes in a bit, but first let’s talk about motivation.
Motivation drives action. The attitudes you’ll discover in this article require you to act, think and respond to your life in a new way. The act of change can be difficult because it requires you to recognize the need for a change and then calls you to follow-through (action) with the change. The follow-through is where most change ends.
To ensure you stay on track and adopt the attitudes in this article, you’ve got to know your reasons for changing. This realization fuels your motivation so when change becomes difficult (which it definitely will!), you won’t revert to your old attitudes. Keeping your reasons, also known as your “why,” in the forefront of your mind also helps focus your actions toward what matters most, rather than trivial busyness that may now consume your day.
Before you read on, complete the following exercise to become absolutely clear about your “why.”
Exercise: Write down twenty reasons why you want to reclaim your time. Think in terms of the benefits you’ll gain by having greater control over your time. Try to be as specific about the benefits as possible. For instance, instead of writing “more quality time with my family,” specify what “more” and “quality” really mean to you.
Armed with your “why,” you’re ready to learn the three attitude shifts necessary to reclaim your time once and for all:
- From wanting to willing: It’s easy to want to have more time, but you may not be willing to take the steps necessary to create the space (i.e. eliminating cell phone usage for a week). Wanting something doesn’t make it so, but having a willing attitude does. Think back to when you were pregnant. You probably didn’t want to experience the pain of childbirth, but you were willing to endure the pain to see your beautiful baby. What dramatic steps are you willing to take to finally reclaim your time?
- From frazzled to disciplined: Most moms are running at a frantic pace – running from errand to errand, checking off task after task, working harder and harder. Busy does not equal productive, nor does it translate to a more quality lifestyle. Instead, you must be conscious of your time and choose to act on things that really matter. This takes an enormous amount of discipline. Temptation to do it all fuels your pride and hunger to fulfill the role of a “great mom.” How can you redefine what it means for you to be a “great mom?”
- From indifference to commitment: You may be at the point where you’ve given up hope, desire or interest in reclaiming your time. You think it’s impossible and you’re exhausted from the effort of trying. “Life is difficult,” M. Scott Peck opens in his book The Road Less Traveled and this is especially true for mothers. Every day you’ll face new challenges and roads you’d rather not travel. The key to overcoming life’s challenges, and specifically the challenge to manage your time effectively, is to remain committed to what matter most to you – no matter what. What will keep you committed through the difficult moments in life?
In the next thirty days, carry a small notebook in your purse and note your daily activity. What are you doing? How is the activity contributing to your “why?” What challenges are you facing? What ideas do you have to overcome them?
Then, read Part III of this article (available in December 2007) where you’ll discover a powerful time-filtering tool to manage your activities and goals, plus three time management principles you’ll use for a lifetime.
© 2007. All rights reserved. Michele R. Dortch
Related Story: How to Put Out Life’s Fires – Part I
This is the second in a three-part series on how to reclaim your time and truly enjoy motherhood.