Welcome, welcome, come one, come all as I dazzle the mind, dazzle the eyes and make the impossible come true: make the 36 hours of things you NEED to do fit into your 24 hour day.
With the wave of my magic wand, I’ll — wait, what happened to my magic wand?
Oh dear, I’m so sorry. It looks like my magic wand isn’t here with me today… so I won’t be able to dazzle your mind just now…
But what I CAN do, oh yes, I most certainly can, is help you fit that impossibly long list of tasks – which would take 36 hours or more to complete – into the time you actually have: 24 hours.
And that, my dear, is not magic.
Or perhaps it is… ?
Where is your time going?
The reason that most of us would love an extra 12+ hours tacked on to our day is that our to-do lists just expand.
Everything – but everything! – takes valuable time.
If you’re not busy with clean up, you’re prepping food, going grocery shopping, going clothes shopping, going to work, working out, doing laundry, running errands, holding the baby, spending time with your kids.
But wait – that’s not all, oh, no, that is not all! You also have family obligations from your extended family, social obligations, community obligations, and, if your kids are old enough, school obligations.
You’d love to attend to the spiritual side of yourself, too, so you have davening time, tehillim time, and shiurim that you may try to attend, and you need to take care of yourself – time to shower, eat, sleep, breathe, rest on the couch, read a book, get your sheitel done, exercise and maybe put on a dab of makeup from time, too…
And there’s a whole slew of other things, I’m sure, that I haven’t even mentioned here.
And it’s all a LOT.
But here’s the tricky thing. We also spend a lot of time in places that… we wish we hadn’t.
In today’s distracted world, whether you’re on social media or not, have internet in the home or not, we are always pulled into the lure of “multitasking” or of “just checking this one thing…”
There’s so much to do, after all, wouldn’t it be best if you do double duty to kill two birds with one stone? Or why don’t you just take a minute to do that one thing?
And, much as we would love for it to work that way, it just doesn’t. Multitasking is a farce. “Just one minute” rarely exists.
Our brains do best when we’re doing one task and focused on it. Do it, complete it, set it aside and do the next one.
And that’s where mindfulness comes in. Being mindful means knowing: what am I doing now? And what do I want to be doing now? (And where’s a piece of paper so I can write down all the other things I want to be interrupting myself with — so I don’t forget to do them later.)
The first step of mindfulness is to notice. Notice where you’re spending your time, notice what you’re doing. If you want to be a Noticing Ninja, I love the app/website Toggl.com for time tracking (I use it for my business to be – you got it! – mindful of where I’m actually spending my time when I’m working). Try tracking for an afternoon or even just 2 hours: what are you actually doing with your time?
Did you complete a task, or did you get sidetracked into something else and not actually complete it?
How long did it *actually* take you to complete [whatever it was you were doing]?
Before we dive into this next step, I have a quick exercise that I want you to do: grab the download below, print it out, work through it and then come back here once you’ve done it.
I love love love that exercise – it’s so powerful and eye-opening.
So, now: where do you want to be spending your time? Where do you feel like you “should” be spending your time?
Where’s that dissonance?
Noticing the Dissonance
Overwhelm always comes from within. It feels like it’s coming from the things outside of us, those too-many-things that have to get done, the 36 hours of tasks that only have a 24 hour day to fit into, but really it’s coming from in our minds: the way we perceive those tasks.
All too often (and I’m totally a culprit of this as well!), we create this internal pressure by equalizing all of our tasks. Everything seems equally weighty and equally urgent – which is really very false.
We all have an inner compass that we can choose to listen to or to ignore, but if we choose to tune into it, it will tell us: these are your priorities. Here’s what’s really important to you.
But when our actions don’t add up, when we find ourselves with a long list of “shoulds” and “musts” and “want tos” all scrambled and mishkabobbled, that’s when it’s time to take a deep breath, take a step back and tune in.
Where is that dissonance? What’s really important to you? What goes in your “Do” pile, and what do you Delay, Delegate or Discard?
What works for you
At the end of the day, your “To Do” list (with those things that are both important and urgent), will look different than everyone else’s.
For some mothers, the OHIO method (Only Handle It Once) for laundry works great to get clothing from dryer to drawers. For other mothers, the thing that will work best for them is to put it in a basket and leave it for the cleaning lady. And for yet others, the best will be to get that laundry clean and dry and pull clothing out of the basket each morning/evening when prepping each child’s clothing. (And I am definitely been in that last category at times!).
Maybe you’ll do best if you choose one simcha each week to go to. Maybe you’ll do best if you choose one simcha each month. Maybe you’ll limit it to immediate family members simchos and not attend the chasunah of every 4th cousin that gets married.
Or maybe you love going to a simcha every night, but you’ll ask your husband to take care of grocery shopping (delegate!) so that you have that off your head.
Maybe you’ll hire some more household help, get your kids to pitch in more, or find a mother’s helper or chesed girl to help you with some pressing tasks.
Perhaps you’ll be lowering your standards of “what the house should look like” or “what types of food I should be serving for dinner” or “accessories I need to buy my children” or whatever other “shoulds” you believe, even though they aren’t serving you.
But whatever it is: I want you to find at least one thing – one thing! – that you’re going to let go of.
You’re not slacking, you’re not letting anyone down – you’re making a mommy.
And that, my dear, is more important than all the social niceties or neatly-folded laundry in the world.
So tell me – what not important and not urgent “to-do” list item are you going to Discard?