"Here we go again."
My newborn daughter had just fallen asleep. I was so tired my very bones ached, letting me feel every one of my twenty-nine years.
I finally understood why they use sleep deprivation as a torture device.
It was as if my entire body was being crushed in a vice, the kind that doesn't let up and keeps getting tighter and tighter.
I had finally gotten my daughter to sleep. I crawled into my warm and inviting bed, so relieved that I was finally going to get some rest.
A half hour later, I was staring at the ceiling wondering how the heck I got to this point. I started pleading with G-d, asking to just be granted this one thing.
All of these thoughts were swirling around in my head, crashing up against each other each one bigger than the last. It was relentless!
Something had to give. I was overwhelmed and being crushed under the weight of the massive boulder that is parenting.
Step by step I crawled out of that hole. I fought and clawed my way back up into the real world. Sometimes I swear I can still see the mud from the hole under my nails.
Are you ready to learn how I did it?
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My life is amazing now. I am happy as a clam. I threw overwhelm out the window of my midsize SUV and road off into the peaceful sunset.
And I'm going to help you get there right now. Are you ready? I know I am!
Here are the seven steps to help you achieve the same goal I did. If I can do it, you can too!
1. Know the Value of Your Time
First, you need to know the value of your time. It's very easy to get caught up in the day-to-day drudgery that you forget that your time has value.
Unfortunately, we can't do everything with our time so at some point, we have to make a decision about what we are going to do and what we're going to hold off on. We may even say no outright to certain activities or tasks.
The way you start honing this life-changing skill is by knowing how much your time is worth.
There's one thing that is more valuable than money. And that is time. We can't get time back. It's not possible. Once the moment has passed, that's it.
There are ways to make more money, but there's no way to make more time. We can, however, choose to spend our time more wisely.
Your time has value. We like to think in terms of money so it's important to realize that if you wouldn't pay money for a task, you shouldn't be spending your time. You can learn more about how to figure out the value of your time.
I work part-time for a software company and stay at home with my daughter a few days a week. I need to remind myself that there are things that make sense to outsource.
I'll never forget that first time I had my groceries delivered. It was so simple and completely worth the $10 delivery fee! My time is worth more most days.
You can find more information in the post Know the Value of Your Time to Make Decisions.
2. Do a Brain Dump
Once you know how valuable your time is the next thing to do is to get everything out of your head.
A brain dump exercise is when you sit down and dump all those thoughts and tasks that are rattling around in your brain onto a piece of paper or in a brain dump app. I use a journal personally with pen and paper. It's a powerful tool to help you get organized.
It doesn't matter what mode you use, paper or virtual, as long as it works for you. I'm a big fan of using speech to text on my phone because I find it's easier for me to just let it roll.
By doing a brain dump, you get all of those thoughts that are overwhelming you onto a piece of paper where you can organize them in a logical, clean fashion.
It's possible to sit down and get everything out of your brain and onto paper or onto a computer and move things around so that your time is going to where it's needed the most.
As you make this a habit, you start to get into a rhythm of organizing your thoughts in a way that makes sense to you.
My family knows that I need time to dump my thoughts every week. It makes me happier and less stressed, and therefore a lot easier to deal with.
Ready to do your first brain dump? Check out The Ultimate Guide to Completing a Helpful Brain Dump.
3. Tackle Your To Do List
Once you've created your brain dump, the next step is to create a thorough to-do list. The goal is not to over-plan your life, but instead to have a road map as to where you want to go.
Having a well thought-out to do list can help keep you on track and moving in the right direction. It also can help you make sure that you don't forget important things miss important events and will help you feel as though you're actually accomplishing something.
There are many ways to create this list and different tools that can aid you in your quest. Having a planner means that you don't have to hold everything in your head. Instead, create a plan and make it happen.
I've tried several planners and learned what works best for me. I'm a paper planner kind of person and I don't go anywhere without my Happy Planner. (You can learn what I recommend for moms here: Best Planners for Moms)
I've helped people set up planning systems on Trello, Airtable, and Evernote. There are so many possibilities out there!
It's just a matter of finding the right planner for you.
4. Define Your Priorities
Once you have your to-do list created it's important to think about what your priorities are. Everybody is going to have different priorities in life, but we can all benefit from defining what those priorities are.
Having priorities listed it out not only helps clarify your life and your direction but can inspire you to keep pushing through the hard days.
There are always going to be hard days. I wish there wasn't but there's nothing we can do about that. But we can do however is push through.
Everyone has a "why". It's what gets them out of bed in the morning. Knowing yours is one of the best motivations out there.
The other important piece is that priorities change and shift over time. What is important during this season of life may change during tomorrow's season.
It's important to be flexible enough to make changes and handle them with grace.
You can take it one step further by making sure that you align up your values and goals (that we're creating in the next step) in this post, How to Master Setting Goals and Values to Be a Better Parent.
5. Create SMART Goals
After we define our priorities it's time to start thinking about goals. A lot of people procrastinate when it comes to making goals because they don't believe in their power.
Or they consider goal setting a waste of time because they haven't created goals the best way in the past. We can change that and create goals that you are able to not only complete, but that have a lasting impact on your life.
Instead of creating goals that we're never going to achieve, as most people do, we're going to plan in a very specific way.
We need to focus on very specific goals by creating SMART goals and working in twelve-week intervals to accomplish these goals. This system can radically change how we live our lives.
The 12 Week Year is a fantastic concept that creates a system for time management. Mike Fishbein sums it up rather nicely in his post. Essentially, rather than planning for a year, you set goals for 12 weeks or a quarter. Much more manageable.
Once I started using these techniques, I finally started to feel like everything was falling into place. I saw forward movement in targeted areas of my life, while still being flexible enough to pivot when needed.
As a parent, I've learned the value of a well-placed pivot and these techniques to help me do so effectively.
Looking for more information on SMART goals? You can find resources on the post What Busy Moms Ought to Know About Setting Goals.
6. Bring It All Together in a Plan
Now that the goals are defined it's time to sit down with the to-do list and your priorities and your goals and bring them all together.
This is when you come up with your plan for the next twelve weeks and work to make that plan a reality.
Sitting down to make this plan will save you so much time, you'll be amazed at all the possibilities. You'll feel productive and on top of your game.
As a mom, this creates the best feeling in the world, to feel as though we're back in control.
Once we have our plan and place it's important to learn how to follow through with it. You need to learn how to stop multitasking and other unproductive time-wasters in order to lead a more intentional life. You'll want to make sure that your plan actually gets done.
I can tell you exactly what I'll be working on next week. I can't tell you what I'll be working on in a year, but that's the beauty of the flexibility.
I do know that I'll be in an intentional place that I've navigated to over this past year. I know which direction I'm heading and have a plan to get there.
7. Make it a habit
When you add all of this up together you have a system. This system has helped me transform my life and is helping others do the same thing.
By making all of this a habit on autopilot, you free up mental brain cycles. You can use those for the important activities in your life that you can't focus on when you're overwhelmed and frustrated.
We all want to be successful people, and creating habits can help us with just that.
Before something becomes a habit or a routine, it takes a lot of willpower to things happen. That’s energy that you will need for other things throughout your busy day.
Yes, it will take some willpower, mental energy, and drive at first to create new habits, but once they are set, it will become automatic. Once you come up with a good working time management routine, stick to it for a few months. That’s the best way to turn it into a strong habit.
When I first started using this time management system, it was hard for me to wrap my head around only planning in twelve-week increments. I was so used to creating goals for the year, that it took a lot for me to break them down into manageable goals for twelve weeks.
However, now it's become something that just comes naturally to me because I've been doing it for a while. Each time I sit down to create goals, it takes me less time to come up with better goals.
That's the beauty of habits. They can help you reframe your life one step at a time and become second nature.
Are you ready to ditch the overwhelm?
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These seven steps can help you get rid of the overwhelm for good. I'm not going to sugar coat it. It's going to take some dedication and hard work on your part.
However, if you stick with it and develop these time management techniques, you'll see benefits within no time!
These days I work a part-time job, manage a blog, see family and friends, and stay on top of the other important things in my life. I've read two books in the past two weeks, taken two new courses and retook a third, plus figured out how to keep my daughter entertained through bad weather.
I never could have done all of that before. I would have been lost and felt like a failure. Now I feel like Super-Mom!
Are you ready to get started? Download the free 12-Week Goal Planner today, or purchase my eBook on Amazon for less than a cup of Starbucks coffee.