When I was working full-time as a teacher, the feeling I remember most is being constantly overwhelmed. I was overwhelmed when I got to work, when I was at work and when I left work. The primary feeling I had when I picked up my kiddos at daycare, was being flooded with information and overwhelm as I mentally transitioned from my full-time job to my other full-time job as a mom. Man, I wish someone had shared with me the strategy that we’re going to talk about today. It turns out, there is a way to plan when you’re overwhelmed and it’s not as hard as you might think.
Again, I am a recovering perfectionist. “Overwhelmed” is practically my middle name. But this strategy is a game changer and really helped me to see my overwhelmed-ness for what it really was: a lack of clarity. I was feeling overwhelmed because at all times, everything felt like the most important thing. So if everything feels like the most important thing, of course I’m going to be overwhelmed! This insight helped me so much and I can’t wait to hear if this resonates with you too!
This strategy is from Kendra Adache of The Lazy Genius. If you haven’t heard of her, you should definitely check out her work. I frequently recommend her to my coaching clients. They always end up loving her as much as I do!
So the strategy is this – brace yourself for how simple this is: name what matters. That’s it. That is the strategy. Name what matters. Why is something so simple, so profound? Let’s dissect it a little bit!
When we think everything matters an equal amount, we panic. As moms, we know it’s literally impossible to give everything our full attention. That’s where overwhelm comes in. BUT, if instead of believing that everything matters as much as the next thing, we identify what matters MOST, we can redirect our energy. Let’s see this is in action with an example….
When I was looking at my calendar for September, I immediately felt overwhelmed. It’s my photography busy season, I have a big website project that I want to complete, a full roster of coaching clients AND it’s back to school for both of my kids and my husband, who is a teacher. Overwhelmed.
But when I forced myself to hit the pause button, I took my MAP Book and wrote down the four weeks in September – September 5th/12th/19th/26th. From there, I put two bullet points under each week and wrote down TWO things that mattered that week.
The first week of September? I know that the things that matter most are back to school routines and editing. That is it, that is all that matters. So when I plan my day, I look back at what matters first. Then, I make sure anything related to those priorities happened first.
The second week of September, I knew we would be a little more settled into routines, but the kiddos only had a 4-day school week. Because of this, I wouldn’t have a ton of time to work. So I name what matters in the second week as completing my website project and being present with my kids. If nothing else happens that week, that is OK. But those are the priorities.
Every week when I sit down to plan the week out, I rewrite my priorities for the week from this list. It helps keep me centered and helps me feel like I am being proactive. Of course, some weeks are harder than others, and sometimes more than 2 things matter. But I always know what my big two are and can communicate them to my husband as well, so we’re all on the same page.
While September can be pretty overwhelming, there are other spots on the calendar that I can point to on January 1st and promise you are going to be overwhelming and potentially stressful. For me, they are the end of the school year, the transition to summer, the day before we leave on vacation, the day we get back from vacation, back to school, busy season and all of December.
That is why this strategy helps so much, because you can be proactive about these stressful times and backwards plan to set yourself up for success. For example, I know that the first three weeks in November are going to be crazy stressful. I do all of my holiday mini-sessions in those weeks and people are eager to get their images back so they can order holiday cards.
To be proactive, I sit down with my husband in October. We decide what we can do together to overcome the overwhelm. He knows that he is the point person at home for those three weeks. Editing days are put on my calendar so that I’m not tempted to book too much during that time. I also carefully consider any social events during those three weeks. This is because I know I won’t be able to fully be present with friends and family until the work is off my plate.
Again, does this make November sail by without a hitch? Absolutely not. It just helps me feel proactive and more confident going into it. Imagine if I just woke up one day and said “Oh shoot, I have 95 sessions to edit by tomorrow!” That would be overwhelming and pretty cruel to do to myself. So I do what I can to get ahead of it.
Right now, decide on two things that matter this week to help you plan when you’re overwhelmed. What are they? Write them down in your MAP Book, your planner or a sticky note and refer to them each day when you go to decide what needs to get done. Are your actions moving you closer to your priority or further away?
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Thank you so much for being here, mama! Get back to doing your thing, rocking your world and remember – keep growing! Little eyes are watching.
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