How to Prioritize Like a Genius When Everything Feels Important
As a working homeschool mom, there’s a lot to do. Am I right? On top of working, parenting, staying healthy, running a home, having a social life and having a relationship too, there’s the added layer of homeschooling. So how do you prioritize when everything is equally important?
Start with Your Values and Goals
Do you know what your values and life goals are? If you don’t, there are a number of ways that you can find out. Anna Dearmon Kornick writes in Forbes about deciding what you want to achieve in your life and then identifying your values from there.
Laura Vanderkam, who did one of my favourite TED Talks, suggests a shorter timeframe. She says you can skip ahead a year and imagine that it was a really successful year. You can write an appraisal of yourself or a family holiday letter, where you’ll be able to identify what would make a year successful for you.
If I use myself as an example, some of my values are family connection, adventure, abundance, service, health, choice and knowledge. I’ve based these on my desire to have a happy family life, to travel, to live a financially abundant life, to support and help others, to be healthy, to live life on my own terms and to always continue learning.
You might notice that having a spotless house or scrolling social media are not on there. So I’m hoping that you’re already getting an idea where I’m heading. 😁
Break Down Your Goals
You know I’m a huge fan of goals. I love them because they give life purpose. And I think it’s so very important to be a dreamer…especially if life is tough. Being a dreamer can help to make the difficult times more bearable and of course to prioritize what’s important.
I’m all for having big, bold goals. But they can easily become overwhelming when you look at them as one big thing. When you break them down, they become more manageable. I’ll use myself again as an example.
Back in 2014, I wanted to have control over my work life (choice and family connection goals). At that time, I was working a tough job as an international marketing director for a group of language schools in a big city. I enjoyed the job but it was demanding and it required lots of international travel. I knew I couldn’t quit outright, so I started to take small steps towards the life I wanted.
- I told my boss that we were going to move closer to my mother.
- I asked him if I could work online from the new location.
- I then became freelance and billed him hourly.
- I found an online teaching job, that I did while working my other job.
- I worked weekend and nights to get my hours and reviews up.
- I reduced my freelance hours and increased my teaching hours.
- I stopped my freelance job entirely.
- I now teach online, with a schedule that I have 100% control over.
It took me about 3 years to make the transition and it was tough at times. I hated working nights and weekends, but the knowledge that I was working towards my goal of choice and family connection, was always in my mind. And I felt good that I was taking small steps in the right direction. Not to mention how I felt when I reached my goal!
Prioritize with Your Schedule
You can get really fancy with apps or expensive planners because there are loads of awesome things out there. But don’t let planning and scheduling become a job within itself. I think a Google Calendar or a simple paper planner can work just as well.
The important thing is to prioritize what’s important. So now you can go back to your goals and see how you can include them in your week. And write them down in ink or mark the time as busy! For me this looks like…
- 30 minutes to 1 hour of exercise per day (goal: being healthy)
- 90 minutes for my mastermind group per week (goal: financial abundance, helping and supporting others)
- 60 to 90 minutes of homeschooling per day (goal: family connection, learning)
- 60 minutes creating content per day (goal: support and helping others, learning)
This isn’t everything, but you get the idea! I decide how I want to spend my time, based on the values and goals. It’s great because it makes decisions so much easier!
Yes, There Are Mindset Shifts Involved!
You may have a very clear idea about your goals and values. But you might not feel like you deserve to prioritize them. So this is where some mindset work is going to come in. There’s a great post on Tony Robbins’ site about how to put yourself first.
Looking after yourself, following your dreams and doing what you love are not selfish. In fact, they’re the opposite. When you feel stressed and exhausted from giving and giving, you’re going to eventually burn out or blow up. But when you fill your own cup, you’ll have more energy and patience for those around you. There are some things to keep in mind…
- It takes practice to feel comfortable and deserving of self care or me time.
- You can start really small and build up to spending more time on your priorities.
- There might be some deeper, more serious issues that prevent you from prioritizing yourself. These could be unpacked during therapy or with some inner work.
The staff writer for Tony Robbins also speaks about not creating your life around the expectations of others. This is such an important point because I know that I, as a classic people pleaser, have done so many things I didn’t want to, to make others happy.
- When you think about your goals and values, be sure that they’re yours and not coloured by what others think you should be doing.
- Set boundaries for people who take and take but never give back. It can be hard at the beginning, but will become easier with practice. I love what Brooke Castillo from the Life Coach School says. A boundary is a personal request with a personal consequence. It seems much easier when you look at it like this because it takes out all the emotion.
- You may even have to cut people out of your life. Once again…not easy! But it’s definitely necessary of you want to be able to prioritize what’s really important to you.
Prioritize with Math
I do so love doing the math with things that seems difficult or overwhelming. Let me tell you what I mean. In order to figure out how to find the time to do what’s important for you, you need to know where your time is going.
You know how I love a good time audit. By calculating how you spend your time on any give day, you’ll be able to figure out if you’re doing what you want to do. You might discover that you spend 1 hour a day scrolling on Instagram. This hour could easily be replaced by working out, meeting a friend – or whatever aligns to your values and goals.
As Laura Vanderkam says, there are 168 hours in the week. So even if you sleep 56 hours a week, work for 40 hours a week, work in your home for 20 hours a week and homeschool for 20 hours a week, that still leaves you with 32 hour a week to do other things. You could choose a few of these hours to make sure you’re doing what you want! And to prioritize what’s important to you.