Have you ever really thought about all that you do? I mean EVERYTHING.
I guarantee you most of the things on your to-do list are in your brain and not in your calendar. And when things on my to-do list are in my brain they totally drain my energy, block creativity, and nag at me in a Chinese-water-torture sort of way.
Let's use exercise as an example. If in the morning I have the intention to workout today, but I don't have it scheduled and don't get to it until 7:30 PM it nags at me all day. It's like my internal calendar bings me and I keep hitting the internal snooze button
"*BING* You STILL need to workout today...fatty"
(as you can see, my internal calendar is kind of nasty). me: "Snooze, I'll do that later."
So every time I hit the internal snooze button in my internal calendar I beat myself up a little more.
It's not helpful. The more I beat myself up the less I want to workout...or do anyTHING for that matter. It impacts my mood, my relationships and my well-being.
Instead of being present with my kids, I'm figuring out when in the rest of my day I can squeeze this THING in. Or I'm just plain resentful that these munchkins are in the way of my plans and this IS NOT how I want to feel about them. I'm shorter and snappier with them because that's what happens when I beat myself up.
I'm irritated and frustrated and overwhelm starts to kick in because I look around and see what feels like a never-ending to-do list and the binging gets loud and constant and makes me want to get on Facebook to avoid it all. Facebook is such a great distraction!
Post Facebook meandering the internal calendar continues to bing:
You STILL need to organize the kids' art supplies...what a MESS!
You STILL need to clean up the basement! Hope no one opens the door.
When was the last time the bedding was washed...GROSS!!
I think that plant's about to die...you'd better water it...plant killer.
All of this slowly sucks MY WILL TO LIVE!!!!! Okay, that was a little dramatic, but you get the point.
The internal calendar could go on and on. In my life there's always something to be done. It's never all done. But I've found that when I give tasks a time and a place they don't suck my energy quite as much as they once did.
So how do I beat internal calendar drain?
Step 1: Imperfectly Prioritize, Organize, and Calendarize EVERYTHING.
Just reading that sentence makes a part of me cringe. It totally goes against my go-with-the-flow personality type to IZE anything. It's not my preference, but I do have IZing skills.
Get it all out of your brain and on some paper. PS...you might need giant paper...or very tiny print.
This is EVERYTHING in our household that needs to be done (you can click on it for a closer look) organized into daily, weekly, and monthly columns. This helps me get REAL about what really needs to be done when and gets me communicating REALLY clearly with my husband about my expectations and internal to-do list.
You see, we recently said good-bye to a live-in nanny we had for 1 year. We decided to hire an Au Pair when we had our third child. It was cost-effective for us with 3 kids. It was a TON of support and in the beginning I felt guilty about it. It was almost too much support, but what we accomplished personally and professionally in that year still amazes me.
After looking at the list above in the dawn of new childcare arrangements (3 kids, 3 different places, 3 days per week) I wondered if it was really realistic for 2 people who work to tackle such a list AND be good parents and partners. I thought...it's worth a shot. We've been at it for 4 + weeks and it's taken its toll.
You can see I haven't posted a blog since October! :-/
My husband and I haven't had quality time together since early November.
I've been sick more...been to the Dr. for myself 3 times in the last 4 weeks.
I haven't had 1 outing with a friend.
I JUST started my Christmas shopping yesterday.
Workout? Oh yeah...I should probably be doing that.
We both admit to being less patient with our little people...and even the dog. How DARE he need a walk!!
We realized we either needed to adjust our expectations or get more support.
Knowledge is important; support is POWER. I know I should workout, I know how to say things respectfully to the people I love (I TEACH PEOPLE HOW TO DO IT FOR CRYING OUT LOUD), I know the dog needs walked....but without enough support I start reacting, from a survival-mode sort of place, instead of consciously responding. And unless you're a prisoner of war (been watching too much Homeland) or there's a saber-toothed tiger at your door it's not helpful to be in this state. You're not thriving.
What are your TOP priorities? Relationships are my top priorities. Prioritizing your to-do list can be the difference in being busy and being effective. I was a better mother (and saw my kids more), therapist, wife, friend, and business owner with more support. THOSE are the things I want to be good at...not dusting and dinner prepping.
And I know that overwhelming to-do lists kill relationships...and sex drive for women.
Step 2: GET MORE SUPPORT....any way you can. I PROMISE you won't regret it. And if you do regret it, you can always change your mind. And if you're waiting for more support to fall out of the sky...stop it. If you're waiting for people to mind-read that you need more support...stop that, too. Take responsibility for getting yourself more support. Get really clear about what you need and ask for it.
Yes, with the extra money we'll be spending on support my husband could probably stop driving his
2002 Accord. But the temporary giddiness that new car smell could bring us pales in comparison to the freedom that we feel when we get enough support. And because we've experienced this with our live-in nanny...we can't un-know it.
And, honestly, when we get more support we make more $$...it's really weird. So maybe a newer car is in our future???
Step 3: Stop trying to be SUPERWOMAN (or man)...and for Pete's sake, stop trying to keep up with the Jones'.
My husband has cringed at the cost of hiring an after school nanny who would also do light cleaning and dinner prep. I asked him "What's the return on investment?" and "What is your time worth?" He couldn't argue with that. It suddenly became clear that more support is WORTH every penny.
But it doesn't have to cost ANYTHING. Get creative in how you can get more support. Share your ideas in the comments below.
Where do you need more support to be a better you?
*Help me in my goal of changing people's minds about therapy by clicking the buttons below to like and share via social media. Many thanks :)
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ARTICLES by Mika Ross