5 Tips to Do Less Better
You’re a hardworking woman, and in the words of Donna Summer, you work hard for the money. You’re tired, stressed, and overwhelmed. It feels like your nose is barely above water. Heck, you may even feel like you’re drowning already and no one has even noticed. I get it, girl. I’ve been there. Between juggling my wifely duties, mom duties, grad student assignments, working full time as a high school teacher, taking my kiddos to soccer practices or ballet, and singing in the church choir, there used to be barely any down time in my life.
After running into enough brick walls, I was ready to call it all quits. There was just no way I could continue to manage--I mean absolutely no freakin’ way! Then I remembered something a veteran teacher told me once: Teach less better. And boy was she right! This approach made a world of difference in my classroom. Instead of trying to teach my kiddos everything under the sun, I focused on the major things they would need to do well in college or to survive if they chose to study abroad for a summer. So, if that principle worked for me in my classroom, why couldn’t I adopt that approach to the rest of my life?
If you’re feeling like you’ve got one pinkey on the edge of the cliff, I challenge you to find the strength inside of you to get back up and commit to do less better. Seriously, I want you to try it. You may be thinking “how is that even possible?” Well, my dear, let me give you a few tips that work for me.
At the beginning of each week, make a list of everything you want to accomplish. You can use a brain dump sheet or regular notebook paper. Think about all of the chores you want to do (laundry, mopping, etc.), grocery shopping, meal prep and cooking, paying bills, etc. If you’re a fellow mompreneur, don’t forget to include all of your business goals for the week, too. Make sure you include any doctor or dentist appointments, parent-teacher conferences, and extracurricular activities for your kiddos. If you know dates already, you can put those beside the task. Make sure you have everything you need on here before going to the next step. And for goodness sake, ladies, include some “me time” in there, will ya? Oftentimes when our cup is filled to the brim, the first thing to go is that coveted and oh-so-needed “me time”.
Just a little side note: While I find it useful to have a biz planner, I have found it can be disastrous when my personal and biz plans are not synced! I usually end up forgetting to do something important when I don’t put everything together. So, if you’re anything like me, make sure you safeguard against forgetting by having a combined calendar in addition to your business planner.
Okay, so now that we have all of our tasks we’d like to accomplish this week written down, it’s time to get funky--I mean it’s time to prioritize! (See, that’s what happens when you’re listening to music while blogging sometimes.) So, I want you to look through your entire list, and circle or star the tasks that absolutely have to be done this week. Now, don’t go crazy with the circling, okay? Really think about what truly needs to be done this week only. Try to keep it at no more than 15 things. Why? Because as much of a superhero as you are my dear, you can’t get every single item accomplished this week on your own without passing out, okay? There’s nothing wrong with that, and there’s no need to feel ashamed.
Here’s the fun part. I don’t know what your preference is, but if you’re old school like me, you can pull out that physical planner and see how to best arrange your tasks for the week. Tip: If you’re a little OCD when it comes to having a neat planner (like me), you may want to use a pencil just in case you have to change some things around. If you’re a little more modern (like I am becoming by the way), you can use an electronic planner of your choice. I have tried Google calendar, and it worked okay. You could also use a free or paid version of Trello or Asana. I just started using Asana a week or so ago, and I’ll let you know more about that in another post.
So many gurus will tell you to aim for no more than 7 tasks per day. For me, I honestly found 7 to be quite overwhelming. You see, there’s just no way on God’s green Earth I can consistently manage the same amount of tasks as some of these gurus without sobbing loudly in the middle of my toy infested floor everyday. So, you know what I say? Choose the amount of tasks that you can reasonably accomplish each day. Do not overplan. If you do, things may come up uncontrollably, and it may be quite difficult to rearrange your jam packed schedule. You could also become quite burnt out by putting in way too many tasks for each day. You want to feel successful at the end of each day, right? So, I don’t care what Ms. Tutu is doing, you think about how many things you can knock out each day, okay? Remember, our goal is to do less better.
Once you’ve chosen the number of tasks you can reasonably and successfully accomplish each day, then it’s simply pluggin’ and chuggin’ tasks into your planner. If you know you’re going to be in a certain part of town one day, group all of your errands that need to be done in that area on the same day. This way you’ll save time and gas.
4. Create systems.
I’ve found that when I create an effective system for accomplishing tasks, it makes a world of a difference. I have more time and energy, and I can stay sane. What kind of systems can you create? What about making sure you and your family have your lunches made at night? Or mandate that everyone has their clothes ironed and out (including you) and bookbags, sports equipment and instruments, etc. by the front door. Sure, this means you may have to spend a little extra time at night getting ready, but I promise it’s worth it. You’ll end up doing less to get ready in the mornings, and that’s what we want!
So, maybe you weren’t able to plan as many tasks in each day as you would have liked. Here’s the thing: you can delegate your tasks to cover more ground. How can you delegate? Have your kids take responsibility for doing the dishes a few nights each week or folding and putting up the laundry. This will help you get some housework done without you having to lift your finger as many times. If your budget allows, you could also hire a service to run some errands for you like walking your dog, picking up your groceries or mailing packages. See, things can still be done without you having to do more.
If you have your own business, you can also delegate some responsibilities to a virtual assistant (VA). Your VA could be in charge of managing your email, cleaning out your email list, making phone calls, creating PowerPoints for meetings or webinars, making graphics for your blog, scheduling your social media, and updating your website (among other things). Just think about the things you do for your business that are time consuming, but necessary. Why not let a VA take those things off your hands so you can really focus more on the things you love?
So, like I said earlier, it can be tough to get everything done that you want each week. Yet, you don’t have to do it alone. Plan your schedule so you can realistically achieve success each and every day. Allot time for the things you can do personally, and don’t forget to create meaningful systems and delegate tasks that you can afford to have someone else do for you.