Mamas are busy. And by default, we’re multi-taskers. There’s no other way we can do a load of laundry and pay bills and buy groceries and make dinner and spend quality time with our kids.
But I’d say the number one enemy of productivity in a mom’s life – especially when she has very small children at home – is trying to do too much.
Photo by Lizhenry
Don’t get me wrong – we have more than tons to do, and I for one have never accomplished everything I’d ever need to do in one day. But that’s the very reason why trying to do too much will set us up for failure. To put it bluntly, if we think we’ll successfully check off a 20-item to-do list within 24 hours, we’re kidding ourselves.
Life happens. We want to organize our kids’ clothes, but then our husbands will need such-and-such done for his work project. We hope to get the weeding done, but our neighbor’s mom just died, and it’s really more important to bring her a meal (remember – relationships are more important than to-do lists).
For my sanity, for my clarity, for my goal-oriented self, I’ve employed the concept of Most Important Tasks.
It’s not a new concept, and it’s almost too simple to need explanation. But it’s been revolutionary in my life.
I make my daily to-do list, and I keep my scratch pad visible and easy to reach so that I can jot things down as they come to me (both these things are part of my Home Management Notebook). But at the top of my day’s page in my Notebook, above my to-do list and menu agenda and even Scripture memory – are my Most Important Tasks.
My MITs are my top three things I want to accomplish that day. If nothing else gets done, I’d say my day was a success if those three things happen. They usually pertain to my home management job, but often they focus on a personal habit I’m working on. For example, my MITs today are:
- read my Bible for 15 minutes.
- wash, dry, fold, and put up one load of laundry.
- spend quality time with my husband and kiddos.
The first task is personal and aimed towards a habit – I’m trying to reinvigorate my daily habit of reading the Bible (set aside on the shelf of sporadic-ness since my son was born four months ago). The second item is purely home management – we’ve gotta have clothes to wear. And the third one is important for the relationships that matter most to me – my in-laws just left this morning after almost a month of visiting, and I know my family’s a bit sad. We need some good together time.
I’ll focus on these three things, knowing I’ve got much more to do than just these. But now that I’m focusing my energy on these three things, so I’ll feel really accomplished when they happen. When I finish these things and get some things checked off on my day’s to-do list, then that’s an added bonus. What a great day!
I should clarify that my MITs are already part of my to-do list. They’re not a separate entity – otherwise, it just becomes an additional to-do list. For example, here’s today’s to-do list:
- read Bible for 15 minutes
- finish organizing craft cabinet
- talk to Mom?
- finish one load of laundry
- declutter desk
- spend time as a family – picnic?
- collate receipts to update April’s budget
- work on e-book
- write two blog posts
- make grocery list
In short, my MITs are the three top things on my 10-item to-do list.
I’m speaking of all this regarding productivity, but that’s not the only definition of a good day. I’m a list maker, but it is essential not to worship my day’s list. As I said, life happens. When those three MITs don’t happen, it’s not the end of the world. I just wake up and start a new day.
So, my first essential item in my Home Management Notebook is my MIT list. I write them down every day on my Daily Docket. If you already have some sort of home management journal, would adding MITs help you? Or would they add more stress?
If you don’t yet have a notebook, I’d encourage you to start with this. You don’t even need a notebook or journal yet – just grab a piece of paper, write down three (or two, or four, or whatever is best for you) MITs and put them somewhere visible. Even if you make a to-do list, add a separate list of MITs. Try it out for a week, and see how it works for your productivity, your attitude, and your energy level.
• Next up in Home Management Notebooks: What’s on your day’s docket?