In my last post, we discussed the reality and myth of multitasking and the way it harms any attempt of being productive, especially in the times we’re living.
Today I want to focus on what things look like for us, parents, as we either continue working from home, are getting back to work with new health and safety measures in place or are actively looking for a job after having lost the last one during the pandemic.
For the sake of perspective, most schools -in the northern hemisphere- finished the school year with kids and parents homeschooling. Now we’re facing different scenarios for going back to school and the conditions and consequences of a return of students and teachers to the school.
On the other hand, down south, families and schools have been affected in a whole different way. The school year was beginning in February when the pandemic was plopped, crushing us all under its heavyweight. The academic year has been completely interrupted leaving entire countries in limbo in regards to education. Talking about South America, specifically, most countries (with a few exceptions) aren’t familiar with homeschooling practices, which brings a whole new set of problems for parents, children, teachers, governments. In a way, we’re all left wondering ‘what now?’ We’re all in the same boat, trying to figure out how to make it work somehow.
That’s exactly what we’ll attempt to explore today.
Three Steps to Figure Out What we’re Dealing With
Step 1: Dumping it all
As a first step to see exactly what we’re dealing with, a first step is to take an honest look at everything, and I mean everything, that currently sits on your plate. All the things you have to do because they’re your responsibility and people depend on you doing them, and all the things you want to do if you had the time.
Step 2: Writing it Down
Put it all down in writing. When things are in front of you where you can see them, then you can analyze them.
To give you an example, I’ve identified seven specific areas in my life where I have responsibilities and where I have put personal commitments. In my list you’ll find a mix of ‘have to’ and ‘want to’ and they all have subdivisions. This is what my list looks like:
- Physical well-being
- Water intake
- Personal routines (hair mascara, skin exfoliation, waxing, pedicure, manicure)
- Mental health
- Down-time (relaxing with family and friends)
- Alone Time (personal reading time, meditation, walks, shopping)
- Spiritual health
- Personal Bible Reading
- Prayer and connection with God
- Gratitude and thankfulness
- Physical well-being
- Connection time
- Planning together
- Quality time together
- Per grade
- Specific needs per child
- Being in tune with how they’re handling things emotionally
- Nurturing our relationship
- Quality time together
- Reading together
- Planning activities to keep them busy
- Keeping in touch as often as possible including the kids in these calls or videoconferences
- Scheduling Facetiming, WhatsApp or skype calls
- Rest of Extended Family
- [keeping in touch]
- Friends [calling, writing and being present even from a distance, sending encouraging messages, silly jokes, swapping recipes],
- religious community [attending online meetups, participating, being engaged])
- Work (training, meetings, reports)
- writing reports
- getting ready to go back in the new normal
- plan for writing,
- setting time to write,
- work on website,
- work on social media,
- reading about the craft of writing business,
- learning (courses, webinars, workshops, conferences)
- grocery shopping,
- upgrading parts of the house that need it,
- general house maintenance
The list is huge and really it could go on and on and be endless. It will also be different for everyone.
Step 3: Prioritize
Having a sense of control is what can help you maintain your sanity. Before we get into it one thing must be put out of the way, that is that we can’t do it all. We all have responsibilities, commitments and things we want to do but don’t find the time to do them all. So how do we choose what to do and what to let go? When to do them and how?
The good news is you can really end up doing it all, only not at the same time. You’re not expected to. Seeing all your “to dos” and “want tos” on paper, is overwhelming. But fear not because it can be managed. The secret to tackling it all is prioritizing.
What does prioritize mean?
: to list or rate (projects, goals, etc.) in order of priority
What does Priority mean?
1a(1): the quality or state of being prior
(2): precedence in date or position of publication
b(1): superiority in rank, position, or privilege
(2): legal precedence in exercise of rights over the same subject matter
2: a preferential rating especially: one that allocates rights to goods and services usually in limited supply that project has top priority
3: something given or meriting attention before competing alternatives
Now that we understand what prioritizing means, let’s see how it can be applied in our lives.
To start with, let’s acknowledge that in every area of your life we have some aspects that need immediate attention and are a must to make daily life functional. For example, we need to eat, have clean clothes to wear, be well-rested, respecting working hours, turn in reports on time, etc.
The process of prioritizing works when you decide which things you absolutely have to do every day for your family and your life to function and which things you have to do to reach a goal.
So, things to function in life would include eating and resting for example. Things you need to do to reach certain goals would include for example daily prayer to nurture your connection with God, writing every day to finish that novel you’ve been postponing.
This leads us to goal setting which we will explore next week.
What to do?
When you understand that doing everything is simply not possible this forces you to analyze all that you have to balance in life. Sit down and write down all your ‘have tos’ and all your ‘want tos’ to have a clear picture of what you’re dealing with.
Because prioritizing has so much to do with setting goals this is only the first part of how to prioritize in your endless list of things to do. The second part involves thinking about the things you want to achieve. Start dreaming, hoping and imagining because next, we will tackle goals.