Confession, I am the antithesis of a Type A personality. I am not particularly detail oriented or very organized. I am impatient, not rigid, I will hang out with you on a moment’s notice, I don’t know what’s for dinner until I open the fridge, and I’m not the type of mom to makes plans on Monday for Thursday. I decide on Thursday morning what we are going to do for the day and then probably make the rest of the days decisions along the way. But underneath what seems like an unsustainable lack of rigidity is a method that leaves me highly productive with what my friends characterize as an overflowing amount of energy. So what’s my method to maintaining what to most seems like I always have two days packed into one? Energy management.
Time is our Currency
For most mom’s time is our currency. We’re constantly short on it and the more time we can find for ourselves the more we can do with it. You know how people say, “Once you make your first million, every dollar after that is so much easier to make.” I think that is basically is the same for moms and time. Once we can initially first find time to work on our aspirations, we can then move mountains. But the initial carving out of time is hard.
Finding the balance of what efforts to put our energy towards is a life long struggle. No one ever does it perfectly forever. But the simple act of self reflection and self assessment is probably 80% of the battle – the rest just becomes habit. I build myself a better system and this is the highlight of what it looks like. I honestly believe that with action and intention any mom could use this to carve out time for herself to create something great.
8 Energy Management Tips for Moms
1. Use an Old School Paper Planner
I know the idea of using our phones as planners seems like a good idea but for moms I think it’s a terrible idea. We don’t need one more reason to be drawn in towards the distraction of social media. I use my planner to track things at a monthly / weekly / daily view. I add everything to the month view and then at the start of the week I transfer from the month into the week and add whatever else I might not have written down.
I don’t do it because I’m afraid I will forget something but more to track and manage my energy. I won’t write down every conference call or meeting but I look at the weekly view to get an idea of how my energy is going to be spread. Will I have time to write a post? If there is time for writing on a Monday but not the rest of the week, I need to know before Monday is come and gone.
- Use the month view for high level and important dates and events to transfer to week’s view.
- Don’t focus on the minutia of tracking every event of your week but the energy of your day, week and month.
- Keep your work appointments and schedule separate (Google Calendar) just block off the time you are working
- I use a Passion Planner
2. Prioritize Your Fitness
I have spent several of the past 4 years making fitness too hard of a goal to obtain. I’d say it’s too hard to run our hills with the double Bob so I simply wouldn’t do anything. If I didn’t actually get to the gym or get to my yoga studio, I became sedentary. Now mind you, moms of toddlers probably get tens of thousands of steps in every day just chasing their toddlers around, but don’t let that fool you for exercise.
Recently I started a simple plan for the days I know the yoga studio or gym is unobtainable. 30 minutes of high intensity cardio. Not raising my heart rate high enough on a daily basis is what my pregnancy weight was holding on to. Now with what feels like much less effort I am seeing so much more results.
- Make fitness more obtainable by setting smaller goals
- Find your best at home workout
- Do a shorter and harder workout to get better results and leverage your time.
- My favorite IG acounts for at home fitness motivation are: @activewithd and @fitgirlvideos
- For my at home weight training/cardio/stretching I use the Skyfit app.
3. Put Down the PB&J
I can’t even guess the quantity of goldfish and left over quesadillas that I have ate over the past 4 years. I used to focus so much energy towards making sure my kids were well fed at consistent intervals but always let my own meals fall to the wayside. I’d tell myself that I would eat once they go down and end up just eating their leftovers or grabbing handfuls of chocolate chips everytime I walk through the kitchen. The results weren’t what I wanted for my waistline and I’m still after 4 years working my butt off to try and get my wedding ring to fit again.
I can’t urge you enough to eat with your kids and to make your food just as important as theirs. Now my kids rarely eat breakfast without me also sitting down to eat. If it’s lunch, I’ll try my hardest to be sitting down with a salad at the same time they are having their lunch. Simply by getting full at the same time as them drastically cuts down on how many of their leftovers I eat in place of adult food and how much sugar I am going to pump into my bloodstream later to try and power the day.
When I need a quick pick me simply having a glass of water and some almonds can generally do the trick and steer me away from the chocolate chips and goldfish long enough to find some real food that will give me more sustainable energy.
- Stop eating the kids leftovers.
- Make your food as much of a priority as theirs.
- Sit and eat with your kids.
4. Write Everything Down
Throughout the day, we have hundreds of ideas and reminders come to mind. I can literally draft texts and emails that I forget to send before I get distracted by something else on my phone. These distractions are one of the biggest things that will fetter our energy management.
Rather than let yourself be distracted by new thoughts and tasks, write them down. Seriously, if you are in the middle of putting dishes away and remember you need to send an email, write it down. Don’t stop to divert to the other thing, write it down. I’ll even carry a notebook around with me (not my phone because it’s a distraction) and just jot down everything that comes to mind. Some are so silly I go back and realize I don’t need to even bother but the ones that matter, feel so good to cross off that list at the end of the day.
- Don’t follow up on every thought you have at that moment.
- Use pen and paper not your phone to make your list.
- Cross off the list at the end of the day and chuck it.
5. Schedule Free Time
Scheduling free time isn’t as much about giving yourself free time as much as it is about saving the distractions for later. Moms are generally juggling 30 tasks and thoughts all at one time and if you sit us down with a phone for an hour we can probably jump around between a million things without looking up for an hour. For me the my phone is my achilles heel of energy management.
Try giving yourself a time to check social media. Even though I manage personal, my business and client accounts, I only check social media at set times. This prevents me from losing those 10 minute windows of free time to social media instead of something more productive. You’ll stay more focused and on track if you know you aren’t depriving yourself of a break just deferring it. And you’ll probably be surprised to find that the more time you spend away from social media the less you care about it.
- Make sure you give yourself free time
- Let the free time serve as a way to defer those distractions
- Leave social media for free time, even if you have to schedule more of it into the day, isolate it like a task until you become less reliant.
6. Dress the Part
I know we love yoga pants (I have basically lived in mine) but the idea of wearing activewear to replace getting dressed in the morning is a really counterproductive habit. I know this because I am a huge offender. Working primarily from home, it doesn’t matter what I wear. So it’s really easy to just throw on workout clothes, tell myself I’ll find time exercise that day and go about my business. But by 7pm that evening I probably haven’t worked out but instead managed to look pretty unkemp all day while eventually feeling defeated.
- Get in the habit of waiting to put on your workout clothes until you work out.
- The 5 minutes it is going to take you to change out of your boyfriend jeans into your yoga pants isn’t going to unmotivate you to workout – it will probably do the exact opposite.
7. Focus on Where You Can Provide the Most Value
I’ve found that many moms (including myself) aren’t very good at saying no. So many of us are constantly pulled in so many directions between work, family, spouse, our kids school, after school activities yet we continue to pile one more thing on our plate. While a full embracing of being a “bad mom” isn’t entirely practical I think it’s important that we pay more attention to where our efforts are being exerted.
In my case, I spend last year working alot, with my kids alot, as a board member for an organization, as a room mom and as lots of other smaller but equally time consuming roles. This year, I learned from my mistakes and am only focusing on where I can provide the most value. In truth, I serve a much higher value as a board member than as I can as a room mom. There is another mom who can step in, be room mom this year, and do as good of and probably better job than me. The same probably can’t be said for that mom having an identical skill set to be elected to my board seat. Consider saying no more so you have more time to focus on the things you should be saying yes too.
- Do what you are best first
- Don’t be afraid to say no, there is probably someone else who can say yes instead
- Whenever helping somewhere try to operate as if you are about to be replaced, no one should try to be invaluable, it doesn’t help anyone.
8. Embrace the Hustle
I can’t tell you how many times I talk to other moms about my day job or the blog and then immediately hear them say “You are so lucky, I wish I could find/start something like that”. While I do believe in luck, I don’t believe that’s why I have certain opportunities. 100% percent of what I am doing now was build on a foundation of hard work. And there is no reason why those same moms (and maybe yourself) can’t make these same opportunities for yourself. You just have to hustle. The hustle is going to look different for each person and each goal, but the hard work is going to be the same for everyone.
Today my husband and the kids are on their 8th hour at a friend’s house for a party. I’m sitting here at home working a Sunday away. This is where my week’s energy management has taken me, this is how I keep multiple opportunities and passions alive. It’s not about the act of getting this singular post published, it’s about taking action, getting something published, getting one step closer to whatever comes next. The hard work is creating the luck.
- Don’t be afraid to take the time to get ahead
- Make your own luck through hard work
- You’re not going to get anywhere by not trying
I don’t want to miss every party for work, or live so rigidly that I focus so much on everything that needs to get done that I’m overlooking the moments of life and not enjoying them. Since I’m a Type B the journey is just as important for me as the destination. Stealing some of the pages from the Type A playbook and adapting them to fit with my Type B personality is the perfect way to manage the stresses of motherhood is how I can be sure that when I’m with my kids, I’m really there and won’t look back and regret that I got in my own way of enjoying motherhood.
Do you have any tips on how you manage you energy? Share your tips below.