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Working from home can be a challenge, especially as a mom. There’s always something to be done, and your to-do list keeps growing and never really seems to shrink. One person can’t do everything. That means setting priorities is essential.
Here’s a peek into my brain to show you how I set my priorities. It’s a system that’s allowed me to start and grow a freelance writing and virtual assistance business, homeschool my large family, keep meals on the table, the house reasonably clean, and the farm animals cared for.
Though the things on our plates might be different, we all share the need to wear multiple hats throughout the day. Here’s how I divvy up those hats and keep from missing important ones.
The first question I ask myself is, “What’s essential?” What are my “have tos?” Around here these items are on my have to list:
- Feeding the family
- Working on my blogs or client work
- Keeping on top of daily chores, table chores, and farm chores
- Family play time (it’s essential because it keeps everyone sane!)
- School time for me (I’m taking 15 college credits this quarter to keep my teaching certificate from lapsing)
These items are my big-ticket items. They’re things I have to do. When I work with the kids to create our daily schedule each morning, those items are non-negotiable during the week. (Except for homeschooling which only happens four days a week!)
Some days have other essentials, such as:
- Doctor, midwife, or dentist appointment
- Occupational therapy for my disabled son
- A client deadline that needs extra attention
- Extra farm chores (when butchering time rolls around or it’s time to clean the chicken coop for instance)
By making sure that these items get taken care of daily, I’m able to stay on top of the most essential items on my priority list.
What Would Be Nice?
Once you have your list of essentials, you can start filling in the rest of your time with your life’s want-tos. Those are things that would be nice to have happen, but that won’t cause pain, death, loss of work, or loss of sanity if you don’t get to.
Around here those things are:
- Quiet time (which I almost always try to fit in)
- Extra cleaning tasks
- Art time
- A nap for me
- Time to play Stardew Valley (Seriously, have you tried that game? I’m loving it!)
These are things that are lower on my priority gauge. They are wonderful when they happen, but I recognize that they won’t always. And I’m learning to be okay with that.
What’s Not For This Season of Life?
There are things I’d love to do, but they just aren’t feasible during this season of life. Sometimes, the best way to go about setting priorities is to realize what you can’t do. Sometimes, you have to say no.
For instance, I’d love to:
- Use my educational expertise to write more curriculum for clients
- Have a productive garden
- Have a spotless house
But, I know that my time is better spent elsewhere during this season of life. The only way I can tackle my must-dos and some of my want-tos is to keep my plate from overflowing.
What things do you need to put on hold right now? It doesn’t mean you’ll never do them–it just means that right now your focus will be on other areas of life.
Lowering Your Expectations
My kids all have chores to do. They all help keep our house livable. When you have this many people in one house (sharing one bathroom) you have to work together to keep it from falling into utter chaos.
That’s why we spend every July learning new chores. The kids then keep their chores for a year. By the time next summer rolls around, they’ll be pretty proficient at them.
But right now, when we’re still in the learning phase? I have to lower my expectations. If the child gave a solid effort, I’m not going to do it myself to make sure it’s done how I think it should be.
If a good effort wasn’t made, I’ll have the child try again.
But if I just go around redoing everything because it’s not up to my standard, I might as well just do everything myself. And when I start trying to do everything, my attitude stinks. I get grumpy and start yelling.
Let me tell you, I’d much rather be happy and sane with a few crumbs missed from a child sweeping than have a beautiful house where the kids all hate being around me.
Cleaning isn’t the only area in which I’ve lowered my expectations. Our meals are simple. The farm isn’t as productive as it used to be.
It’s okay to not do everything!
Remember to Take Care of You
As a mom, it’s easy to take care of everyone else. It’s not always easy to carve out time for our own well being. I’ve found I’m much more productive when I’m getting enough sleep. When I’m taking time to walk throughout the day and stay more active. When I spend time daily in God’s word.
Those things refresh me. They help me to remember that I don’t have to be perfect.
How do you get refreshed? Be sure that you give yourself at least some time to indulge in that activity regularly. It’ll actually help you stay focused and get more done the rest of the day!
How Do You Set Priorities?
When you’re staring at a massive to-do list, how do you work through it? Do you let somethings go for a season like I do? I’d love for you to share your experience in the comments.
Lisa Tanner is a former teacher turned homeschooling mom with 11 kids. She's also a successful freelance writer. Lisa enjoys helping other busy moms find time to start and grow a side hustle of their own.