Do you ever feel that even though you totally love your kids, there must be something more for you in this life? Have you ever felt secretly jealous of your friends who went right back to work after maternity leave even though you made the conscious choice to resign from your pre-pregnancy job?
Does the idea of going to the bathroom by yourself – i.e., without your little one – sound so good you’re ready to take an office job just for that little bit of bathroom privacy you can get in a public restroom that you can’t get at home?
You know you’re ready for another chapter – whether it be starting a new career, starting your own business, going back to work in your former industry, or even just picking up a hobby you’re really passionate about – but how on earth are you going to figure out what you want to do when you’re so busy with life’s daily to-do’s?
If this is you, I feel your pain. That’s totally where I was after I resigned from the practice of law two months into my maternity leave. I had no shortage of amazing ideas of what to do next, but to figure out which one to pursue – and then actually bring it to fruition – well, that would take TIME. And time was something I didn’t have. Or at least I didn’t think I had.
If you’re ready to start moving toward your next chapter, let me let you in on a little secret. Taking meaningful action toward your next job or career or entrepreneurial idea is just as much about what actions you need to STOP taking as much as it is about what actions you need to START taking.
1. Purge, baby, purge.
Right now, get out a pen and paper, and make a list of all the stuff that you do in a day, from cooking meals, to folding laundry, to watching the Real Housewives, to taking your kids to gymnastics, soccer and swimming, to volunteering at school, to going to the gym, ironing, to balancing your checkbook, to getting your nails done, grocery shopping… Put it all on there.
Next, go through and really look at that list. What can you drop? I challenge you to scratch one thing out. More if you’re feeling feisty. It’s time to insert a little bit of breathing room in your day. In some cases, it may be a matter of consolidating certain errands in a more logical way… With a little advance planning, it’s possible to only go to the grocery store once a week, and to work in other errands on the way. It might be letting go of one TV show. You can do this.
2. Make like Nike, and Outsource!
What’s on that list that doesn’t absolutely have to be done by YOU. Do you have a partner that you can delegate the drycleaning pick up and drop off to? Do you have a housekeeper that you can enlist to wash and prep your fruits and veggies so they’re ready for consumption when you need them? Maybe your child is old enough now to take on some responsibility for picking up his own toys and putting them away, throwing his own clothes in the hamper, or even folding clean laundry? Identify at least one thing that is a waste of your time and would be just as easily accomplished by giving it to someone else to do. In my case, it’s unloading the dishwasher. Those dishes are just as happy being put away by my man, and he’s better able to reach the upper cabinets anyway!
3. Chillax, mama!
What to do with these newly reclaimed minutes in your day? Maybe from purging and outsourcing, you’ve freed up 10 minutes, or maybe you’ve freed up a whole hour or even more. Kudos! Before you go filling up that time with facebook, email, or another chore, stop. Take your iPhone, set the timer for 10 minutes, and do nothing till it stops. That’s right. Nothing. If the thought of sitting your butt down and starting off into space sounds like too much to bear, then go take a bath. You’ll still get some meditative value but feel like you’re being “productive.”
Repeat this daily. As you get better at STOPPING, you’ll make space for clarity. And clarity is step one toward setting an intention. And setting a clear intention is the cornerstone of achieving any goal. So start stopping now!
If you have other ideas for ways to reduce the drain of daily to-do’s, please leave a comment below and share your suggestions!