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Priorities: time to reevaluate?

Woodard famby Heidi Woodard, founder of  MaternalMedia.com

Whether your life resembles the pages of Martha Stewart’s Living magazine or the set of Jersey Shore, I bet there’s one thing we all share in common: the feeling that we aren’t perfect and it’s difficult to keep everything together.

A few years ago in the midst of a very hectic schedule I was attempting to maintain, a friend challenged me to make a list of not what I had yet to accomplish, but rather what I was presently doing. I was (and am) always looking forward and, up to that point, really hadn’t stopped to evaluate what in my life was causing stress and the constant frustration of never feeling organized.

It actually surprised me to see all of my responsibilities laid out on paper in a numbered list.

It’s such a simple exercise, yet it took me over three decades to do it. If you personally ever feel inadequate, I challenge you to grab a pen and paper or open up your laptop and start listing out what you consider your top priorities in terms of time management. More importantly than that, pay attention to which priorities immediately jump to the top of your list.

I’m sort of embarrassed to admit my initial list looked a little something like this:

  1. A full-time job that requires travel away from home
  2. Two blogs (one paid and one not)
  3. Two morning radio appearances per week on Q98.5’s Pat&JT Show
  4. Two freelance writing gigs
  5. Two sons who play three sports a piece
  6. Six different parent groups, sets of coaches, game schedules, and financial requirements affiliated with each sport
  7. One growing daughter who desperately wants to be involved in something for herself instead of being dragged along for the ride to her brothers’ activities
  8. One semi-neglected house and dog
  9. One semi-ignored spouse
  10. Exercise and other things that calm my mind

I can look back now and realize that the vast majority of my time and attention was spent conquering those priorities at the top of my list despite knowing that those positioned at the bottom are exponentially more important in the grand scheme of things.

I can also now appreciate how very empty my tank was. By spreading myself so thin, I wasn’t really giving my full self to anything in particular.

As a result, I gave up my paid blog and freelance writing gigs (ouch!). Although I loved doing both, I loved taking care of myself more.

I also asked my mom if I could pay her to clean my house once a month. She is innately ultra organized. Me on the other hand? I once tried to adopt a practice that I thought would help me with my organizational shortcomings before reaching out to her.

Here’s how it works: You buy a decorative bowl and place it in the middle of your dining room table. In that bowl, you place important papers that you need to sort through (children’s schoolwork, mail/bills, medical EOBs, etc.) and you make it a goal to empty the bowl every week.

I felt a bit like a failure for still needing my mom’s help (even though she was glad to give it), but I also recognized that a cleaner home resulted in a happier me. My entire family appreciated that.

You deserve to feel proud of what you are able to balance and to feel forgiven for not being able to balance it all.

I challenge you to write out your list today and then really evaluate where you’re spending your time and attention.

Strike out those things you don’t need to be doing. Reorder priorities in order to concentrate on what is most important to you and your loved ones. Ask for help if you need it.

After all, we’re only as chaotic as we allow ourselves to be. Here’s to a calmer and more clarified 2015!

Follow Heidi on MaternalMedia.comfacebook, or on Twitter @woodardhi

She recently launched a new site, givethegameback.com. The mission Give The Game Back is to give the coaches a chance to do their jobs and the youth the freedom to learn and have fun with their friends.

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